Using seasonal, locally-sourced ingredients to create Latvian-fusion dishes, Austra manages to be both fashionable and unpretentious, high-end yet reasonably priced. Its grey and white minimalist interior provides an effortlessly chic backdrop to casual lunches or more special occasions, with the food evolving from lighter lunch fare to more elaborate, innovative dishes in the evening. For a little live-action cooking, head up to the open-plan kitchen on the second floor. Top tip: stop by for a set lunch and feel smug that you’ve enjoyed one of the best bargains to be had in the city.
You’ve had doner kebab, now try Latgalian. Reigys Ausmeņa is a hipster hotspot that adds an east Latvian touch to kebab and falafel pitas that are washed down with the bread-based drink kvass or šmakovka (Latgalian moonshine). Enjoy the pot plant decor and a little linguistic fun as you attempt to read the menu: the writing is, quite literally, on the wall, and it’s all in Latgalian dialect. Open until 2am, this spot is ideal for lunches or post-party snacking.
Trendy cafe-cum-bike-shop-cum-veggie-haven Miit began life as a bicycle repair shop that also served drinks, and has since evolved into a speciality coffeehouse and vegetarian bistro. On weekdays you can enjoy an exceptionally tasty and reasonably priced set lunch (soup, main course, plus salad), while coffee snobs can rejoice all week long in the expertly brewed offerings: Chemex, French Press, Aeropress, V60. Got a flat tire while on the way to Mitt’s wonderfully central location? You can still get your ride repaired at the bike shop behind the bar.
With locations both in Centrs and up-and-coming Āgenskalns, Fazenda brings together vintage with refined, yet vibrant, international dishes. The atmosphere combines the vibe of a Latvian farmhouse with that of a summer spent in Provence, while the on-site bakery will see you ditching the diet. Enjoy a breakfast of barley pancakes with maple syrup or a lunch of flavourful lamb goulash followed by a homemade crème brûlée.
Why go to a gallery and then a café when you could go to both at once? This kind of efficiency is the name of the game at Galerija Istaba, where in-house restaurant Bufete opens up onto a fantastic view of the exhibition space. In line with the gallery’s name – “Istaba” means “room” – each table at Bufete is designed to remind diners of a particular room, while the restaurant’s chefs deliver a simple, but high quality menu. Along with the gallery and restaurant, Galerija Istaba is home to a shop selling artisan jewellery, postcards, crockery, CDs and books.
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