Southern Estonia isn't the first place that comes to mind when you think of Chinese cuisine. But in the heart of the old town, there is Tsink Plekk Pang, a restaurant adept at attracting tourists, students, and businessmen alike. You have the choice of an indoor restaurant and a covered outdoor patio on the roof (presumably closed in winter). I chose to eat outside and enjoy a nice view of the street below. Fortunately, the patio was covered, as a cloudburst rolled through while I was eating. Service was good, prices were reasonable. And the food was good.
Favorite Dish: I had a stir-fried chicken dish that came with lo mein-like noodles and fresh vegetables. Purists might not have been satisfied, but I found it to be spicy enough and tasty. Estonian brew A. Le Coq is featured on tap, which I thought was quite good.
This pub and resturant in the Old Town is quite popular with local students. There's a very large menu which looks fairly impressive but the night I was there it appeared they had run out of practically everything.
I became quite used to waiting an interminable while for food in Tartu's restaurants and this place was no exception. It took a while just to get served, the first course we had was minced meat and pastry dumplings which were nice and had a bit of a kick to them.
This is a fairly decent choice for food in the Old Town and has a nice enough atmosphere if you just want a few drinks in studenty, arty surroundings.
Favorite Dish: The steak and fries sounded good but alas they had run out of steak. So instead I had a skewer of chicken and sausage. The menu is a mixture of international food with an Asian twist and local stuff. Mains cost between 80 and 100 krooni while snacks, starters and soups around 50 krooni.
Maailm means "world" in Estonian. This bar / cafe / restaurant tries to create a global atmosphere in its premises, i.e. selling different countries' specialties, calling their drinks Dalai Lama, playing great music in numerous languages and displaying some ethno objects in their rooms. Maailm is a great place to hang out after a long day, its atmosphere is interesting and creative (the only bar with swings to sit on!!). The walls use newspaper cuttings as tapestry.
Favorite Dish: garlic bread was good, and i also enjoyed the Dalai Lama fruit cocktail
Wilde and Vilde were writers - the former Oscar Wilde was Irish, the latter Eduard Vilde was Estonian. For whatever reason, this place included them both in its name and theme. Statues of the writers (who have never met each other) are found in front of the building, sitting on a bench. But let's get to the place itself. First of all, it's actually two places - a cosy cafe downstairs and a lively bar and restaurant upstairs. While I opt for the cafe during daytime (for instance for one of the Vanaema Koogid (Grandmother's Cakes)), the bar is a perfect spot for hanging out at night (and have some garlic bread or one of their tasty main courses). You usually meet a lot of foreigners in here, and English seems to be spoken more often than Estonian... But this place has existed for ages and is featured in literally every travel guide about the Baltics. Anyway, Wilde is a must-visit - great food, nice atmosphere, friendly staff, a wonderful outside terrace, and the best apple-cake (Vanaema Ounakook) I've ever eaten!
Something they proudly announce on their website (which, btw, is very well organized) is the "Wilde Super Burger" - if you're able to finish it by yourself within one hour, you win a case of Saku Rock beer!
Favorite Dish: Vanaema Ounakook - maybe that's why I've come back to Tartu...
Apart from that, their garlic bread is pretty good, although the last time I had it, it was fairly dry. Other food is good, too (and very international... Irish, Indian, Chinese... you name it!)
At the ground floor there is a cafe and a bookstore. We went upstairs to the Irish Pub, where we had a nice lunch. Ambience is cozy, food is good and the staff is friendly. There is wireless internett access.
Outside there is a sculpture of the Irish author Oscar Wilde and the Estonian author Eduard Wilde. But there is a third Wilde, the founder of the printing and publishing business that was situated in the building from 1766.
There is more to the place than just food; concerts and exhibitions take place there, too. And if you want to have a VT meeting, this is the place to go: The owners are VT members.
Favorite Dish: I had the lunch of the day. I do not remember what it was, only that it was very good and relatively cheap :-)
This café cum bookstore has taken it's name after the famous Irish writer. Unlike many combos like this, it does not feel like sitting in a mall with shoppers trafficing around you. No this is a proper cozy cafe with soft chairs waitreses and a full menu of sandwiches, salads, pancakes etc. We had a Greek salad, a ciabatta and a pancake with curd cheese or kohupiima, which the Estonians love to mix with anything. I will not be surprised if they serve a Kohupiima Martini. In fact Kohupiima, Kaluha and Vodka should be called a "White Estonian"
Right, back on track: The prices are very reasonable and the food was delicious.
To top it all off they have free Wifi. The German guy next to us was talking to friends back home on Skype, so it must be pretty good too.
Nerd fact: The red brick building it's all located in was previously a printing and publishin business opened by Dr. Peter Ernst Wilde in 1766.
p.s. It's supposed to be an Irish pub, which luckily didn't show very much. Whats the big attraction in Irish pubs? I don't get it...
p.p.s. This just in: Apparently the Irish pub is upstairs from the cafe and bookstore, so there you have it.
In 1768-1778 a new gunpowder magazine was built in the moat below Toome Hill. The vaults under the hill served for military purposes first, later as storage, and the university used them as laboratory for a while. In the 1980s a first cafe and restaurant opened here. The present brewery pub and restaurant has opened in 2000.
The vaulted halls and rustic atmosphere are enjoyable. The waitresses are dressed in cute traditional clothing. Regular visitors have their own beer steins with their names on them which are put up in long rows on the walls.
They serve an abundant selection of Estonian dishes in good quality. We were with a party of about 20 people and everyone was happy with theirs. Many of their dishes have funny names. Bring someone who speaks Estonian and can translate, otherwise you'll miss the jokes. The menu in English is on their website and the menus at the restaurant have descriptions of the food in English, too, but without the funny names!
Later in the evening the restaurant mutates into a pub and club with karaoke events and dancing and occasional live music.
Favorite Dish: "Suudle mind veel" ("Kiss me again") deserved a tip of its own - this is the name they gave to their roasted garlic bread with garlic dip, a popular starter in Estonia.
As main dish I had a lamb casserole with potatoes and vegetables, very good.
And their beer deserves a honourable mentioning, of course!
Estonians have a faible for the yummiest cakes and pralines and sweets, and they know how to make them. Better not be on a diet when you visit this country. Among the many fine goodies I tried in many places those of Café Pierre deserve more than a honourable mentioning. Their chocolate cake was to die for. (No worries, I am still alive.)
The cafe is conveniently located in town hall square. The atmosphere is cosy and this is a great refuge on a rainy afternoon.
House-made pralines are on sale per piece. A pack with a selection makes a nice gift to your dears at home.
Ladies - don't miss the toilet... (photo 3)
The general theme to eating in Tartu was one of hunger while waiting a lifetime to be served and then for the food to arrive. This place was no exception.
The restaurant / pub stretches over four floors, with a pool trable area in the basement. It seems to have a good reputation in town though I can't say I was so impressed.
The menu is very extensive indeed in Estonian and English and while it's ostensibly a Chinese restaurant, they also have Indian food on the menu.
It does get very busy in the evenings here so booking recommended if you're going to eat. Groups of more than two or three people should probably go straight to the top floor. Surroundings are quite trendy so it's a good place to pop in for a beer if you don't mind waiting ages for it to arrive.
Favorite Dish: The hot and sour soup was actually very nice and spicy the way I like it. We ordered 3 dishes but only two arrived. They were a bit average, though fried rice was nice, the main meat dishes were a bit bland even though they were noted on the menu to be spicy.
As well as the additional Indian food, you can also get sushi or American style fare. Perhaps if they shortened the menu they could concentrate on actually serving people.
Having tried to get some food elsewhere in Tartu without success I eventually had to settle for eating in my hotel. Unfortunately the service here was absolutely dreadful and this somewhat tarnished any recomendation I can make about it. I'm not sure if our waiter was new, but certainly something was wrong. It also seemed as if they only had two waiters on duty and only two menus between the entire restaurant.
It took half an hour and physically following a waiter round in order to get a menu and then another half hour or so before the food turned up. The meal as a whole took about 2 and a half hours to finish. While the surroundings were nice enough it was also absolutely freezing in there.
As this is also a bar they bring the cutlery and glasses to you table only when you've ordered. Well, if they remember. I noticed that people who had reserved a table seemed to get served faster so maybe that's the secret to success here.
Favorite Dish: A bottle of cava here cost only 90 krooni which was half the price of the wine and which I would have enjoyed more if I wasn't almost delirious with hunger.
I ate the salmon and cucumber soup [37 krooni] which was nice though slightly too rich. Roasted elk with sauteed potatoes at about 140 krooni was one of the more expensive things on the menu but was rather nice and made for something a bit different. The herring starter also got the thumbs up for 40 krooni.
If the service was only passable rather than atrocious, this place would be worthwhile.
This restaurant is located in old town of Tartu. It has two flours with quite different design. I guess locals most like the second floor, as all of it was reserved. Tsink Plekk Pang restaurant has big variety of food and it is also possible to have some food here for quite reasonable price.
Ülikooli Kohvik simply means University Cafe. This place used to be a student's cafe, albeit one of the better ones in Tartu. It is situated in an old building just next to the main building of the university.
Light, wide open rooms with an ambience of an expensive cafe make eating more interesting. Prices are alright, the service is a little bit slow. But then again, the building is huge and you can eat on several floors...
The ground floor is the actual student's cafe, it serves cheap and good food. Further up, there's a restaurant and a bar with a more distinguished atmosphere.
Ülikooli Kohvik also offers some cocktails.
Favorite Dish: Spaghetti with Bacon were great (upper floor), on the ground floor most of the food is good
Rotund is the only cafe on Dome Hill and that is basically everything that makes it special. It's a small place with only some five tables. They've got a small selection of cakes and some ice-cream, but also some hot food. I visited this place only once and was pretty disappointed with what was supposed to be a curd cake (Kohupiima Kook), as it was far too dry and too hard. Maybe I should have gone for something different instead...
Prices are very low.
Favorite Dish: A favourite is yet to be found...
This place offers the best Italian food in Tartu, if not Estonia. Actually run by some Italians, Dolce Vita has a wide selection of Pizzas and Pastas and whatever else comes across your mind when thinking about Italian food.
Favorite Dish: Bruschetta Tradizionale is very good, but all the stuff I've eaten there was good...
Suudlevad Tudengid is Estonian for Kissing Students, which again is the name of the famous statue in front of the town hall. This place is pretty new, interestingly furnished with very convenient sofas and old-fashioned photographies on the walls. The food is good, but slightly more expensive than in other places. The only bad thing is the music: It's a sort of Estonian folk music and children's songs... when I went there today, they were playing a song about the pleasures of collecting mushrooms in the forest. Every some seconds it was interrupted by ah-uh shouting which probably meant something like "I've found one! Help me picking it up!" :-)
Favorite Dish: I had the pork spits, and they were alright. The same is true for the hamburger. Plates are usually loaded with food, so something good is found easily.