Monday, June 23, 2014

8 more Kharkiv restaurants

Despite the turmoil of the past few months, Kharkiv's restaurant scene has kept its doors open for the most part. A few players have closed up shop, others have just opened or continued to grow.

The best place for falafel morphed into a gaudy Sandwich Club.

Churrasco Bar, worst nightmare of local vegetarians, has expanded and taken over the old corner spot of Cinema Club café.

The strangely-named Кушаwell Café is gone.

Tuk Tuk now sells fast food noodles in 4 locations.

We've attended a few birthday parties and get-togethers around town since February's post, including an afternoon in a café with canaries and dinner at a new Turkish restaurant that's proven to be a hit with students. Here are a handful of places you might like to try for yourself the next time you're in town...

#1. Sutra Bar Pacha Mama  

In case of a summer downpour, Pacha Mama is perfect- it's about a 5-second dash from the Pushkin metro. Look for the stairs leading underground about 80 meters before Paris.

Sergiy, a transatlantic-traveling Kharkiv expat, first mentioned this Peruvian place last year and it's since become a special treat of ours. They offer an awesome meat platter (200 uah) to accompany beer as well as the ухажер, a whiskey cocktail that tastes like a jolly rancher. The hamburger is rather lackluster but made up for by good pastas.

The best part of this place is- if you have a bit of luck on your side- snagging one of the semi-enclosed booths. Shoes get taken off and stowed in a hidden compartment and you get to lie back and snuggle into the pillows.

Online menu
Petrovskogo 38 (near the Pushkinska metro exit)

#2. Pushka

Pushka is one of the city's interpreter-date locations so expect lots of English, excellent food, and exorbitant prices. Rib eye steak with baked potatoes, sushi, quesadillas, pizza, oysters, Greek salad, you can pretty much dine your way through the world without leaving this two-story restaurant.

We visited Pushka just once for a friend's birthday. Creamy soup in a giant rye bread bowl, seaweed salad, and fantastic wood-and-stone decor added up to one of the best meal experiences I've had in Kharkiv. It also cleaned us out so thoroughly (D got the steak) that I had to forgo the dessert calling my name: the "chocolate-pistachio cake made specially for you". Until next time, chocolate-pistachio cake...

Pushkinska St 31


#3. Business Lunches

Business lunches rock. $3-6 for a three-course meal? Including borsch? Yes, please! 

3A: Mexico House Business Lunch

While not an authentic Mexican food restaurant (unless Mexican chefs have sworn off beans and are substituting potatoes these days), the business lunch is a good deal here. 40ish grivna will keep you full for hours!

Poltavskiy Shlyakh 62 (to the left of the train station, look for the giant rooftop sign)


3B: Pivobeer "Soyuz" Business Lunch

While this USSR throwback café offers fun items like fried pelmeni and "yorsh (beer + vodka) for real men", skip the 26-uah "Soviet business lunch". It's authentic all right, as authentic as a factory cafeteria lunch in 1967.

Prospect Gagarina 38
Check out the interior here

I'm on a mission to try more business lunches over the next few weeks. Stay tuned...



#4. La Crêperie

La Crêperie was discovered with thanks to the lovely Maxine as she would often settle in here for some language studying. With squeaks and chirps coming from the birdcages in the corner and a menu full of blini- salmon with spinach, pork and mozzarella with cherry tomatoes, red caviar, ratatouille, and more- this is a very cozy place to spend a few hours. There's a good selection of drinks as well, including several varieties of French wine.

Rimarskaya St 19 (location we visited) & Sumskaya 57
La Crêperie website



#5. Kharkiv Palace

We visited the 11th floor Sky Lounge bar in March with another couple. My first visit had been on a dark Friday night in February, dragging Maxine along to compensate for the intimidation factor. This second visit was a double date with a British/Ukrainian couple and much less intimidating. Or maybe that was just due to all the rum in these drinks ; )

The wraparound balcony was neat to check out in the daylight, providing a great view of the massive Freedom Square. I'd imagine it's even nicer now that the dreariness of early spring has been replaced by the breezes and sunshine of summer.

Still hoping for one more visit to Kharkiv Palace to try out their lobby tea service, if that's still around.

Pravdy Avenue 2



#6. Antalya Turkish and European Kitchen

Antalya has followed the arc of many Kharkiv restaurants, opening with delicious food and large portions and then declining in quality. To be fair, I need to visit this place again because I lost my notes on it but on the last (and probably 5th?) visit, I remember my companions and I leaving a bit disappointed. But still, with the closure of nearby Grill House Bistro, this is the place to be if you are craving a shawarma or doner kebab. It's massively popular with the foreign student crowd.

Petrovskovo St 37 (across the street from Sutra Bar Pacha Mama)
Antalya's vk page


#7. Anti-café Liberty & Anti-café Doma

Anti-café Liberty
Last night we paid a visit to my old favorite, anti-café Oblomov. Business has picked up there and is reflected in the vast selection of table games and higher quality snacks, hooray! In the meantime, the nearby anti-café Liberty is also worth a peek. Compared to Oblomov's coziness, Liberty is spacious and minimalistic. There are three hang-out areas: an X-box room, an open area (pictured above), and a third large space which seems like it can double as a meeting room.

Perhaps anti-cafés get off to a slow start in this city because aside from the darkened gaming room with a few teens sprawled in front of TV screens, it was just us there that night. Unlike Oblomov, Liberty is a serve-yourself place with free access to teas, coffee, and cookies. The cost is quite reasonable: 27 uah for the first hour, followed by 18 uah per additional hour.

What to do @ Liberty

Doma is another Kharkiv anti-café and my least favorite of the trio.

People warned me that it's difficult to find: just start exploring the back alleyways on Chernishvskaya Street, you'll find it eventually.

Well, eventually meant lots of stumbling around in the dark, asking directions from a group of thuggish-looking men with cigarettes and spending the next 30 minutes at their table in a café as they drank vodka and called to ask their younger brothers to look it up online, re-emerging onto the street with the guys where they asked several policemen to help locate the anti-café, and then finally, finally discovering the correct dark alleyway that leads to Doma.

And in case you're thinking it'd be easier to find in the daylight, I actually did a practice run with D several days earlier. We couldn't find it then either.

If you do somehow locate the two-story building that houses Doma, you'll discover an anti-café with the vibe of a hippy commune. No shoes, people wandering around narrow halls, walls painted with an emphasis on creative art, a hammock and gas mask upstairs.

Entrance to Doma

30 uah an hour and you can help yourself to all the tea and cookies you desire... and maybe try on that gas mask :p

Anti-café Liberty: Pushkin St 54 (the trick to finding the front door: the entrance is actually on Krasina St. Go under the tunnel/arch and into the interior courtyard. Stairs to the front door will be on your left.)

Anti-café Doma: website



#8. The (almost-mythical) Barabashova café 

Remember this place? We consulted the stars, put on our lucky socks, and followed a unicorn through the merchandise-cramped corridors, past the 18,000 retail spaces that make up Barabashova market until the stairway to the café appeared.

Actually, if you substitute "non-directionally-challenged friends" for "unicorn", that's pretty accurate.

And as always, it was sooooo worth it!

Location: somewhere in the depths of Barabashova market. Better to hire a guide.

Wow, I'm feeling ravenous after writing all of that! How about you? Which place would be your #1 pick? Is there a good restaurant that's missing from this list?


  1. Gosh Katherine, #Kharkiv tourist office will sorely miss your superb efforts in promoting this Ukraine city, I posted straight out through G+:

    1. Haha, I doubt they are prowling around this neck of the woods... or are they? ; ) Anyway, it's a great city. Thanks for the share!

  2. Also I have embedded at the top of I will remove embed in the morning and would be interested to know if you have any noticeable increase in visitors :-)

    1. The post did get a large number of views, so I likely have you to thank for some of that : ) Much appreciated, Rupert!
      Unfortunately my analytics tab is not very sophisticated so I wasn't able to verify any exact numbers coming thru that link.

  3. Love Peruvian food.

  4. I was contacted by a public relations firm recently to sample, with other local media, their cuisine and spread the word. Having never eaten dinner here, my dining companion and I gladly accepted their invitation. hire a dining companion from konsorts