Kick back in Rostov-on-Don to enjoy some of the best local cuisine in the Russian south. At least one of Rostov-on-Don’s eateries has won world renown but there are other gems to discover, from rich Russian cooking to delicately made pizzas. And after your meal expect to be able to enjoy the summer nights at one (or several) of the city’s buzzing watering holes.
Fans of Mary Wong never tire of mentioning that a few years ago London trend forecaster The Future Laboratory named the restaurant as having one of the top ten most innovative interior designs in the world. Mary Wong kickstarted a design revolution in the city with its aesthetic straight out of Blade Runner: pink-tinged neon, noir mood lighting and contemporary Asian cool. Even the bathroom, with its red neon and Japanese lettering, is a must see. Try the Black Mary, a black noodle dish served with cream, tomato sauce, chicken fillet, chorizo and pickled cucumber. Wait for your noodles while playing on one of the games consoles, then eat up and cross the avenue to Golodranets, the city’s hippest bar.
Address: 96 Shaumyana Street
You’ll find Setter’s along the main pedestrian drag in town. It’s the kind of institution where your filter coffee or bruschetta will be brought to you by an aspiring young writer who knows how to make friendly conversation, so be generous with your tips. The hints of Soviet design in the interior are a nod to the tradition of Rostov modernism. The syrniki (curd fritters) and cocoa come recommended. For a proper meal, the roast beef and vegetable bowl are fantastic, and the fresh pastries will provide quick sustenance to snack on whilst working at your laptop. It also makes for a good breakfast option if on your way to exploring the C52 creative cluster or Don State Public Library. The cafe is dog friendly, and in summer you’ll be able to enjoy your coffee on the outdoor terrace.
Address: 181 Pushkin Street
The Siyanie wine list was drawn up with the help of the sommelier of another Rostov institution, LEO Wine & Kitchen. It’s hard not to be drawn in, even if you aren’t much of a drinker. Beautiful people, an intoxicating atmosphere enhanced by tropical plants and a winning location account for the popularity of the place. Find new friends among the people hanging out on the summer terrace below the red IN WINE WE TRUST neon sign, which casts a dramatic Lynchian light over everything. Try the caramelised pear with cheese, or the duck if you’re feeling hungry, then wash it down with a bottle of Don wine, arguably the finest that Russia has to offer.
Address: 52 Gazetny pereulok
A new bar from the people behind Golodranets. The street it’s on will be hidden behind a fake facade during the World Cup, as the local authorities weren’t able to renovate it in time. All the more reason, then, for the locals to gather here to drink out of sight of the fans. Don’t let the giant tree inside the bar fool you – this is no fancy cocktail bar. Nurse a Belgian craft beer and take in the aesthetically charged atmosphere, which has been described as reminiscent of Budapest’s ruin bars. The interior seems perfectly fit for a monastic spread with its many candelabras, and happily the menu offers excellent bread and cheese (try the cheese balls which are a local delicacy), as well as mustard and nuts.
Address: 118 Stanislavkogo Street
A vegetarian eatery with an elegant design, good music and competent service is a rarity for the city. The service is as fast as fast food, and even the most overbearing grandmother wouldn’t think to serve falafel with hummus and vegetables in portions this large. The free cucumber water is a nice bonus.
Address: 21 Suvorova Street
Burrak plays with tourists’ expectations of Rostov, so be ready to experience the brazenness of the locals. If a rugged-looking character with a black eye approaches your table, fidget spinner in hand, just relax – the waiter is ready to take your order. Try the Don crayfish, but be warned: non-Russians may not be ready for the quantity of dill used to as a garnish.
Address: 83 Prospekt Kirovsky
A craft beer bar opened by Motorama indie rocker Maxim Polivanov. The place is so popular that you’ll have to fight your way through the entrance and across the room. The crowd is noisy, and there’s no food apart from the free pretzels (which the bartenders often need reminding about anyway). The interior might be nothing to write home about, but the crazed atmosphere makes this one of Rostov’s true hotspots for fashionistas. Fill up at Mary Wong, a noodle house across the street.
Address: 67 Shaumyana Street
Camorra pizza e birra
Three friends brought their concept of a Naples-via-St Petersburg port bar to the Rostov cultural scene, serving beer and thin-crust pizza with both meat-friendly and vegetarian options. Soft drinks include camomile tea and lemonade. The atmosphere at Camorra is friendly – don’t be surprised to see the same faces here day in day out. The bartenders are keen followers of sport too, so you can ask for match updates.
Address: 21 Suvorova Street