Street food

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The main dish of the Grill & Gyros chain is a classic Greek gyros, that is a piece of pitta bread folded in half, stuffed with generous helpings of potato, meat, salad, potato, meat, salad, tzatziki sauce, tomatoes and – sometimes – hummus and cheese.

In this small café headed by a Greek chef, managing a whole gyros is no easy feat. They are so large here that it can be a struggle to stop the filling falling out. There are also slightly neater lavash-pita breads baked on the grill with feta cheese and olives, and salads.

For the delight, or perhaps amusement of Russian diners, the chef has included a gyros with pickled cucumbers and another with a "Surprise" sauce, consisting of mayonnaise and ketchup – these two novelties are among the most popular dishes. You can also buy the olives used in the cuisine here separately to take away – many customers carry away entire bottles of these aromatic delights with their vast olives. There are also sandwiches (though they are not on a par with the gyros) and good coffee – it is highly recommended that in the summer heat you drink it cold.

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One of the few establishments in Moscow serving Cypriot food, this is a lively stall at Danilovsky Market. Pita stuffed with falafel, pita with haloumi cheese, pita with souvlaki and really hot and wholesome soups (perfect for winter), such as the spicy tomato soup with orzo pasta.

There is a limited range of light bites, but they are perfectly executed: the hummus is soft and delicate, the tabouli is fresh and revitalizing, and the haloumi has just the right black stripes from the grill.

After a soup and a light dish, you should order a koupes – a traditional pie made of bulgur with turkey, or lamb with mint, or mushrooms. Each pie comes with a lemon wedge that you should squeeze out over it – the taste immediately becomes clearer and sharper. Then you should have an eastern style coffee, or a Greek frappe – the latter is perfect for the summer.

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The PRIME chain is the perfect spot for a quick and healthy lunch or a snack on the run: brightly lit fridges with triangle sandwiches, baguettes with sprightly leaves of lettuce poking out, pots with soups of the day (ramen with chicken breast, mushroom, turkey and spinach, borscht), boxes of couscous and liver, perlotto with mushroom and vegetable ragout, neat rows of rolls and gunkans.

For breakfast they serve delicious traditional porridge with fruit or unusual chia seed porridge. PRIME is really loved for its sandwiches, though: they are plump and overflowing with fillings. Apple and turkey, tuna and egg, Normandy-style salmon, smoked turkey, chicken fillet with bacon, egg and cucumber … If you cannot manage two large sandwiches, then opt for a bagel: wild salmon, turkey, ham and cheese. And in those little packets at the counter there are some crafty temptresses – biscuits, homemade marshmallows and honey-nut bars.

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Reserve Russia 2018 LOC is not liable for any reservation services provided by third parties.

Baked leg of lamb on festive occasions, salads made with fresh vegetables and olives and olive oil on working days, stuffed tomatoes and other gemista (stuffed vegetables), chicken sausages, kebabs, soups, coffee brewed on sand, herbal teas and simple but delicious lemonades – all of this is prepared at Sito with soul and in a very Greek setting.

The ingredients are only the freshest, and some are even brought from Greece. The recipes are family traditions passed down from generation to generation. The cooking is done in front of the diners, so that it comes to you piping hot.

The real star at this café, however, is either the pizza or the penerli pie. A penerli is similar to a "boat" that is an Adjarian khachapuri, if you are familiar with Georgian cuisine, though this pastry is thinner and instead of cheese and egg it is filled with tomatoes and cheese, pepperoni and cheese, beef and tomatoes, or chicken breast and cheese.

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A favourite among the city's taxi drivers, this place has been open since 1962, and to this day the pancakes are cooked to the official rulebook of the era of public catering.

As well as pancakes, they sold and continue to sell pies, sausages, meat cutlets with cracked wheat, liver pancakes and simple Soviet snacks: egg with mayonnaise, Olivier salad, herring, potato with fried onion. Pelmeni dumplings are molded in vast quantities. All of it is piping hot, delicious, and served on old, chipped plates with blue bordering, while the boiling water for the tea is poured from a samovar, just like in the good old days.

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The vareniki, or dumplings, at this chain, just like in Nikolai Gogol's novel Taras Bulba, leap into your mouth of their own accord. There is a huge variety: cabbage and mushroom, fried onion, veal, potato, chicken, packed with three different meats in one, three different meats separately, with salted tvorog cheese and greens, a meat hot-pot, Siberian, in a broth and without, with smoked sucking pig and crunchy onion, pike, Poltava-style with meat and a vegetable stew, with tvorog, cherries, apple, or black currants...

And on top of that variety of fillings there is an impressive array of add-ons – Smetana sour cream, adjika, mayonnaise, crackling, horseradish with a tomato sauce, a creamy mushroom sauce...

As well as the dumplings, the menu has salads and snacks of a nostalgic bent: forshmak, meat in aspic, home-pickled vegetables, homemade hams with mustard. The dumpling portions are large, so you should martial your appetite wisely. If you are in a group you should take a tub of borscht soup with pampushki rolls, herbs, garlic break and a glass of Smetana sour cream – it is enough to feed five.

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Noodles or rice in the Wokker chain's cardboard boxes have captured the imaginations of office workers – it is cheap, filling and fast, making it perfect for your lunch break. All this, as a rule, is prepared in a wok, which is to say it takes about three minutes and is done before the diners' eyes.

When Wokker had just appeared it attracted long lines, because "food in boxes, like in films" had finally arrived. Now it is a familiar chain with a familiar menu that is set up like a mix and match kit. First you have to choose rice or noodles (glass, egg or buckwheat), then the filling. Pad thai, curried chicken, pork in a sweet and sour sauce, vegetables in an oyster sauce, turkey in Asian chili, seafood in a tom yum sauce, prawns – all this is thrown into the wok and mixed up with the rice or noodles. For those still hungry, there are spring rolls (some surprisingly packed with cherries) and soups (tom yum, ramen or miso).

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The PYAN SE chain makeы a speciality of puffy, springy white pyan-se buns that are popular street food in the Far East. They are steamed in special woven baskets, and they can be stuffed with meat (here it is pork and beef), vegetables, salmon and cabbage. The filling occupies almost the entire inside of the bun, so one pyan-se will suffice as lunch in its own right.

The most delicious options at this café are with kimchi and with meat – spicy, aromatic, hot and as close to the Korean original as it gets. They are usually sold from small from windows, cafés and even carts on wheels – this really is the ideal street food. The chain also delivers, and you can put them in the freezer and heat them up whenever needed.

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Ponchiki – the Russian take on doughnuts – in paper bags, dusted in powdered sugar, are remembered on these shores by all those who were born before the arrival of Dunkin' Donuts and Crispy Creme. Ponchiki doughnuts were an obligatory element on Sunday walks in the park in your childhood. Increasingly, these outlets, where the ponchiki are cooked to traditional recipes, are closing down, unable to compete with custard and colorful icing; or perhaps worse, they start breaking the rules and adding cinnamon and chocolate syrup.
This Ponchik stall by the tramlines close to the Ostankinsky Pond has been open since 1952. They wanted to shut it down and bulldoze it, but Muscovites petitioned for its protection and defended their beloved little house with its towers. Thus, the lines for ponchiki with their crunchy crusts, evenly fried on every side, with soft inner dough and a sprinkling of powdered sugar are still there.

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Souvlaki are small kebabs which you can eat straight from the skewer or pack into pita bread. The latter results in a grandiose construction with fries, tzatziki, onion, tomatoes and other fillings: bifteki (meat cutlets stuffed with cheese), panceta (pork brisket), veal, pork, chicken, vegetables or a soutzoukakia kebab.

Souvlaki with pita is a combination fashioned in the heavens, but if you are looking for something a little larger, you can try the other kebabs, a moussaka, byurdi baked with tomatoes and cheese spiced with pepper, a Greek salad with real feta or one of the desserts.

Karydopita is a chocolate pie with nuts, or you might try the revani, a soft sweet cake made of semolina and soaked in syrup – they are both great here.

This unnamed "ryumochnaya" (a bar where the drinkers usually stand rather than sit) is just a stone's throw from Moscow's Conservatory and the Mayakovsky Theatre – it is a refuge for refined types with flutes still in their cases over their shoulders, first violins, performers and make-up artists, and outgoing drummers and writers.

It is customary to hold intellectual discussions here, washed back with a decanter of vodka or a cranberry liqueur. The alcohol is accompanied by stuffed squashes, pilau rice, almost home-made meat pies, dolma, cuts of meat under cheese and mayonnaise – essentially, modest dishes but well-prepared for their price tags. As a rule they are on display on the counter, as in a deli, and heated in the microwave.

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A charming remnant of the Soviet past, the Druzhba Cheburechnaya house (a cheburek is a fried pastry, usually stuffed with meat) appears to have been frozen in time. A classic standing-style eatery – note the high tables and absence of chairs or any excessive frills. Plastic crockery, people eating without taking their coats off, a line to get to the bathrooms, chebureki served from a counter covered in primitive wooden panelling, and stern waitresses in white caps and smocks...

Prosperous men come here for lunch in executive, big ticket cars and order dozens of chebureki to go, tucking into them on the back seat of their leather interiors. The chebureki are hot, huge, juicy and fragrant. They have been making them this way here since the 1940s: they have got a lot of broth inside, and there is nothing factory-produced about them in any way. There is a lot of meat in the filling, and there is nothing in the way of options, such as cheese or greens.

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The Teremok chain has been a continual source of amusement among locals, largely thanks to its being the first Russian fast-food chain and its staff addressing customers as "Sudar" and "Sudarynya" – that is something along the lines of"Good Sir" and "Dear Lady." Nevertheless, it has had incredible success, spreading to the West and opening branches in New York. Despite its home-style, "ye olde" affectations, it is a great pancake eatery, and there are few of its kind of pancake shop that have survived from the Soviet era.

The pancakes here are thin but filling, and there is a huge selection of fillings, from the classics, such as salmon or caviar, through to newcomers such as Nutella with banana or cheese and bacon. The menu, of course, also features standards, such as options with jam, meat and mushrooms. In the summer it is worth trying the okroshka, a refreshing cold soup made with the Russian drink kvass. There is a separate "everything with buckwheat menu", where this staple can be ordered with sausages or home-style meat rissoles. For dessert, try the guryevskaya porridge with nuts, honey and jam.

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Greek food in Moscow is going through an unprecedented boom – everyone has suddenly fallen in love with pita, gyros and tzatziki, and evermore Greek eateries are opening, and the Kalimera chain is a good example.

The horiatiki salad is made here just the way it is in Athens, with a big, generous chunk of feta and an impressive quantity of olive oil. Only real Greek cheese goes into the kaftero sauce.

For dessert, they have a wonderful rizogalo rice pudding. But it is the stuffed pita breads that rule here, of course – keftedes rissoles made with lamb and mint, hummus, tomatoes, red onions, all of it cooked to perfection on the grill. There is a host of fillings, from baked squashes to prawns, with olive tapenada or without.

The Greeks are renowned for their healthy cuisine, so the lentil soup or lokano cabbage salad dressed in Greek yogurt are highly recommended – your spoon will even stand in the yogurty dressing, to use the Russian benchmark test. In fact, you can take the yogurt with you – it is perfect with honey for breakfast.

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The Ploveberry chain is a great buffet-style café where you can mix and match what to put on your tray, and just keep loading it up. Around the labyrinth of counters you'll find plump samsa pies packed with vegetables, hot, thick lagman meat stew, and crunchy chebureki pastries.

The tsar on this chain's menu is, of course, plov – a Central Asian rice dish that is aromatic, spicy and very filling. There are two kinds here – chicken and traditional chaikhansky with lamb. A single portion is a large cardboard container with big chunks of meat. Managing any other dish alongside this one is no easy matter. But resisting temptation at this café is also tough...

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Reserve Russia 2018 LOC is not liable for any reservation services provided by third parties.

For years now, the Beirut café chain has been run by Nizar, who moved to Moscow from the Lebanon. He cooks for a unique "in-crowd" – on weekends you will find this restaurant packed with lovers of hookah pipes, and amidst the clouds of smoke you will find lovers of honest, juicy and very large shavermas (or the dish of the day), with soup, fries and tea.

The kebabs here are glorious. There is also a main menu featuring neat falafel, zaitun salad with olives, spicy tabouli, gumbo and baba ganoush (best ordered for groups of diners – these are large dishes), grated aubergines with tahena mtabbal and small sambusiki fried pies with meat, spinach or cheese.

You should drink the traditional Lebanese lemonade, the ingredients for which Nizar orders in from Beirut, and the coffee, which comes in beautiful pots. Nizar is a man of his word – if you do not like a dish, you get your money back.

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Lao Lee is a tiny café with just a few tables. Here, you'll find simple Vietnamese street food.

The menu is short, sweet, and very clear: soups, steamed buns, spring rolls, some prawns, and a couple of dessert options. There is always a queue – for the filling pho-bo soup which will suffice for lunch thanks to its generous abundance of tender meat; for the steamed ban bao meat buns, the sweet ban bao kim sa buns with coconut cream and pumpkin, or the baked tofu with fine rice paper.

The cramped open kitchen is festooned with sauces and various delights that you can take home: spicy chilis, marinated peppers, wonderful cheap green tea, coffee and prawns. In the fridges there is mango juice and Club-Mate coke. Vietnamese guests like to come here too, so the staff are taught the language and the café even has a Facebook page in the language.

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Hidden in the courtyards of the Georgievskoye Podvorye churchyard, this is a Georgian food shop-cafe, and the place where many of Moscow's Georgians buy matsoni fermented milk, mountain honey, pistachio meringue, suluguni cheese and other home-style delights to take away.

On the first floor there's a shop, while on the ground floor there is a tiny restaurant with kitchen-bakery. Here they mix up and bake khachapuri cheese breads, and cook Georgian delights such as lobiani, pkhlovani, kudbari and adzharouli; they fold up aromatic nadugi with petals of suluguni cheese, and over hot coals fry Georgian marbled steaks taken from cuts from young chalgadzhi steers.

Upstairs, you will have to spend 15 minutes in a long queue of stern men to get some wonderful wild garlic pies and the top Georgian cake, "Snickers" – that is right, exactly the kind they like to eat in Tbilisi. Wine is not sold or served here – this is the grounds of a church, after all.