Tipping hasn’t yet developed into an exact science here in Estonia, so many visitors end up following the tipping custom of their home country. Reservations are recommended for better restaurants, especially for Friday and Saturday evenings.
Amarillo: (B-3) Viru väljak 4, in the Sokos Hotel Viru,
tel. 680-9280. Open:12-01, Fri., Sat. 12-02. Good Tex-Mex food,
atmosphere and bar. They also have a nice and spacious summer
Baby Back Ribs & BBQ: Kallaste Keskus 12, Tabasalu, (watch for the metal highway sign off Klooga mnt.); tel. 600-5563.
Baby Back gets everything right, starting with its sense of humor. The Top Dog (his official title), Paul Lepik, has made sure that American-sized portions are served by barbecue-savvy waitresses who can recite volumes on the differences between smoked and grilled ribs. The food and service are both excellent—and the prices very reasonable. They serve ribs, pizza, burgers, soups, and salads. There is a playroom for kids and a kids’ menu. The Baby Back people possibly know more about American BBQ than most Americans.
Cantina Carramba: (B-5) Weizenbergi 20a, next to Kadriorg Park, outside the city center; tel. 601-3431. Open:12-23; Sun. 12-20.
Cantina Carramba is arguably the best Tex-Mex place in Tallinn. It’s a cottage-sized restaurant with saddles on the rafters and photos of Mexican bandits nailed to the walls. The service here is good, defying the sign above the bar declaring, “The Client is Always Wrong.” Ribs to excellent fajitas—even milkshakes. Good-cheer atmosphere.
Pizza Americana: (J-2) Müürivahe 2, in the old city, just off Vabaduse Square, tel. 644-8837. Open:11:30-22:30. Pizza Americana has been making thick-crust, Chicago-style pizza for ten years now, so you know they’re doing something right. The owners strictly control that ingredients are added in the correct amounts, so customers don’t find themselves cheeseless. Also, for 45 EEK (about 3 euros), their pizza taxi will deliver.
Texas Honky Tonk: (H-2) Pikk 43, under American and Texas
flags; tel. 631-1755. Open:12-24; Fri.-Sat.12-02. You're encouraged to whoop it up
at Texas Honky Tonk and dance to lively and loud country, blues or rock—which is occasionally live. The food on offer is a mixture of Tex-Mex and down-home-at-the-ranch American dishes. The main difference with the real thing back in the Lone Star State is that this Estonian equivalent is cleaner and classier; it’s got the requisite U.S. flags and battered Texas license plates nailed to the ceilings and walls—but the dim light and pastel walls give it that extra bit of refinement. You’re still invited to dress shabbily, in your grimiest-looking boots and jeans.
Bakuu: (I-2) Harju 7/9, tel. 699- 9680. Open:09:30-24, Fri., Sat. 11-02, Sun. 1-23. Bakuu features the cuisine of Azerbaijan, and this is definitely the place to go for really great shashlyk. Not the best service, but the nice outdoor seating and food compensate. For more than one person, we recommend ordering the “‘Bakuu’ Assorted Shish kebab for a couple.”
Must Lammas: (I-3) Sauna 2, in the old city; tel. 644-2031. Open:12-23; Sun. 12-18. Serves classy food from the Caucasus. Some dishes hit closer to target than others, but many are a delight. Their forte is appetizers, like the show-stopping stuffed grape leaves,
dolma, and hachapuri. You could order appetizers alone and come away full—and
fully satisfied. Traditional Georgian rugs on the walls. Service tends to be top-rate with several veteran waiters who know what they are doing. The Black Lamb, more than the other Caucasian options, is a good venue for more formal nights out.
Šeš-Beš: (C-4) Gonsiori 9, tel. 661-1422. Open: Mon.-Thu. 10-01; Fri., Sat. 10-02; Sun. 11-23. The focus of this good restaurant is food from Azerbaijan. The interior is quite tasteful, with a slight oriental flavor: violet, orange and blue drapes hanging from the ceiling. The shish kebabs are cooked before your eyes and are tasty; the cooks are Azeri, so there’s a mark of authenticity to all the dishes. Prices are reasonable.
(C-2) Endla 23, tel. 666 4807 in the Unique Stay Mihkli. The original Uniquestay Cafe made a name for itself by offering good food
at local prices. They’ve done the same with La Boheme—expect western-quality food and service at affordable prices.
Asian Aroma: (C-3) Süda 1, tel. 627-8977. Open: 11-23. With 106
food items on the menu, you can’t claim they don’t have something
for everyone. All the dishes are made for two which makes this place
an incredible value. The food is very good and the service is fast.
It’s almost “fast food,” but without the negatives usually
associated with that concept. Food to go, too. We recommend it.
Kathmandu Hill: (C-3) Pärnu mnt. 36, tel. 631-4212. Open:11-23. Open:11-22:30. This place has achieved a challenging feat: Offering moderately priced food that’s also top-notch quality. A mix of Chinese and Indian dishes that you can eat here or take away.
Little China: (H-3) Vene 30, tel. 631-3126. Open:12-23. Some say the Chinese food at this restaurant, built into an old city wall, is the best Chinese in town.
For a brief overview of Estonian food—see here.
Eesti Maja (Estonian House): (C-3) Lauteri 1, tel. 645-5252; in the city center, by the Foreign Ministry. Open:11-23. The emphasis is completely on Estonian cuisine and it’s hard to imagine it being done any better. There’s no sense the cooks are just going through the motions, cooking, so to speak, by the numbers. It’s among the most authentic Estonian food in town. The bean soup to the
verivorst to the sült hit the mark. www.eestimaja.ee
Kuldse Notsu Kõrts (The Little Piggy Inn): (I-2) Dunkri 8, old city; tel. 628-6567. Open:12-24. Whether or not this is exactly what old Estonian inns looked like may be open to question. But in sheer comfort, good cheer and fine food, one would like to believe they were just like
The Little Piggy Inn. A roaring fire place in the center of the main room sets the mood for the entire restaurant, which is run by the same people who do the impressive
Schlössle and St. Petersbourg hotels. There’s a grandfather clock in one corner, wagon wheels for lamps and beer mugs hanging from the ceiling. Estonian country wisdom is scrawled on the white walls, including advice to the lazy that “a mouse doesn’t just run into the cat’s mouth.”
Vanaema Juures (Grandma’s Place): (I-2) Rataskaevu 10/12, tel. 626-9089. Open:12-22; Sun. 12-18. The name captures this restaurant perfectly: it’s nothing especially refined, but it wouldn’t be grandma-like if it was, now would it? Located in a cavernous old-city basement, furnished with 1920s-30s period furniture and decked out with faded family photographs. Here, unlike at many Tallinn restaurants, the music’s in harmony with the atmosphere: ’20s and ’30s tunes that sound like they’re being played on a prewar gramophone.
Egoist: (H-3) Vene 33, old city; tel. 646-4052. Open:12-24; Sun. closed. Walking around this stately restaurant in Tallinn, you half expect to turn a corner and bump into Winston Churchill chomping on a cigar. The truly awe-inspiring interior here conjures up visions of high-society, pre-war Europe. But there is also a warm, loving touch to
Egoist—an indulgence of owner and well-known Tallinn restaurateur
Dimitri Demjanov. There are three or four different dining areas here—including several discrete private rooms. The cuisine echoes its sister restaurant
Gloria, with a menu of lovely lamb and duck dishes. A meal for two, however, can easily set you back 100 dollars or more. But if you want to be treated like royalty, if you’re firmly convinced you deserve it,
Egoist is your place.
Gloria: (I-2) Müürivahe 2, old city; tel. 644-6950.
Open:12-23:30. This top-class restaurant feels like a step back in time to high-society Europe of the 1930s. The interior is decked out with Art Nouveau originals, all of which graced restaurants in the Estonian capital before the war. The artifacts, from owner
Dimitri Demjanov’s private collection, make this a veritable museum of pre-war design. The beautiful and distinctive atmosphere sets just the right stage for the cuisine—served by extraordinarily attentive waiters and waitresses. In line with the old Europe nostalgia,
Gloria offers before and after-dinner Cuban cigars. Thanks to the outstanding
Gloria Wine Cellar, linked to the restaurant, they also have the best wine list in Tallinn. A meal for two costs around 100 dollars.
Le Bonaparte: (H-3) Pikk 45; old city; tel. 646-4444. Open:12-24; Sun closed.
Le Bonaparte is very impressive. The interior designers let the medieval interior—its majestic wooden beams, its broad, crooked windows and stone walls—speak for themselves. The medieval atmosphere mixes unexpectedly well with continental class: the silver tableware, the lanky candleholders and the classical music. The menu is, naturally, exclusively French; everything they do, they do well.
Pika Jala Restoran: (I-2) Pikk jalg 16, tel. 644-1344. Open:10-23; Sun.
Pika Jala Restoran, named after the so called long-leg road that winds down from the upper old city, is wonderfully understated; it’s classy but they don’t try to woo and wow you. Soft lighting, soft music and high windows that frame medieval houses across the cobblestoned street. Great French country-style salads, soups, sandwiches and much more. The cook here is widely celebrated as one of the best in Estonia.
Baieri Kelder (The Bavarian Cellar): (J-2, C-3) Roosikrantsi 2a, downstairs from the
Scandic St. Barbara; tel. 640-7440. Open:12-23. Ideal if you’re big on German cuisine. Located in a cavernous, red-bricked cellar, this restaurant has elements of a fine hofbrauhaus: heavy tables, bratwurst, soft German music and German beer on draft.
Baieri Kelder will probably not be sufficient if you are looking for a place to cut loose and maybe swing from the chandeliers at midnight. This is a more relaxed, gentlemanly venue. Good sausages, sauerkraut, dumplings, and more. The main courses are so filling you can feel like you’ve just eaten a horse. (Hot tip: order half portions.) Waiters and waitresses are clad in Bavarian-style uniforms.
Egeri Kelder: (C-3) Roosikrantsi 6; tel. 644-8415. Open:12-22; Sat., Sun. closed. Good Hungarian food. A good place in central Tallinn for a quick lunch.
Kapten Tenkes: (C-3) Pärnu
mnt. 30, tel. 644-5630. Open:12-23; Sun. 13-22. An eye-catching
Hungarian restaurant; rings of garlic draped with ribbons the color of
Hungary’s flag hang from the ceiling; Hungarian folk and pop music
in the background; assorted Hungarian decor, including a St.
Stephen’s coat-of-arms over the door. Hungarian wines and some
imported beers. The food, while generally good, seems somewhat
modified to suit delicate local palates. www.hot.ee/tenkes
Elevant: (I-2) Vene 5, old city; tel. 631-3132. Open:12-23. A windy wrought-iron staircase carries you upstairs where funky Casbah meets elegance.
Elevant’s open and airy décor is an atmosphere of Eastern inspirations recreated using natural paints and fabrics. The thing that really distinguishes
Elevant from all the other Indian restaurants in Tallinn is its casualness. The dining chairs made out of wicker are so sprawling and comfortable, they invite you to kick out your feet and slouch. The background music of choice isn’t traditional Indian, but rather ambient Indo-techno that is surprisingly soothing. Food quality is good here but the price-quality ratio is a main attraction. Around 30 dollars for a full meal for two.
Maharaja: (I-2) Raekoja plats 13, the old city; tel. 644-4367. Open:12-23.
Maharaja was one of the first Western-class restaurants in the Baltics. When it opened in 1991, it was water in a desert of crummy, customer-unfriendly dumps. It’s slid a bit since its glory days, but remains a sentimental favorite of many.
Safran: Pärnu mnt. 364, tel. 670-1291. Open:12-23; closed Sun. Chef Manish Kumar can make your vindaloo as hot as you like it—or not hot as the case may be. This cozy non-smoking restaurant (seven tables) in the Nõmme district has excellent service and food to match. Weather permitting, there is seating for 16 on the balcony where smoking is permitted. It’s family-friendly: they have non-Indian food for the kids. Also sells eastern spices wholesale. Catering.
Tanduur: (I-2) Vene 7/Apteegi 6, in the old city; tel. 631-3084. Open:12-24. Tanduur has the mark of good taste—though some complain service has slipped. The interior is elegant but not too stiff; the miniature lights embedded in the bamboo-lined ceiling create a sense you’re sitting under stars somewhere in the hinterlands of India. The soft Indian music adds just the right touch of the exotic without giving the place the feel of a theme park.
Aed: (I-2) Rataskaevu 8, tel. 626-9088. For a garden-fresh, healthy experience. Peeter Jalakas, the theatre director who stages productions at Von Krahl, has recently turned his attention to food, creating a classical restaurant menu with a hippie touch. Aed (which translates as “garden”) offers healthy things in unexpected combinations (lentils on a fried pumpkin, chickpeas and seaweed) and gets things right. Of interest are the plasma-screen televisions on each wall (no worries: they don’t show sports) which “broadcast” classical artwork throughout your meal. The waitresses seem to be still finding their footing—service is not yet as good as the food—but this can be forgiven in a labor market where half the young people are away earning better wages in wealthier EU countries.
African Kitchen: (G-3) Uus 34, tel. 644-2555. Open:10-01; Fri., Sat. 10-03. Chef Paul Sunmola of Lagos, Nigeria, has close to a dozen kinds of rice on the menu, including coconut and onion.
African Kitchen offers Nkatenkwan (chicken peanut), Mchicha (from Tanzania),
Suya (the African answer to tandoori), Eron Dindin, Mafe, and many other hard-to-pronounce dishes. The restaurant is decorated with African tribal art and features two non-smoking rooms. A sauna is available for rent which offers full bar and restaurant service.
Argentiina: (J-2) Pärnu mnt. 19, tel. 660-5177. Open:12-24. A good South-American restaurant. Grilled meats cooked on an open stove in the middle of the restaurant.
Balthasar: (I-2) Raekoja plats 11, old city; tel. 627-6400. Open:12-24. Medieval atmosphere can’t get much more authentic than this: here, you half expect Romeo and Juliet to come skipping down the foyer staircase. Balthasar, named after a medieval-era chronicler from Tallinn, sits atop Estonia’s famed 13th century Town Hall Square pharmacy. The place has original beams, floorboards and windows looking out across Estonia’s most famous and beloved cobblestone square.
Balthasar markets itself as a “garlic restaurant,” but you can still eat here and not come away with breath to stop a clock. But it’s true
Balthasar is, ultimately, hog heaven for garlic lovers: garlic-laced dishes include chicken salad with apricot-garlic sauce and the dubious-sounding ice cream with honey and garlic sauce.
Bossanova: (I-2) Kinga 1, tel. 644-6505.Open: Thu.-Sun. 12-01; club open Thu.-Sun. 18-01. This churrascaria de rodizio is the brainchild of the Fellini owners (and located downstairs from the same). The house specialty is Churrasco (various meats cooked the South American way and sliced from skewers on to your plate). Downstairs from Bossanova is the private club, La Bank, located, as the name would indicate, in an old bank safe (yes, a rather large safe). See staff about club membership.
Kadriorg: (B-5) Weizenbergi 18, in the Kadriorg district; tel. 601-3636. Open:12-21. Still another restaurant very much in tune with the latest world trends and one that confirms what
City Paper has been saying for months: that industry standards have ratcheted up a notch or two over the past year or so. The three-floor boxy restaurant building looks deceptively plain from the outside, but belies a cutting-edge interior inside—a kind of cross between a Japanese rock garden and an exclusive Swedish furniture store. There is an open grill on the second floor in the Spaghetteria, and a designer fireplace roaring on the third, with natural light pouring in from multiple windows; they play soothing if modern background music. The food is a lively mix of standard international dishes, from Italian pasta to a range of meats and fish.
Kalevi Yacht Club: Pirita tee 17, tel. 623-9158. Open:11-23. The personalities of Captain Marko and Mate Junga make this place worth visiting even if the food weren’t good. But the food is good. And the waterfront location makes it a perfect place for a break from the pace of city-center cafes.
Karl Friedrich: (I-2) Raekoja plats 5, tel. 627-2413; on Town Hall Square. Open: 10-24. The most distinctive thing about Karl Friedrich is that it’s one of the few places in the old city where you actually have a view of the old city. Here, tall windows frame the ancient Hansel and Gretel merchant houses that surround the cobblestoned square outside. The food is good. With its manor-house-like elegant interior
Karl Friedrich is suited for formal occasions. www.restaurant.ee
Kloostri Ait: (H-3) Vene 14, in the old city, tel. 644-6887. Open:12-23:30. The owners of
Controvento have taken over this familiar Tallinn restaurant and given it the quality of food and service at the reasonable prices for which they’re widely known. On weekends, someone often plays the grand piano near the fireplace. The
Kloostri Ait building dates back to the 15th century. Have a drink and soak up the history.
KN: (I-2) Dunkri 4, tel. 697-7500. Open:12-23. KN is short for “Cayenne,” but nobody’s going to spice you to death in this restaurant. Kudos to Executive Chef Charlie Aird for doing outstanding food at amazing prices (main course around 10 euros)—the value for money here seems to be the talk of the expat community. The 16th-century building sports a beautiful main dining room but also a private room hidden away in one of the cavernous corners—ideal for doing secret deals.
Lydia: (B-5) Koidula 13a, in Kadriorg; tel. 626-8990. Open:12-23;
Sun. 12-19. A fine, suit-and-tie kind of restaurant next to Kadriorg
park. Lydia—named after Estonia’s celebrated 19th century
poet Lydia Koidula—is an upscale restaurant with a warm, harmonious
Novell: (B-4) Narva mnt. 7c, a five-minute walk from the old city, linked with the
Reval Hotel Central; tel. 633-9891. Open:12-24; Fri.-Sat. 12-01. If places like this are emerging as the new standard for Tallinn’s dining scene, there’s reason to sing joyously from the rooftops. This café/bar/restaurant rolled into one is done up in ultra hip, New York style—with its fine background music, funky colored lighting and clean-cut interior; the service is also highly attentive. It’s located along a traffic-jammed, gray Tallinn street, but designers have even used this to their advantage, positioning some of the café chairs close to the tinted street-front windows, enabling patrons to people-watch in comfort and anonymity.
Novell has, delightfully, also not forgotten about the small matter of food: it’s lovely!
Ö (Island in Swedish): (H-4) Mere pst. 6e, tel. 661-6150. Open:12-24. The classy, candle-lit Ö is located in a 19th-century warehouse between the old city and harbor, featuring exposed steel beams, soft music and well-schooled waiters and waitresses. Their menu was changed lately to include fine continental cuisine and sushi.
Ö’s outstanding by any standard. www.restoran-o.ee
Paat (Boat): Rohuneeme tee 53, right next to the Viimsi
open air museum; tel. 609-0840. Open:10-24, Fri.-Sat. 10-02. From the
outside it looks like a capsized Viking ship that’s been dragged onto
shore. That might be reason enough to drop by this quite classy seaside
restaurant/bar that has lovely views of wind-swept Tallinn Bay. Paat
has the loveliest summer terrace anywhere in Tallinn: right next to the
beach with lovely views of the city and an open-air museum near-by. www.restaurant.ee
Pädaste Manor’s Seahouse Restaurant: at Pädaste Manor on Muhu Island, tel. 454 8800, open 12-15 and 18-22. Reservations required. If you’re going to the islands of Muhu or Saaremaa (or even if you’re not), you owe it to yourself to dine at Seahouse. Pädaste is the darling of the western travel press, and when you visit you’ll see why—it offers uncompromised luxury and gourmet cuisine based on local ingredients and traditions. And it’s all served by a charming staff. Try the Muhu moose carpaccio or the Laasu farm ostrich filet. Seahouse was recently nominated for the third consecutive year as Best Estonian Gourmet Restaurant.
Pegasus: (I-2) Harju 1, in the old city; tel. 631-4040, email@example.com. Open:08-01; Sat. 09-01, Sun.
closed. A trendy, top-of-the-line restaurant/bar in what used to be a heralded Soviet-era café. There’s a crisp, ’60s-retro feel to this place—with a bright-white minimalist decor (maybe slightly too sparse for those who like lots of furniture to cower behind when they go out), a stainless-steel staircase and red-and-purple plastic floats dangling from the ceiling. Pegasus has the feel of a posh Manhattan club, though with great views of medieval buildings instead of skyscrapers. Everything from the designer knives and water glasses to the ultrafashionable bathrooms have the mark of refinement. The background music stands out in Tallinn for its appropriateness—on a recent evening, there was a good mix of jazz, ambient house techno and the likes of Radiohead. The food, prepared by award winning cook Michael Bhoola, is spectacular. The menu’s always changing, but had included the likes of Thai green curry with lime rice and pan-fried foie gras with caramelized mango. Sunday brunch from 11-16. Prices are on the high-end.
Roma Marcelle (Gypsy restaurant): (I-2) Rüütli 28/30, tel. 646-4900. Open:12-24; Fri., Sat. 12-01. Outside London and Moscow you’re hard pressed to find a gypsy restaurant: Tallinn to the rescue. Here you get the real thing:
Marcelle’s chef and diva are both full-blooded gypsies. The restaurant is decorated like a gypsy camp, the waiters are professional, and the food good—we recommend the gypsy pie stuffed with black mushrooms. Live music Wednesday through the weekend.
Sisalik: (H-3) Pikk 30, tel. 646-6542. Open:12-23; closed Sun. Sisalik (the lizard) is out to bring you more than food—they’re out to recreate the Mediterranean epicurean lifestyle in the Nordic region.
Sisalik gets the little things right. Water is brought to your table without asking. There’s a peaceful view of the garden through large windows. The music is just right—the right selection, the right volume. A great place to relax and talk. The food is excellent, too. Generous portions and wine by the glass. Reasonable prices.
Stenhus: (H-3) Pühavaimu 13/15, in the Schlössle Hotel; tel. 699-7780. Open:07-10:30, 12-15, 18-22:30. This is a sure bet if ever there was one! Even at most top-flight restaurants, there’re usually one or two things that are a little off. But it’s hard to find anything that Stenhus doesn’t do absolutely dead-on right, from the luxurious tableware to the lighting to the meticulous, first-rate cuisine and wine. This is easily one of the top five restaurants in Tallinn.
Sushihouse: (I-2) Rataskaevu 16, in the old city; tel. 641-1900. Open:12-24. Whether you like sushi or not, you’re almost certainly going to love
Sushihouse. Medieval Tallinn meets modern Japan in this delightful restaurant, located in a 500-year-old building that was once believed to be haunted. Stone walls and original rafters set the tone here, though there’s a contemporary touch to almost everything else, including the red Startrek doors that slide apart automatically as you enter.
Turg (Market): Mündi 3, tel. 641-2456. Open: 12-23. Run by Brendan O’Sullivan, formerly the head chef in Las Vegas’ Mirage, the restaurant is named for a market, because all the ingredients are seasonally fresh. While the interior is a bit like a theme park, the service is outstanding. For his loyalty to fresh seasonal cuisine,
City Paper’s hat is off Mr. O’Sullivan. Recommended.
Bocca: (H-3) Olevimägi 9, in the old city; tel. 641-2610. Open:12-24. This is one of the most notable places in Tallinn; it arguably set a new restaurant standard for the Estonian capital. The interior design, for starters, deserves the highest possible marks.
Bocca is located in a 500-year-old warehouse, with high ceilings and arching cavernous pillars. This medieval shell is tastefully filled with fashionable minimalist decor: there’s a strong sense of cutting-edge New York and Nordic fashion to the place; all the light is ingeniously indirect, including from two giant globe-like lamps, replicas of ones that hang in the Barcelona Opera House. On a recent evening, the background music ranged from ambient space music to Frank Sinatra. This is a restaurant where form and content don’t clash. That is to say, the food is as spectacular as
Bocca’s physical surroundings. The menu has recently included the likes of a salmon
carpaccio with avocado and strawberry salad, Wolf fish, a wild duck in muscatel sauce and fruits flambé with champagne zabaglione sauce; lots of pasta dishes, too. (The web site below includes the full menu.) But who said the best things in life were free? They were wrong.
BuonGiorno: (I-3) Müürivahe 17,
tel. 640-6858. Open:10-23. A small, basement Italian restauranta popular hangout
of local Italians. Good coffee, homey dishes. Italian dailies and
magazines, even Italian TV. This homey spagettheria is the
place to watch Italian league football.
Controvento: (I-3) Vene 12, along old city's Katariina passage; tel.
Open:12-23. Without a doubt, this is Tallinn's best Italian restaurant. Excellent food, excellent service, excellent atmosphere. It's located off one of the quaintest alleyways in the Baltics and in one of the most tastefully renovated Medieval houses. Great stuff all the way around. Italian owner, Italian chef, imported Italian ingredients. Result: top-notch food.
Leonardo da Vinci: (I-3) Aia 7, tel. 641-6177. Open:11-24. Initial reviews of Da Vinci’s food were mixed, but our recent experience was very positive. The waiter, a genuine Italian, was honest with his recommendations, not summarily praising everything on the menu as is habit in the region at lesser restaurants. Try the gnocchi or the mussels cooked in beer.
Ami-Ja: (B-4) Narva mnt 36, tel. 646-6096. Open:12-23. Bonsai trees and private rooms. Meat cooked on open stoves on your table. Bowing, smiling Estonian waiters and waitresses are a sight to behold.
Silk: (I-2) Kullassepa 4, in the old city; tel. 648-4625.
Open:11-24. Hip, tasteful
interior; the music is a pleasant if slightly loud drum-and-base, ambient techno. Best of all, the sushi is top notch, with a vast and varied menu. Especially on weekends, it attracts a young, club-going crowd.
Le Chateau: (H-2) Lai 19, tel. 665-0927, right next to the City Theater.
Open:12-23. There was a time when you couldn’t find a medieval-themed restaurant in Tallinn if your life depended on it. Nowadays, though, you can hardly walk a block without bumping into an establishment claiming to be one. This newest place to apply that label has most of the right ingredients: it’s located off a cobblestoned street that couldn’t be more medieval, and it’s in a dark, lovely cavernous cellar—lit almost exclusively by candlelight. But the food is expressedly not out of the Middle Ages; there are mostly non-spectacular French dishes with an Estonian touch. Favorably-priced special day menu daily until 18:00. www.chateau.ee
Maikrahv: (I-2) Raekoja plats 8, along the Town Hall Square; tel. 631-4227. Open:12-23. The name means
May Count, but Maikrahv might well be renamed Sconce
World; this comfortable, medieval-styled basement restaurant even has cast-iron toilet paper rollers and a dungeon for a
garderobe. But the cuisine is as 13th century as the ultramodern table settings: that is to say, it’s not. The hauteish northern European food hits the spot: their rosemary rolls deserve a medal, and the sage-flavored piglet filet with polenta and cider sauce is fantastic—as is the
créme brulee. Also some traditional Estonian dishes on offer, and something for vegetarians. This classy, professional operation is more reasonably priced than other restaurants along the Town Hall Square. There’s often live classical music on the weekends.
Olde Hansa: (I-2) Vana turg 1, tel. 627-9020. Open:11-24. By
far the most heralded Medieval restaurant in the Baltics! To make sure
they got it right, Olde Hansa consulted experts on life in the
Middle Ages. There is a feel of real authenticity here: the background
music (from the 15th century or earlier), the candlelight, the heavy
wooden benches draped with boar skins. The menu recently included Nobleman’s
smoked fillet mignon, wild boar with nuts and sauerkraut,
herb-juniper cheese, bear (believe it or not), and much more; there
are historical explanations provided with each dish. For dessert, try
the apple and honey under a crispy bread coat and soaked in almond
milk. Beverages are also true to the medieval theme and include berry schnapps
and the much-heralded dark honey beer, which is served piping hot.
Overall, the quality of the food is good; the service is exemplary,
and good-humored. www.oldehansa.ee
Peppersack: (I-2) Viru 2, tel. 646-6800. Open:11-24. The gorgeous medieval dining room is an attraction unto itself; you can
sit on balconies above the main room with more privacy. There’s a fine
café in an adjoining room and a grill in the cellar area. www.peppersack.ee
Klafira: (I-2) Vene 4, tel. 667-5144. Open:11-24; Sat., Sun. 12-24.
Klafira, always good, is even better after repainting the place and partly refurnishing—adding more interior warmth. Appropriately, it’s on a street called Vene, “Russian” in Estonian. Soft light from old table lamps and candles; there’s a faint 19th century feel to the place, though it’s not too formal or stiff. Great food.
Nevskij: (I-2) Rataskaevu 7, in
the classy Hotel St. Petersbourg; tel. 628-6560. Open:18-23;
closed Mon. A smaller, exceptionally cozy Russian restaurant that could
have been the palace den of a 19th century Russian boyar—with samovars
on some tables, Russian folk songs as background music and pillows along
tableside couches. There’s also an English drawing-room feel to it,
with the fireplace, fresh flowers and abundant fine-art along the walls.
High quality all the way around, including the food and service. www.schlossle-hotels.com
Troika: (I-2) Raekoja plats 15; tel. 627-6245. Open:12-23. When it rains it pours. Until early 2000, there were virtually no Russian restaurants worth mentioning in Tallinn. Now, with Troika, there are at least two.
Troika, along with Klafira (above) is vying to become the No. 1 Russian restaurant in the capital. One big thing it's got going for it is a wonderful atmosphere. It's in one of the loveliest Medieval-era halls in Tallinn, with high cavernous ceilings and bulky oak staircases sweeping into the main dining area; the brooding, dimly-lit surroundings capture the Russian spirit. There's often a solo guitarist here belting out Russian folk songs.
Mõõkkala: (I-2) Kuninga 4, tel. 641-8288.
Open:12-24. An old Tallinn favorite that recently moved to a new
location—on the beaten path in the old city. Mõõkkala (Swordfish)
has the reputation of having some of the best fish dishes in the
country. They serve the range of standard fish as well as shark with
cherry dressing and, as you might expect, swordfish. Located in a
cavernous hall that was once a rich merchant’s dining room. www.mookkala.com
Villa Thai: (B-4) Vilmsi 6, a short taxi or tram ride from the old town; take tram #1 or #3 to Kadriorg Park; tel. 641-9347. Open:12-23.
Villa Thai offers outstanding food prepared by a top-notch chef from India. They have both a Thai and an Indian menu and well-priced lunch special on weekdays.
Pleasant atmosphere. www.villathai.ee
Sultan: (I-3) Väike-Karja 8, in the
old city; tel. 644-4400. Open:12-23.
Istanbul meets Tallinn in this unexpectedly pleasant, tasteful touch of
Turkey in the heart of Medieval Estonia. This is more of a high-end
snack place to pig out on traditional Turkish snacks than an all-out
restaurant. But the food is very good and, for lighter eaters
especially, it can constitute a full-fledged meal. There’s also a
basement den where you can sip wine and suck on Turkish water pipes for
hours on end. Good service, good lighting, good Turkish background
Golden Dragon: Good Chinese; tel. 631-3506, 51-74-224.
Maharaja: Indian food; tel. 644-4367.
Mandarin: (C-2) Endla 23a; tel. 646-0019. Open:12-20; closed Sun. Chinese take away. Mandarin is located in a spartan street-side building that might not otherwise draw you inside; but discount appearances and go on in for the food. Excellent Chinese and Indian dishes at surprisingly moderate prices.
Must Lammas: Caucasian; tel. 644-2031.
New York Pizza: (C-4) Tartu mnt. 73, near the bus station; tel. 601-0284. Open:10-23. If you like to design your own pizza, forget New York. Pizzas must be ordered exactly as they appear on the menu, and special requests are refused with the enthusiasm of the Soup Nazi. According to employees (who might just be difficult), the owners forbid custom pizzas. City Paper asks its readers to call NY Pizza and tell it to change this Soviet practice. They also have a take-out at the Pirita Selver, Rummu tee 2, tel. 667-3585.
Pizza Americana: Quite good pizza; hefty crusts/toppings; tel. 644-8837.
Pizza Taxi: Delivers Peetri Pizza; tel. 656-7567 or 1188.
Tiina Pizza: on Mustamäe tee 39, in the Mustamäe suburb; tel. 672-7212; open till 5:00, and at Liivalaia 27, (C-4) tel. 646-7505.
Villa Thai: Great Thai and Indian food; tel. 641-9347.
Caucasian Chinese Estonian
Estonian Food?) French
Medieval-Themed Russian Seafood