Its Old Town is a tangle of ancient cobblestone streets steeped in history and surrounded by defensive walls and well-preserved medieval towers, and just outside the Old Town there are vast expanses of parkland, leafy neighbourhoods filled with traditional 19th and 20th century wooden houses, and an entire block dedicated to arts and culture that’s filled with quality street art and independently-owned shops and cafes. It was everything I dreamed it would be.
But one aspect of the city that really surprised me – that far exceeded all my expectations – was the food. The food in Tallinn is amazing. And I mean AMAZING! Every single meal I ate totally blew me away. Even the breakfasts were fancy restaurant quality.
For this reason I’ve decided to dedicate an entire post to some of the best restaurants I found in the city. If you’d like to learn all about my recommendations for where to eat in Tallinn, read on…
Where to eat in Tallinn in the Old Town
1 | Rataskaevu 16
Ok, I’ll admit the name’s not very inventive (it is simply the restaurant’s address), but don’t let that fool you; the food most definitely is!
This was my absolute favourite restaurant in the whole of Tallinn and it thoroughly deserves its place as ‘Number 1 Restaurant in Tallinn‘ on Trip Advisor (correct May 2019). It was the one place I was most excited about visiting when I was researching where to eat in Tallinn, and it did not disappoint.
The staff are amazing and show a genuine interest in getting to know their customers, the ambience is intimate, welcoming and friendly, the building itself is steeped in history and dates back to the 1300s, and the food is imaginative, locally-sourced and full of flavour.
I ordered the following dishes, all of which I can thoroughly recommend. The cheeseboard was hands down the best I’ve ever eaten.
- Selection of Estonian cheeses
- Green pea and onion cutlet. Oven-baked beetroot, black salsify, king oyster mushrooms, apple and spinach puree.
- Frozen blue cheese cake. Carrot and sea buckthorn sauce, berries.
The South African shiraz-pinotage was also delicious (and that comes from someone who almost always favours a Merlot or a Rioja).
Address: Rataskaevu 16 | Opening hours: 12.00-23.00 hours (until midnight Friday and Saturday) | Website
2 | Vegan Restoran V
I still find it really surprising when a wholly vegan restaurant gets voted as one of THE best restaurants in any given town or city, but I’m surprised in a good way, because vegan food can be absolutely amazing – even from a meat-eater’s point of view (my good friend, Kath, will vouch for this).
I’ve eaten at incredible vegan restaurants in Cluj-Napoca, Poznan, and Luxembourg, and although I’m not vegan (officially I’m a pescatarian, although these days I eat very little fish) I always seek out vegetarian and vegan eateries whenever I travel.
This is another cosy little restaurant (there’s just 10 tables) with a creative menu of delicious plant-based dishes. It has a warm and welcoming ambience and the staff are attentive, helpful and friendly. I ordered the beetroot ravioli with cashew cheese (served with a homemade pesto sauce) followed by the Thai yellow curry with jasmine rice. Much as I was tempted, based on how much I enjoyed my first two courses, I didn’t have room for dessert after my mid-afternoon cinnamon bun at Røst.
Address: Rataskaevu 10 | Opening hours: 12:00-23:00 hours (until midnight on Friday and Saturday) | Website
3 | Must Puudel
This is where I headed for lunch when I initially arrived in the city, and whilst I waited for my Tallinn apartment to be ready. The homely, retro cafe (whose name means “black poodle”) is described by Lonely Planet as,
“Old Town’s hippest café.”
It’s located down a narrow cobbled street that feels a million miles from the busy main road nearby and is somewhere you feel comfortable lingering for longer than it takes you to eat your food.
Speaking of food, as soon as I saw the menu I wanted to order everything on it, but I finally decided upon oven baked avocado and goats cheese with figs, thyme and beet hummus and roasted pine nut seeds. If I’d had time I definitely would have returned to try more.
Address: Müürivahe 20 | Opening hours: 09:00-23:00 hours
Where to eat in Tallinn in Telliskivi (west of the Old Town)
1 | F-Hoone
It was a toss up between here and Moon when I was deciding where to go for dinner over in Tallinn’s creative district, Telliskivi. I think I ended up here simply because I spotted it first and because I was lucky enough to snag a table without making a reservation beforehand.
F-Hoone is housed in a 100-year old industrial building and was actually featured on the recent ‘Travel Man: 48 Hours in Tallinn‘ TV programme. Richard and Alice even ordered the same dish that I’d enjoyed there, just days before watching the programme – pumpkin and chickpea falafel with rocket-quinoa salad and cashew cream.
I didn’t find the service overly friendly but I loved the food and the ambience and the prices are really reasonable. If you’re into your craft ales, I can also recommend the local Baltic porter – Pöhjala (pictured below).
Address: Telliskivi 60A | Opening hours: 09:00-midnight (until 22:00 hours on a Sunday) | Website
Where to eat in Tallinn in Kadriorg (east of the Old Town)
1 | NOP
So named because its creators thought Tallinn lacked a Neighbourhood Organic Place – where locals could meet, new friends are made, and everyone feels welcomed and included – NOP is located around two kilometres east of the Old Town, in the Kadriorg neighbourhood. It’s not somewhere you can ‘nip to’ from the Old Town (although the line 1 tram does head out this way), but if you’re on your way to Kadriorg Park then it makes a great stop on route.
That’s exactly what I did. I made NOP my first port of call for breakfast on my second full day in the city, and then afterwards I spent a couple of hours at the KUMU Art Museum in Kadriorg Park.
NOP operate from a 100-year-old house in a peaceful wooded area not far the main road. They focus on local organic produce, some of which they also sell in their attached shop.
Once again I wanted to order everything on the menu, but settled for poached eggs with smoked salmon and avocado mash on toasted organic rye bread with salad.
Address: Köleri 1 | Opening hours: 08:00-21:00 hours (09:00-20:00 hours at weekends) | Website
Where to eat in Tallinn in Uus Maailm (south of the Old Town)
1 | Cafe Grenka
Located just under two kilometres south of Tallinn’s Old Town, Cafe Grenka appears to be stuck out on a limb in the middle of the city’s business district. So much so that I was starting to doubt whether my incredibly long walk down a very uninspiring main road would actually be worth the diversion I’d taken from my original plan for the day.
My original plan was to start the day with a self-guided walking tour of Tallinn’s Old Town, featured in the latest Lonely Planet Tallinn guidebook. But before I did anything I needed some breakfast, and as Cafe Grenka had such great reviews online, that’s where I decided to head. And it turns out it was totally worth the diversion.
I managed to snag the last sunny window seat, and although there’s not much of a view outside, it was nice to be able to watch the people and traffic go by. Cafe Grenka believe in a simple combination of three elements — delicious food, cosy atmosphere and good-minded people, and as soon as you walk through the door you certainly get the feeling that you’re entering a laid-back, relaxing environment.
It’s a real local establishment where no-one else was speaking English and I was worried for a second that mine would be met with some confusion. But it seems that, even in the parts of the city where very few tourists decide to tread, English is widely spoken and understood.
I ordered one of the cafe’s signature dishes – a “grenka” (which are like bruschetta) – with salted salmon, avocado and herbs. The salmon was the thickest and freshest I’ve tasted in a long while, and I loved the creamy, garlic-infused soft cheese that was served as an accompaniment. Moreover, as you can see by the photo below, the portion sizes are huge!
Address: Pärnu maantee 76 | Opening hours: 08:00-21:00 hours (Saturday 09:00-21:00 hours / Sunday 09:00-18:00 hours) | Website
Where to grab a coffee in Tallinn
This is not an exhaustive list; this is simply a list of the places I visited and loved.
1 | Røst
Located inside an impressive building that used to be an old flour mill, Røst is a Scandinavian influenced bakery and coffee shop in the heart of Rotermann district, Tallinn. The service is friendly, the coffee is good, and you’re entitled to as many refills as you desire completely free of charge.
Address: Rotermanni 14 | Opening hours: 08:30-18:00 hours (Saturday 09:30-17:00 hours | closed on Sundays)
2 | Lisanna – Vegan Coffee Shop
Yep, you read that right: this is a totally vegan coffee shop. Everything is plant-based (including the delectable cakes and confectionery) and only dairy-free milk and cream are available to go in your coffee.
Lisanna only opened its doors earlier this year and is located in a lovely peaceful part of the Old Town, right by Eppingi and Köismäe Towers.
It’s a pretty small coffee shop so there’s not a lot of seating inside but it’s quite a pleasant place to sit outside, especially when the sun is shining.
Address: Suurtüki 2 | Opening hours: 08:00-21:00 hours (until 23:00 hours on a Friday and Saturday)
3 | Maiasmokk
With a history dating back to 1864, Maiasmokk is – according to their website – not only the oldest cafe in Tallinn but also the oldest cafe in the whole of Estonia. Its name means “sweet tooth” in Estonian, and when you see all the tempting cakes and chocolates on sale, you’ll understand why.
There is also an attached ‘Marzipan Room.’ According to legend, Tallinn is the birthplace of marzipan. It was sold to customers back in the Middle Ages as a cure for lovesickness. As well as admiring all the painted marzipan creations, it’s possible to book yourself a place on their marzipan painting workshop (also featured on Travelman’s ’48 Hours in Tallinn’), in order to learn all about the craft.
Address: Pikk 16 | Opening hours: 08:00-21:00 hours (from 09:00 hours on a Saturday and Sunday).
4 | Caffé Carissimi
I wandered into this little place because I needed somewhere to chill for a couple of hours before I headed to Rataskaevu 16, where my table was booked for 9pm. And I chose well.
There was already another girl inside working on her laptop, which gave me a good indication that this wasn’t the kind of establishment where the staff hurried you along, or expected you to buy more than one coffee during your visit.
This is another cafe that’s nestled right up against one of the Old Town’s medieval walls but it’s the chilled atmosphere and authentic Italian coffee that really won me over.
Address: Müürivahe 52 | Opening hours: 09:00-21:00 hours (until 23:00 hours Saturday and Sunday).
So, there you have it: my personal recommendations for where to eat in Tallinn, as well as where to grab a coffee and cake (or cinnamon bun).
The map below will show you the location of all restaurants and cafes I have mentioned within this post. It’s an interactive map, so you can zoom in for a closer look.
If you’ve visited the city recently and have any more recommendations for where to eat in Tallinn, please let me know in the comments below. I’d love to check them out!
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