We spent a week eating our way through the Estonian capital to create this Tallinn Food Guide with some of the best Tallinn restaurants, cafes, coffee shops and bars.
Stifled for many years while part of the former Soviet Union, Tallinn, which liberated itself from the grip of communism over a quarter century ago, is evolving at a rapid pace. Bearded hipsters roam the streets of trendy Kalamaja while curious tourists amble along the cobblestone alleys in quaint Old Town.
Though these two worlds happily coexist, many tourists never leave the medieval Old Town and may not even realize that there’s more to discover beyond the ancient walls. We’re talking about cutting-edge street art, cool cafes and lightning fast internet.
There are so many reasons why Tallinn is popular. But what about the food?
If you’re reading this Tallinn guide, you may be stopping in Tallinn during a Nordic river cruise. Or perhaps you took the ferry from nearby Helsinki to visit Tallinn for a day trip.
Regardless of how you plan to spend your Tallinn holiday, you may not even consider Tallinn to be a food travel destination. We get it. We didn’t expect much from the food in Tallinn before we arrived for a week-long visit.
However, we were delighted to find an exciting food scene with specialty coffee and excellent craft beer. And, as a bonus, food and drink prices in Tallinn are low when compared to those of their Nordic neighbors.
Tallinn Food Guide | Where To Eat In Tallinn
During our week-long quest to find the best drinks and food in Tallinn Estonia, we checked out a variety of restaurants, cafes, coffee shops and bars. If you’re wondering where and what to eat in Tallinn, you’ll be pleasantly surprised by the varied options that go beyond traditional Estonia cuisine.
We share our favorites and some of the best restaurants in Tallinn here. You won’t go hungry whether you have 24 hours in Tallinn or a week or even longer!
Tallinn cuisine is rapidly evolving. Like the city itself, the Tallinn restaurant scene is also growing fast. Young chefs are pushing the culinary envelope throughout the city, both in touristy Old Town and beyond.
Yes, Russian cuisine is still part of the landscape, but we also found global influences from the other countries that have occupied Estonia over the years – Denmark, Finland, Germany and Sweden. These countries have influenced the food in Estonia, but they don’t define it – eating in Tallinn is its own experience and shouldn’t be missed.
We were over the moon as we ate at this outstanding Tallinn restaurant that actually translates to Poppy Cafe. And why not? Chef Roman Zaštšerinski pulls out all the stops with his simple yet complex Russian cuisine made with fresh, locally procured Estonian ingredients.
Zaštšerinski opened the casual, stylish restaurant with his cousin Igor Andrejev (also a chef) and his wife Jana Zaštšerinski (the sommelier and business manager) in 2010. Fast forward to the present and this power team is still serving breathtaking food that honors the past while being thoroughly modern at the same time.
We can’t pick a favorite dish from our meal at Cafe Moon. On one hand, we loved our starter with salted wild mushrooms, sour cream, breadcrumbs and shallots, but we equally loved the shuba (fur coats) with smoked eel braised in apple wine and beetroot. But wait, we also loved the buckwheat blinis with whitefish roe and the kubliaka (filo dough with fish inside).
For us, though, the most memorable course was the chicken kiev, a dish which some of you may remember from an episode of Mad Men where Don Draper wears a bib to prevent the exploding buttery center from staining his suit. Zaštšerinski’s version featured an oozing herbaceous green center that did not stain our shirts.
Then again, maybe our favorite was the deconstructed Russian Napoleon cake with its caramelized condensed milk cream, lingonberry ice cream and foam. Either way, this dessert was a sweet way to end a wonderful meal.
Though the restaurant offers wonderful wine and craft beer options, be sure to try unique options like sea buckthorn mulled wine and housemade black chokeberry schnapps. Or, keeping with the Russian theme, just drink vodka. They have that too.
Stop by the restaurant to make a reservation if one is not available online. The restaurant saves a few spots for locals and may be able to squeeze you in.
Cafe Moon is located at Võrgu 3, 10415 Tallinn, Estonia.
We knew we were in for a treat at Rataskaevu 16 as soon as the house-made pumpkin bread arrived at our table. Cooked just two hours before our meal and accompanied by seasoned Estonian butter and “welcome treats”, this bread was indicative of the popular restaurant’s food – simple, hearty and filled with local ingredients.
As we cozied up in our window table with a view of Tallinn Old Town, we let our eager server guide us through to the best dishes on the Rataskaevu 16 menu. We started our dinner with a dish of fried Baltic herring fillets with pearl onions, fresh salad roasted breadcrumbs and cottage cheese sauce. This dish was more than traditional Estonian food – this was Estonian fine dining.
Our bowl of beet soup with elk meat, red lentils and sun-dried cherry tomatoes did the same, and we scraped every last spoonful from the bowl. We also shared braised elk roast served with celery puree, beetroot, carrot and black currant soup before we finished the meal with bread pudding served next to raspberry parfait and caramel sauce.
Discover more of the best soups in the world.
Located in an allegedly haunted 15th-century building, Rataskaevu 16 has a comprehensive bar that includes our favorite local beer, Põhjala Porter. Despite our meaty meal, the menu features Estonian dishes for vegetarians too.
Make an advance reservation since popular Rataskaevu 16 is one of the best places to eat in Tallinn.
Ratakaevu 16 is located at Rataskaevu 16, 10123 Tallinn, Estonia.
Leib Resto Ja Aed
Did we mention that we love bread? Since Leib translates to black bread in Estonian, we felt right at home in this classy yet casual restaurant that celebrates seasonal food made with hyper-local ingredients.
We enjoyed the homemade black bread served with herb-topped butter, but Leib Resto is more than just its namesake food item. We savored the beef tartare with mayo and marinated radish as well as the gravad perch with crispy black bread and horseradish cream; however, our favorite dish was the creamy Jerusalem artichoke-garlic soup with crisps.
There’s some good cooking going on here as shown by the crisp crumbs which provided a crunchy counterpoint to the creamy soup and fresh flavored, thin yet firm Jerusalem artichoke slices.
Leib’s tagline is soulful casual dining. If it were up to us, we’d add creative, local and seasonal to this description.
Weather permitting, dine in the outdoor garden at Leib Resto ja Aed. Since it was winter, we ate our meal inside where we enjoyed the restaurant’s warm, comforting, stately quarters.
Leib Resto ja Aed is located at Uus 31, 10111 Tallinn, Estonia.
With a name that translates to modern Estonian cuisine, Restaurant MEKK in the Savoy Boutique Hotel is a great spot for a fancy meal that celebrates local ingredients and traditional techniques. Chef Rene Uusmees pulled out all the stops for our meal with his beef cheek dish served with pickled pumpkin, celery foam, potatoes, carrots and kale.
Marinated and slow cooked for eight hours, this traditional dish literally melted in our mouths. We then ended our lunch at one of the best restaurants in Old Town Tallinn by sharing caramelized almond cake with dried cranberries and ice cream.
Don’t skip Mekk’s house-made Estonian black bread, a great take on the carb-friendly classic.
Restaurant MEKK is located at Suur-Karja 17, 10140 Tallinn, Estonia.
Additional Restaurants In Tallinn Estonia
Let’s face it – a week is not enough to eat at all of the top restaurants in Tallinn. When (not if) we return, we will be sure to dine at the following recommended Tallinn top restaurants:
Just like we found in nearby Helsinki, the Tallinn cafe culture is everywhere. Considering that the city’s oldest cafe (see Cafe Maiasmokk below) dates back to 1854, this cafe culture is long and deep.
With one common thread being the availability of coffee, the cafes in Tallinn all have different vibes and food offerings. The following get our votes for the best Tallinn cafes.
“Go to F-Hoone.” That was the one tip that everybody told us as we planned our trip to Tallinn. After we heard this advice from Susan, our foodie friend based in Stockholm, a visit to F-Hoone became a given. Did we like F-Hoone? Let’s just say we liked it enough to return and film a YouTube video here.
There’s no way around it, F-Hoone is a hip cafe with hip food and hip people. Located in a 100-year building that’s now part of the trendy Telliskivi complex, F-Hoone is a meeting place for locals (and a few tourists) who want to relax with reasonably priced food, coffee or adult beverages.
Though we didn’t drink any alcohol at this industrially chic eatery, we can attest to the quality of the cappuccinos and the food. We especially liked the buckwheat blinis with trout caviar, red onion and horseradish cream as well as the borscht served with black rye bread, salted pork fat and garlic. And then there’s the Furger.
While the deep red borscht brought back memories of our grandmothers’ Polish cooking, the “Furger” validated that hamburgers are no longer unique to America. We don’t know why it’s they spell burger with an F instead of a B, but if anyone has any idea – please let us know.
Plan to spend some time walking around Telliskivi. The neighborhood is super cool and highly walkable, especially in the warmer months.
F-Hoone is located at Telliskivi 60, 10412 Tallinn, Estonia.
Situated just around the corner from F-Hoone, Boheem Cafe is a cute spot serving up Estonian comfort food in a cozy setting. This is a great spot to go for brunch after a night on the town, or at least that’s what we did.
For our meal, we shared a mushroom crepe and some dumplings. We also enjoyed a piece of strawberry cheesecake too. Shh! Don’t tell anyone, but it was worth every calorie!
Pop next door to Boheem Pizzeria if you’re more in the mood for pizza. And who isn’t in the mood for pizza?
Boheem Cafe is located at Kopli 18, 10412 Tallinn, Estonia.
We passed Levier Cakery while walking around the Kalamaja neighborhood and couldn’t resist stopping in after we saw the rainbow of macarons through the expansive picture windows. Once inside the tiny cafe, we were tempted by the variety of pastries but went with our initial temptation – the macarons.
We have no regrets. It turns out that the cakery’s macarons are handmade with natural ingredients and fresh fruits. As a bonus, for those who care, Levier Cakery’s macarons are lactose and gluten-free.
Though the flavors are big, the space at Levier Cakery is small. Be prepared to take away your macarons if a table isn’t available.
Levier Cakery is located at Vana-Kalamaja 21, 10414 Tallinn, Estonia.
True confession – we didn’t eat at Kompressor. We really wanted to try the Old Town cafe famous for its cheap, jumbo pancakes, but it was closed every time we tried to eat there due to the holiday season. Not that we need it, but this omission gives us yet another reason to plan a return visit to Tallinn.
Kompressor is located at Rataskaevu 3, 10123 Tallinn, Estonia.
Tallinn Coffee Shops
Dating back to the late 19th century, Tallin’s coffee history stalled during the Communist years but is back full force today. As we explored the city, we discovered cutting specialty coffee shops as well as traditional coffee houses.
In other words, there’s no excuse to be under-caffeinated in Tallin. Here are our favorite coffee shops.
Renard Coffee Shop
** Important Update – Renard Coffee Shop has permanently closed **
Located in the Telliskivi near F-Hoone, Renard Coffee won the award for being our favorite Tallinn coffee spot. Too cool for school with an in-house motorcycle shop, the vibe was surprisingly comfortable with electrical outlets for those who needed to charge their electronics.
With just a few food options, the main attraction was the coffee. Renard sourced the best beans in Europe and prepared them to order either as filtered coffee or espresso drinks.
Renard Coffee Shop was located at Telliskivi 62, 10412 Tallinn, Estonia. It is now permanently closed.
Cafe Maiasmokk is the perfect spot to take a break during a day of Old Town Tallinn sightseeing. Not only is the cafe located in the middle of the historic area, but it has its own history dating back to its opening in 1864. Since Maiasmokk translates to Sweet Tooth, it’s no surprise that the Maiasmokk offers a full selection of desserts to go with a full coffee and hot chocolate menu.
Be sure to check out the Marzipan Museum Room located in the same building as Cafe Maiasmokk.
Cafe Maiasmokk is located at Pikk 16, 10123 Tallinn, Estonia.
Additional Tallinn Coffee Shops
Tallinn has a number of quality of good coffee shops – with more opening all the time. Here are additional Tallinn coffee shops to check out during your visit:
Whether you want to sip on local liqueur Vana Tallinn or another libation, there are many Tallinn bars where you can wet your whistle. Plus, compared to nearby Helsinki, the Estonian beer prices are favorable. Here are our favorites.
We stopped by Must Puudel on our first night in Tallinn for a light bite and beer. Though the food wasn’t memorable, we have fond memories of drinking our first (but not last) Põhjala beer at this popular cafe. In addition to its food and drink menu, Must Puudel has a cool vibe with a retro Soviet kitsch design.
Skip the food at Must Puudel and instead drink local craft beer and cider.
Must Puudel is located at Müürivahe 20, 10140 Tallinn, Estonia.
Speakeasy By Põhjala
** Important Update – Speakeasy by Põhjala Porter has permanently closed **
If you’re looking for a fancy nightclub, Speakeasy is not your spot. However, if you’re looking to drink a selection of Tallinn’s best beer, then Speakeasy is for you. This simple bar is all about the brews. Sure, you could order another beer, but why not order a fresh pint of Põhjala beer brewed just outside of Tallinn.
Order a Põhjala Porter. You won’t be sorry.
Speakeasy by Põhjala was located at Kopli 4, 10412 Tallinn, Estonia. It is now permanently closed.
Depeche Mode Baar
If you spent any of your formative years in the 1980s or if you enjoy the music of that decade, then a stop at Depeche Mode Baar is mandatory when you visit Tallinn. Although Depeche Mode hails from England, this Tallinn bar operates as a tribute to the British band.
Drink options include special cocktails named after Depeche Mode songs, but the bar snacks are quite basic. If you’re like us, you Just Can’t Get Enough of this quirky bar/shrine. Who knows? It may even become your Personal Jesus.
Be prepared for a musical blast to the past. Not surprisingly, all the songs on the jukebox are by Depeche Mode.
Depeche Mode Baar is located at Nunne 4, 10133 Tallinn, Estonia.
Tallinn Restaurant FAQs
Many Tallinn restaurants serve classic Estonian staples like dark rye bread, smoked fish, pork and potatoes. You’ll want to eat them all, preferably paired with local craft beer.
Tallinn restaurants are moderately priced compared to restaurants in other European capital cities.
No. Tipping is optional in Estonia.
People typically eat dinner between 6pm and 8pm in Tallinn.
Reservations are necessary for Tallinn’s better restaurants.
Anthony Bourdain never visited Tallinn while filming The Layover, No Reservations or Parts Unknown.
Phil has not yet visited Tallinn while filming Somebody Feed Phil.
Tallinn currently has two Michelin-starred restaurants. Both 180° by Matthias Diether and NOA Chef’s Hall have been awarded one star at this time.
Things To Do In Tallinn
For a relatively small European capital, Tallinn has a lot to do both in and outside the historic city center. Consider the following f you’re looking to explore Tallinn between meals:
Getting To Tallinn
Where To Stay In Tallinn
We stayed at two different hotels in Tallinn and recommend both. Check them out and then make a reservation:
However, if you’re planning an extended stay or want to cook, you may want to stay at an apartment instead.
Eating Tallinn Video
Watch our YouTube video for the inside scoop about the Estonia food scene. In the video, we dish about Tallinn while we eat blinis and borscht at F-Hoone.
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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 their website 2foodtrippers. Since launching the site in 2012, they’ve traveled to over 40 countries in their quest to bring readers a unique taste of the world.
Original Publication Date: May 22, 2017