What comes to mind when you think of Riga? Probably not Latvian cuisine. However, this Baltic nation’s food is becoming less of secret after it was awarded the European Region of Gastronomy title in 2017. Wedged between Scandinavia and Eastern Europe, Latvia's gastronomy is heavily influenced by its neighbors but also impacted by native traditions/ingredients. As an added bonus, even the best restaurants in Riga serve food at reasonable prices.
Sure, there's other stuff you should see. Riga is famous for its medieval Old Town, the House of Blackheads, several cathedrals and its city center (in which 800+ buildings are of the Art Noveau style of architecture). Work up an appetite walking around and then spend the rest of your time exploring Riga's budding food/beverage scene!
Below, I have compiled a list of restaurants that should not be missed if you find yourself in Riga.
Stop at Kukotava for a coffee/tea and be sure to treat your taste buds to a pastry or two. The smell of the place will make your mouth water. If you want something more substantial than baked goods, you might consider Riits for a delicious, organic brunch in an cute place with an open kitchen and adorable interior design.
Go to Biblioteka No 1 for Instagrammable decor, views of Vērmane Park, impeccable service, creative cuisine and a strong wine list. The website doesn't do it justice, but trust me, you should go.
Stop by Black Magic Bar, after exploring the old town, to discover Riga’s national drink, Black Balsam. Also, enjoy some chocolates. Behind the bookcase door, there are hidden stairs down to the alchemist’s laboratory.
If you fancy a mid-day New Zealand sauvignon blanc, hit up Kiwi Bar. Situated under St. Peter's Church in Riga's old town, this casual sports bar is a nice place to rest your feet.
Head up to the 26th floor of the Radisson Blu Latvija Conference & Spa Hotel, for views at the Skyline Bar. It's a nice place to watch the city transform from day to night.
If you're looking for a grand meal, book dinner in advance at Vincent's. This place offers Michelin Star level food from one of the best chefs in Eastern Europe, Martins Ritins. The ingredients are of the highest quality and expertly sourced. The service is professional and attentive. The cost might be high by Latvian standards, but is reasonable in comparison to what you'd pay at comparable restaurants in other European capitals.
After dinner, walk about 5-minutes down the road and enjoy aperitifs at Left Door Bar. Great atmosphere and delicious cocktails.
KNOW BEFORE YOU GO:
Use Taxify, now called Bolt, as an incredibly inexpensive and efficient way to get around town.
They drive on the right-hand side of the street.
They use the Euro and everything is cheap (in comparison to London).
European plugs are used.