One thing that continually impresses me about Riga is its well-developed cafe scene. First-time visitors to the city might be surprised to find expertly-brewed coffee, delectable pastries, and free WiFi at nearly every turn. Many cafes offer affordable business lunch sets of two or three courses for less than 10 euros. You will definitely not go hungry in this city! My go-to choices remain Art Cafe Sienna, Bakeberry, Makonis, Rocket Bean, and Index – which you can read about in parts one and two of this series. But variety is the spice of life, especially when that variety comes in pastry form. Add some zest with these Riga cafes!
A swath of central Riga between Gertrudes and Stabu ielas has become super trendy and packed with dining options in the last few years. Among the newest entrants is Cafeterius Riga. This cute little cafe beckons visitors with its cozy window nooks and keeps them happy with outstanding service and tasty treats. I followed the advice of the friendly gal behind the counter and tried their homemade Riga Black Balsam Currant cake. I encourage everyone to do the same – it’s fabulous! Quiches, salads, and sandwiches are also available.
A few blocks away is popular bakery Beze Konditoreja. The display cases are filled with beautiful confections that are surprisingly affordable; I don’t feel even a little guilty about ordering two at a time! Cakes and desserts are also available for pre-order should you wish to make your next event a little more special.
Famed Latvian bread maker Laci has opened a new cafe on Terbatas iela, and the aroma wafting out its doors is irresistible. Inside on the counter, baskets overflow with freshly baked cinnamon buns and savory meat pies. Cases by the door are stacked with pretty pastries and topped with trays of marmalade candy. Sip a latte while enjoying your treats in the back cafe area, then pick up a loaf of bread to go. Whole cheesecakes and tortes are also available.
Latvian men have jumped on the facial hair bandwagon and a slew of chic barber shops have opened accordingly. One is Knockout Barbershop, which has several locations around Riga including one inside the hipster pub, Vest. The dining room/bar area overlooks the barbershop so that you essentially get free entertainment while you eat. While not technically a cafe in the truest sense, Vest offers one of Riga’s better business lunches (two courses for €7). Bonus: all the waitstaff are impeccably groomed.
Trusis means “rabbit” in Latvian and, as you would guess, this cafe serves up healthy vegetarian lunch sets. (One meat option is also usually available.) The tastiest dishes tend to sell out so arrive early for the best selection. And if you see vegetarian lasagna on the menu, run don’t walk for a slice of that cheesy goodness. But I’d skip dessert.
You’ll find sweeter offerings at Mon Amour cafe, tucked in an Old Riga alley near St. Peter’s Church. Mon Amour’s homemade cheesecakes are divine! My luscious slice was topped with a silky caramel ganache and fresh strawberry sauce – definitely a winning combination! This charming spot also serves savory snacks for lunch and weekend brunch.
Caffee Pasedet immediately grabs your attention thanks to its half-timber facade. The interior is just as striking, with its brightly colored retro decor. In addition to an excellent value business lunch set (two courses and a drink for €5.30), Pasedet serves a variety of soups, salads, and pastas, as well as more substantial dinner plates.
Parunasim bills itself as “the most romantic cafe in Riga.” I don’t know if that’s true, but Parunasim does have one of the best locations: it’s hidden within an alcove of St. Jacob’s Church, which dates to the Middle Ages. Pricing, though, is definitely 21st century. The creamy fruit pies here are delightful, and you can never go wrong with a glass of vino. Other items are hit or miss.
A more dependable, albeit less glamorous, cafe is Martina. Favored by locals, Martina churns out high-quality baked goods at affordable prices. Martina is so popular, in fact, that it can be hard to find a seat. Take your goodies to go instead and enjoy them on a nearby park bench. A half dozen mixed berry tarts should do the trick 😉
Another local favorite is Vecriga, a chain specializing in old fashioned pastries like grandma used to make. The star item in their repertoire is abolu kartaina, or apple “puff.” Kind of like a sheet pie, abolu kartaina consists of a cinnamony apple filling between layers of flaky pastry crust. The dish is a classic, and a Latvian friend assured me that Vecriga makes the best.
For more modern confections, head to Ze Donats cafe. The wildly colorful donuts were a hit with my family and guests. The hazelnut cream donuts (lazduriekstu kremigs) are reminiscent of Nutella and were unsurprisingly a crowd pleaser. Ze Donats’ coffee is also pretty good. I usually take everything to go, though seating is available.
Those with a serious sweet tooth should check out the vibrant eclairs at Fat Cat bakery. Opened in April 2017, Fat Cat already has a loyal following and it’s easy to see why. The gorgeously decorated eclairs come in a wide array of scrumptious flavors, like dulce de leche, white chocolate and lavender, and rum-raisin. Good luck deciding which to try first!
BONUS: Rocket Bean Bruvetava
Fans of Rocket Bean Roastery will be delighted to find a branch in Old Riga! This small coffee shop, dubbed Rocket Bean’s “little brother,” serves the perfect fuel for a long day of sightseeing.
Do you have a favorite Riga cafe? Tell me about it in the comments!
Cafeterius Riga Address: Terbatas iela 45, City Center, Riga, Latvia Pricing: €€ Beze Konditoreja Address: Brivibas iela 76, City Center, Riga, Latvia Pricing: € Laci Address: Terbatas iela 34, City Center, Riga, Latvia Pricing: € Vest Address: Stabu iela 1, City Center, Riga, Latvia Pricing: €€ Trusis Address: Dzirnavu iela 43, City Center, Riga, Latvia Pricing: €€ Mon Amour Address: Jana iela 14, Old Town, Riga, Latvia Pricing: €€ Caffee Pasedet Address: Stabu iela 10/2, City Center, Riga, Latvia Pricing: €€ Parunasim Address: Maza Pils iela 4, Old Town, Riga, Latvia Pricing: €€€ Martina Bakery Address: Valnu iela 28, Old Town, Riga, Latvia Pricing: € Vecriga Address: Multiple locations; I like the one on Krisjana Valdemara iela Pricing: € Ze Donats Address: Krisjana Valdemara iela 18, City Center, Riga, Latvia Pricing: € Fat Cat Eklernica Address: Maza Jauniela, Old Town, Riga, Latvia Pricing: €€ Rocket Bean Bruvetava Address: Kaleju iela 21, Old Town, Riga, Latvia Pricing: €€