Moscow is not known for being a particularly low-cost destination, but that doesn’t mean you can’t find great deals on food. Whether you’re into fusion food, regional cuisine or vegan dishes, there’s something for everyone at these budget restaurants in Moscow.
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Feel a sudden urge to hang out with the hipper than hip? If so, this burger joint is where you will want to be. Burger Brothers was opened by five young friends – three girls, two boys – under a staircase in an office building. Which adds up to approximately 30 square meters (320 square feet) of joy. The menu is equally tiny: burgers with lamb, with beef and one with turkey. All served up with French fries to die for and homemade mayo. The breakfast, scrambled eggs with spinach and bacon, is served up till 4pm, to accommodate for the youthful clientèle recovering from the night before. Where: 1st Tverskoy-Yamskoy pereulok, 11 Nearest station: Mayakovskaya
This tiny place has a rather tragic history. It started when a passionate young man opened a fast-food café, Meat Point, with high quality Turkish kofta and balik ekmek fish sandwiches. He was a perfectionist, insisting on the best mutton for his kofta yet keeping his prices reasonable. All the hip magazines wrote about Meat Point and it became a very popular hangout among Moscow’s cool crowd. However, one day the proprietor was found stabbed to death a few steps away from his café, and the mystery has never been resolved. His mother kept the business going in memory of her son. The kofta is still great. Those who don’t know the story just enjoy the food and regret there are not more places like this in town. Where: Brusov pereulok, 2/14, bld. 10 Nearest station: Okhotny Ryad
“Khachapuri” is the word for a highly popular hot Georgian cheese pie. If you eat one khachapuri, it is a whole meal – tasty and hearty. There are seven kinds on the menu – mixtures of toppings and fillings with cheese, eggs and potatoes as the main ingredients. Don’t even attempt to try them all. Moscow has plenty of Georgian restaurants, but Khachapuri was the first place to serve Georgian food within a very European, light and simple interior, and it became an immediate success. As a mascot they have a real sheep called Tolik, whom you can pet while waiting for your grub. Where: Bolshoy Gnezdnikovsky pereulok, 10 Nearest station: Pushkinskaya
The main reason to come here is for the khinkali, which are served in portions of eight. A khinkali is an enormous Georgian dumpling, usually filled with spiced minced meat. Khinkali is both king and queen of Georgian cuisine, but strangely enough the restaurant is Armenian. But food knows no boundaries, it seems. Another highlight of the menu is khash, a soup made from cow’s feet boiled overnight. Both Georgians and Armenians claim that khash is their national dish and the best hangover cure ever. Where: Sadovnicheskaya naberezhnaya, 77, bld. 1 Nearest station: Paveletskaya
Lucky Noodles is taken directly out of Hong Kong. Initially it seems a bit too simple and shabby for the very posh Petrovka Street, but give it a chance. Behind a faded sign with Chinese hieroglyphs and a blinking cat, you will find a small room with a countertop, a few bar stools, a fridge full of Tsingtao beer and Malaysian Star Wars posters on the walls. The menu is as simple as the interior: noodles with beef, chicken or shrimps at very low prices and very tasty. The setting is very simple, so expect to eat seating on a stool with your face to the wall – or else get your noodles to take away. Which might be a good idea – there simply is no elegant way of eating noodles. Trust us, we’ve tried. Where: Petrovka, 20/1 Nearest station: Chekhovskaya
You don’t have to be Jewish to eat at the restaurant under the roof of the Synagogue. You do, however, have to make up a little story. Tell the guards you are going to Jerusalem (the restaurant), and then they will allow you to pass through the metal detectors and x-rays and take the elevator to the top floor. Summer is the best time to visit, with the amazing terrace overlooking the Patriarch’s Ponds neighborhood. Up there you get a strange feeling that you are at some seaside town, like Odessa. It just doesn’t look like Moscow. The owners of the restaurant are Azerbaijan Jews, so they cook a lot of delicious kosher meat. Where: Bolshaya Bronnaya, 6, bld. 3 Nearest station: Pushkinskaya
Though Saigon looks like a Soviet student’s canteen, the moment you try their noodles you will forget about the interior. The place is meant for a hundred people, but nevertheless you may have to wait for a table in the evening, as this place is highly popular. For only a few euros for a lunch set you get a cabbage salad, a pho bo soup, battered chicken, potatoes and green tea. It is the best value for money in the entire city. The waiters hardly speak any Russian and there are plenty of spelling mistakes in the menu, but the food is very authentic. It is easy to pretend you are in the middle of the real Ho Chi Minh City – especially after a second shot of Vietnamese vodka, of course. Where: Bolshaya Gruzinskaya, 39 Nearest station: Belorusskaya
This tiny café enjoys a diminutive setting of brick walls, big windows, a bar counter and six tables. If you don’t know about this place, you will probably miss it – just like the thousands of people passing by every day. This would, however, be a real pity. Here they serve up the best lunch in town. It includes soup, salad, homemade pie or a sandwich and comes very cheap. There is also excellent coffee, great fruit smoothies (some of them with wine), milkshakes and delicious cheesecakes. It tends to be completely overcrowded in the evening, so prepare to squeeze in between both young and old locals. What else do you expect from one of the best restaurants in Moscow? Where: Solyanskiy Tupik, 1/4 Nearest station: Kitai-gorod
Take your first bite and suck the juice out: That is the proper way to eat a khinkali. Along with U Burcho above, Chito-Ra is the best place to try khinkalis in Moscow. The food is cheap, the waitresses are indifferent and caring at the same time, the tables are big and the portions are huge. This is probably the reason it is always busy and full of loud Georgian customers and Moscow journalists and artists. Take note, however: eight khinkalis are enough to feed a sumo wrestler, but ten are enough to kill him. Where: Kazakova 10, bld. 2 Nearest station: Kurskaya
It would be inaccurate to describe Russia as a vegetarian-friendly country. People like their meat here and feel no remorse about it. There are very few places in Moscow where a vegetarian can eat, and if you are a vegan dining out in Moscow it is practically impossible … That is, unless you come to this Canadian café. At Fresh, you will find delicious dishes such as bamboo salad, flax hummus, tofu burger and parsley smoothie. All the food is suitable for vegans, but if you are in an indulgent mood, you can add cheese or sour cream to your food. Vegetarians tend to be very inventive when it comes to eating, and even meatatarians have fun here. However, the proprietors may have been a bit too inventive when they named the dishes: where else can you try a vegan dish called “the Pink Dolphin”? Where: Bolshaya Dmitrovka, 11 Nearest station: Teatralnaya (Театральная)
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