Latvia isn’t exactly a foodie destination. With Russian roots and the typical northern climate, we figured it’d be a lot of pork and potatoes.
And it was.
But we were happy to find generous offerings of beautiful fresh salads and fish dishes. After all, they are a nation by the sea.
They must have gotten their coffee culture from the Swedes because nearly every cup of coffee we had was delicious. And we loved all the little coffee joints, just steps away from our hotel in Old Town.
The guidebook was absolutely correct when it said everything is flavoured and garnished with dill. Luckily we like dill, but yes, it is on everything. Our favourite new food is the cold beetroot soup… with dill naturally. I will have to bookmark that recipe and make it soon.
And I quite enjoyed the pickled herring. I avoided it at the breakfast buffet of our hotel, but then after a tasty experience at dinner one night, I happily had a few bites for breakfast the following morning. When in Riga!
When we weren’t eating and drinking, we saw some pretty cool stuff. But for those interested, here is where we ate and drank in Riga.
Lido Alus sēta Restaurant: The tourist books rave about this cafeteria style chain restaurant, touting that locals love it too. Perhaps we didn’t pick the best location because we weren’t super impressed compared to how it was described. It was a nice intro to traditional Latvian cuisine and our chance to dig into a huge pork knuckle. The salads were tasty and fresh. It was cheap and quick.
Domini Carnes: We had a lovely meal just behind St Peter’s Basilica on the terrace (because they were fully booked inside). The plates were very well presented and delicious. We shared the scallop appetizer with probably the best cooked scallops I’ve ever had. We then each had fish mains and shared an apple pie bursting with different flavours and textures. I tried the traditional balsams drink. It was great value for money and the busker playing accordion music just a few feet away certainly added to the ambiance.
Valtera Restorans: This place was off the beaten path and on a quiet street. A quirky, awkward waiter served us making this a memorable meal. Food was also great – smoked chicken salad and pickled herring appetizers, and David had lamb and I ordered fish again. The décor was simple and intimate. The strawberry dessert with notes of basil, coffee and cacao was fabulous. Just a wonderful marriage of flavours.
Small Pizza: The unusual pizza slices caught our attention as we walked by this little joint with stomachs a-grumbling. A quick, cheap eat that is also delicious. And dare I say “low-carb” compared to regular pizza slices. Unique flavour combinations had us ordering three different slices so we could try as many as possible. It’s like a pizza sandwich!
Egle (Open Air Leisure Park): We lounged for a few hours in this outdoor entertainment venue. Comfy couches along with regular tables and chairs surrounded a stage where live music played all afternoon. David’s new favourite drink is a Rosemary Salty Dog: gin, grapefruit juice and a sprig of rosemary.
Cuba Café: This place was busy on Saturday night. Again more live music and a ridiculous amount of rum. Too many to choose from. But I just had a Hugo Spritz.
Skyline Bar: We took the elevator to the 26th floor of the Radisson Blu Hotel Latvija to find a hip, lounge serving lots of cocktails and drinks as well as small plates to share. The view was worth the price of the cocktails especially since we never made it up the church tower. We stayed while the sun set and well into the evening.
Kuukaa Kafé: This was my favourite café. The kind of café I would love to own one day. Coffee was good. Their cakes looked amazing. On Sunday mornings, they offer brunch which looked better than our hotel breakfast (which was already pretty hard to beat). The fresh salads were enticing. We sat sipping coffee in the window sill surrounded by comfy pillows. We had the place to ourselves. It was such a gem!
Bang Bang Coffee: If you ever wanted to shoe shop while sipping some Italian Illy coffee, this is the place. The seating wasn’t as comfortable as Kuukaa but the ultra cool shoe and clothing store added a unique twist. The girl constantly changed hats between barista and salesperson. And more window sill seating!
Aspara Tea House: By far the coolest and most relaxing teas house I’ve been too. The two-storey gazebo-like building in the park overlooking the canal had seating outside but we took off our shoes and sat on the floor upstairs supported by Indian motif pillows. They had lots of delicious teas to choose from as well as cakes and cookies. It was a perfect place to people watch and enjoy our last morning in Riga.
Did you eat or drink anywhere in Riga that you just have to share? Tell me about it in the comment section.