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Tallinn restaurants


Baby Back Ribs & BBQ: Kallaste Keskus 12, Tabasalu, (watch for the metal highway sign off Klooga mnt.); tel. 600-5563. Baby Back gets everything right, starting with its sense of humor. The Top Dog (his official title), Paul Lepik, has made sure that American-sized portions are served by barbecue-savvy waitresses who can recite volumes on the differences between smoked and grilled ribs. The food and service are both excellent—and the prices very reasonable. They serve ribs, pizza, burgers, soups, and salads. There is a playroom for kids and a kids' menu. The Baby Back people possibly know more about American BBQ than most Americans.  www.babyback.ee 

Pizza Americana: (J-2) Müürivahe 2, in the old city, just off Vabaduse Square, tel. 644-8837. Open:11:30-22:30. Pizza Americana has been making thick-crust pizza for ten years now, so you know they're doing something right. (Critics will tell you it's not true Chicago-style; and that's true, but it's the closest thing you're going to find in Tallinn.) The owners strictly control that ingredients are added in the correct amounts, so customers don't find themselves cheeseless. Also, for 45 EEK (about 3 euros), their pizza taxi will deliver. www.americana.ee 


Must Lammas: (I-3) Sauna 2, in the old city; tel. 644-2031. Open:12-23; Sun. 12-18. Serves classy food from the Caucasus. Some dishes hit closer to target than others, but many are a delight. Their forte is appetizers, like the show-stopping stuffed grape leaves, dolma, and hachapuri. You could order appetizers alone and come away full—and fullysatisfied.  Service is first-rate, too. www.mustlammas.ee


Asian Aroma: (C-3) Süda 1, tel. 627-8977. Open: 11-23. With 106 food items on the menu, you can't claim they don't have something for everyone. All the dishes are made for two which makes this place an incredible value. The food is very good and the service is fast. It's almost "fast food," but without the negatives usually associated with that concept. Food to go, too. We recommend it.

Kathmandu Hill: (C-3) Pärnu mnt. 36, tel. 631-4212. Open:11-23. Open:11-22:30. This place has achieved a challenging feat: Offering moderately priced food that's also top-notch quality. A mix of Chinese and Indian dishes that you can eat here or take away. 

Little China: (H-3) Vene 30, tel. 631-3126. Open:12-23. Some say the Chinese food at this restaurant, built into an old city wall, is the best Chinese in town. 


For a brief overview of Estonian food—seehere.

Eesti Maja (Estonian House):
(C-3) Lauteri 1, tel. 645-5252; in the city center, by the Foreign Ministry. Open:11-23. If you're visiting friends in the city, there's a good chance you'll be taken here. The bean soup to the verivorst to the sült hit the mark. Food and service are both good. www.eestimaja.ee 

Kuldse Notsu Kõrts (The Little Piggy Inn): (I-2) Dunkri 8, old city; tel. 628-6567. Open:12-24. Whether or not this is exactly what old Estonian inns looked like may be open to question. But in sheer comfort, good cheer and fine food, one would like to believe they were just likeThe Little Piggy Inn. A roaring fire place in the center of the main room sets the mood for the entire restaurant, which is run by the same people who do the impressive Schlössle and St. Petersbourg hotels. Test your language skills by translating the Estonian country wisdom is scrawled on the walls. www.notsu.ee

Vanaema Juures (Grandma's Place): (I-2) Rataskaevu 10/12, tel. 626-9089. Open:12-22; Sun. 12-18. The name captures this restaurant perfectly: it's nothing especially refined, but it wouldn't be grandma-like if it was, now would it? Located in a cavernous old-city basement, furnished with 1920s-30s period furniture and decked out with faded family photographs. Here, unlike at many Tallinn restaurants, the music's in harmony with the atmosphere: '20s and '30s tunes that sound like they're being played on a prewar gramophone. 


Egoist: (H-3) Vene 33, old city; tel. 646-4052. Open:12-24; Sun. closed. Walking around this stately restaurant in Tallinn, you half expect to turn a corner and bump into Winston Churchill chomping on a cigar. The truly awe-inspiring interior here conjures up visions of high-society, pre-war Europe. But there is also a warm, loving touch to Egoist—an indulgence of owner and well-known Tallinn restaurateur Dimitri Demjanov. Egoist is not inexpensive by local standards, but if you want to be treated like royalty, if you're firmly convinced you deserve it, Egoist is your place. www.egoist.ee 

Gloria: (I-2) Müürivahe 2, old city; tel. 644-6950. Open:12-23:30. This top-class restaurant feels like a step back in time to high-society Europe of the 1930s. The interior is decked out with Art Nouveau originals, all of which graced restaurants in the Estonian capital before the war. The artifacts, from owner Dimitri Demjanov's private collection, make this a veritable museum of pre-war design. The beautiful and distinctive atmosphere sets just the right stage for the cuisine—served by extraordinarily attentive waiters and waitresses. Thanks to the outstanding Gloria Wine Cellar, linked to the restaurant, they also have the best wine list in Tallinn.  www.gloria.ee

Le Bonaparte: (H-3) Pikk 45; old city; tel. 646-4444. Open:12-24; Sun closed. One of the top places for a coffee and quiche in town. Please don't sit at the window table; it's reserved for our editor.  www.bonaparte.ee 


Baieri Kelder (The Bavarian Cellar): (J-2, C-3) Roosikrantsi 2a, downstairs from the Scandic St. Barbara; tel. 640-7440. Open:12-23. Ideal if you're big on German cuisine. Located in a cavernous, red-bricked cellar, this restaurant has elements of a fine hofbrauhaus: heavy tables, bratwurst, soft German music and German beer on draft. Given that it's connected to a hotel, it's cleaner than greasy German establishments you may have come to know. Enjoy it.


Kapten Tenkes: (C-3) Pärnu mnt. 30, tel. 644-5630. Open:12-23; Sun. 13-22. Popular with locals for its lunch menu. Hungarian wines and some imported beers. The food, while generally good, seems modified to suit delicate local palates. www.hot.ee/tenkes 


Elevant: (I-2) Vene 5, old city; tel. 631-3132. Open:12-23. A windy wrought-iron staircase carries you upstairs where funky Casbah meets elegance. One of the most popular semi-casual places in Tallinn. Friendly service. Food quality is good here but the price-quality ratio is a main attraction.  www.elevant.ee

Maharaja: (I-2) Raekoja plats 13, the old city; tel. 644-4367. Open:12-23. Maharaja was one of the first Western-class restaurants in the Baltics. When it opened in 1991, it was water in a desert of crummy, customer-unfriendly dumps. It's slid a bit since its glory days, but remains a sentimental favorite of many. 

Tanduur: (I-2) Vene 7/Apteegi 6, in the old city; tel. 631-3084. Open:12-24. Tanduur has the mark of good taste—though some complain service has slipped. The interior is elegant but not too stiff; the miniature lights embedded in the bamboo-lined ceiling create a sense you're sitting under stars somewhere in the hinterlands of India. The soft Indian music adds just the right touch of the exotic without giving the place the feel of a theme park. www.tanduur.ee 


Aed: (I-2) Rataskaevu 8, tel. 626-9088. For a garden-fresh, healthy experience. Peeter Jalakas, the theatre director who stages productions at Von Krahl, has recently turned his attention to food, creating a classical restaurant menu with a hippie touch. Aed (which translates as "garden") offers healthy things in unexpected combinations (lentils on a fried pumpkin, chickpeas and seaweed) and gets things right. Of interest are the plasma-screen televisions on each wall (no worries: they don't show sports) which "broadcast" classical artwork throughout your meal. 

African Kitchen: (G-3) Uus 34, tel. 644-2555. Open:10-01; Fri., Sat. 10-03. Chef Paul Sunmola of Lagos, Nigeria, has close to a dozen kinds of rice on the menu, including coconut and onion. African Kitchenoffers Nkatenkwan (chicken peanut), Mchicha (from Tanzania), Suya(the African answer to tandoori), Eron Dindin, Mafe, and many other hard-to-pronounce dishes. The restaurant is decorated with African tribal art and features two non-smoking rooms. A sauna is available for rent which offers full bar and restaurant service. www.africankitchen.ee 

Argentiina: (J-2) Pärnu mnt. 19, tel. 660-5177. Open:12-24. A good South-American restaurant. Grilled meats cooked on an open stove in the middle of the restaurant. Some still swear this is the best place in Tallinn for a steak.

Creperie Kristjan ja Kristine: (B-4) Vase 14 (corner of Vase and Faehlmanni), tel. 644-8462, Open Mon-Sat 12-22. Better have a reservation, because this family-run joint is one of the best and most popular in the city, despite it being tucked away in a quiet neighborhood. Take the French-style galettes, crepes, salads, soups, or puddings—doesn't matter; it's all good. Generous portions at reasonable prices. Highly, highly, highly recommended.

Kadriorg: (B-5) Weizenbergi 18, in the Kadriorg district; tel. 601-3636. Open:12-21. A bit Disney in its approach of having different floors with different menus, but there are no cartoon costumes here, and the service can be good. There is an open grill on the second floor in the Spaghetteria, and a designer fireplace roaring on the third, with natural light pouring in from multiple windows; they play soothing if modern background music. The food is a lively mix of standard international dishes, from Italian pasta to a range of meats and fish. www.restorankadriorg.ee 

Kalevi Yacht Club: Pirita tee 17, tel. 623-9158. Open:11-23. The personalities of Captain Marko and Mate Junga make this place worth visiting even if the food weren't good. But the food is good. And the waterfront location makes it a perfect place for a break from the pace of city-center cafes. 

Karl Friedrich: (I-2) Raekoja plats 5, tel. 627-2413; on Town Hall Square. Open: 10-24. The most distinctive thing about Karl Friedrich is that it's one of the few places in the old city where you actually have a view of the old city. Here, tall windows frame the ancient Hansel and Gretel merchant houses that surround the cobblestoned square outside. The food is good. With its manor-house-like elegant interior Karl Friedrich is suited for formal occasions. www.restaurant.ee

Kloostri Ait: (H-3) Vene 14, in the old city, tel. 644-6887. Open:12-23:30. Some of our expatriate gastronomes claim this is the best place in town for soul food--just great food at a great price in an environment where the staff treats you well. We're fans, too. www.kloostriait.ee  

KN: (I-2) Dunkri 4, tel. 697-7500. Open:12-23. KN is short for "Cayenne," but nobody's going to spice you to death in this restaurant. Kudos to Executive Chef Charlie Aird for doing outstanding food at amazing prices (main course around 10 euros)—the value for money here seems to be the talk of the expat community. The 16th-century building sports a beautiful main dining room but also a private room hidden away in one of the cavernous corners—ideal for doing secret deals.

La Boheme: (C-2) Endla 23, tel. 666 4807 in the Unique Stay Mihkli. The original Uniquestay Cafe made a name for itself by offering good food at local prices. They've done the same with La Boheme—expect western-quality food and service at affordable prices. www.uniquestay.com

Lydia: (B-5) Koidula 13a, in Kadriorg; tel. 626-8990. Open:12-23; Sun. 12-19. A fine, suit-and-tie kind of restaurant next to Kadriorg park. Lydia—named after Estonia's celebrated 19th century poet Lydia Koidula—is an upscale restaurant with a warm, harmonious interior. www.lydia.ee 

Ö (Island in Swedish): (H-4) Mere pst. 6e, tel. 661-6150. Open:12-24. The classy, candle-lit Ö is located in a 19th-century warehouse between the old city and harbor, featuring exposed steel beams, soft music and well-schooled waiters and waitresses. Their menu was changed lately to include fine continental cuisine and sushi. Ö's outstanding by any standard.  www.restoran-o.ee 

Pädaste Manor's Seahouse Restaurant: at Pädaste Manor on Muhu Island, tel. 454 8800, open 12-15 and 18-22. Reservations required. If you're going to the islands of Muhu or Saaremaa (or even if you're not), you owe it to yourself to dine at Seahouse. Pädaste is the darling of the western travel press, and when you visit you'll see why—it offers uncompromised luxury and gourmet cuisine based on local ingredients and traditions. And it's all served by a charming staff. Try the Muhu moose carpaccio or the Laasu farm ostrich filet. Seahouse was recently nominated for the third consecutive year as Best Estonian Gourmet Restaurant. www.padaste.ee

Pegasus: (I-2) Harju 1, in the old city; tel. 631-4040, pegasus@restoranpegasus.ee. Open:08-01; Sat. 09-01, Sun. 10-23. A trendy, top-of-the-line restaurant/bar in what used to be a heralded Soviet-era café. Chef Michael Bhoola runs a first-rate restaurant where "serious fun" is the goal. Food is excellent and the service generally good. Bhoola has also made his restaurant the home of jazz in Tallinn (ask to receive their newsletter). As an added bonus, Pegasus is one of the few places in town where you can get a proper breakfast. www.restoranpegasus.ee

Sisalik: (H-3) Pikk 30, tel. 646-6542. Open:12-23; closed Sun. Sisalik (the lizard) is out to bring you more than food—they're out to recreate the Mediterranean epicurean lifestyle in the Nordic region. Sisalik gets the little things right. Water is brought to your table without asking. There's a peaceful view of the garden through large windows. The music is just right—the right selection, the right volume. A great place to relax and talk. The food is excellent, too. Generous portions and wine by the glass. Reasonable prices. www.sisaliku.ee 

Stenhus: (H-3) Pühavaimu 13/15, in the Schlössle Hotel; tel. 699-7780. Open:07-10:30, 12-15, 18-22:30. Chef Tõnis Sigur says he wants a Michelin Star, and once the Michelin folks come to town, he just might get one. Our readers consistently report near perfect experiences at Stenhus. Stenhus has won the Silver Spoon's Best Gourmet Restaurant three years running.www.stenhus.ee 

Three Sisters Restaurant: (H-2) Pikk 71, tel. 630-6300, open:12-23. Chef de cuisine Aleksander Fedin and hotel sommelier Jennifer Mitchell team up to bring you some of the finest dining in Tallinn. The food of course is outstanding, but just as interesting is the wine: there are few places in Tallinn where you can the two so expertly paired. Three Sisters is serious about its food and drink. We can heartily recommend the ox tail ravioli and Argentine beef fillet. And if you're a regular Tallinn traveler, ask about their monthly wine tastings.


Bocca: (H-3) Olevimägi 9, in the old city; tel. 641-2610. Open:12-24. Bocca's medieval shell is tastefully filled with fashionable minimalist decor: there's a strong sense of cutting-edge New York and Nordic fashion to the place; all the light is ingeniously indirect, including from two giant globe-like lamps, replicas of ones that hang in the Barcelona Opera House. The food is as spectacular as Bocca's physical surroundings. Those on a gastronomic tour of Tallinn are obligated to stop here. www.bocca.ee 

Controvento: (I-3) Vene 12, along old city's Katariina passage; tel. 644-0470. Open:12-23. Almost an institution in Tallinn. Somehow, this restaurant has managed to keep its staff for years, and they continue to have an establishment where diners both feel welcome, love the food. If you were to poll five expats living in Tallinn about their favorite restaurants, Controvento will be named most of the time. Recommended (but call for a reservation). www.controvento.ee 

Leonardo da Vinci: (I-3) Aia 7, tel. 641-6177. Open:11-24. Good food. Good service. Try the gnocchi or the mussels cooked in beer. www.davincifood.ee 


Ami-Ja: (B-4) Narva mnt 36, tel. 646-6096. Open:12-23. Bonsai trees and private rooms. Meat cooked on open stoves on your table. Bowing, smiling Estonian waiters and waitresses are a sight to behold. www.amija.ee 

Silk: (I-2) Kullassepa 4, in the old city; tel. 648-4625. Open:11-24. Hip, tasteful interior; the music is a pleasant if slightly loud drum-and-base, ambient techno. Best of all, the sushi is top notch, with a vast and varied menu. Especially on weekends, it attracts a young, club-going crowd. www.silk.ee 



 Maikrahv: (I-2) Raekoja plats 8, along the Town Hall Square; tel. 631-4227. Open:12-23. The name means May Count, but Maikrahvisn't your average theme restaurant. Despite the costumes of the waiters, the menu is not strictly medieval. The place if full of history and in one of the top locations in town. www.maikrahv.ee 

Olde Hansa: (I-2) Vana turg 1, tel. 627-9020. Open:11-24. By far the most heralded Medieval restaurant in the Baltics! To make sure they got it right, Olde Hansa consulted experts on life in the Middle Ages. There is a feel of real authenticity here: the background music (from the 15th century or earlier), the candlelight, the heavy wooden benches draped with boar skins. The menu recently included Nobleman's smoked fillet mignon, wild boar with nuts and sauerkraut, herb-juniper cheese, and bear. For dessert, try the apple and honey under a crispy bread coat and soaked in almond milk. Overall, the quality of the food is good; the service is exemplary, and good-humored. www.oldehansa.ee 

Peppersack: (I-2) Viru 2, tel. 646-6800. Open:11-24. A cavernous restaurant where you may need a map to find your way back to your table (not really). Here you get medieval food without the theatre. Portions are generous and the service quite efficient.  www.peppersack.ee 



Klafira: (I-2) Vene 4, tel. 667-5144. Open:11-24; Sat., Sun. 12-24. Klafira, always good, is even better after repainting the place and partly refurnishing—adding more interior warmth. Appropriately, it's on a street called Vene, "Russian" in Estonian. Soft light from old table lamps and candles; there's a faint 19th century feel to the place, though it's not too formal or stiff. Great food. www.klafira.ee 

Nevskij: (I-2) Rataskaevu 7, in the classy Hotel St. Petersbourg; tel. 628-6560. Open:18-23; closed Mon. A smaller, exceptionally cozy Russian restaurant that could have been the palace den of a 19th century Russian boyar—with samovars on some tables, Russian folk songs as background music and pillows along tableside couches. There's also an English drawing-room feel to it, with the fireplace, fresh flowers and abundant fine-art along the walls. High quality all the way around, including the food and service. www.nevskij.ee

Tchaikovsky:Vene 9 (in the five-star Telegraaf Hotel), tel. 600 0600, fax 600 0601; info@telegraafhotel.comMr. Tchaikovsky lends his name to this restaurant with Russian character, though the menu goes well beyond pelmeni. The beef tartare with the chanterelles is memorable, and the staff is enthusiastic and eager to serve. www.telegraafhotel.com

Troika: (I-2) Raekoja plats 15; tel. 627-6245. Open:12-23. When it rains it pours. Until early 2000, there were virtually no Russian restaurants worth mentioning in Tallinn. Now, with Troika, there are at least two. Troika, along with Klafira (above) is vying to become the No. 1 Russian restaurant in the capital. One big thing it's got going for it is a wonderful atmosphere. It's in one of the loveliest Medieval-era halls in Tallinn, with high cavernous ceilings and bulky oak staircases sweeping into the main dining area; the brooding, dimly-lit surroundings capture the Russian spirit. There's often a solo guitarist here belting out Russian folk songs. www.troika.ee 



Villa Thai: (B-4) Vilmsi 6, a short taxi or tram ride from the old town; take tram #1 or #3 to Kadriorg Park; tel. 641-9347. Open:12-23. Villa Thai offers outstanding food prepared by a top-notch chef from India. They have both a Thai and an Indian menu and well-priced lunch special on weekdays. Pleasant atmosphere. www.villathai.ee 



Hai Long: (B-4) Pronksi 3, tel. 640-3944. Hai Long has two—count 'em two—Vietnamese cooks. Whatever slip-up the migratsiooni amet made—it's tough for Asians to get tourist visas, much less work permits—bless them for letting these two guys in. They make rice and tofu like nobody else in town (ingredients from Helsinki). A bit expensive for Asian food, but surely the most authentic in town. Recommended.


Cigar Lounges

La Casa Del Habano: (I-2) Dunkri 2, the old city; tel. 644-5647. Open 10-24; Sun. 12-18. Since this shop is owned by the exclusive importer of Cuban cigars, you won't find better selection elsewhere. The House of Havana teems with atmosphere, friendly faces—and cigar smoke. There's a good wine list, as well, all hand-picked to complement cigars. www.havanas.ee

Sigari Maja: (I-2) Raekoja plats 16, old town; tel. 631-4735. Open 11-01; Sun. 11-16. Cigar House could be the set of a Hollywood murder mystery; you can imagine Sherlock Holmes here accusing the butler of doing it. They've got butlers, too, of sorts; waiters don black vests and, with a white glove, they light your cigars with the attentiveness of a brain surgeon.


Wine Bars

Gloria Veinikelder (Gloria Wine Cellar): (J-2) Müürivahe 2, tel.644-8846. Open:12-23; Sun. 12-18. Conde Nast Traveler has called this "the best wine cellar in Scandinavia." It just might be. There is also an ex-cellent res-tau-rant in the back with a short menu by Estonia's cel-ebrated res-tau-ra-teur, Dimitri Demjanov—who also owns the out-standing Egoist and Gloria. www.gloria.ee 

Musi (Kiss): (I-2) Niguliste 6, tel. 644-3100. Open 14-24; Sun. closed. Good luck finding a table, as this place is very popular with the locals. And for good reason. It boasts a good wine list and a small, manageable menu. Intimate décor and attentive servers make this tiny place a real treat. www.musi.ee

Three Sisters Wine Bar: (H-2) Pikk 71/Tolli 2, tel. 630-6300. Open 17-01, closed Sun. and Mon. Put your wine-loving self in the hands of sommelier Jennifer Mitchell. She speaks English like a spy and knows wine like a, well, sommelier. Ask about their monthly tasting parties, too.