Beer House: (I-2) Dunkri 5, tel. 627-6520.
Open: Sun.-Tue. 10-24; Wed-Thu. 10-02; Fri.-Sat. 10-24. What used to
be Raeköök is now a sometimes raucous and fun German beer
hall and micro-brewery (a Tallinn first). A vast, country-inn
interior, with German and Estonian schlager music ever roaring
in the background. Be sure to try the surprising in-house beer.
Country food at very good prices. When the weather’s good, sit on
the giant outdoor terrace. www.beerhouse.ee
Café VS: (C-3) Pärnu mnt. 28; tel. 627-2627. Open:10-01; Fri. 10-03, Sat. 12-03, Sun. 13-01. More than a restaurant and club, VS sports a downstairs bar with its own internet radio station
(www.radiobar.fm) and its own clothing label (Future Visions clothing). The decor is high-tech heavy-duty—almost nothing but the glassware is breakable—and the waitresses dress with a slight degree of naughty. The kitchen offers everything from a proper English breakfast to Indian food, and there’s a generous menu for vegetarians, too. Good service and good food make
VS worth the visit. www.cafevs.ee
The Englishman Pub: (C-3) Liivalaia 33, in the Reval
Hotel Olümpia; tel. 631-5831. Open:09-01; Sat. 16-03. The Englishman Pub
has gone so far as to offer bridge lessons; ask the bartenders for
cards and a quick introduction on how to play. The drawing room
atmosphere includes cricket pictures and golf trophies. This is one of
the only pubs in town that sees fit to play whole Beatles albums
as background music. Current British newspapers. www.revalhotels.com
Guitar Safari: (I-3) Müürivahe 22, tel. 641-1607; old city.
Open:12-03; Sat. 14-03, Sun. 13-03. A very good cellar bar for
thirty-, forty-somethingsor anyone who can actually tell Led
Zeppelin from a hole in the ground. More of a music club, Guitar
Safari emphasizes middle-class American rock. The main hall is
comfortable, with high cavernous ceilings and a stage. Live bands:
mostly local rock, blues and country.
Hell Hunt: (I-2) Pikk 39, tel. 681-8333. Open:12-til last guest.
If you haven’t been in a while, go. Tallinn’s first real tavern has been charmingly re-born as a more upscale version of the great bar it always was—a kinder, gentler wolf, if you will. Hell Hunt has its own beer, a good brew at a good price. And the fantastic wait staff will serve you a shepherd’s pie even after the kitchen has closed.
Hookah House: (C-3) Roosikrantsi 3, tel. 644-2266. Open:10-23; Fri. 10-02; Sat. 12-02; Sun. 12-23. Points for a great name, but after that we lose our enthusiasm. Hookah House is a train wreck between a Japanese restaurant and an opium den. The music is loud and, well, not to our tastes, but that doesn’t mean the 20-somethings aren’t going to make it a hit. (There’s a sign on the door which says you must be eighteen to enter, but we’re skeptical: the two times we’ve been it had the feel of a teenage pajama party.) In all cases, they surely have the biggest collection of water pipes in Estonia. We think Hookah House will become a good place to have a healthy lunch, if you can get them to turn down the music.
Ice Bar: (I-2) Dunkri 4, tel. 697-7500. Open: 10-23; Fri., Sat. 10-02. A very trendy ice-blue bar located in the Merchant’s House Hotel. It’s trendy yes, but it has preserved the medieval while adding the modern. Ice Bar will serve you shots in glasses made only of ice. Ice Bar calls itself the “coolest bar in town.” It just may be.
Kolumbus Krisostomus: (I-3) Viru 24; in the old
city; tel. 561-56924. Open:12-01; Sun., Mon. 12-23. A pub/restaurant. Roaring
fireplace and surrounding walls painted orange and yellow, dotted with red
rabbits - giving it all the look of a brightly colored Swedish quilt. On a
recent evening, they opted for funky '90s rock as background music; it was
played at slightly too high a volume for a pub that would otherwise be ideal
for long heart-to-heart chats. Occasional live bands.
Levist Väljas: (H-3) Olevimägi 12, in the old
city. Open:15-01; Fri., Sat. 15-03. This gritty, bohemian den is a
refreshing change of pace for Tallinn. After renovations, its more
comfortablethough (thankfully) still has a distinctive underground
feel. They spurn Top 40 hits here in favor of progressive rock,
good-taste house and even blues; on one recent evening, they
threw a Tom Waits album on. The counter culture spills in from the
dark cobblestone streets as the clock approaches midnight.
Lounge 8: (I-2) Vana-Posti 8; in the old city, adjacent to the Hollywood nightclub; tel. 627-4770. Open:12-24; Fri., Sat. 12-04. The name comes from the Vana-posti 8 address, but the number is turned on its side. Infinity. This is perhaps a secret signal to pagans, gnomons, or agents of the Dark Side.
Kaheksa is New York or Miami all the way—comfortable sofas and blinds right out of South Beach in Miami. On the outdoor terrace, columns separate the tables and create a sense of privacy, something rarely found outdoors. After dinner hours, the place packs in the chic and trendy.
Madissoni Grill & Bar: (J-4) Rävala pst.
3, next to the Radisson SAS Hotel; tel. 682-3422. Open:07-01;
Sun.11-23. Extremely tasteful, open and comfortable atmosphere: high
windows, and always good background music. Thanks in part to the Radisson
connection, they have amongst the best pub food in Tallinn. Live music
several times a month. A nice cocktail bar/lounge upstairs. www.madissoni.ee
Molly Malones: (I-2) Mündi 2, in the old
city, tel. 631-3016. Open:11-02; Fri., Sat. 11-04. A Nordic version of
an Irish pub. But it isnt spiritless: original aluminum Guinness
adverts hanging on the dark wood interior. Many clientele are tourists
who spill in from the cobblestone streets. This means Molly
Malones lacks a certain local flavor, but its lively. The
place has a view other bars would kill for: of the Town Hall. www.jjj-bars.com
Nimega Baar (Bar With a Name): (I-2)
Suur-Karja 13, the old city; tel. 620-9299. Open:11-02; Fri., Sat.
11-04. Bar With a Name shoots a little higher than its fine
sister bar (below), appealing to a slightly older, more discriminating
pub crawler. A major draw is the live music, featuring Estonias
best blues and rock bands. This is also a good place for a meal; they
serve Estonias best chili. Question: Isnt Bar With a Name
still a bar with no name?
Nimeta Bar (Bar With No Name):
(I-2) Suur-Karja 4/6, tel. 641-1515. Open: 11-02; Fri., Sat.
11-04. A long-time standout thats fun as ever. A great bar for
sports lovers; includes a big-screen TV. There's also a dance floor. This
place is a big favorite with expats. www.nimetabaar.ee
R.I.F.F. (I-4) Viru väljak 6, in the Viru
Keskus, tel. 610-1430. Open:11-24; nightclub open: Wed., Thu. 22-04;
Fri., Sat. 22-06. Se DINING OUT for details on this excellent new
Scotland Yard: (H-4) Mere pst. 6e, just outside the old city; tel. 653-5190. Open:12-24; Thu.-Sat. 12-03. A pub modeled after an old Scottish pub, only it’s bigger—stretching in all directions. A tip-off to the
Scotland Yard theme are waitresses’ totting handcuffs. There’s a stage for live music and a dance floor, as well as a giant fish tank over the bar.
Scotland Yard achieves the unlikely feat of being both vast and cozy.
Good range of pub food, too.
Seiklusjutte Maalt ja Merelt: (C-4) Tartu mnt.
44, by Central Market; tel. 601-0762. Open:11-24; Thu.-Sat. 11-02. A
good down-home Estonian pub tucked in an unexpectedly lovely
courtyard. The interior, with its high barnyard ceilings, is on the
mark. Background music can slip into Big Bang techno, but otherwise
favors mellow rock. Quite good pub food, too. www.seiklusjutte.ee
Soti Klubi (Scottish Club): (H-3) Uus
33, tel. 641-1666. Open:12-24; Sun. closed. Great selection of single
malt Scotches. Members-only, but they set aside a few hours a day for
the general public. Where Estonian VIPs and VIP wannabes meet to
fortify the ol boys network. www.scottishclub.ee
St. Patricks: Two locations near each
other in the old city, including a new one at Suur-Karja 8, and the
other at (I-2) Vana-Posti 7, old city;
tel. 631-4801. Open:11-02; Fri., Sat. 11-04. The new place on
Suur-Karja has the same good Irish feel, but is bigger and in a
show-stopping, gorgeous medieval-era merchant house. Ireland's got
nothing on this place. Wow! www.patricks.ee
Stereo: (I-2) Harju 6. It’s more than a lounge; it’s the Starship Enterprise. White padded furniture, white tables, white walls, and gray floors. The entire crew of the Enterprise (the waiters) are dressed head to toe in red, and a lit bar changes colors every few minutes (perhaps a cloaking device to keep Klingon ships at bay?) This Starship Enterprise offers a full menu at reasonable prices and a bathroom with a mix of Turkish and traditional toilets.
Sveiki Juures: (H-3) Uus 25, the old city; tel.
641-1021. Open:11-24. This place, named after a Czech cartoon
character, is a boisterous den of beer-swilling party animalsand
darn proud of it. They have whitewashed walls that they encourage you
to deface by scrawling your name on them. If youre looking for a
place to sit back and philosophize in a serene environment, this is definitely
not your place. Clientele are likely to break into song at any
Von Krahli Theater Bar: (I-2) Rataskaevu 10, in
the old city; tel. 626-9096. Open:12-01; Fri., Sat. 12-03. A hip,
fun-filled bar/nightclub. Many up-and-coming bands play here. A
wonderful range of music, from blues to house to heavy metal to punk.
Good, well-priced pub food.
Gloria Veinikelder (Gloria Wine Cellar): (J-2) Müürivahe 2, old city; tel.
644-8846. Open:11-23. This could be the best wine cellar in the
Baltics-and it's gotten even better with recent renovations that expanded into additional basement crevices.
Gloria Wine Cellar is now a lot more than a wine cellar: it's a full-fledged restaurant with a full menu of delicacies masterminded by Estonia's highly celebrated restaurateur, Dmitri
Demjanov-who also owns the outstanding Egoist and Gloria (which is just upstairs.) There's a gorgeous fireplace here, though you may have to fight other customers for the extreme pleasure of sitting next to it. As before,
Gloria Wine Cellar still features fine classical music, candlelight and turn-of-the-century furniture.
Kolme näoga mees (A Man with Three Faces): (I-2) Kuninga 1, tel. 648-4261.
Open:12-23; Fri., Sat. 12-24. Extremely romantic atmosphere, with hints of a left-bank Paris dive and a medieval-era den. Small and comfortably cluttered with cushions, cast-iron chairs and tapestries. Serves wine, but also pastries and coffee—so it could also double as a cafe. Friendly staff that is knowledgeable about wine. Soft jazz as background music. Live Spanish guitarist Fri. and Sat. night.
Musi: (I-2) Niguliste 6, tel. 644-3100.Good luck finding a table, as this place is very popular with the locals. And for good reason. It boasts a good wine list and a small, manageable menu. Intimate décor and attentive servers make this tiny place a real treat.
Tapas & Vino: (I-2) Suur-Karja tn. 4, tel. 631-3232. Open:11-24; Fri., Sat. 12-02. Great interior with food and service which doesn’t quite live up to the decor. The wait staff seem a bit hesitant and shy, and so the customer should take matters into his own hands and charge the bar—after all, it is tapas. There’s a reasonably priced (for a restaurant) wine list two pages long and seven selections of wine by the glass. A comfortable place to slip into for a midday glass of wine or light meal.
La Casa Del Habano: (I-2) Dunkri 2, the old city; tel. 644-5647.
Open:10-24; Sun. 12-18. Theres no place quite like this cigar lounge/bar anywhere in the Baltics!
They almost certainly have the regions most impressive selection of
cigarsall of which are meticulously stored in a high-tech cellar humidor.
(They also now have a humidor/sales outlet at the Radisson SAS
hotel.) The House of Havana teems with atmosphere, friendly facesand
cigar smoke. Its become the meeting place of choice for many resident
ex-pats. The management keeps any rowdy riff-raff at bay by serving costlier
cocktails. The heart of The House of Havana, the bar, feels like
someones living roomsoftly lit, with a red-brick floor and Nigerian art. To remind you that
Cuba is its main inspiration, theres a photo of Che Guevara at the bar.
While youre chatting, or playing chess on the house board, youre almost
obliged to have a cigar. The choice of Cuban brands is vast: they include Bolivar,
Montecristo, Cohiba, Punch, La Gloria, and Romeo
y Julietassaid to have been Churchills favorite. Once youre hooked
on Cubans, you might not be able to touch lesser cigars again. Habanos website
offers the uninitiated primers on how to identify a good cigar and how to smoke
it once you do. Among their sage advice: When you have finished savoring
your Havana cigar, dont stub it out. Leave it in an ashtray and it
will die out by itselfwith dignity. www.havanas.ee
Sigari Maja: (I-2) Raekoja plats 16, old town; tel. 631-4735. Cigar House has an old-world feel: paneled walls, leather couches, medieval beams and a fire place; the candle-lit room could be the set of a Hollywood murder mystery; you can imagine Sherlock Holmes here accusing the butler of doing it. They've got butlers, too, of sorts; waiters don black vests and, with a white glove, they light your cigars with the attentiveness of a brain surgeon.
Off the Beaten Track
Biker Pub: (C-1) Ülase 13A, southwest of the old city. A pub with a Harley theme.
More authentic then youd imaginewith Harleys out front and bikers at the bar
with Hells Angels scrawled on their leather jackets. Its in what must
have been an auto repair shop; the whole place has a surprisingly civilized feel.
Musics ZZ Top to KISS.
Bulldog Pub: Jaama 2, in Nõmme, a 15-minute drive south of the city
center. Its become a favorite of some resident ex-pats. Billiards and
table-soccer. They serve a mean peppered steak.
What's to Drink
The most popular beer in Estonia is Saku Originaal; Saku also
makes a fine dark porter, called Saku Tume, and also recently launched a
very good, much lighter-tasting beer called Saku on Ice; some say its
reminiscent of Miller Light. Tartu-brand beers are also good; Tartu
Alexander and A.Le Coq-series are especially highly regarded.
You can have an overview of Estonian beers here.
There are spirits aplenty. Many say the best locally-produced vodka is Viru Valge.
The Estonia-bottled Georgian brandy, called Gremi, is also a favorite. Saare
Džinn, a gin flavored with berries from the Estonian islands, is also popular.
Estonias national liqueur is the uniquely flavored Vana Tallinn. Detractors
say it tastes a bit like cough syrup, but others swear by it; taking it with beer or
coffee softens the kick a bit; theres also an nice ice cream made with Vana
Because Estonia has no big wine industry to protect, there are virtually no restrictions
on wine imports. This means the choice of international wines here is outstanding (see
WINE listing, above). The few locally-made wines, like the Põltsamaa
brand, tend to be on the sweet side. Põltsamaa now also makes a sweet
sparkling wine Fest.
As for bar snacks, many establishments serve run-of-the-mill peanuts and chips. But
the quintessential Estonian bar snack has to be soolaoad, or salted beans. Dried,
salted fishcomplete with eyes, fins and tailsare also served at many local
There's full list of Estonian-brand beers at www.BeerGuide.ee.
Among some of the better bands and soloists to keep your eye out for while you're in
Johanson Brothers: Godly folk sound. Acoustic guitar
Smilers: Ol fashioned, but high-energy, rock
and roll. Lead singer Hendrik Sal-Saller (whos also made a name for
himself in Finland) is outstanding.
Lindpriid: Specializing in pop/folk music from
before and during World War II. Professional, sublime sounddespite
the apparent simplicity. For enthusiasts of 30s and 40s music,
their albums are a must.
Ultima Thule: Arguably Estonias best rock
band; fantastic instrumentals and creativity. Lead singers Riho
Sibul and Tõnis Mägi are first-rate, world-class. Songs
on their Ultima Thule album are good to spectacular.
Jäääär (Jääboiler): Professional
folk/rock without the schlock of lesser Estonian bands. Excellent
instrumentation; intelligent lyrics.
Blacky: A dashing woman with a gravelly, Joplin-esque
voice. Rock mainstream.
Maarja: Pop soloist with a voice like a bell.
Ines: Said to be an Estonian Britney Spears;
equally vacuous song lyrics, but still fun.
Urb Brothers: Refreshing sound, great
harmonies. A touch of Peter, Paul and Mary. Outstanding!
Hedvig Hanson: Blues, jazz, rock. Music agents
combing Estonia for talent just have to see Hanson in action.
Saxappeal Band: An excellent jazz
bandDixieland to Fusion. A great dance band.
Jaxy: Very good, Chris-Rea feel.
Siiri Sisask: Good-taste, funky pop.
Compromise Blue: Heavy blues. Great horn
section. Great drummer.
Tõnis Mägi: A national treasure. Ą la
Billy Joel, he often performs solo on piano.
Vennaskond: Good progressive punk.
Kukerpillid: Pop country/folk music.
Justament: Good country/folk.
Terminaator: Rockers with attitude.
Rock Hotel/Ivo Linna: Grandpas of Estonian
rock. Sounds of the 60s.
Mr. Lawrence: The Estonian U2.
Blind: A good Estonian pop/rock band.
Untsakad: Folk ą la accordion.
Folkmill: Another good folk band.
Noorkuu: A cappella pop.
Jüri Homenja: Sings love-songs in Estonian,
Russian and Italian.