Wandering around the city center, you’ve probably passed by a nondescript food truck or old-fashioned cafe, flashily decorated with heavy curtains, and had no wish to give it a chance. However, by experience, these places often turn out to be hidden gems among the culinary chaos. You usually won’t find them in a guidebook, as the knowledge spreads through word of mouth. From vegan goodies to homemade Russian bakings, we’ve tried to find places for any taste or preference.
Pirozhkovaya on Moskovskiy Avenue
A pirozhkovaya – a snack bar serving patties – is a classic fast food restaurant of the past. One of them, the pirozhkovaya Hozyaushka (or "Hostess") is located in the heart of Moskovskiy District and has long been a local favorite. Opened in 1956, it hasn't changed much since then, adhering to traditional recipes and using exclusively natural products. Here, you can try all kinds of pies: baked and fried, sweet and sour, including the legendary vatruska (let’s call it Russian cheesecake) and pig-in-a-blanket for a very reasonable price. Have a cup (or more likely, a faceted glass) of coffee with condensed milk, two delicious apple pies, take your time leaning on the counter, and you’ll probably find yourself back in the 20th century. A modest but cozy setting and friendly cashiers only make it more likely that you’ll be returning for another portion of wonderful pastries again and again.
Hidden from human eyes in the depths of the Sennoy Market, Vegan Pyramid is for sure a place for experienced detectives. One of the city's oldest falafel joints, the small food trailer offers a variety of Middle Eastern food. Among the highlights are hummus and desserts, including several kinds of baklava, but the hands-down favorite is the classic falafel in a pita! As for me, a yummy freshly-made falafel with its vegetable filling looks like a bouquet of flowers roped in craft paper (except you wouldn’t eat flowers). Pair that with their ambrosia-like smoothies and your happiness is guaranteed. Just keep in mind that to enjoy your meal you'd better find the nearest food court, otherwise you’ll be enjoying your lunch with a view of cheap garment stalls.
Lucky ticket for those who have classes on the main campus! It’s high time to give nearby eateries a go! You are definitely familiar with the captivating smell of baked goods reaching the university entrance – it’s Georgian Bakery on the corner of Sytny Market. Along with incredible khachapuri with suluguni cheese and a variety of fillings, the place also offers hearty pies and quite Michelin-quality desserts (sometimes you can even try Napoleon cake here!). It takes only one giant, warm pie to keep you full till the end of the classes. Please, pace yourself, a food coma and excess carbohydrates have never been good for anyone!
Vkusnie Shtuchki (or "Tasty Things")
Time for sweets! While exploring Petrogradsky District, it's easy to miss this incredible cafe with gourmet desserts. There are almost no tourists here, and it seems like visitors and staff have known each other for ages, so you feel like a spy. But believe me, it's worth it, because the sweets you’ll try here can't leave you indifferent. About 40 types of handmade ice cream are served here, with flavors including chanterelles, broccoli, mustard, and Philadelphia cheese. The ice cream here resembles works of art more than real food and can't be found anywhere else in the city. All confectionery products are also completely handmade, and the eclairs are totally heavenly. The secret of success is pretty simple – the owner of the cafe is personally responsible for therecipes, constantly keeps in touch with customers, and is not afraid to experiment.
Luckily, to have a good meal in St. Petersburg you don’t have to constantly sneak around the outskirts. Don’t feel like going out? Check out our food delivery guide and recommendations of comfort food you can make by yourself. We also have a series of overviews of vegetarian and vegan eateries and shops of St. Petersburg.