WHAT TO EAT
Deruni (potato pancakes)
A breakfast staple, grab them on the cheap at Puzata Hata. It’s not Ukrainian Pizza Hut, but it is more of a fast-food style. Quick, cheap, but definitely delicious.
Typically made with a lighter cottage or ricotta cheese, these pancakes aren’t as sweet or fluffy as their American counterparts but typically have a deep light cheese flavor. Like a cheesecake, you’re more likely to smother them in a fruit sauce or puree than maple syrup. Once we tried them we couldn’t get enough! Two great places to try these pancakes in Kiev are Favorite Uncle and Under Wonder.
While we typically go for apple strudel, the berry strudels at Lviv Pastries were our favorite that we had in Kiev. If you can’t make it to Lviv Pastries, make sure you get them fresh from one of the bakeries throughout the city, hot strudel and a coffee is the perfect way to start your day.
This hearty beetroot-based soup is the perfect appetizer on a cold Ukrainian night. The deep flavor comes from the meaty bone broth, and depending on where you have it, flavors range from smoky to sour. Like the flavors, you can get it on a price range from the ultra-cheap (Puzata Hata) to the relatively (for Kiev) expensive at Kanapa.
Varenyky (aka pierogis)
This boiled dumpling is typically filled with potato, but you can find them in many variations. From mushrooms, sauerkraut, or cabbage filling to strawberry and cherry, you can’t go wrong ordering varenyky in Ukraine. Every restaurant has a slightly different take on them, so we recommend you get them from just about everywhere!
Fried Lamb Brain
For the adventurous eater, you can get fried lamb brains in Kiev at Kanapa restaurant. TJ loved it – it is somewhat crispier on the outside and softer on the inside with a smooth flavor that is similar to that of meat, but a bit richer.
Holubtsi (cabbage rolls)
Ukrainian Holubtsi or cabbage rolls come with a variety of stuffing and often consist of ground pork or beef stuffing inside the cabbage leaves and tomato-based sauce. Like most Ukrainian food, the exact ingredients and flavors will vary from one family recipe to another, but you can rest assured that ordering this belly-warming feel-good food is always a good idea.
Ukrainian Pyvo (beer)
Like most hip cities, Kiev has a budding craft beer and microbrewery scene, and from our experience, Solomyanska Brovarnia sits atop that scene. Pop in for a flight of beer to figure out which is your favorite – then order five or six more just to make sure. You can also find a wide selection of craft beers throughout the city or even take some home from the grocery store. If craft beer isn’t your thing, you can grab a smooth and easy-drinking Lvivske or Chernihivske which is more of a lager style.
We recommend that you try the flavored Horilka. The unflavored is a strong spirit with a grainy bite. But the flavored variety takes a bit of the edge off with unusual tastes. Some of our favorites were gooseberry, Hazelnut, and black currant - but you can also find horseradish, honey, chili, or even sea buckthorn (maybe it’s an acquired taste?).
WHERE TO EAT
In our opinion, Kiev should be on every foodie's list of cities to visit. With high quality, immense variation, and extremely affordable prices, it’s tough to think of a city where you can get more bang for your buck than Kiev. From street food to fine dining, storied old restaurants to trendy gastropubs Kiev has it all. More than that, the restaurants of Kiev ooze authenticity. It’s a landscape unspoiled by corporate chefs and chain restaurants (though you can still certainly find them), and filled to the brim with a kaleidoscope of fresh ideas, tradition, and personality.
Do you remember when restaurants like the rain forest café filled you with intrigue and excitement? That’s what we felt like in Kiev. The home-style cooking was actually cooked by a kind old babushka (grandmother); the history felt tangible in the meals. At each turn, you felt like you were discovering a new hidden gem, and even the restaurants that might be gimmicky in North America felt like the genuine culmination of a restauranteur’s dream. We hope you can get a sense of those feelings from some of our favorite Kiev restaurants, but more than that we hope that you make a trip to Kiev and get to experience them!
This is probably our number one restaurant in Kiev. Expensive by Kiev standards, but very affordable by international standards. Kanapa’s menu balances simpler dishes that let their quality ingredients shine and dishes that are expertly crafted with complex flavors. We recommend the tasting menu or to order multiple dishes to share!
This was our favorite breakfast spot. Fresh home-made Ukrainian pastries and great coffee. You can’t walk by this place without stopping for a quick snack, and when you do, make sure that you try the strudel; the cheesecake is also top-notch. It’s fair to say that it was a bit hipstery, but not in a pretentious way.
When a restaurant only has one item on its menu, you know it’s going to be good. It might not be what you typically think of as Ukrainian food, but a hot dog wrapped in fried dough tastes pretty good anywhere on the planet. Definitely a must-try either to give you the energy to hit the city on foot or to soak up a few Pyvos the day-after, don’t miss this street food staple.
Fun restaurant/ bar/ museum in the heart of Kyiv. Over the top vibes and fun atmosphere, colorful interior, and playful staff make this place a must – perfect spot to start your walk on Andreyivksy uzvi. Try their home-made tinctures – they’re some of the most unique flavors you’ll find anywhere and after a few of these you’ll feel right at home in this quirky joint.
An upscale-gritty interior with exposed brick and stained glass windows, this restaurant makes you feel like you’re in an idealized version of New York City. This is one of our top picks for a quality breakfast in Kiev. Try the Kyivskyi Breakfast if you want some of the tastiest Cottage Cheese pancakes you will have anywhere in the world!
If you can’t tell, we love our big breakfasts. Favorite Uncle is another of our top breakfast spots in Kiev, in particular, the Cheese Pancakes with Sour Cream. More ball than cake, they arrive in a bowl with a dash of cream and fruit for dipping. A classy-neutral interior with modern art on the walls, it’s actually a middle-eastern restaurant with Ukrainian options. Close your eyes and picture a place to impress on your first date – you’re picturing Favorite Uncle.
This supremely cute and cozy ice cream shop and café is located right beside the Park Landscape Alley and should definitely be a stop on your stroll. Like so much of Kiev this café combines an eclectic style with the class and sophistication of a bygone era. The location alone would surely be sufficient to guarantee customers, but in truth, this café would be a welcome stop anywhere in the city.
Perfect to grab a pre-dinner drink or a post-dinner coffee when you’re out for the night on Andreyivksy uzvi. Directly across from Kanapa (our top spot to eat in Kiev!) this classy spot has an upscale atmosphere with very reasonable prices. If you’re there during the day stop by for a coffee or tea and people-watch while indulging in a selection of cakes.
We popped into Patrik Pub after walking through the Park of Eternal Glory. It’s a cute and warm pub and restaurant, and after the long walk in the park, it’s a great place to either warm-up or have a cool refreshing beer (depending on the season).
The best beer in Kiev. I know it’s a big claim. But it’s brewed on-site, it’s reasonably priced, and it’s a quality and flavor that’s tough to beat. Get a flight of beer to try their offerings and decide which is your favorite. For us, it was the golden ale, but each beer they had brought something different and delicious. Their food was surprisingly good too.
Imagine seeing a family of real geese living in the most impossible cute cabin with blue doors and a picket fence, decorated with wreaths, and draped in snow. This is the scene that they’ve set up in front of the Fish Market restaurant in Kiev. What do the geese have to do with the restaurant? Probably nothing, but they got us in the door. The food was quite expensive by Kiev standards so we stuck with drinks only which were more in line with the city prices. The location is very convenient between the Golden Gate and St. Sophia’s Cathedral, so if nothing else mark it on your walking path to see the geese. *Note – it appears that the geese may only be there in the colder months, not through summer
A cafeteria-style Ukrainian fast food joint, you can try all the Ukrainian staples here without breaking the bank. The quality is high for fast food, and Puzata Hata locations are typically open earlier and close later than many other restaurants in the city, making them a great option if you find yourself with a hankering in the off-hours.