Riga’s food scene is carried to the pinnacle of gastronomic worthiness with its fresh fish from the Baltic Sea and produce from local farms. As such, the city’s best chefs don’t meddle too much with their ingredients in order to preserve the simplicity of their excellent taste. So where must you go to taste Riga’s bountiful cuisine? Read on.
Jurmala is one of the most beautiful natural interludes any human being could ask for. On one side, the pine peaks sway in the dense forest, on the other, the Gulf of Riga rhythmically skims the shore endlessly. You can reach Jurmala by train, which takes off every twenty minutes from the central train station, or the minibus, which that takes off every five minutes. The closest stop to 36.Line restaurant is Dubulti, but it will be around a two-hour walk by the seaside, so unless you have a car, be prepared for a long yet beautiful stroll. Once you do make it to 36.Line, it will most certainly be worth the trip. We recommend you go there for lunch and choose a seat by the window (lovely view). The menu is a mixture of seafood and meat, but the grilled King Scallops, the Black Cod, and the poached veal shank come recommended. Oh, and definitely try the Riga Black Balsam (a traditional herbal liqueur) and blackcurrant tiramisu for dessert.
Jurmala, 36. line 1202, Riga
2. Le Dome
Le Dome, belonging to Dome Hotel of the Relais and Chateaux boutique hotels and restaurants, is an ode to local seafood and Latvian farmlands. Head chef Sergej Siporov, who previously worked at Michelin starred Le Manoir aux Quat Saisons, is an expert in original taste combinations. The menu revolves mostly around seafood, with such local fish as plaice, sturgeon, cod, Baltic pilchard, and sander (to name a few). Of course wild game, vegetables, and berries also make appearances at this restaurant that calls itself a “gastronomic adventure.” The extensive wine list, cozy interior (black and white portraits of fishermen included), and live piano music every Friday and Saturday nights must also be mentioned. PS: in the summer the small terrace has a great view of the historical center.
4 Miesnieku iela, Old Riga
With that name you may have expected an old dusty collection of bookshelves, but on the contrary, Biblioteka is a deconstructed library (if you will). Those shelves are definitely still there, but most of them are filled with liquor bottles, while modern chandeliers hang above cozy yet fancy furnishings. Head chef Maris Jansons takes on seasonal ingredients for a menu of both classics and inventive edible expressions. If you choose to take on the nine-course tasting menu, the journey will take you to cold-water cod tartar, smoked beetroot ravioli, red king crab, veal cheek (to name a few) all accompanied by specially selected wines.
Tērbatas iela 2, Rīga
(Photo Credit: Feride Yalav)
A bakery, charcuterie, and daily lunch spot, M’archers proudly serves freshly prepared food and desserts as well as homemade bread. You can pop by and buy a few freshly baked baguettes, French style desserts (the meringues are amazing), and a selection from their daily-prepared buffet (such as curry chicken, roasted vegetable platter, or hummus). Or take a seat in the dining room, which looks like an antique store with porcelain figurines, a gramophone, and paintings, for a sit down meal accompanied by the house wine. There’s definitely a French influence so don’t be surprised to stumble upon a Grand Marnier Souffle, Poulet de Bresse, or Foie gras brioche on the daily menu.
Strēlnieku iela 1A, Rīga
5. Art Café Sienna
(Photo Credit: Feride Yalav)
This place looks like the cozy living room of a very sophisticated and wealthy European heiress. Antique porcelain tea and coffee sets, ornate oak furniture, and tassel lampshades all contribute to this particular Downtown Abbey feel. Yet rest assured, because Sienna is anything but pretentious, with an overtly friendly wait staff (a rarity in the usually cantankerous Riga), locals working on their laptops in comfortable armchairs, and visitors checking maps and shooting photos. The most important thing, however, is the amazing dessert. You must try the éclair packed with a bold dark chocolate taste, the perfect Tarte Tatin, and the life-altering raspberry tart that looks like a magical white globe of mirth (white chocolate exterior with raspberry mousse and raspberry sauce within).
Strēlnieku iela 3, Rīga