Wander down the pedestrianised street in downtown Tashkent, known locally as Broadway, you will find bars and shashlik restaurants lined up one after the other. Some look decidedly iffy, others are more salubrious and one, the Oasis, was a good choice, with an attractive garden area through the back and a good range of delicious shashliks that were well-cooked and presented. The music wasn't too loud (definitely a hazard in Uzbekistan - as is the practice of charging for listening to it) and a succession of pretty girls shimmied and shook their way through some fairly perfunctory belly-dances. Whether we were charged for the entertainment is debatable, but as the bill worked out to about $5 a head and we were satisfied with both our meal and the place, we weren't about to complain.
Favorite Dish: A refrigerated cabinet out the front displays the choice - various permutations of lamb and pork. Servings were generous, the meat well-cooked, flavoursome and served with grilled vegetables. Cold Russian beer (Baltica 7 is a good choice) and fresh Uzbek bread made a satisfying meal.
2009 update Not from my own experience, but a note from fellow-VTer Cdnexpat who knows Tashkent well, Broadway has been "cleaned up"and the restaurants moved to other parts of town. Now the place is as dead as a dodo at night - something of a shame - it was a bit sleazy but was popular and had a lively, raffish vibe that is missing from the city now.
Good food, live jazz some nights and a shop full of interesting handicrafts for those who love to browse and/or shop make the Caravan Art Cafe a great choice for eating out in Tashkent. Decorated with all sorts of interesting artefacts and occupying several rooms around a courtyard, it is a popular place with visitors and residents alike, and if you want to sit outside it really is advisable to book, especially at weekends. The menu is extensive, a real mix of Uzbek and Russian influences with traditional dishes and what can only be described as Uzbek Fusion.
Favorite Dish: 2009 updateThe Caravan goes from strength to strength. Our choice for our last night dinner, we found ourselves seated Uzbek-style, cross-legged in a slightly raised balcony, a good vantage point from which to watch both the excellent saxophonist and the crowded room. Not that we did too much watching - we were too busy with both the serious business of choosing from the extensive menu and eating and comparing dishes when our meals came. The food was wonderful - as always, dish upon dish of delicious salads, our last taste of the wonderful bread and main courses that were varied, well-cooked and presented. I had a spicy sausage of some sort, rather like a black pudding, grainy and spicy - yum! Nice wine too.
The restaurant is very popular with locals in couples and in large groups. Two smart young things sitting near us were busy with both their laptops and their shishsa.
You might want to bring a pocket torch to read the menu - the lighting is definitely what would be called atmospheric!
Booking really is essential - as it is at most popular Tashkent restaurants.
This restaurant had been recommended to me by a friend, so I was pleased to discover that it was only about 15 minutes walk away from our hotel, the Grand Raddus. The recommendation turned out to be spot-on (thanks Tom!) and we were very pleased with our evening out, despite being very tired after our long flight the day/night before and our first day’s sightseeing in the Uzbek heat.
On arrival we had a choice of sitting inside our out and chose a table in the pretty courtyard. We’d come early, about 6.00 PM (because we were headed for a much-needed early night) – later arrivals who hadn’t reserved a table had to sit inside as the courtyard ones were all taken. The first requirement was for cold beers all round, and we were quickly supplied with glasses of Shimkent, a pleasant-tasting beer from Kazakhstan. Our friendly waiter was very patient as we tried to decide what to eat – this was our first encounter with Uzbek food and despite some research before we went we weren’t at all sure what to order. Eventually we settled on sharing some samsas to start with. Chris then chose a plate of manty, I went for the stuffed peppers, Sue a Greek salad and Georgina a vegetable curry (see my Uzbekistan page for an explanation of the Uzbek dishes).
Just one complaint: our waiter had perhaps been too busy trying to please us with his helpfulness, and had forgotten to write down my order for the peppers, so I ended up eating my main course after the others had finished. Not to worry though – another beer helped pass the time, and when I’d caught up we ordered some desserts. My “Eastern sweets” turned out to be a selection of dried fruits and nuts; we ate a few then packed up the rest to take out (they were just what we needed a few days later on the long drive through the desert).
Favorite Dish: All the food was tasty – we particularly liked the spinach samsas and the manty. Sue’s banana split was also pronounced first-rate.
We paid 30,000 som for two (about £12), including 3 large and one small beer. Although the Caravan is considered a little expensive by Uzbek standards we found it excellent value for the superior quality of the food, very pleasant environment and friendly English-speaking staff – oh, and the English menu. Highly recommended!
Somehow, real coffee (or espresso) is something you cannot get easily around each corner in Uzbekistan (and Tajikistan and that bit of Kyrgyzstan I travelled to). You’ll likely get more of the ones made with nescafe powder or even worse, the ones that are a ready mix with sugar and powder milk. So you can imagine that I was kind of craving for real coffee after 5 weeks of nescafe. I did sample here and there, but still no luck.
It was only on my last day in Uzbekistan that I was wandering back to the hotel after a visit in the Orthodox Church. I went through the backstreets, and it proved again that these hold the best gems :-)
Art Café Dervish didn’t have a sign, it was more the building that caught my attention – in a lovely adobe like style. Only then I noticed the sign on the wall that says “Café”.
Ahh, how good did my brain stell worked after having been boiled in Central Asia’s summer heat – I went inside and it was indeed coffee heaven !
The small courtyard is lovely decorated in the same stayle as the exterior, almost as if they await the next caravan to arrive. Stairs lead to an upper terrace, but I stayed in the cool courtyard.
Favorite Dish: Compared to other cafes, coffee here is not cheap, a cup is 1200 som. But given the fact that it is REAL espresso, it is almost nothing :-)
While seaching the net for more information or a website, I found nothing, but did come across a French newsletter (of Oct. 2005), which writes very positive about them (see website, page 14, top).
In the same street as Hotel Orzu. Take the metro, get off at Oybek (blue line) or Mingorik (green line), go southeast along (southern side) of Rustavelli street until you see a Continental tire shop. Turn left and walk 3 blocks, then it is on your left side.
Coordinates on GoogleEarth:
41°17’21,26’’ N; 69°15’54,66’’ E
Thrilled by the discovery of Art Café Dervish in the backstreets close to my hotel (Orzu), I decided to try the restaurant next door to the café for dinner. Ahh, another good choice ! The menue is in Russian with Cyrillic and Latin writing, but still difficult to decide with my hardly existing Russian. But as I remembered some words and as the waitress was very helpful and as “muuuhh” and “määäh” and “oink” are quite international for describing the meat source, I finally ended up with this sizzling hot and very spicy sheep dish (as in pic 1), accompanied by rice and non bread. It was full of my beloved coriander as well, so I was in food heaven.
Oh, and I had a very much delicious salad, corn, onions, cheese, green salad and a dressing, also heavily loaded with fresh coriander.
Together with a beer, I ended up with 7000 som, so quite reasonable.
I think, the restaurant is linked to Art Café Dervish, at least Dervish had a door leading to a room, where on the other side Bagrationi is located. I was dining in the courtyard, but could see that they had a door to a room, which must have been the Dervish’s dining room.
Unfortunately no website, and I also don’t have a phone number.
Coordinates on GoogleEarth:
41°17’21,26’’ N; 69°15’54,66’’ E
LP mentioned Omar Khayam to offer Near East cuisine, and so I thought I should sample some here (as who knows when in my life I will end up in Near East). It is not easy to find (or my brain was really mashed), but finally I found entry via the Che Café in Movarounnakhr.
Ahh, sheer luxury dining ! When I looked at the map, it was very much clear that I would go with hummus and matabbai (pic 1) as starters and finished with a kebab of beef in yoghurt. And of course, some ayran as a drink (I just can’t live without that, ha!). It was all very much delicious, and haha, I even missed to take a picture of the main dish. It is filling as well, but I just HAD to eat all, given its marvellous taste.
You have the choice between sitting outside on a platform (pic 2) or on normal desks or inside in one of the lovely decorated rooms. All in the style of what I would say “caravanseray”, even the waiters did have appropriate dresses .-)
It seems to be very popular with foreigners, expatriates or the Tashkent’s upper class. No one gave me weird looks, but I felt a bit out of place in my usual shagged clothes (but only one second, ha).
Favorite Dish: Prices are high, given the clientel, but it is very much worth it (price list, see picture, I hope it is readable). My matabbai were 3000 som, the hummus 2800 som, and my kebab 7800 som.
Coordinates on GoogleEarth:
41°18’06,43’’ N; 69°16’51,90’’ E
My friends in Tashkent took me to Caravan for a taste of authentic Uzbek cuisine. Due to the recent terrorist activities there were heavily armed guards outside but that just peaked my interest further. The interior and exterior is decorated in traditional Uzbek style.
Uzbek food is very tasty and is served in courses. We had lamb ribs, Samsa is a pastry filled with spiced lamb meat. Shaslik (aka Shiska-bob) was also good and plate of Plov. There was a bean salad that was also very tasty.
I was coordially invited to partake in drinking of Vodka as a gesture of friendship, be careful it will catch up to you. "To your health!"
Favorite Dish: Samsa a pastry filled with spiced lamb.
This place is a lot of things at the same time: restaurant, with typical Uzbek food and typical occidental cuisine!!!
It's also an art gallery offering a wide rande of traditionnal Uzbek handicrafts as well as paintings by famous Uzbek artists (a bit expensive though).
And finally it's a "cafe" where you can enjoy live jazz, Uzbek folk music or join social and cultural events hosted every once in a while
I was taken by some other friends to another good restaurant called Cassandra serving Russian and Uzbek cuisine. We sat on the porch as an elderly Russian Jazz band performed.
The food was excellent and very inexpensive the only problem was counting all those Uzbek Soums.
I had Russian Ravioli (Pelmeny) with sour cream served like a soup for appetizer and Chicken Shaslyk for dinner with garnish(vegetables).
The beer selection was also very good.
Favorite Dish: Russian Ravioli (Pelmeny) with sour cream.
Extremely posh, fancy restaurant, and of course expensive. You'll be able to taste some caviar in this restaurant, probably the only place in all of Uzbekistan!
The food is OK, but if you want to go there, it's mainly for a nice show of local dances, starting at 9pm every evening.
Otherwise, better go to smaller restaurant, much more affordable!
Actually, they do not only serve local and traditionnal dishes in this restaurant. They also have a mexican (from La Casa restaurant), an italain (from Bistrot restaurant) and a Japanese (from Shintaro restaurant) menus, since all these are part of a chain.
Expatriates consider this place as one of the best, and indeed it is really good food that will be served by a real nice staff. The restaurant is not made of one big room, but of small rooms with 4 or 5 tables, all decorated in a "caravanserail" style. Music is "loungy" and not too lound. AND the best water-pipe/chicha/Narguileh I have ever tasted!!!!
You can sit at the tables, or inthe "old styled" dining section: on cussions on the elevated floor... or lay down...
But it all have a price...
Favorite Dish: They have a real good deal, the Business lunch: 5 days a week a set menu of soup, salad and main and water or tea for 4.000 SUM.
I had a really good pizza at the New World Bakery & Pizza. My Uzbek colleagues and I had a large pizza with pepperoni, olives and tomatoes along with a Coca-Cola. The pizza was extremely cheap and very tasty.
Favorite Dish: Pizza!
In the summer, the terasse of this restaurant is really a blessing, with the sprinklers watering the plants just next to you.... And the kids can have fun on a section of the restaurant specially arranged for them!
In the winter, the big room is perfect to eat a delicious turkish meal.
The owner is so nice, and will chat with you a little while!
The staff is competent, and do their best to understand you if your russian or uzbeck is so-so!
Favorite Dish: The food is really superb, I particularly like their yogourt and cucumber salad... a prefect balance! and their meet is SO tender!
Really it's a pleasure
Choykhanas are everywhere in Tashkent and they're brilliant places to eat. Stuff the restaurants, IMO. I had laghman, non, and a pot of tea for breakfast at the choykhana at the northwest end of the Chorsu Bazaar. The laghman was awesome - noodle soup with spices, garlic, tomatoes and mutton. The whole production cost me $0.60
I had lunch the same day at another choykhana across the street from the Grand Orzu - 2 skewers of shashlyk, a plate of melons, pot of tea and non for $0.75. And it tastes wonderful
Favorite Dish: Laghman and shashlyk and tea and melons. The plov around here is too greasy for my tastes (that's how the locals like it apparently).
Between ourselves, we referred to this restaurant as "The Worker's Canteen". It's cafeteria -style, take a tray and join the queue setup certainly has all the appearance of a staff canteen. Come lunch-time and those queues are practically stretching out the door - this is one popular place! When you taste the food you've chosen from the extensive range of dishes on offer, and paid the ludicrously low bill to the cashier at the end of the counter, you can understand why. We were impressed enough to come back more than once and, had it been open on weekends, we'd have come again.
With plenty of staff on hand to clear tables and sweep the floor, the place stays neat and clean despite the constant flow of people. Lots of windows and open arches between the two levels, wooden tables and chairs, brick walls hung with bright paintings combined with a sense of folk really enjoying their meal all work together to create a lively scene. Lunching here really is joining in with the locals.
Favorite Dish: Given the rapid turnover through the lunch hour (and it really is not much more than an hour) the quality of the food here is tremendous. A big range of salads, the inevitable soups, and then a whole bank of hot dishes - stews, baked meats, lots of vegetables - you point and the portions are doled out by an army of servers behind the counter - this is what fast food should be like - genuinely good cooking, not a reconstituted potato or piece of "meat" in sight.
What did we eat? So many good things - the sweetest, most flavourful zucchini I have ever , ever tasted; ditto aubergine fritters; a creamy potato dish - so good on the lips, don't even think about the hips; a spicy bean and meat stew was lip-smackingly good; stuffed vegetables; tender meatballs in tomatoey sauce - the list could go on and on. And just in case you're still feeling peckish, when the rush settles down and most people have been served their main courses, a whole area of the counter is cleared and out come the cakes, pastries and fruit. And then it all happens again when the second wave of workers take their lunch hour.