When it comes to eating and drinking in Russia’s warm southern coast, Sochi has perhaps the best array of cuisines as well as culinary styled in the region, with some of the most mouthwatering fresh produce, from Abkhazian tangerines to an array of cheeses you’ve probably never heard of. For the best flavours of southern Russian fare, look no further than our list of the top restaurants and bars on the ‘Russian Riviera’.
It’s early morning in Sochi and Baran Rapan chef Andre Kolodyazhny is collecting wild herbs high in the mountains. He will later use the tarragon, coriander, burdock, fern and other herbs he finds to rethink traditional Caucasian dishes. It’s not for nothing that people call him “gastrobotanic”. The menu boasts curious combinations such as lamb tongue with Abkhazian tangerines, palm bread with date butter, mullet with adyghe cheese, nettle sorbet and even buckwheat candies. Dinner at Baran Rapan may not come cheap, but it’s definitely worth it.
Address: 11 Teatralnaya Street
Arkady Novikov, Russia’s most famous restaurateur, is now the owner of Gianni Versace’s beloved villa on the shores of Lake Como. In Sochi, however, the most visible sign of his success is the Vysota 5642 restaurant, which combines a burger bar, bakery and traditional Circassian cuisine on the Olympic Embankment. The burgers were immediately crowned the best in Sochi when the restaurant launched, and the enormous meringues and colourful pies stuffed with figs, mulberries and other local berries quickly found their way onto Instagram. What Vysota 5642 offers is an elegant, refined introduction to the cuisine of the people who ruled the Black Sea coast of the Caucasus, before being defeated by the imperial army in the Caucasian War.
Address: 50 65-Let Pobedi Street
In marked contrast to the ritzy new projects backed by Moscow investors — which are often to be found empty — this legendary establishment serving khinkali (juicy meat dumplings) is always overflowing with customers. Serious-looking business types hold meetings over khinkali chased down with a shot of Russia’s finest. Smoking is almost compulsory and the music is simply awful, but that doesn’t take away from the succulence of the khinkali. The standard five dumplings with white sauce is, as ecstatic Foursquare users concur, the best in town. Connoisseurs insist on a vodka accompaniment but khinkali are also dizzyingly delicious with a soft drink.
Address: 9 Ordzhonikidze Street
Boasting a terrace with panoramic views over the sea, D.O.M Rooftop Bar is among the trendiest spaces in the city. At night, star DJs from the capital provide a killer atmosphere, while daytime guests are treated to European and pan-Asian cuisine. There’s good news for karaoke fans – D.O.M is bringing back what was one of Russia’s favourite pastimes during the Noughties, but in a radically revamped format.
Address: 1a Nesebrskaya Street
Unlike many new wave coffeeshops that make you feel embarrassed for ordering an ordinary americano instead of going for lungo, aeropress or Hario, Sochi’s Wood Coffee serves such “alternative” coffees in a truly friendly atmosphere. Order homemade cookies or granola for breakfast, or taste a refreshing lemonade on the terrace at lunch. Looking for a pet? The owners shelter lost dogs and help them find a new family.
Address: 2 Morskoy Pereulok
Khudozhestvenniy is one of the stars of Sochi’s Kurortny Avenue. Once home to local painters, Khudozhestvenniy is a wonderful example of modernist architecture, boasting a stunning glass cupola and, without a doubt, the best cocktails in town. The owners have kept the building’s artsy spirit — a fresco from a 1650 book on multiculturalism sits under the impressive dome, while a series of paintings adorns the walls. The cocktail menu is changed every four months, each time inspired by a new art tradition, with delicious snacks also available. Hear intellectual talks and funky tunes on a Friday, or spend the evening by the window watching the flicker of headlights as traffic passes down the road.
Address: 29 Kurortny Prospekt
Kak v Moskve
In Kak v Moskve, menu entries Chistiye Prudi, Tyoplyi Stan, Arbat or Ostankinskyi (Moscow metro stations) describe Sochi classics like cheburek or barabulki. A fashionable loft interior will remind you a bit of Soviet Moscow, which is completed by serving staff in folk costumes and flared trousers. There is a lot to remind you of football here, but it’s not as bad as most sport bars. The second floor, with its huge screens, sofas and great views is one of the best places for dedicated football fans who are looking to watch matches in exquisite comfort.
Address: 50 Kurortny Prospekt