Niklāvs

Niklāvs is situated in Rīga’s Old Town in a building that once housed the studio of a well known 20th-century Latvian painter, Niklāvs Strunke, which inspired the name of the restaurant “Niklāvs.” The bright interior is enhanced with paintings of Niklāvs Strunke and of other Latvian artists.

Niklāvs serves mainly traditional Latvian cuisine, including some European dishes. The restaurant offers a breakfast buffet, brunch buffet, business lunch on weekdays, and a la carte menu. There is a featured menu every month – Head Chef’s specials – which is a selection of 4 dishes using locally grown farmers’ produce and ingredients, including wild vegetables and berries picked by the head chef herself, giving customers a taste of seasonal produce. Reservations can be made online.

There is a small pavement terrace outside for dining. It was a beautiful day, so I opted to sit outside. Their pavement terrace is connected with the restaurant and shops along that row, so non-customers can walk through, which I found distracting.

I went for the 3-course business lunch for 7.50 euros. The 2-course meal is 5.50 euros.

My waitress was a bubbly young woman. There was a liveliness to her tone of voice.

The starter was a refreshing salad with a simple yogurt dill dressing. I love the vibrant colors of the salad.

The main course had middle eastern flavors. The chicken, drizzled with a savory tomato sauce, was fall-off-the-bone tender. The bulgur had a mild buttery, nutty flavor, a delicious accompaniment with the chicken and sauce.

The dessert was caramel pudding. The texture resembles a blancmange with a sweet, creamy flavor.

I had an enjoyable lunch and would return to try more elaborate dishes on the menu.

 

Niklāvs

Website: http://www.restoransniklavs.lv/en/

Telephone: (+371) 20019156

Opening hours: Monday to Sunday 7:00 a.m. – 22:00 p.m.

Address: Grēcinieku iela 2, Centra rajons, Rīga, LV-1050, Latvia

 

Contemporary fine dining

Muusu is a fine dining restaurant located in a three-story townhouse near St. Peter’s Church serving contemporary European cuisine. The restaurant uses fresh and seasonal local ingredients. Their head chef, Kaspars Jansons, is claimed to be one of the best chefs in the city.

I was escorted to a room at the back of the house. The interior has a strong Nordic style -raw brick wall, natural light, wooden furniture with simple silhouettes, neutral color and accents, wood flooring, sheepskin draped over the chairs, and potted plants hanging from the skylight. There is attention to detail, from the table settings to the placement of furniture. Although the decor may seem simple, it is aesthetically pleasing with a rustic elegance. There are a certain warmth and coziness to the place. 

Muusu offers a short but creative menu with interesting and intriguing combinations of ingredients such as yogurt goat-cheese mousse and honeyed carrots pumpkin-seed pesto. The chef added a personalized touch to the menu by having his signature at the bottom of the page.

Other than the A la carte menu, business lunch menu is available as well. Customers can also make special dietary requests.

The service was good, the waitress was polite and attentive. After taking my order, the waitress brought over a tray of three different kinds of bread. The bread had a lovely aroma, and one can tell that it is homemade. It would have been better if the bread was accompanied by butter or some sort of spread.

I ordered Earl Grey tea. The Earl Grey was served in an elegant white porcelain teapot by Dammann Frères, the oldest tea company in France. I love the black and white contrast.

For the main course, I had the butter-fried trout fillet with roasted vegetable salsa, mozzarella pearl-barley croquette, and roasted-tomato purée sauce (18 euros). The contrasting color and artistic presentation immediately captured my attention. The trout is lightly seasoned, allowing the natural flavors to stand out. The coquette had a lovely crust and was wonderfully flavored with a balance of ingredients.

As a closing note to my meal, I had the Michel Cluizel chocolate-cream cake with raspberry, chili threads, and vanilla bean sauce (8 euros). Michel Cluizel is a French chocolate manufacturer since 1948.

A beautiful architectural dish with many layers of flavors and textures. The chocolate cream cake was decadent. The raspberry sorbet on top was refreshing, but I feel that something sweeter would complement the cake better.

Overall, I had a wonderful meal. There was creativity and emotion in the food.

 

Muusu

Website: http://www.muusu.lv/muusu/en/about-us

Telephone: +371 25772552

Opening hours: Tuesday 17:00 p.m. – 22:30 p.m.

Wednesday to Friday 12:30 p.m. – 22:30 p.m.

                          Saturday 12:00 p.m. – 22:30 p.m.

Sunday and Monday closed

Address: Skārņu iela 6, Centra rajons, Rīga, LV-1050, Latvia

Index Café

Art Nouveau District

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

 

My initial plan for the day was to have breakfast at Rocket Bean Roastery before heading to the art nouveau district. When I got to Rocket Bean Roastery, it was closed. I had forgotten to check to see if it was open. So I google-searched the area for a cafe that is open at that hour, and Index café came up. Index café is a coffee chain that is ideally located in the art nouveau district.

The interior was somewhat dim with yellowish lighting but had a calm and quiet ambiance. The café offers a variety of seating – bay window seats, banquette seatings, and high-top tables with stools. Service was mediocre. The staff doesn’t seem to show any ownership of the establishment.

I ordered the French breakfast which consists of croissant, brie cheese, butter, orange marmalade, seasonal fruits (€ 5.50), and a cappuccino (€3). The cappuccino did not look nor tasted like a cappuccino, the milk foam was underdone. The French breakfast was a letdown. The croissant tasted like store-bought, and the baguette slices were hard (should not have put it through a sandwich press).

Other than being located in a beautiful part of the town, I am not impressed with this café.

 

Index Café

Website: http://www.indexcafe.lv/

Telephone: +371 67 806 409

Opening hours: Monday to Friday 7:30 a.m. – 19:00 p.m.

Saturday 9:00 a.m. – 19:00 p.m.

Sunday 9:00 a.m. – 18:00 p.m.

Address: Antonijas iela 12, Centra rajons, Rīga, LV-1010, Latvia

 

Café by Ķīšezers lake

Cabo café is located on the shores of the beautiful Ķīšezers lake. This laid-back café is open all year round with a huge terrace overlooking the lake. It is a popular surfer hangout spot in the summer. The restaurant also offers a sports academy providing classes on various water sports activities.

I cycled from Riga’s old town, and it took about 45 minutes. It was a delightful bike ride. I got to see the suburbs of Riga and stunning European-style houses in the wealthy Mežaparks residential area.

Customer service was pretty much non-existent. I entered the café, and no one greeted me. Two staff walked past me and completely ignored me. I did not feel welcomed. The restaurant uses a paging system, whereby customers are given a digital coaster after placing an order. When the food is ready, the coaster will beep, and the customer is to take the coaster to the counter and pick up their food.

I got the creamy tomato soup with basil-pesto sauce and croutons for lunch. The soups have a half or full portion option. I went with the half portion for the creamy tomato soup for 2.90 euros. The Pasta Carbonara was 6.20 euros. The soup tasted like a cream of tomato soup. The croutons were lightly sautéed, so it became very soggy in the soup. The carbonara was a substantial portion. It was very rich and overbearingly creamy. I ate about 1/3 of the pasta and could not take another bite.

It was not an exciting meal experience.

If I were not in the area, I would not make a special trip to this café – terrible service and average food.

Cabo Café

Websitehttp://www.cabo.lv/

Telephone: +371 28 639 556

Opening hours: Monday to Sunday 11:00 a.m. – 22:00 p.m.

Address: Roberta Feldmaņa iela 8A, Ziemeļu rajons, Rīga, LV-1014, Latvia

 

A taste of Punjab

Singh’s in an Indian restaurant boasting authentic Northwestern Indian and Punjab cuisine. There are three branches in Riga. I went to the one on Ģertrūdes street. There are two floors. The 2nd floor has three dining halls suited for private dining and events. The decor has a subtle Indian, yet modern flair with dark wood leather upholstered chairs; red, orange, green, and white square ceramic tiles; three big black and white pictures on the wall of what seemed to me like India during colonial times.

The service was good but the waitresses lacked emotion and connection.

I ordered a plain papadum (2.50 euros), Murgh Makhani (pieces of chicken cooked with tomato and ground cashews in rich buttery sauce) (9.95 euros), plain basmati rice (2.95 euros), and a coke (2.50 euros).

The papadum was huge. The biggest papadum I have had was the size of a teenager’s hand. It was a new, papadum eating experience for me. There were dips that came along with the dish (three different types of chutneys and an onion salad). I have only eaten papadum either on its own or with rice and curry.
I wanted something spicy, so I asked the waitress if they could make the curry spicier. The waitress told me that it is quite spicy, and I assured her that I can handle the heat (having the stereotypical thinking that it’s Europe, they don’t eat spicy food… how spicy can it be?). True enough, it was spicier than I expected. The chicken pieces were tender; unfortunately, the buttery tomato sauce was not prominent. I have had spicy curries in the past, and it was full of flavors.

Honestly, I was not blown away by the food. I was not a fan of the price either, it was a little high.

 

Singh’s

Website: http://www.singhs.lv/

Telephone: +371 66 220 000

Opening hours: Monday to Thursday 11:00 a.m. – 23:00 p.m.

Friday 11:00 a.m. – 12:00 a.m.

Saturday 12:00 p.m. – 12:00 a.m.

Sunday 12:00 p.m. – 22:00 p.m.

Address: Ģertrūdes iela 32, Centra rajons, Rīga, LV-1011, Latvia

Café for coffee lovers

Rocket bean roastery located on Dzirnavu is a specialty coffee house. It is just a block away from the art nouveau district. The café has a chill vibe with big glass windows, and a retro, rustic style decor. There is soft electronic music playing in the background.

Their main branch is located on Miera street and is also their coffee production site. The main branch occasionally organizes coffee cuppings, training, and educational trips. Rocket bean roastery roasts their own coffee, and it can be purchased at both cafés. Lunch and dinner menus are available.

I got to the café around 11:00 a.m. I wanted to order a pancake, but they were no longer taking breakfast orders at that hour. There was one last open sandwich with arugula, sun-dried tomatoes, pickled cucumber, and an egg in the glass display case. The guy behind the counter suggested that I could order that. So I got the sandwich (3.50 euros) and a Cappuccino (3.40 euros). The Cappuccino was aromatic, intense, creamy, full-bodied, and bitter without being overwhelming. At the bottom of the cup, there is a picture of a thumbs up with a phrase ( Vella milti, ku’ labs). I tried looking up what the phrase means but had no luck. I did find that the word “labs” in Latvian means good. If I had to make a guess, it could probably mean’ good job for finishing the coffee’.
The sandwich was light and healthy. Fresh ingredients on rye bread with sesame dressing.

A cool place to hang out and have a great cup of coffee.

 

Rocket Bean Roastery (Dzirnavu)

Website: http://www.rocketbean.lv/

Telephone: +371 27 337 746

Opening hours: Monday to Friday 8:00 a.m. – 21:00 p.m.

Saturday to Sunday (closed)

Address: Dzirnavu iela 39, Centra rajons, Rīga, LV-1010, Latvia

Rocket Bean Roastery (Miera street)

Telephone: +371 20 215 120

Opening hours: Monday to Friday 8:00 a.m.- 21:00 p.m.

Saturday and Sunday 9:0 a.m. – 21:00 p.m.

Address: Miera iela 29, Centra rajons, Rīga, LV-1001, Latvia

Where the locals eat

This buffet restaurant chain was recommended to me by my local tour guide and Airbnb host for Latvian cuisine. It is where the locals go, especially for lunch. There are 16 branches in Riga, and the locations are available on their webpage. The biggest and most impressive Lido restaurant is the Lido leisure center. It is located in a three-story log building with a garden, winter skating rink, and an amusement park. The basement of the restaurant is the brewery, the ground floor is the buffet restaurant, and the third floor is for fine dining.

The Lido restaurants serve almost the same food, with bigger branches serving a more extensive range of choices. There are salads, starters, poultry, meat, fish, potatoes, drinks, desserts…etc. Not only is the food impressive, but the price is reasonable. I was amazed at how cheap it was for the variety and amount of food I ordered. The ingredients were fresh and of good quality. The flavors of the food have both western and eastern European influences.

Lido Vermanitis is the largest chain near the old town. I ordered three different kinds of salad (beet salad with pickled cucumbers, spinach salad, and potato salad with yogurt dill dressing), chicken pilaf, fried boiled potato, turkey meatballs in carrot tomato sauce and solyanka soup. All of these cost me 10.50 euros, pretty sweet deal! It was truly a satisfying lunch!

Lido Ģertrūde is a bistro restaurant that also serves breakfast. It has a small selection of food. As my apartment was close by, I came here for dinner. I did not want anything too heavy, so I went vegetarian. I ordered the basmati rice with vegetables, mashed potatoes, and steamed vegetables, and it cost me only 5.50 euros. The mashed potato was creamy and smooth. The rice was savory and sweet (from the raisins)… delicious!

 

I highly recommend this place for affordable mouthwatering Latvian food. Visit the larger branches such as Vermanitis and leisure center for more food selections. As they are also more popular, it may be difficult to find a table during lunch hour. If you do decide to go for lunch, try to go early or after 2pm (my experience).

 

Lido

Website: https://www.lido.lv/en/

 

Lido Vērmanītis

Opening hours: Monday to Sunday 10:00 a.m. – 22:00 p.m.

Telephone: +371 67 221 318

Lido Ģertrūde

Opening hours: Sunday to Thursday 8:00 a.m. – 22:00 p.m.

Friday 8:00 a.m. – 12:00 a.m.

Saturday 24 hours

Telephone: +371 27 800 633

Caffeine roasters

Caffeine roasters or also known as Caffeine LV, is a cafe serving freshly brewed coffee, cakes, snacks, and salads. Depending on the coffee, some come in one size, two sizes, and three sizes. The milk-based coffee drinks come in three sizes (small, medium, large).

I made my way over to the Caffeine roasters located on Brīvības 76 for breakfast. The cafe was spacious, not cluttered with furniture. There are leather couches located in the front of the cafe. The placed looked a bit old and did not feel inviting. The other branches of Caffeine roasters have a more modern, attractive decor. The service was okay, the staff who took my order was not warm.

 

 

I ordered a vegetable quiche for 1.95 euros and a medium Cappuccino for 2.15 euros. The Cappuccino was good, and the quiche was decent. There was a lot of cottage cheese (Latvians love cottage cheese). For me, that overpowered the other flavors. I was looking forward to a more eggy, savory quiche.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Caffeine LV ( Brīvības 76)

Website: https://caffeine.lv/

Opening hours: Monday to Thursday 7:00 a.m. – 21:00 p.m.

Friday 7:00 a.m. – 22:00 p.m.

Saturday  to Sunday 9:00 a.m. – 21:00 p.m.

Telephone: +371 27 757 341

Address: Brīvības iela 76, Centra rajons, Rīga, LV-1010, Latvia

A cozy cafe for the sweet tooth

Kūkotava is located a few shops away from Lido Vērmanītis. This cozy and warm cafe offers a variety of cakes, pastries, pies, and cookies. One can watch the bakers work in their open-plan kitchen behind the counter as you wait for your order.

I visited the cafe for two consecutive days, each after a long day of exploring the city. The staff behind the counter’s attitude was not welcoming. He had a serious look and sounded impatient. I don’t recall seeing a menu, and there were no English labels for the food. I had to point and ask about each cake or pastry. As there were people behind me and I did not want to hold the line, I chose a few to ask and pick the one I like best.

I ordered a pistachio mousse cake (3.50 euros), a berry cake (3.50 euros), and a cup of hot cacao (2.45 euros). The hot cacao was kind of like a latte, light with a bit of foam. It is also sugar-free; thus, it was the perfect pairing for the cakes. Both cakes were tasty, I especially enjoyed the pistachio mousse cake. It was rich and creamy, with a hint of pistachio flavor, it reminded me of a pannacotta. The berry cake had a creamy gelatin texture with a more fruity sour taste.

What I love about this cafe is that it is relatively quiet, and there are a lot more dessert choices compared to other places.

 

Kūkotava

Website: https://www.kukotava.eu/en/

Opening hours: Monday to Friday 8:00 a.m. – 20:00 p.m. , Saturday to Sunday 10:00 a.m. – 18:00 p.m.

Telephone: +371 67 283 808

Address: Tērbatas iela 10/12, Centra rajons, Rīga, LV-1050, Latvia

 

Uzbekistāna

Located in a quiet neighborhood, in a charming house with a cozy outdoor seating area, Uzbekistana serves traditional Uzbek dishes like shashlik and pilaf. Uzbekistana’s menu offers an array of soups, salads, hot dishes, snacks, and desserts. The interior walls decorated with Uzbek elements such as instruments, pictures, ceramic plates, and tubeteikas (Central Asian caps); floor covered with vivid red Uzbek carpets, bamboo ceiling, Uzbek music playing in the background and staff dressed in traditional Uzbek clothing. When you enter the restaurant, it’s like being transported to Uzbekistan. Kudos to the owner for the beautiful decor, which gives customers a glimpse into the culture.

The waitress who served me was nice. She spoke in a friendly tone with a smile. I visited the restaurant for dinner.

I ordered a Borscht (3.95 euros) and a lamb pilaf (9.95 euros). The cream came separately with the Borscht, which was perfect as I did not want too much cream in my soup. The soup was more on the sweet side, but the natural sweetness that comes from vegetables, somewhat different from the Russian Borscht.

The pilaf was aromatic and delicious; mutton pieces tender. The rice was a bit too oily; however, the fresh tomato slices and cucumber were a great palate cleanser. Initially, I did not think much of the dish, but the more I ate, a gentle crescendo of flavors slowly unfolds in my mouth.

This is a good place for those who would like to try something different from the European cuisine. I would be interested to come back to try the other dishes.

 

Uzbekistāna

Website: http://www.uzbekistana.lv/en/

Telephone: 

Opening hours: 12:00 p.m. – 23:00 p.m. Daily

Address: Bruņinieku iela 33, Centra rajons, Rīga, LV-1001, Latvia