There are many cafes and restaurants in Moscow offering a unique Russian dining experience; however, going to the wrong ones can mean ending up in a tourist trap or paying way too much money. If you’re a student – or just traveling to Russia on a budget – you’ll find these restaurants both affordable and enjoyable to visit! As an added bonus, all are right in the centre of the city and/or easily accessible by Metro; all of them are also English-speaker friendly!
This is one of the oldest nightclubs in Russia which has people lining up around the block on Friday and Saturday nights. But believe it or not, it’s also a place to get fantastic Russian and international food at very affordable prices – right in the center of the city. Try their famous Caesar salad; have one of their surprisingly good coffees or inexpensive cocktails with your meal. They also serve an even cheaper business lunch. Go for a late dinner and stay for some drinks and dancing; the restaurant transforms into a club after about 11:00 p.m.
Cafe Hours: 11:30 a.m. – 12:00 a.m.
Dacha na Pokrovke
For a true Russian experience, this is the place to go in Moscow. Dine in real Soviet style in a Russian mansion (or on the patio, if the weather is good), surrounded by Soviet trinkets and memorabilia like toys, sewing machines and radios. But this place isn’t just great because of its quirky interior: the restaurant has a huge menu full of inexpensive traditional Russian fare. The drinks can be a bit expensive, but the house wine is decent and affordable. Definitely a must-visit for Russian culture and history aficionados.
Opening Hours: 12:00 p.m. – 11:00 p.m. Sun.-Thurs., to midnight Fri.-Sat.
This club-restaurant is right in the centre of Moscow, but it can be a bit tricky to find (go through the arch). Still, it’s worth it – it’s probably my favorite place for lunch in the city. Known for its laid-back atmosphere and cheap but delicious food, the place is usually filled with students and starving artists. This is another great restaurant to try out some traditional Russian food for a small price. At night you can catch films on Thursdays and live music Friday to Tuesday. Cheap drinks, too!
Opening Hours: 12:00 p.m. – 12:00 a.m. Sun. to Thurs., to 5 a.m. Fri. and Sat.
This cafe serves exactly what it sounds like: a lot of different kinds of soup from all over the world made from all imaginable ingredients. There are also other dishes, like salads and pasta, meat and fish entrees, but the soups are definitely the best part – always fresh and, of course, cheap! You can even order a four-soup “sampler” meal if you can’t decide which one you want to try.
Opening Hours: 24h/day
Restoranny Dom Tsentralny
Stop by this restaurant just to check out the interior. Among the high ceilings, stained glass and chandeliers of a Soviet-style mansion you will find this highly affordable self-service canteen-style restaurant serving simple Russian food. They also have a ridiculously cheap business-lunch. I suggest trying the Plov, a delicious rice and meat dish.
Address:Ploshchad' Kudrinskaya, 1. Metro: Barrikadnaya or Krasnopresnenskaya
Opening Hours: 10:00 a.m. – 11:00 p.m.
This is another great cafeteria-style restaurant in central Moscow – and I mean right in central Moscow. This canteen is located inside the Moscow GUM, the big shopping center right on Red Square. Believe it or not, they serve amazing Russian food for unbelievable prices. That’s why this cafe is so popular with locals, especially with students. At the moment, it’s actually relatively unknown by tourists – so check it out while it’s still a hidden gem of Moscow! I suggest trying the Salad Olivier.
Opening Hours: 10:00 a.m. – 10:00 p.m.