It’s been over a year since I wrote about my favorite cafes in Riga, Latvia. While I stand by the original list, there are quite a few new (or new-to-me) spots that deserve recognition. Riga boasts one of the most outstanding cafe scenes in all of Europe, with a focus on craft coffee and locally-sourced, high-quality food. The Latvian attention to detail is bar none! Oh, and did I mention that nearly every cafe in town has fast, free, and easy-to-access WiFi?
Open since the spring of 2015, Rocket Bean has quickly become a local favorite thanks to its fantastic coffee and bright convivial atmosphere. During the week Rocket Bean dishes up good value (and delicious!) business lunches while full breakfast plates reign on weekends (as opposed to the brunch buffets offered at other spots around town.) But the real draw is the coffee, which is sourced directly from growers around the world and roasted on site. According to Rocket Bean’s owner, Martins, “coffee is like bread: it’s better when it’s fresh out of the oven.”
Note: If you plan to make a day of it on trendy Miera iela, go on Saturday as all the shops are closed on Sunday.
Previously located in Old Riga, Makonis (which means “cloud” in Latvian) is a welcome addition to the burgeoning Stabu iela food scene. I stop by often to partake of the tasty lunch specials and homemade cheesecake. On weekends, Makonis causes a sensation with all-you-can-eat waffles during the day and whiskey tastings at night. (Check their Facebook page for current events.)
I adore this charming little cafe/restaurant and, thankfully, with two locations on either side of the river, one is always near at hand. (There’s one in Sigulda too, but that’s not near at hand.) The owners and waitstaff want customers to feel at home and they succeed in a big way. The cafes are styled like country-chic cottages, while the mouthwatering dishes focus on Latvia’s seasonal ingredients. Save room for a delectable slice of marzipan ice cream cake!
Riga’s one and only cat cafe is so popular that reservations are essential to stave off disappointment, especially on weekends. Food is surprisingly good and the space is very hygienic, so don’t hesitate to order lunch. MINKA is located in the up-and-coming Agenskalns neighborhood and well worth the trek across the river. Just know that there are only three cats (that I’ve seen) so you might not get to play with them as much as you’d like. Unless, of course, one curls up on your lap.
Having previously lived in Manhattan, I have fairly high standards when it comes to bagels. Most places don’t even come close. So when a bagel cafe opened in Riga, I was skeptical. But Big Bad Bagels nails it! The bagels are dense and chewy while the toppings live up to the Latvian standard of freshness. My favorite sandwich is “Bacon in Mexico,” which comes loaded with cream cheese, guacamole, bacon, and a fried egg. YUM!
Recently opened in a beautifully restored Old Riga building, BakeBerry boasts some of the best pastries in town! I’m partial to the heavenly pistachio eclair, but everything I’ve ordered here has been great. And the cozy interior – complete with a porch swing and bountiful pillows – will ensure you’ll want to linger.
Vegetarians and vegans take note! Miit serves up healthful and creative fare seven days a week, though is particularly popular for its all-you-can-eat pancake brunches on Saturdays and Sundays. An endless supply of thin crepes in a variety of flavors (plain, beet, carrot, chocolate, etc) are paired with hot and cold salads, dips, veggies, and fruit. Everything is so plentiful and filling, even carnivores will leave sated. Promise!
For the longest time after I moved to Riga, I’d walk by this old building next to some tennis courts in Kronvalda Park and lament its decaying state. Then, one day, a construction crew appeared and got to work rehabbing the space. I figured it would have something to do with sports, but lucky for us a chic cafe was the end result. Pagalms (which means “courtyard” in Latvian) has become a peaceful spot to while away an afternoon over coffee or lunch. I suspect the romantically-lit terrace will be very popular come summer.
A made-up word that roughly translates to “cake place,” Kukotava is renowned for producing the best cakes in Riga. After hearing on multiple occasions that the gorgeous slice I was enjoying came from none other than Kukotava, I finally stopped by the bakery to see what other treats were on offer. A team of women was busy rolling out dough in the open kitchen while tantalizing smells wafted from the ovens and eager customers queued at the counter. If I lived closer I’d be in that queue every day!
Want to enjoy a nice lunch before indulging in dessert? Pop across the street to La Kanna, a local hotspot that is packed come twelve o’clock. In-the-know Rigans flock to La Kanna for its excellent-value Mediterranean- and Asian-inspired fare and well-stocked bar.
According to online reviews, Innocent Cafe has the best coffee in Riga. While I prefer the brews at some of the other places on this list, I am a big fan of Innocent’s hearty two-course Latvian lunch specials. If cold beet soup is on the menu, order it! Innocent Cafe also boasts an ample breakfast buffet every day of the week.
Do YOU have a favorite cafe in Riga? Tell me where I should try next!
Rocket Bean Roastery Address: Miera iela 29/31, City Center, Riga, Latvia Pricing: € Makonis Address: Stabu iela 42, City Center, Riga, Latvia Pricing: € Fazenda Address: Multiple locations Pricing: €€ MINKA Cat Cafe Address: Meza iela 4a, Agenskalns, Riga, Latvia Pricing: €€ Big Bad Bagels Address: Baznicas iela 8, City Center, Riga, Latvia Pricing: € BakeBerry Address: Audeju iela 11, Old Town, Riga, Latvia Pricing: € Miit Address: Lacplesa iela 10, City Center, Riga, Latvia Pricing: € Palgams Address: Kronvalda bulvaris 2B, City Center, Riga, Latvia Pricing: €€ Kukotava Address: Terbates iela 10/12, City Center, Riga, Latvia Pricing: €€ La Kanna Address: Terbatas iela 5, City Center, Riga, Latvia Pricing: € Innocent Cafe Address: Blaumana iela 34-2, City Center, Riga, Latvia Pricing: €€