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 MamaParis.
Sergiy, a transatlantic-traveling Kharkiv expat, first mentioned this Peruvian place last year and it's since become a special treat of ours.
Pushkinska St 31
#3. Business Lunches
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
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?