Eating in Riga in amazing places out of the old town: here we go with special places in very peculiar neighborhoods, where you can taste food and drinks mostly farm to table.
Riga, the capital of Latvia, is a city that is worth a visit.
Its historical center boasts examples of a medieval architecture that is quite different than the Mediterranean one, expressed in the so-called “Baltic Gothic”; the oldest area, a UNESCO heritage site, has imaginative alleys and romantic green spaces filled with a cheerful and twilight atmosphere at the same time (every Travel Blogger has a repertoire of phrases like this, which don’t mean a f*** thing).
And then there are the very peculiar neighborhoods outside the historic center and in these “cool suburbs” of the capital is where I would like to take you today, for lunch or dinner.
I’ve already told you something about this very particular neighborhood in my post about things to know before going to Riga (only in Italian for now, sorry), but I haven’t told you yet about the edible and beverage options of which we have a wide choice here.
In this small district completely built in wood, on the left bank of the Daugava, the lights of pubs and flea markets, hipster clubs and live concerts are lit; here, street art events enrich the cultural offer and the liveliness of this city crossed by the winds of Siberia.
In Kalnciema you can find the pub called Ezītis miglā, in Slokas iela 17, and enjoy its nostalgic 60s and 70s interiors and the many beer labels, most of them of local production.
This is not a restaurant, but a Pub, so if you want a five course lunch this is not the place to go but you can find a burger or a good smoked salmon with rasols, along with much more, a little local a little global.
Here, what makes the difference is
- the atmospheres,
- chocolate cakes,
- the cicchetti,
- hot chocolate.
Another gem for those who love “special” places: despite the very cold winter, the managers of Ezītis miglā have found an interesting method to use the backyard all year round: there are two old disused parked buses, connected by rows of party lights, which act as a continuation of the pub.
Also in Kalnciema, you absolutely have to go at least once to the Farmer’s Market, a food market held every Saturday from 10am to 4pm and in December also on Sundays, with the same hours.
The market is held in front of two risto-pubs, which are supplied directly by the farmers and direct producers who populate the market. These two places guarantee the freshness and seasonality of the products.
They are the Wine and Shop Café, a cafeteria where you can eat, drink local beer and Italian wine (mainly from Marche region) and the Māja restaurant, where a two-course meal according to typical recipes, made with fresh market produce, costs 7 euro at a fixed price (and then you can add everything you find on the menu).
These two places share a familiar, warm and welcoming atmosphere and are beautiful both in the warm months, when you can eat and drink both in the green areas belonging to the two restaurants (Kalnciema is rich in trees and gardens), and, in the winter colder months, in the cozy wooden interiors.
Art Nouveau district
Let’s change area and let’s dive into one of the most glamorous suburbs of the Baltic area, the Art Nouveau district of Riga.
As already mentioned in previous articles about Riga, even the city’s Art Nuoveau district has enormous beauty and historical importance.
At the beginning of the twentieth century Riga was still under the Russian empire, whose ruling class lived a strong aesthetic subjection to France; from here, the birth of a neighborhood that was artistically inspired by Art Nouveau and enriched by the German Jugendstil, which gave the two styles a local identity thanks to the shades of color tending to blue and aqua green, as was the norm in Baltic architecture.
Here you can see very peculiar buildings, many offices and, therefore, interesting places for lunch, aperitifs, dinners (early ones though because in this area the kitchens close around 9pm).
Let’s start with the Rasols Cafe, on Strēlnieku street 9.
At Rasols, the “Art Nouveau” interior design project turned into a reworked Rococo. And I really liked it.
The result is a cozy place where you can’t stop moving your eyes from one detail to another. As soon as you stop looking at the fantasy of the chairs you’ll get the drink in a set of colored glasses that seem to come from the thirties.
I don’t know if the main dish here is cold soup, a Latvian specialty, but the one I tasted was really refreshing.
All accompanied by sauteed gherkins, vegetables, sauces and local black bread.
On the other tables I saw interesting little omelettes, salads and dishes served with a bit of “jugendstil” imagination.
Going up a little with budget, we can give a chance to the restaurant Alberta, in Alberta Iela 13.
A refined place that offers both local cuisine (but revisited in a modern way, don’t expect the farmer’s dishes) to international cuisine, with an excellent selection wines.
WINE ALERT !! In Latvia the climate is not hospitable for the production of wine and the only area producing wine is the Vīna Kalns (wine hill). However, the rooms and restaurants that serve it are proportionally very few, while you will find 9 times out of 10 Italian wines, mostly from Puglia.
Rīgas Centrāltirgus, aka Riga central market
The central market of Riga is a Unesco heritage, boasting a particular structure and history.
It was once a German war airships hangar; in the past the market was held along the river but was then moved right here, in the gigantic complex of 5 abandoned hangars.
A pavilion is dedicated to the products of agricolture, from the still dirty earthy fruits and vegetables to the processing of oil, pickled vegetables and farm products, such as cheeses and fresh yogurt.
Then there is the meat area, the fish area, the bread pavilion, and a pavilion dedicated to catering; here there are cafeterias that serve from local soups to sushi, from American style burgers to pizza and much more. A condition imposed on all these premises, guess what, it is to use only the products of the market.
Unmissable and one of a kind experience!