Headed to Riga Latvia for a European city break? Check out these Riga restaurants, cafes, bars and market for an introduction to Latvian food and drinks during your weekend visit to the Latvian capital.
Riga is a city of contrasts. Though the Baltic cityscape retains remnants of its bleak communist years, the city’s Old Town, a certified UNESCO World Heritage Site, sports an abundance of Art Nouveau architecture and medieval buildings. With gorgeous churches and cute cafes lining the ancient cobblestone streets, the city comes alive in the warm summer months when the days are long and bright.
However, don’t discount Riga in the winter. The Latvian capital offers its own charms in the colder months. After all, this is the city where the modern day Christmas tree allegedly originated.
Snowy evening walks under twinkling lights are utterly romantic. Plus, hearty Latvian food fills the belly and warms the soul on a cold winter’s day.
Regardless of the season, intrepid travelers will want to explore Riga beyond Old Town. Not only will this exploration reveal different sides to the city and its storied past, but it will also provide the opportunity to visit some of the best Riga restaurants and cafes. Yes, many of the best places to eat in Riga are located outside of Old Town.
If you’re not familiar with Latvian cuisine, don’t feel bad – you’re not alone. The Baltic nation’s food crept under the radar during decades when Latvia was behind the iron curtain. However, the food of Latvia has taken the spotlight named after Riga was named a European Region of Gastronomy in 2017.
For the uninitiated, Latvian food has elements from the cuisines of former rulers including Germany, Poland, Russia and even Sweden. Recently, Latvians introduced a unique twist to their food by incorporating a range of foraged items like mushrooms and berries from the country’s vast nature reserves. This resourcefulness transcends to both food preparation and enjoyment.
Table of Contents
- Where to Eat in Riga
- Riga Restaurant FAQs
- Things To Do in Riga
- How to Get to Riga
- Where to Stay in Riga
- Where to Stay in the Latvian Countryside
- Planning Checklist
Where to Eat in Riga
Let’s face it – a weekend city break is not enough time to fully experience the Riga food scene, especially for travelers who want to explore regions beyond city boundaries. However, it is possible to get a good taste of the city and its cuisine during a long weekend if you plan well.
We spent a few hectic days finding some of the best places to eat in Riga. As a result, we have you covered on where to eat in Riga during your visit.
Like a phoenix rising from its Soviet ashes, the Riga restaurant scene is evolving and growing at a rapid pace. This is a city where young chefs flex their culinary chops with an array of local ingredients and an armory of modern techniques.
And, as a bonus to frugal travelers, the best restaurants in Riga Latvia serve food at prices that are reasonable when compared to other European capitals.
If you have limited time, we recommend starting with the following Riga restaurants:
Chefs Juris Dukalski and Eriks Dreibants run their ultra-modern Old Town Riga restaurant with a focus on food and service as well as a nod to nature. Since they opened the restaurant in 2015, the culinary pair has made special efforts to procure local, seasonal products from nearby forests and farms, but their efforts don’t stop with procurement.
Once they secure the best available ingredients, these nimble chefs prepare dishes with cutting-edge techniques and a sense of flair. Recognizing the chefs’ creativity and execution, the Nordic White Guide has shortlisted Restaurant 3 as one of the best restaurants in all of Latvia.
Our multi-course degustation meal at Restaurant 3 was like a live performance that played out in five acts. We waited with bated breath between courses to see what funky ingredients and “cheftastic” techniques would show up next.
With a whimper, the dinner ended hours after its start with a simple dessert of local chocolate and clementine ice cream. Though the last course may have been anticlimactic compared to the more complicated presentations prevalent in the earlier courses, we found it to be a satisfying end to an exciting meal.
Order Restaurant 3’s multi-course degustation menu for a full-on Latvian dining experience.
Restaurant 3 is located at Kalēju iela 3, Centra rajons, Rīga, LV-1050, Latvia. This restaurant has been rated as Very Fine by the Baltic White Guide.
Proving that some of the best food in Riga is found outside of the touristic Old Town, Annas Dārzs serves a fabulous weekend brunch on the other side of the River Daugava. Translated to Anna’s Garden, the delightful restaurant, housed in an old homey, wooden building with a cozy porched front, features an outside garden (natch) and river view as well as an indoor fireplace.
Beyond the restaurant’s peaceful environment, brunch at Annas Dārzs is notable for its satisfying range of food options that satisfy hungry meat-eaters and vegetarians alike.
Though we enjoyed Annas Dārzs’ brunch buffet with brunch classics like waffles and sliders, not to mention caviar poppers, we were most intrigued by the brunch’s traditional Latvian foods that were new to us.
Standouts were Silke Kazoka, (a herring salad that literally translates to herring in a fur coat), Kūpināta Vistas (smoked chicken), Medus Kuka (honey cake) and Rasols (a popular Russian salad with chopped meat, vegetables and plenty of mayonnaise).
Don’t feel like you have to eat a full meal at Annas Dārzs. The restaurant is a great spot for an afternoon latte break with dessert and a view.
Annas Dārzs is located at Mūkusalas iela 44, Zemgales priekšpilsēta, Rīga, LV-1004, Latvia.
If location is your primary criteria for selecting a restaurant, then Kolonade will surely top your list in Riga.
Located in a historic building near the city’s Freedom Monument, not far from the Opera House, Kolonade serves modern Latvian food in a stylish, window bound, vaulted room with stunning views of the surrounding city park.
We enjoyed a multi-course dinner at Kolonade that started with goat cheese salad with salted beetroot, smoked cowberry powder and hemp and ended with blackcurrant tarts. Both of these dishes incorporated local ingredients and bright flavors.
The middle courses featuring proteins like duck, pork, perch and chicken were more basic with their ingredients and preparations. Overall, it was a solid meal in an extraordinary setting.
Schedule your Kolonade dinner around a day of sightseeing. Depending on your hotel’s location and the reservation time, you can either head straight to the restaurant or take a quick pre-dinner power nap.
Kolonade is located at 26, Brīvības bulvāris, Centra rajons, Rīga, LV-1050, Latvia. This restaurant has been rated as Fine by the Baltic White Guide.
Big Bad Bagels
Though BBB’s sandwich options span the globe from Thailand to Mexico, we opted to share the shop’s premium Salmon in New York sandwich during our visit. Filled with smoked salmon, cream cheese, red onion, capers and spinach, this everything bagel sandwich was a winner.
In addition to its 18 sandwich options, including six for vegans and vegetarians, the bagel shop also serves soups, salads, desserts and smoothies. But, let’s be real, the hand-rolled bagels are the thing to order at Big Bad Bagels.
Don’t avoid Big Bad Bagels if you have a food sensitivity or allergy. Their bagels are 100% free of GMO and preservatives, not to mention fat-free and sugar-free.
Big Bad Bagels is located at Baznīcas iela 8, Centra rajons, Rīga, LV-1010, Latvia.
Although Riga has a thriving cafe scene, we weren’t initially impressed by the selection of old school, traditional cafes with mediocre coffee drinks and sugary sweet desserts. Nor did we want to frequent the city’s chain coffee shops. They’re just not our thing.
Rocket Bean Roastery
If handcrafted coffee served with a side of free internet is your happy place, then Rocket Bean Roastery is your home away from home in Riga. Located in a renovated sock factory in the hipper than hip Miera Iela neighborhood just two kilometers from Old Town Riga, Rocket Bean Roastery has an industrial, Brooklynesque vibe with its post-modern design and state-of-the-art coffee equipment.
At the end of the day, though, it’s all about the coffee. And the coffee is excellent at Rocket Bean Roastery whether you order a cappuccino or a pour over.
Best of the Best
Martin Drungils, the operation’s head roaster, honed his coffee skills in Bristol while working for a self-taught South African roaster. Now that he’s back home in Riga, Drungils runs the Rocket Bean Roastery’s coffee program with a focus on procuring the best possible beans from farmers in Central America and Africa.
As he explained to us, the roastery team has the passion and drive to be the best of the best. Plus, they love what they do.
Chef Head Chef Artūrs Taškāns runs the kitchen at Rocket Bean Roastery and channels his culinary experience to create elevated breakfast and lunch food for Riga’s coffee crowd.
Worried about the cost? A two-course meal clocked in at under € 10 at the time of our visit but tasted like it cost twice as much.
Rocket Bean Roastery’s Old Town location is closed on the weekends, but the original location is open every day.
Rocket Bean Roastery is located at Miera iela 29, Centra rajons, Rīga, LV-1001, Latvia.
Located halfway between Old Town and Miera Iela, Miit is a third wave coffee shop with a trifecta of good things – great coffee, tasty food and free internet.
The laid-back, independent coffee shop, which serves a range of coffee beans from all over Europe, also repairs bikes, which means there are actually four good things going on here.
If you’re hungry, Miit serves reasonably priced Vegan food in addition to excellent coffee.
Miit Coffee is located at Lāčplēša iela 10, Centra rajons, Rīga, LV-1010, Latvia.
Finding a place to drink in Riga is no problem. From festive beer gardens to relaxed wine lounges, Riga has enough options to keep a traveler hydrated for a month without visiting the same bar twice.
But, if you only have two nights to explore the Riga nightlife, we recommend imbibing at these two Riga bars:
** Important Update – Krogs Aptieka has permanently closed. **
The bartenders at Krogs Aptieka serve reasonably priced drinks in a cool space hidden in plain sight on an Old Town alley. And by reasonable, we mean beers ranging from € 2.50 to € 3.80 during our visit – a bargain even by Riga standards.
Decorated as a pharmacy in homage to the owner’s grandfather, Krogs Aptieka serves liquor as its drug of choice as well as bar food like burgers, fries and nachos. Open late, Krogs Aptieka is a great spot to end an evening before calling it a night.
Feeling a bit peckish but not hungry enough for a meal? Try a pickled egg with horseradish for one euro. You’ll either love it hate it. We loved it.
Krogs Aptieka was located at Mazā Miesnieku iela 1-1, Centra rajons, Rīga, LV-1050, Latvia. It has permanently closed.
Literally around the corner from the original Rocket Bean Roastery (see above), Labietis is a fun brewpub with a dozen beers to taste at any one time. Sure you could taste all twelve, but we recommend picking one like the Cherry Witch, a mild beer flavored with cherry juice and a 5.5% ABV.
If you’re feeling crazy, you can order a malty Bee Keeper’s Widow with a 13% ABV. As for us, we’d be happy with either.
Should you get thirsty while shopping for your dinner, you can get your beer fix at the Labietis stand in the vegetable pavilion at the Riga Central Market. (See below.)
Labietis is located at Aristida Briāna iela 9a-2, Centra rajons, Rīga, LV-1001, Latvia.
Riga Central Market
Riga Central Market feels as big as an airplane hangar – no surprise since the five market pavilions originally housed German Zeppelins during World War I. Today, these pavilions are separated to sell meat, dairy, fish, groceries (dried fruit, nuts, pastries, honey, etc.) and vegetables.
Not just a tourist attraction, the Riga Central Market is one of Europe’s largest markets, bustling with 80,000 visitors every day. These visitors come to shop for food for their daily meals, though some opt to eat at one of the market’s many restaurants and eateries for shopping energy.
Local shoppers come to the Riga Central Market on a daily basis to purchase local products like fish, produce, dairy, meat and vegetables.
Many of the market’s products reminded us of the foods available in Budapest markets, especially the market’s selection of soft cheese and pickled vegetables. Though Latvia and Hungary are 1,500 kilometers apart in distance, the two countries clearly have similar food cultures influenced by their neighbors.
Don’t leave the market’s dairy pavilion without trying donuts known as virtuļi in Latvia.
Riga Central Market is located at Nēģu iela 7, Latgales priekšpilsēta, Rīga, LV-1050, Latvia.
Further Afield into the Latvian Countryside
As charming as Riga may be, there’s more to experience in Latvia beyond the country’s capital city. The Latvian countryside is just a short rental car drive from Riga, allowing travelers to easily trade the River Daugava for the Baltic Sea.
The Latvian countryside has hundreds of kilometers of pristine beaches, cute towns and manor houses where you can sleep. With a little advance planning, you can experience both Riga and the countryside in one short visit. And, of course, this planning should include where to eat in Latvia.
Lunch at Mekes Krogs
Just an hour drive from Riga on the Riga-Tallin Highway, Mekes Krogs is a rustic restaurant serving Latvian traditional food straight from 11:00 am to 9:00 pm every day. The restaurant may be located in an old barn, but the food is both hearty and excellent.
After sitting near a warm fireplace, we started our lunch with a generous spread of local dishes including meat pies, pork lard, chicken pate and dark rye bread. Our main courses were equally substantial, featuring house-made sausage and barley.
Because all good things must come to an end, we finished our lunch at Mekes Krogs with Latvian desserts layered with foraged berries and rye bread. We weren’t so sure how rye bread would work in a dessert, but this unique combination of sweet and savory ingredients tasted surprisingly good.
Though you can drink wine or beer with your meal, try a shot of homemade vodka with red currants before you leave Mekes Krogs. The warming liquor will put a smile on your face and also aid with digestion.
Mekes Krogs is located at Tallinas – Rīgas šosejas 51 kilometrs, Mežgravas, Liepupes pag., Salacgrīvas nov., LV-4023, Latvia.
Dinner at Liepupe Manor
Staying overnight at a Latvian manor has its perks from onsite spas to cooking classes. However, dinner was the highlight of our stay at Liepupe Manor in Liepupe, a small village in Latvia’s Salacgrīva region.
Though we dined in the manor’s elegant dining room surrounded by candelabras and roaring fireplaces, the real fire came from the kitchen where the chef seamlessly blends traditional Latvian cooking with modern gastronomy to create memorable meals worthy of the manor’s regal setting.
Our main dish options at the Manor included a lovely venison Wellington (pictured above) as well as oven-roasted pudding sausage with foie gras and pear chutney, duck leg Parmentier, turbot with local vegetables and Muscat pumpkin ravioli with aged Grana Padano cheese. In other words, there were no bad choices or clunkers.
Choosing dessert was a challenge due to the tempting choices offered to end our dinner. Though Daryl enjoyed his Creme Brûlée with apple schnapps, Mindi ordered the winner with the Pear Belle Helene served with manor-made vanilla ice cream. She didn’t expect the server to pour Valrhona chocolate over the dessert, but the sauce was a great addition and a fun way to end the meal.
Liepupe Manor also serves a wonderful breakfast to guests who stay overnight.
Liepupe Manor is located at Liepupes Muiža, Salacgrīvas nov., Liepupe, Latvia. This restaurant has been rated as Recommended by the Baltic White Guide.
Riga Restaurant FAQs
Don’t miss eating classic Latvian foods like pelemeni dumplings and dark rye bread when you dine at traditional restaurants in Riga.
Restaurants in Riga are relatively affordable compared to restaurants in other European capital cities.
No. Tipping is optional in Latvia.
People typically eat dinner between 7pm and 9pm in Riga.
Yes. Reservations are necessary if you want to dine at Riga’s better restaurants.
Anthony Bourdain never visited Riga while filming The Layover, No Reservations or Parts Unknown.
Phil Rosenthal has not filmed an episode of Somebody Feed Phil in Riga.
Riga does not currently have any Michelin-starred restaurants.
Things To Do in Riga
Riga is a city on the rise. If you’re looking for things to do in and near the Latvian capital, check out the following options:
How to Get to Riga
Where to Stay in Riga
If you’re looking at Riga hotels, we recommend staying at Relais le Chevalier for its central location, elegant decor, comfortable rooms and abundant breakfast buffet. Although this charming Riga hotel is located in a renovated 17th-century building, the amenities are totally modern including flatscreen televisions and free wi-fi.
Even though the breakfast buffet is more than adequate, you should order pancakes for breakfast at Relais Chevalier. Served with bananas, these tasty, crepe-like, rolled pancakes are similar to what we call blintzes.
Where to Stay in the Latvian Countryside
We recommend spending a night or two at Liepupe Manor for a romantic getaway in the Latvian countryside just 75 kilometers from Riga. Not only does a stay at this property provide a chance to experience a night of stylish elegance, but the hotel’s rooms are comfortable and its spa is divine.
Though the design and furniture harken back to the manor’s original 18th-century decor, Liepupe Manor offers all of the features that travelers expect in a luxury hotel today. Our room came with free wifi and robes among other amenities.
More importantly, at least to us, the food is top-notch whether you indulge in a luxury dinner in the hotel’s grand dining room (see above) or a country breakfast in the cozy kitchen. Taking the culinary experience to the next level, food travelers can arrange an onsite baking class for a unique, tasty Latvian experience.
About the Authors
Daryl & Mindi Hirsch
Saveur Magazine’s BEST TRAVEL BLOG award winners Daryl and Mindi Hirsch share their culinary travel experiences and recipes on the 2foodtrippers website and YouTube. The married Food and Travel content creators live in Lisbon, Portugal.
We thank Magnetic Lativa for sponsoring our visit to facilitate this article in conjunction with our participation in NBE Finland.
We update our articles regularly. Some updates are major while others are minor link changes and spelling corrections. Let us know if you see anything that needs to be updated in this article.
Original Publication Date: February 24, 2018