15 Best Restaurants in Russia and Its Neighbors
First came The Daily Meal's 101 Best Restaurants in America, then 101 Best Hotel Restaurants Around the World. Now, The Daily Meal has set its sights on Europe. Each week this fall, The Daily Meal will highlight the best restaurants in various regions in Europe, culminating with the debut of our first list of the 101 Best Restaurants in Europe on Dec. 19.
Perennially on the quest to find the best places to eat and dine in cities large and small, The Daily Meal continues its European culinary tour in Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, and Russia.
The Daily Meal’s list of the 15 Best Restaurants in Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, and Russia was carefully curated through a two-month-long nomination process; we consulted the Michelin Guide and other trusted sources and gathered recommendations from The Daily Meal’s editors, who have traveled and dined extensively around the world.
Once we compiled a preliminary list of more than 100 restaurants, we reached out to a panel of knowledgeable judges, comprised of restaurant critics, food and lifestyle writers, and bloggers with wide restaurant-going experience. They added their own favorites, and then voted for the winners.
Panelists voted in two categories: cuisine and style/décor/service. From innovative menu options to plating and presentation to freshness, quality, and taste, panelists evaluated each restaurant’s cuisine and only voted for the restaurants which they believe are extraordinary. For the second category, panelists evaluated the dining experience, from the restaurant’s interior and dining room ambiance to the service, voting for the restaurants which they believe offer an unrivaled experience. Each restaurant had the chance to be voted on twice during the survey. Finally, the percentage scores from each category were averaged to arrive at the final ranking.
With dozens of restaurants to choose from, it was a culinary challenge to whittle the list down to a select 15. Much has changed in the region in the last two decades, as rigid state-owned restaurants serving just a handful of foodstuffs have begun to give way to avante-garde cuisine. Restaurants offering a variety of cuisines, from classic French to fusion, were considered. We did not discriminate according to location; no town, principality, or island was off the table. The list is populated with restaurants serving cuisine that runs the gamut from molecular gastronomy masterpieces at Chaika in Moscow to traditional Uzbek cuisine at Sato in Riga, Latvia.
Nearly all the restaurants are in capital cities: Moscow, Riga, Tallinn, and Vilnius, but a quartet of restaurants in smaller cities made it on the list: two in Estonia, the seaside OKO, a 30-minute drive from Tallinn in Kaberneeme, and Alexander on Muhu Island off Estonia's northeast coast, and a pair of restaurants in St. Petersburg, the casual café Idiot and Alain Ducasse's miX.
While The Daily Meal’s first list of the 101 Best Restaurants in Europe won’t be revealed until Dec. 19, The Daily Meal 15 Best Restaurants in Russia and Its Neighbors are sure to whet your appetite for more.
Sean Flynn contributed text and research to this story. Sean Flynn is a Junior Writer for The Daily Meal. Follow him on Twitter @Buffaloflynn. Lauren Mack is the Travel Editor at The Daily Meal. Follow her on Twitter @lmack.