- Where to Eat During a Weekend Visit to Riga
- How to Get to Riga
- Where to Stay in Riga
- Where to Stay in the Latvian Countryside
- Book a Tour
- Buy a Travel Guide
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 Latvia 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.
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. Today, the food of Latvia has taken the spotlight after being 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 the food preparation and food enjoyment as well.
Where to Eat During a Weekend Visit to 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 recently 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 baited 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.
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 (priced at just € 14) 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).
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.
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
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. Finally, we found two cafes that rival top cafes in cities like Bucharest, Budapest and Cape Town. If you like modern, hipster third wave coffee as much as we do, go to these cafes:
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 pourover.
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, 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 clocks in at under € 10 but tastes like it costs twice as much.
Rocket Bean Roastery has two locations. The original location is at i9 Miera iela Centra rajons Rīga Rīgas pilsēta Latvijas Republika, 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.
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:
Krogs Aptieka is located at Mazā Miesnieku iela 1-1, Centra rajons, Rīga, LV-1050, Latvia.
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.
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 the 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.
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.
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 is located at Liepupes Muiža, Salacgrīvas nov., Liepupe, Latvia. This restaurant has been rated as Recommended by the Baltic White Guide.
How to Get to Riga
Our flight from Helsinki to Riga was both quick and inexpensive. We recommend AirBaltic, a discount airline with numerous routes in Europe and a fleet that includes new Bombardier cs300 planes.
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 hotel is located in a renovated 17th-century building, the amenities are totally modern including flatscreen televisions and free wi-fi. Click here to research rates for this fabulous boutique hotel in the heart of downtown Riga.
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, visiting foodies can arrange an onsite baking class for a unique, tasty Latvian experience. Click here to research rates for this gem of a hotel in the Latvian countryside.
Book a Tour
There’s more to do in Riga beyond eating great food and drinking third wave coffee. Click here to find an awesome Riga tour or try one of these tours:
Buy a Travel Guide
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