Sunday, July 20, 2014

Kharkiv cafés: waffles, pig ears, and Sherlock Holmes

The time left before our flight can now be counted in hours... under 100 of them!... hours filled with packing anxiety and heartfelt goodbyes. It's unsettling to have these very normal "pre-move" events juxtaposed against the terrible backdrop of deaths in the southeast. I've been meeting friends for quiet cups of tea since no one is in the mood for celebrating anything. One benefit to this, though, is getting to squeeze in just a few more of the city's cafés before our travels take us far from the streets of Kharkiv.

Enjoy : )

Try It!


The new Waffle Café (same location as 44 Favorite Place, next to the Beketova metro) 

How could anyone say no to such waffles??! Not to mention, waffles in Ukraine = a big deal. This is not a land of waffles makers and breakfast menus, thus waffles don't come with any preconceived notions of waffle propriety. Expect waffles with M&Ms, waffles with salmon, and waffles with beans.
Novel tea too- this is basil + cucumber.
You can build your own waffle starting from 10 uah, order a sweet "Belgian-style" waffle (35 uah), or choose a savory "American-style" waffle (55 uah). Here's the menu. I was tempted by the waffle topped with spinach and scrambled eggs, but the lure of marshmallows and Nutella won out in the end.

Good Vegs - a vegetarian fast food restaurant

In a city where coffee houses have chandeliers and even McDonalds hires interior designers, there exists a humble underground café on Gudanova street that serves juice instead of soda and veggie nuggets instead of chicken nuggets. We tried a cheeseburger (excellent) and yoga roll (yuck) here last week, as well as the vitamin salad (yum). Prices run about the same as any fast food place in town, maxing out at around 80 uah for a complete meal. They have a menu online but it hasn't been updated with the new items like the vitamin salad. I would definitely check this place out again. Hours are either 10AM - 8PM or 11AM - 9PM, depending upon whether you believe their website or the sign on the door.


I wish I'd tried this popular chain of coffee shops long, long ago (thanks to Daniel K. for suggesting this place in a comment!) but the idea had to percolate in my brain for a year before a visit finally happened this morning. The Prospekt Lenina location has awesome tribal decor and lots of dimly-lit nooks to cozy away in. Best of all, you get to sit down and order off a big menu instead of standing awkwardly in line (ahem, Coffee Life :p). I recommend the black tea with ginger and currant.


We found this place a few weeks ago when a Ukrainian friend flew to town and met us for lunch. The last time we'd seen him was in 2013 at the surprisingly disappointing Churrasco bar (where, as Sergiy puts it, "It's not all-you-can-eat. It's all-they'll-allow-you-to-eat."). Fortunately, our pick this time was luckier. Beerlin gets an A+ for beer, food, and cocktails. Check it out (or check out their online menu)-
the Frankfurt omlette
Caesar salad
yep, more pig ears
wild boar
Best of all, there's an outdoor seating area open, perfect for those hot summer afternoons that we've been experiencing. 

Skip It


Tuk Tuk business lunch

This was a sad example of a business lunch: bland noodles and a rubbery salad, topped off by the wrong soup, and a little pricey at 49 uah. The highlight turned out to be the special offer, a free lemonade. I still think the DIY noodles are a great idea but am not inspired enough to give this place another shot. 

Burrito Cartels

Oh, Burrito Cartels, how could something so promising go so wrong?
Petrovskovo 42, next door to Paris and Churrasco bar.
First off, to get this out of the way- they claim to serve Starbucks coffee (possibly the only place in town that does?) so depending on your level of addiction, you may need to stop in for a drink. Just don't stop in for a bite. I was told about this place from a friend... "They served me a cold burrito", he said, but I didn't heed his warning.

The place is tiny, just big enough for 5 tables and a small counter where the food is assembled. It's actually got rather cute décor: several prickly cacti, Star Wars wall art with a Mexican Day of the Dead theme, and a giant sombrero that you can try on for fun. The huge advertisements outside show big beautiful burritos and crunchy yellow tacos, pretty much the opposite of what we found inside. 

The menu is simple- choose between a burrito, taco, nachos, or salad, and an employee will slap it together right in front of you. Now everyone has their own ideas of what makes a good meal, of course, but here's what let me down:
  • Burritos and tacos are served on the same thing- think pita bread, not tortilla, and don't even dream of that taco with a crunchy shell.
  • The burritos aren't wrapped. They are simply folded over, like a sloppy quesadilla, and everything inside tends to slide out when you're eating it.
no guacamole either : (
Burrito Cartels was a decent idea but there's still only one safe bet for Mexican food in Kharkiv: La Cucaracha.
La Cucaracha, Sumskaya St 23

Since this is the final post I'll make about restaurants in Kharkiv, there are a few other places I wanted to quickly share with you-

The Best Place for Fans of Sherlock Holmes

The Sherlock Holmes Pub & Restaurant, Краснознамённая 5, Facebook page

The Really Upscale Place I Never Tried

Darwin St 1. Has anyone been here?

The Place That's Really Hard to Find (But Totally Worth It!)

Barabashova café, yum!


The Place Everyone Either Loves or Hates

Stargorod. Lermontovska St 7. I am not one of the lovers.

The Slightly-Terrifying Place

Intimidate much?


The Place Expats Mention A Lot Online

One 2 One, Petrovskovo 7/50. Never been here.


The Irish Place

The (original?) Irish Pub. Mirononositskaya St 46.


The Place Everyone Ends Up At Sooner or Later

Puzata Hata, a national chain serving traditional Ukrainian foods.

The Place Where You Can Rent Laptops

The IT café. Near the University metro station. Website.

The Place That Serves Baked Potatoes To Go

Fast food meets baked potatoes. I can't remember the name of this place but they're nationwide.


The Place With The Best Pizza

Pizza Maranello, my favorite! Website.

The Place With The Best Food

our friends' kitchen : )


Okay, TONS of food for thought, right? I'm surprised at how many foreigners are still coming to visit Kharkiv at the moment, so hopefully someone will pick up the torch and keep writing about the newest additions and deletions to the food scene in town. Until then, приятного аппетита, смачного, and bon appétit!


  1. So within four days you will be embarking on a new journey, for which I wish you both every success.

    Please do keep up the output wherever you end up, your style is excellently readable and viewable.

    I did not re-post your last post, due to the tragedy of that day, but here is today's re-post: which goes to G+ >> Twitter

    1. Thank you, Rupert, and thanks for all the encouragement : )

    2. You can carry on with this blog template and not lose your readership or content to the huge archive cloud!

  2. Hi! Goodluck on your move!! :D will definitely miss your posts about the wonderful Kharkiv <3 where are you headed to now? Continue blogging please!! <3 - Mikaela!

    1. Hi again Mikaela : ) The future is a bit murky- visiting relatives for a while and then... we'll see! Hopefully something challenging and interesting. I do plan to continue blogging, perhaps here or perhaps in a new blog. Hope to hear from you more in the future!

  3. My friend we will miss your posts from Kharkov but look forward to joining you on your new adventure. Best wishes

    1. Ah, Al, I hope you'll keep me up to date on all the news. You have a good nose for sniffing out fun articles and videos!