It is a little disappointing to visit the Old Town of Riga and stumble on KFC, McDonald’s, Costa Coffee and all the other chains that one doesn’t really like to go to.
Our tourist guide in Riga had a few recommendations for us about where to eat in Riga. Our question about traditional foods in Riga was answered with a grin. Our guide said that he had heard this question so many times and he still doesn’t have an answer. He said there is nothing that is traditional or typical. But, he said after taking a deep breath, the Letts love garlic and also like to consume foods that are regionally sourced. And Riga is well known for chocolate, he said. Now, that’s something. Then he sent us on our way with a few special tips about culinary pleasures in Riga.
Many cafés offer hot cocoa, but only a few offer real hot chocolate. Hot chocolate is not the chocolatey powder that gets mixed in with milk. Hot chocolate is in fact pure chocolate. In liquid form.
We treated ourselves to white hot chocolate and we were not disappointed. The little mugs were filled with viscous, white chocolate that had to be spooned out. A symphony of calories, an insanely delicious sin, an indulgence and delicacy! To be honest, I was quite happy that I resisted the temptation of the confectionaries that looked oh so tasty. That would have been sugar overload.
Aspazijas Bulvaris 24
Monday to Sunday: 9.00 – 21.00
We visited Restaurant 3 for dinner. The restaurant is on a smaller side street and looks rather pricey from the outside. But this particular recommendation was really good. The prices were indeed upper middle class but the value for money was 100% accurate.
We ordered a mixed platter of starters for two. Different sorts of bread, cheese, cold meat, jam and pastes were very tastefully arranged on the plate. That was a pleasure for the eyes. Let alone the taste buds.
Kaleju Street 3
Monday to Friday: 12.00 – 23.00
Saturday to Sunday: 11.00 – 23.00 (Brunch 11.00 – 16.00)
Tuesday to Saturday: 18.00 – 23.00
Caramelized Almonds on the Christmas Market
And what’s so special about that? On the Christmas Market around the Cathedral, we found a seller that offered freshly caramelized almonds. But not like the ones that we know with a lot of sugar. These ones were made with onions and garlic. Our first thought was that it is absolutely impossible that this combination tastes any good. But we happily ate the little sample we were handed. The surprise followed right after: It tasted great. The almonds were not sticky and sweet, they were savoury and salty. We bought a portion and snacked on it for the next two days.
Our tip: Store in an airtight container. The smell of garlic in our hotel room was so intense that we had to apologize to the housekeeping for it!
Riga Black Balsam
Riga Black Balsam is THE Latvian drink. It is a liquor made of herbs, flowers, oils and berries with an alcohol content of 45%. It gets its name from its black colour.
We picked up two bottles at the airport without trying it before. That, we did at home on our couch. It came with a little leaflet with different suggestions of mixes and recipes, but we tried it on its own first to see what it actually tastes like. Things didn’t get much further than trying it. It tasted too bitter for us, too much like medicine and too strong. What we did instead was mixing the hippest drink of the Riga clubbing scene – Riga Black Balsam with Cola. And that tastes really nice!