Tallinn, Estonia foodie guide: where locals eat and drink
Estonian kitchens are a small but significant component of the New Nordic food scene, with stylishly simple cafes and restaurants tapping into local ingredients, chefs infusing menus with far-flung influences and a resurgence of artisanal beers and ciders. Want to find out more? Here are some great places to eat and drink in the capital, Tallinn.
Looking for Tallinn restaurants? Want to know where to eat in the Estonian capital? Local food writer Katrina Kollegaeva shares her insider tips for the best restaurants in Tallinn, along with where to find the best cinnamon buns, New Nordic cuisine and classic Estonian food.
Parrot MiniBar – best cocktail bar in Tallinn
Tropical chic meets Nordic cool at Parrot MiniBar. Try cocktails inspired by the owners’ love of travel (‘Bon Vivant’ is made with vodka, quince and lemongrass cordial), alongside locally inspired snacks including macarons with cowberries (foraged, and deliciously tart).
Røst – best bakery in Tallinn
Inside Tallinn's recently redeveloped Rotermann Quarter, with its clutch of independent stores and cafés, Røst bakery specialises in two things and does them both extremely well: Scandinavian-style cinnamon and cardamom buns made on site, and great coffee sourced directly from roasters.
Juur – best new Estonian cuisine restaurant in Tallin
The ‘New Estonian’ cuisine at Juur is worth the 15-minute drive from Tallinn. Try the duck with ‘tipsy’ cowberries, lamb from Hiiumaa island with hemp-flour bread and carrot mustard, or wild mushroom ice cream – all served on speckled crockery.
Lido Solaris – best for fast-food in Tallinn
Looking like a gingerbread house but operating like a workers’ canteen, Lido Solaris is a Baltic fast-food chain offering good-value dishes, mostly made from scratch. Regulars love the gigantic pan of spuds slowly sautéed until they caramelise.
Ülo – best vegan restaurant in Tallinn
Ülo champions plant-based dishes (without entirely shunning meat or fish) and fuses global flavours with local ingredients. Try the mushroom ramen with aubergines and lime leaf, or chamomile meringue with quince mousse.
Balti Jaam – best food market in Tallinn
Tallinn's Balti Jaam market, run down during Soviet times but recently renovated, retains plenty of charm. Grannies sell their own produce (the best sauerkraut!) next to artisanal bakeries (pick up a rye sourdough from Muhu kiosk), confectionary stands (thin, rolled waffles from Waffle Fairies) and street-food stalls (look out for Taiwanese bao with Estonian kimchi at Baojamm).
Nikolay Café – best Russian pies in Tallinn
The retro décor at Nikolay Café includes mismatched furniture and kitsch lamps, but there’s nothing outdated about the menu. It focusses on pirogi, amply filled Russian pies made with brioche-like dough. Choose by the slice from savoury (try the kurnik, with chicken, rice and mushrooms) or sweet (the one with tvorog – curd cheese – is a must).
One Sixty – best restaurant in Tallinn for meat lovers
BBQ joint One Sixty, set in a bikers’ store in the trendy Telliskivi area, is as cool as it gets. Order the 10-hour, hickory-smoked ribs and a pint of Tanker, the local craft beer.
Ööbiku – best restaurant in Tallinn for Estonian ingredients
Ööbiku, a 45-minute drive from the city centre, started life as a pop-up in a renovated farmhouse. Now it’s open five days a week, serving five-course menus cooked by Kristina and Ants (a judge on Estonia’s Bake Off). Try local lamb with burnt celeriac purée, and traditional karask bread with hand-whipped soured cream butter.
Salt – best fusion bistro in Tallinn
A tiny, bustling basement restaurant, Salt draws its influences from both Estonia and Asia (try the deer tartar with fir aïoli, or the caramelised guinea fowl with pickled peaches, pumpkin-ginger cream and lime-orange sauce). Owner Tiina tends the tables herself, and is happy to recommend local ciders.
Peatus – best café-bar in Tallinn
You’ll find both artists and foodies in Telliskivi, an area of the hip Kalamaja district of Tallinn. Many of them congregate at Peatus, a bar-café in a converted train carriage that serves classic dishes with fun twists (think beef stroganoff with onions marinated in beetroot and ash-roasted cauliflower). peatus.eu
Tallinn Supperclub – best supper club in Tallinn
The only ‘official’ supperclub in Tallinn, this one was founded by Canadian-Estonian Kristina, a chef and a food writer, who sources many of her ingredients from her own farm. Dinners are intimate and take place in her charming apartment in the Old Town. In December expect an authentic Christmas feast including blood sausages with marjoram and lingonberry jam. facebook.com/TallinnSupperClub
Köök – best cooking class in Tallinn
Run by an Englishman, Tim, and his Estonian wife, Stina this cookery school offers a range of different workshops in rooms beneath beautiful medieval arches. The focus varies – and is often quite international – but in December the team have planned a class on Estonian seasonal cooking (expect dishes such as sea trout with kefir sauce or braised wild boar with apples). kokakool.eu
F-hoone –best craft beer bar in Tallinn
This spacious but cosily converted warehouse is the perfect spot to while away a long winter afternoon sipping craft beers (try dark Põhjala Öö ale – “as dark as Estonian winter nights”) and hearty broths like borsch with rye bread and lardo. It’s great for breakfasts, too – the curd cheese syrniki with sour blackberry jam are delicious. fhoone.ee
Matsimoka butchery – best charcuterie in Tallinn
Cured meats are treasured by Estonians despite the veggie-leaning New Nordic revolution. In the basement of an unassuming shopping mall, you’ll find this stall selling a wide selection of local charcuterie. Look out for elk sausage and ‘300 year-old recipe’ frankfurters, made without additives using meat from Estonian farms. facebook.com/matsimoka
Leib - best New Nordic food in Tallinn
One of the forerunners of the New Nordic wave in Tallinn, but still going strong, Leib means bread in Estonian but there’s much more than its delicious black rye bread on the menu. Sit amid simple surroundings (all wood and wool with a huge terrace - ask for a blanket to sit out if it’s chilly!) and order the legendary beef tartar with pickled veg and crème brûlée with rye bread crumb. One of the owners is a sommelier, too, so it’s worth asking for wine recommendations. leibresto.ee
Talleke ja Pullike – best authentic Estonian food in Tallinn
For a really authentic experience venture out to Lasnamäe. Here, among high-rise Soviet tower blocks, you’ll find this warm, low-key tavern. It’s genuinely loved by locals (you’ll need to book on weekends) for its steaks grilled in a high-tech charcoal oven. Try central Asian staples like Lagman soup with home-made noodles or Uzbek lamb Plov. tallekejapullike.ee
Art Priori – best tasting menu in Tallinn
Literally a feast for all senses, the interior at this sophisticated city restaurant veers towards the gothic, the artwork on its walls changing in accordance with its seasonal tasting menus. The latter are veg-focused and theatrical, such as a sorbet of Estonian apples with edible ants and nasturtium snow. artpriori.ee
WHERE TO STAY IN TALLIN
Self-contained studios at 14th-century Villa Hortensia cost from €65 (hoov.ee).
More info: visittallinn.ee.
HOW TO GET TO TALLINN
Return flights from London to Tallinn cost from £45 (ryanair.com).
Katrina Kollegaeva is a food anthropologist, writer and chef. She grew up in Estonia and now lives in London (@katrinakollegaeva).
Images by Kate Prihodko, Girti Suun, Marek Metslaid