10 traditional Russian dishes and where to find them in Moscow

10 traditional Russian dishes and where to find them in Moscow

by Brendan Johnson 2 months ago
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Table of contents

  • 1. Pelmeni: hearty Russian dumplings
  • SibirSibir
  • 2. Blini: thin and lacy pancakes
  • Blinnaya
  • 3. Borscht: beetroot delight in a bowl
  • Kusochki
  • 4. Syrniki: a cheese twist on pancakes
  • Severyane
  • 5. Olivier Salad: a symphony of flavors
  • Shinok
  • 6. Okroshka: refreshing summer soup
  • Ugolek
  • 7. Holodets: gelatinous meat masterpiece
  • Korchma
  • 8. Solyanka: tangy and hearty stew
  • Odessa-mama
  • 9. Pierogi: flavorful parcels of fruits and veggies
  • Lepim i Varim
  • 10. Pozharsky Cutlet: legendary Russian treat
  • Dr. Zhivago
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Hearty soups, succulent dumplings, delicate crêpes… Russian cuisine is one of the most diversified in the world, including a broad range of dishes from multiple regions of this wide country. With a tradition stretching back to the days of imposing tsars and humble peasants and significant influence of harsh climate, the local food is a fascinating mix of filling fare and elaborate creativity. And the best place to start this culinary journey is certainly in its cosmopolitan capital, the heart and soul of this varied land.

Moscow is more than just a political and business center. It's a gastronomic hotspot where you can savor Russian food at its finest. From rich soups and savory appetizers to vibrant salads and creamy desserts, the city has numerous restaurants serving authentic, homestyle delicacies. In our guide, we’ll take you through ten must-try traditional Russian dishes and the best spots to find them in Moscow.

1. Pelmeni: hearty Russian dumplings

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Pelmeni are authentic Russian dumplings stuffed with a delicious blend of minced meat, renowned for their delectable taste. The craft of making this dish is an endearing family tradition, a ritual passed down from generations, often involving all members. Pelmeni can be served hot from the pot, lavished with butter, or embellished with a dollop of sour cream. Some enjoy them in a piping hot broth or vinegar, others prefer to dip them in ketchup or mustard. No matter how you eat them, these bite-sized delights inevitably lead to a heartwarming gastronomic experience.

SibirSibir
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SibirSibir
#504 of 25892 restaurants in Moscow, Russia
Smolenskaya Street, 8, Moscow, Russia, 121099
Closes soon: 12AM
Pelmeni
Pelmeni

Many countries call dumplings their invention. Chinese jiao-tzu, Asian manti, Italian ravioli, Georgian khinkali, Japanese gedza and, of course, Russian dumplings - pelmeni, are small boiled pies with meat.

Price: pelmeni are from 680 RUB (7.5 USD)

Most historians assume that Russian pelmeni have their roots in Siberia, hence sampling them in a restaurant that specializes in dishes from this region is quite fitting. Located in the heart of Moscow, SibirSibir is known for its commitment to using rare, wild-harvested, and artisan-crafted ingredients sourced directly from Siberia itself, like wild berries, mushrooms, smoked fish, and game meat.

The space features a charming and solemn design blend, with quirky, eco-friendly details including glass walls that resemble melted bricks, rustic ceiling shutters, or the famous Matreshka dolls. Here, you can savor such northern delicacies as moose burger, elk filet, hot smoked sturgeon, or three kinds of aspic. An excellent variety of infused vodkas and cocktails are also available to complement the exquisite dining.

2. Blini: thin and lacy pancakes

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Blini, a cherished staple in Russian culinary culture, are basically thin crêpes. The name “blini” derives from the old Slavic word “mlin,” meaning “to mill.” With the ancient history dating back to pagan times, the pancakes’ round and golden form symbolizes the sun, signifying the coming of spring. Every February or March, Russians indulge in a feast of these delicate treats during a week-long festival known as Maslenitsa, bidding farewell to winter. Blini can be served with a variety of toppings: from tangy sour cream and slices of smoked salmon to honey and fruit preserves.

Blinnaya
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Blinnaya
#499 of 3123 restaurants with desserts in Moscow, Russia
Vorontsovskaya Street, 8с1, Moscow, Russia, 109044
Closed until tomorrow
Crepes
Crepes

Thin, almost paper-like fritters. They may be served in a form of triangle envelopes with syrup, fruit, berries, and cream. They are a good dessert and a fine breakfast.

Price: Russian blini are from 1 USD

The oldest Moscow’s pancake house, Blinnaya offers traditional Russian crêpes in an authentic Soviet era setting. Since its opening in 1962, it’s been serving its signature dish for over 60 years. The spot seems frozen in time with its large wooden tables and nostalgic attributes like the samovar used for boiling water. Aside from blini, they also provide salads, cutlets, dumplings, and other Russian specialties particularly popular during the Soviet period.

3. Borscht: beetroot delight in a bowl

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Boasting a vibrant reddish-purple hue due to the use of beetroot, borscht is a famous soup that originates from the Eastern European strip. Even though the most common version of this hearty dish includes meat, potatoes, and cabbage, its extensive variations showcase the versatility of the time-old recipe, with each region adding its unique twist. Borscht may be served hot or cold, and with a dollop of sour cream on top, it becomes pure culinary poetry.

Kusochki
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Kusochki
#30 of 21773 cafes in Moscow, Russia
Shabolovka Street, 63к1, Moscow, Russia, 115419
Closes soon: 12AM
Borsch
Borsch

Borsch is a native Ukrainian and Polish dish. A distinctive feature of this soup is its color - red or dark red, it all depends on the beet, which is added there. Borsch is a very rich soup, its broth is brewed from beef meat, and then vegetables such as cabbage, carrots, onions, potatoes are added to it. Today there are many varieties of borsch, but, of course, this is one of the most favorite dishes in Russia and Moldova.

Price: borscht with beef is 488 RUB (5.5 USD)

Intriguing and fascinating, Kusochki offers an experience truly out of the ordinary. This small restaurant is a world of clashing thematics, each dining zone providing a compelling setting for your meal – be it the captivating “Hospital”, the staged “Theater”, the jolting reality of the “Prison”, or the peaceful tranquility of the “Russian dacha”. Yet, what sets Kusochki apart is not just its arresting interiors.

Owner Maxim Goryachev proves he has a firm grasp on gastronomy with an impressive menu featuring grilled beef tongue, zander in batter, pike cutlet, or barrel herring with baked potatoes. Borscht is especially good here, served in the most traditional way with a dollop of sour cream and a piece of black bread and lard. You can also order an original version of this soup presented in a piece of cabbage.

4. Syrniki: a cheese twist on pancakes

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Syrniki is not only delightful and tasty, but also a healthy food, holding a special place in traditional Russian, Ukrainian, and Polish cuisines. The classic way to serve these pancakes made of cottage cheese and gently fried to golden perfection is with a dusting of powdered sugar, sour cream, or jam, though they can also be enjoyed plain. Syrniki are usually eaten for breakfast or dessert, and make a simple, yet very delectable comfort dish.

Severyane
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Severyane
#883 of 25892 restaurants in Moscow, Russia
Bolshaya Nikitskaya Street, 12, Moscow, Russia, 125009
Closes soon: 12AM
Syrniki
Syrniki

Syrniki is a Russian dessert cooked from quark with eggs, flour and sugar. The mixture is fried in the shape of patty cakes on the sunflower seed oil to become crispy. They are usually cooked for breakfast and served with sour cream, berries or condensed milk.

Price: syrniki made of melted cottage cheese are 490 RUB (5.5 USD)

A stone's throw from the hustle and bustle of the city, Severyane stands as an oasis of gastronomic allure, offering traditional dishes made in a Russian oven. The interior design of the restaurant radiates a somber ambiance, with dark shades prevailing the color palette. Elegant candlesticks dominate the tables, while the ceiling dons suspended lamps to give the illusion of countless candles burning.

At this place, you can enjoy authentic Russian cuisine with a strong influence from its northern regions. The menu features delicacies such as cabbage soup, scallops, crab éclairs, and grilled sea bass. Additional house specialties include veal-stuffed cabbage with mushrooms and ash-ripened Camembert cheese, served on a poppy seed brioche. As for syrniki, you can enjoy them here for breakfast or lunch up to 4 PM.

5. Olivier Salad: a symphony of flavors

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A star at any Russian holiday table, Olivier salad is a delightful medley of flavors known worldwide for its hearty, fulfilling taste. Created in 1860 by Belgian chef, Lucien Olivier, the dish originally consisted of hazel grouse, caviar, and lobster. However, the recipe was modified during the Soviet era to reflect the changing times. Also known as Stolichny salad since then, it usually contains a mixture of potatoes, carrots, peas, pickles, and often includes meats like ham or chicken.

Shinok
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Shinok
#535 of 25892 restaurants in Moscow, Russia
1905 Goda Street, 2, Moscow, Russia, 123022
Closes soon: 12AM
Olivier salad
Olivier salad

This dish was invented by the French chef Lucien Olivier and has nothing to do with what you can now see on the Russian table. Initially, it was not a salad, but a dish that included boiled grouse meat, partridges, as well as cooked crawfish. But the Russians got used to mix all the ingredients and eat them with mayonnaise. Now the salad recipe has changed a lot but has not ceased to be a favorite holiday dish.

Price: Olivier salad is 790 RUB (8.7 USD)

Shinok, one of Moscow's most renowned restaurants specializing in Ukrainian cuisine, is a unique and inspiring venture by celebrity restaurateur Andrei Dellos. Opened in 1997, this innovative dining space combines the charm of an eco-loft style with ethnic motifs, featuring natural materials, ample natural light, and lively brickwork.

What sets Shinok apart is its mini-farm, segregated from the main hall by a glass wall, housing cows, peacocks, pheasants, rabbits, and other creatures. Led by Chef Elena Nikiforova for over two decades, the Shinok kitchen serves a delightful array of Slavik dishes, including borscht, pierogi, potato pancakes, baked perch, sauerkraut, pickled vegetables, and naturally Olivier salad.

6. Okroshka: refreshing summer soup

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Okroshka is a legendary Russian dish that transforms the concept of soup! Most people trying it for the first time think it’s actually a salad. Traditionally enjoyed cold, it's a tasty mix of raw vegetables, boiled potatoes, and eggs, with your choice of kefir or kvass (a national Russian drink made from rye bread.) Okroshka is never served immediately after it's made – it’s supposed to rest in the fridge for a few hours, allowing flavors to mingle and chill perfectly.

Ugolek
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Ugolyok
#327 of 25892 restaurants in Moscow, Russia
Bol'shaya Nikitskaya ulica, 12, Moscow, Russia
Closes soon: 12AM
Okroshka
Okroshka

Okroshka is a cold soup made of mixed vegetables (raw cucumbers, boiled potatoes and eggs and sausage). The origin of the name might have come from the Russian word ‘крошить’ which means ‘to crumb’, i.e. to cut into small pieces. Then Russian people add some kvass and salt there.

Price: in spring and summer okroshka is 550 RUB (6 USD)

Ugolek offers a refreshing blend of raw elegance and brutalism, centered around their main attraction: ancient American ovens. These cast iron coal stoves from the late nineteenth and early twentieth century are used to flawlessly simmer, stew, and bake meals.

Ugolek welcomes you with the aroma of wood smoke, handcrafted dishes, and the intriguing sight of living moss on concrete walls. The restaurant showcases gastronomy at its finest, with such delights as quail salad, Siberian pelmeni, scallops served with sorrel and truffle, as well as grilled Karachay black lamb, crab, or octopus. When it’s warm, you can enjoy their delicious okroshka with smoked duck and sour cream.

7. Holodets: gelatinous meat masterpiece

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A popular holiday dish, holodets is essentially a savory meat jelly that is an outcome of an ingenious art of food preservation prior to the onset of refrigeration technology. Its name is derived from the Russian word “holod,” which means "cold." To create the jelly, holodets uses the natural collagen found in the meat, especially in the bones. After being boiled for several hours, this collagen dissolves in the broth, which then solidifies when cooled, creating a gelatinous texture.

Korchma
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Korchma
#559 of 25892 restaurants in Moscow, Russia
Leninsky Avenue, 37, Moscow, Russia, 119334
Closed until tomorrow
Aspic
Aspic

Aspic is a name for a cold dish where meat (commonly beef, pork or chicken), fish or vegetables (e.g. eggs, carrots) are placed into gelatin and stay in cold. The plate which aspic is served on should be cold so that it doesn’t melt on it. The broth is simmered for several hours, so it requires some patience.

Price: homemade holodets is 410 RUB (4.5 USD)

Korchma Taras Bulba is a popular restaurant chain in Moscow, known for serving mouthwatering Slavic cuisine. Echoing a rural theme, the interior embraces the rustic charm of wooden furniture along with traditional household items such as homespun carpets and clay jugs. Savor authentic Ukrainian and Russian dishes like rich borscht, fish and pea soups, hearty pelmeni and pierogi, blini with various fillings and accompany them with homemade liqueurs and Russian vodka. Their remarkable selection of appetizers include lard, pickled mushrooms, sauerkraut, and beautifully presented holodets.

8. Solyanka: tangy and hearty stew

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Regarded as a hangover soup in Russia, solyanka is a type of thick, hearty broth that harmoniously combines a rich variety of ingredients, such as cured meats, pickles, capers, olives, and fresh herbs. There are three main types of solyanka: fish, mushroom, and meat. The latter is considered the classical version of the soup and is made using at least four types of meat or meat products: beaf, ham, liver, sausages, etc.

Odessa-mama
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Odessa-mama
#6199 of 25892 restaurants in Moscow, Russia
Shabolovka Street, 14с2, Moscow, Russia, 119049
Closed until tomorrow
Solyanka
Solyanka

Solyanka is a famous thick Russian soup. There are three most famous types of this dish based on the main ingredients: meat solyanka (with beef, sausages or chicken), fish solyanka (with salmon, sturgeon) and mushroom solyanka. The common ingredients are the same: dill pickles with brine and onions. Olives, lemon and sour cream are added optionally when serving.

Price: solyanka with perch and white fish is 550 RUB (6 USD)

Odessa-mama is a chain of vibrant restaurants capturing the heart of this port city’s cuisine. The space is minimalistic but engaging, adorned with ropes, ship's wheels, valves, signal lamps, and lifebuoys that immerse you in the dynamic ambiance of a maritime hub.

The menu perfectly encapsulates the rich fusion of Russian, Ukrainian, and Jewish flavors, featuring dishes such as forshmak, hummus, shakshuka, potato pancakes, navy-style macaroni, Kiev-style cutlets, and solyanka. During the summer, the verandas open for a delightful al fresco dining experience.

9. Pierogi: flavorful parcels of fruits and veggies

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Pierogi, or vareniki, are a bit like another popular Russian dish, meat-filled pelmeni. However, these moon-shaped delights are bigger and can be made with lots of different sweet or savory ingredients — from potato and cabbage to cottage cheese and berries. Handmade pierogi are prepared with love, each varenik is skillfully rolled, filled, and folded and the edges are sealed with a characteristic tiered pattern. Enjoy them with a dollop of sour cream for an authentic experience of Russian cuisine.

Lepim i Varim
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Lepim i Varim
#213 of 25892 restaurants in Moscow, Russia
Stoleshnikov Lane, 9с1, Moscow, Russia, 107031
Closed until tomorrow
Pierogi
Pierogi

These filled dumplings were traditionally regarded as peasant food. However, it quickly became popular among all social classes. The main ingredients of pierogi are a savory or sweet filling wrapped in unleavened dough and cooked in boiling water.

Price: pierogi are from 219 RUB (2.5 USD)

Translated as “we fold and boil” from Russian, Lepim i Varim is an international chain that delivers a delightful taste experience of traditional and inventive local dumplings. Here, you can taste a wide range of pierogi and pelmeni filled with everything, from meat and seafood to boiled potato, cheese, and cherries.

The expansive menu includes more than a dozen variations of their specialty, with humorous names like “Bulba Baggins” or “Uncle from Kamchatka” adding an extra dash of Russian flavor. Not just limited to dumplings, Lepim i Varim also offers borscht, authentic salads like coated herring and Olivier, and homemade fruit drinks. Great importance is placed on swift service, with the promise of a satisfying meal within 15 minutes, even during peak hours.

10. Pozharsky Cutlet: legendary Russian treat

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Pozharsky cutlet stands as a delicious staple of Russian cuisine, renowned for its crunchy outside and tender texture. Named after the noble Pozharsky family, whose roadside tavern first served the dish, these cutlets are made of minced meat, mixed with soaked white bread. What sets the specialty apart is the butter inserted in the middle, melting as it cooks, giving it an exceptionally juicy consistency with a crispy shell. No wonder, it's rumored that even the Tsar stopped to try these royal cutlets, making them a regal addition to any table!

Dr. Zhivago
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Dr. Zhivago
#7223 of 21773 cafes in Moscow, Russia
Mokhovaya Street, 15/1с1, Moscow, Russia, 125009
Open 24 hours
Cutlets
Cutlets

In the culinary arts, the term cutlet is used to refer to a boneless, thin cut of meat — chicken, veal, pork, or lamb — that cooks very quickly and is usually pan-fried. Most cutlets are made by pounding the meat until there's even thinness and are often dusted with flour or coated in breadcrumbs before cooking.

Price: Pozharsky cutlet is 790 RUB (8.5 USD)

Located on the first floor of the legendary National Hotel, Dr. Zhivago serves a modern take on Russian cuisine that appeals both to tourists and locals. Boasting a stunning view of the Kremlin, the restaurant is a beautifully atmospheric location, with paintings from prominent Soviet artists of the 20th century, mosaics on the ceiling and multiple statues. Made with local ingredients and innovative preparation methods, dishes like wheat porridge with crayfish necks, Pozharsky cutlet, or blini with wild game meat are transformed from homely staples into gourmet delicacies.

After satisfying your cravings for traditional Russian cuisine, dive deeper into Moscow's diverse dining scene with our guides Quirky Restaurants in Moscow You Must Visit at Least Twice and The Very First Moscow MICHELIN Guide.

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EaterOfLight (Guest) 2 months ago Request content removal

Okroshka with kvass is a strange dish indeed! Kind of feels like you're having a salad drenched in beer. Definitely piques your curiosity. But personally, I find it tastes much better when it's served with sour cream instead.

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