Food is undeniably one of the best ways to discover a new culture, yet, it is perceived that trying authentic cuisine should come at the high cost. We did our research to prove it wrong. It turned out that you can easily find local food in Moscow for cheap without compromising on the quality.
How? A significant transformation of the local markets took place a few years ago shifting the way we think about the slowly dying out Soviet Era markets. After re-branding, they now represent the leading force of the go-to places where you can get amazing food quality fast and for cheap. That also motivated others to adjust to the local demands and trends creating even a wider variety of such authentic, good quality food-courts in the city. As a result, it attracted youth to go to such places, and this business is now flourishing. Welcome to our hand-picked list of Moscow’s “Forget about Macdonalds & KFC” food-courts alternatives.
You may hard times finding more authentic market than the Usachevsky market. Founded back in 1934 this place has seen it all. Usachevsky market by right meet standards of Europe’s leading food markets. Renovated in 2017, it is a cozy place where you can “touch” the history getting yourself some fresh farmer food and also enjoying a quick bite in little cafes located all around the market. Among many, try Plov.com. Traditional to Uzbek culture, this rice and meat dish has also become popular in Moscow. You can taste different kinds of plov with various types of meat and Samsa pies with different toppings. Paying that price it will not only make you feel full, but it will also make you feel great about paying so little.
- Hours: daily, 8 am – 9 pm: Friday, Saturday 8 am – 9 pm
- Address: Usacheva, 26
- Contacts: +7 (999) 003-00-30
- Price: average bill – 350 – 500 Rubl (~ $5 – $8)
Maybe it is the space-ship looking facade or great marketing, but this place has always been popular among locals and has successfully made it to our list of local food for cheap. Opened back in USSR in 1963 Danilovsky Market was one of the first markets to be fully renovated and rebranded in less than a year ago in 2017. Ran by the famous “Ginza Project“, this place became the “premium” market in the affordable niche. In case you want to have something more European you should try United Kitchen. This place offers an unusual twist of the familiar food. Duck ramen, crab claw with potatoes, baked herring and their original gourmet sandwich. For South food try Dagestanskaya Lavka and for something very traditional – Propelmeni is your choice (Russian ravioli).
- Hours: daily, 8 am – 9 pm: Friday, Saturday 8 am – 9 pm
- Address: Mytnaya, 74
- Contacts: +7 (968) 632 38 27
- Price: average bill – 600-700 Rubl (~ $9 – 11)
FOOD COURT 21
For those who found themselves hungry on Noviy or Stary Arbat Food Court 21 is the place to consider. The first floor of the former Casino (gambling is now illegal in Moscow) is now hosting a new project called Food Court 21. This is a perfect balance of the quality in the restaurant and the service speed like in McDonald’s. Inspired by the Barcelona food courts, this place has everything from khinkali to sashimi, from oysters to khichin. Meaning the range of cuisines is very diverse making it also a safe option where each will find what they like. Usually, with no lines, you can grab and go or grab and stay. For more authentic food this place also offers a variety of Russian crepes – bliny.
- Hours: daily, 12 pm – 12 am: Friday, Saturday 12 pm – 1 am
- Address: Novyi Arbat, 21
- Contacts: +7 (495) 691 77 87
- Price: average bill – 600 – 700 Rubl (~ $9 – $11)
If we talk about authenticity and the Soviet spirit of Moscow, Zhiguli is your must-visit destination. Founded back in the 1960s it has almost did not change its appearance. Expect nothing fancy here; in fact, it looks like the typical canteen or “stolovaya” in Russian. The owners put a bet on keeping Zhiguli the way it used to be ignoring the modern trends, and they did not lose.
In the 1990s this place was popular among some criminals, and once you approach the entrance today, you may get that feeling. But do not worry, there is nothing to be scared of since even the president used to have lunch here a few years ago. You may first see some fancy crab and lobster with +5 litters of beer combos in the menu but there is no need to get that, you can choose more democratic options instead at the buffet (don’t forget to take the tray first). Here you will find nothing but very simple, traditional and local food for cheap. If you are not sure what to take, Herring under a Fur Coat, buckwheat porridge with meat or saltwort will make you look like you know what’s up.
- Hours: daily, 12 pm – 2 am: Friday, Saturday 12 pm – 4 am
- Address: Novyi Arbat, 11
- Contacts: +7 (495) 691-41-44
- Price: average bill – 500 – 1500 Rubl (~ $8 – $24)
Karavaev Brothers, an authentic chain of cafeterias offers a wide variety of primarily Russian food including some European dishes. It’s quick, it’s tasty, it’s located all around the city and it has local food for cheap prices. When you enter the restaurant, you can see all the food choices at the display from some sandwiches prepared earlier in the morning to some stuffed blini roll options. Yes, it tastes as good as it looks! But there is even a broader choice in the menu in case you do not see anything unusual at the display. The other great thing about Karavaev Brothers is the service system. Just like in Macdonalds & KFC, there is a ticket dispenser in each restaurant, and you get served based on the number of your ticket. It saves a lot of time making it crucial when you have a busy sightseeing day.
- Hours: daily, 8 am – 11 pm: Friday, Saturday 8 am – 11 pm
- Address: there are many restaurants in this chain, but we recommend you the ones on Myasnitskaya,18 and Pokrovka, 14/2 st.1.
- Contacts: +7 (495) 915-10-16
- Price: average bill – 300 – 400 Rubl (~ $5 – $7)
BEAR IN MIND
You are all set with some budget places to snack on. It is time you could learn some tips on how to get around the city? Then this one is for you.