Unbelievably, it’s been a full year since I last wrote about Riga’s robust restaurant scene. I’ve discovered lots more places since then and thought it was time for a follow-up to one of the most popular posts on my website. In this list you’ll find even more of the city’s best mid-range and high-end restaurants, as well as a few budget-friendly and vegetarian options. Good food doesn’t have to be expensive! (Pricing information and addresses can be found at the bottom of this post.) Know of any other worthy spots? Be sure to share them in the comments!
I’ve dined at Kolonade several times and it keeps getting better and better. Located in a historic building between the Freedom Monument and Opera House, Kolonade seeks to tell the story of a modern-yet-traditional Latvia through food. Talented chef Ainars Volodka transforms the country’s farm-fresh produce into edible works of art, each plate brought forth by friendly and attentive servers. If you want to experience the best of Latvian cuisine, you would do well to book a table here.
Riga’s first Italian restaurant continues to impress diners more than a decade after its debut, with classic Italian fare served up in fine European style. Monterosso’s stunning dining room and impeccable service hearkens back to the golden 1930s, while the delectable food whisks you away to the Amalfi Coast. I was very happy with my selections off the special spring menu, though the regular options are equally satisfying. Be sure to save room for dessert!
Portofino, the second of four Italian restaurants to make this list, is an elegant hideaway in Riga’s Art Nouveau district. My entire meal was excellent, from the black bean dip accompanying the artisan bread to the thoughtfully plated dessert. The wait staff made me feel welcome the second I entered, and didn’t bat an eye when I asked for my fish to be filleted rather than served whole. Portofino came recommended to me by several blog readers and now I fully understand why!
For a little taste of France head to Entresol, one of Riga’s most exciting new restaurants. Award-winning head chef Raimonds Zommers has created an innovative compilation of canapes which perfectly compliment his heartier fare. Winners include the scallop served elegantly in its shell, creamy potato soup, and foie gras with chorizo. Entresol also boasts an excellent value business lunch which comes with your choice two canapes (plus a full-size main course).
The food at Mute, which means “mouth” in Latvian, is sure to delight your taste buds. Everything I’ve had here has been impressive, from plated breakfasts on weekends to savory fish-and-veggie dishes at lunch. I also appreciate the inventive flavor combinations of the bakery items, such as the lemon-lime-coconut custard tart pictured above. My only complaint is that Mute’s fabulous business lunch menu isn’t available during the summer months, when the locals go on holiday.
Amarone Italian restaurant is owned by the same group as Rossini, which made my original list of recommendations. Service here is flawless and the bartender is generous with pours, which can’t be said for a posh competitor around the corner (*cough*Prego*cough). Amarone’s prices are also much more reasonable. I often enjoy a fresh seasonal salad and heaping bowl of pasta or risotto on the patio with a crisp glass of pinot grigio.
Riga’s only Belgian restaurant, Bon Vivant, is the place to go to satisfy your hankering for a steaming pot mussels. (Try the Leffe Blonde version – it’s my favorite!) The classic pub also boasts several dozen Belgian brews, all with their official corresponding glasses, which, as we all know, makes the beer taste even better.
If you want to experience authentic Latvian home cooking, your best bet is to head to one of the many LIDO restaurants located around Riga. Don’t be put off by the cafeteria-style atmosphere – the food here is delicious, and the affordable prices mean you can sample many different items without breaking the bank. Simply grab a tray and fill it with as much as you can carry. (Yes, everything on the tray above was for me – and cost less than €10!)
A crispy pizza hot from a wood-fired oven and the azure waters of a private swimming pool. What do these two things have in common? Both can be enjoyed at Riga’s newest Italian eatery, Naples! I’ll admit to thinking it sounded too good to be true, but the pizza and the view are among the city’s best. I went for lunch during the week and managed to snag a table right next to the marina, though I imagine reservations are needed on summer weekends.
Valmiermuiza Beer Kitchen
Valmiermuiza Alus is one of Latvia’s premier craft beers, hailing from the charming little town of Valmiera. Many bars and restaurants across the country serve this tasty ale, but none pair it as expertly with food like Valmiermuiza Beer Kitchen, the brewery’s “embassy” in Riga. The menu changes seasonally, as do the beers on offer, though you can never go wrong with the pork belly and a filtered light beer. Round out the meal with garlic bread and a selection of Latvian cheeses!
In 2012, a Brit with a penchant for Asian spices opened a bistro with his Latvian wife and has been winning local hearts and stomachs ever since. A rotating cast of soups, stews, and curries, ranging from mild to light-your-hair-on-fire hot, are served along with rice or bread and a pile of cilantro – all nutritious and highly affordable. Crowd favorites are chicken tikka masala and beef chili, though vegetarian and vegan options are usually available. Snag a seat at a communal table and an icy cold beer and if your lucky the chef, Richard, will pop by for a chat. Note that Stockpot is closed on weekends.
Spicy food can be hard to come by in Riga, which is surprising since it can be a great way to warm up on a chilly Baltic night. Thankfully, Indian Raja turns up the heat with some truly fiery curries. Some of the dishes are so hot that the Latvian waitresses will actually warn you against ordering them! Don’t listen 🙂
For an elegant pre-theater meal, I suggest Forest Restaurant which is conveniently located across the canal from the Opera House. Service is fast (for Riga) and the seasonal international cuisine is as pretty as it is scrumptious. Reservations are essential.
When a friend told me to check out Riga’s new porridge restaurant, I was highly skeptical, wondering how my standard breakfast chow could be elevated to “gourmet” status. Kasha lives up to its name by utilizing a wide array of grown-up grains – quinoa, lentils, buckwheat, pearl barley – and high quality Latvian ingredients. The Greek salad with fried feta cheese and lentils, and the salmon fillet with beet risotto, are especially successful.
Think you can’t get good doner kebab or falafel in Riga? Think again! This popular eatery next door to the Swedish Embassy turns out dependable Turkish fare, from delectable wraps to heaping platters of iskender kebab – so long as they haven’t run out. FoodBox is packed come lunchtime! (The restaurant closes at 7pm and weekend hours seem to vary, so double check that it’s open before you go.)
Kolonade Address: Brivibas bulvaris 26, Center, Riga, Latvia Pricing: €€ Monterosso Address: Valnu iela 9, Old Town, Riga, Latvia Pricing: €€€ Portofino Address: Ausekla iela 7, Center, Riga, Latvia Pricing: €€€ Entresol Address: Elizabetes iela 22, Center, Riga, Latvia Pricing: €€€ Mute Address: Terbatas iela 63, Center, Riga, Latvia Pricing: €€ Amarone Address: Jura Alunana iela 2, Center, Riga, Latvia Pricing: €€ Bon Vivant Address: Marstaļu iela 8, Old Town, Riga, Latvia Pricing: €€ LIDO Address: Multiple Locations Pricing: € Naples Address: Eksporta iela 4, Andrejsala, Riga, Latvia Pricing: €€ Valmiermuzas Beer Kitchen Address: Aristida Briana iela 9, Center, Riga, Latvia Pricing: €€ Stockpot Address: Gertrudes iela 6, Center, Riga, Latvia Pricing: € Indian Raja Address: Skarnu iela 7, Old Town, Riga, Latvia Pricing: €€ Forest Address: Raina bulvaris 21, Center, Riga, Latvia Pricing: €€€ Kasha Gourmet Address: Stabu iela 14, Center, Riga, Latvia Pricing: €€ FoodBox Address: Antonijas iela 6A, Center, Riga, Latvia Pricing: €