Eating and drinking in Latvia

Although meat or fish and potatoes remain the staples of Latvian cuisine, Riga offers a wide range of dishes to suit all tastes, including excellent international cuisine and vegetarian options. Eating out, especially in the capital's upmarket establishments, can be relatively expensive. However, there are plenty of self-service fast food outlets in the city where you can have a hearty meal for around €11. There are also many supermarkets and markets in the city where self-catering is a practical and budget-friendly option.

Restaurants tend to be open from noon to midnight, with bars keeping similar hours (although some are open past 2am). Cafés typically open at 9 or 10am.

Popular national starters include cabbage soup (kāpostu zupa), sprats with onions (sprotes ar sīpoliem) and pelēkie zirņi (mushy peas in pork fat). Slabs of pork garnished with potatoes and sauerkraut constitute the typical main course, although freshwater fish (zivs) is common too. Rasols (cubes of potato, ham and gherkin drenched in cream) is the staple salad. Pelmeni (Russian ravioli) are ubiquitous – you’ll find them on most menus.


Rīga has excellent bars, though some are expensive. Imported beer (alus) is widely available, but the local brews are fine and also cheaper – the most common brands are Aldaris and Cēsu. Worth trying once is Rīga Melnais Balzāms (Rīga Black Balsam), a kind of bitter liqueur (45 per cent) made from a secret recipe of roots and herbs and supposed to cure all ailments.

Coffee (kafija) and tea (tēja) are usually served black – ask for milk (piens) and/or sugar (cukurs).

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