Having had lived in Tallinn for over a year and a half, I had plenty of time to explore the many restaurants, cafes and pubs in town. This is a guide to the budget places around the old town. Most of these places are vegetarian friendly enough and you can have a meal here for under 10 EUR.
TALLINN RESTAURANTS – for Budget Travelers
1. My personal favorite has to be Kohvik Sesoon. It is a bit out of the way – on Niine Street, Kalamaja district – but this adds to its value, as it’s out of the tourist route. It’s definitely a place where locals go. They market themselves as a cafe and it is a great place to have a drink with friends, but the food is amazing too, all fresh and of unmatched quality. I fell in love with the coconut soups and the salads that you can put together youself by choosing a base, a topping and a dressing. I like their simple modern concept, the cafe is located inside an old warehouse with minimal design and it’s half table served, half self service (desserts at the bar and there’s a separate area where you can pick your own bread and water, no extra charge for these).
2. For about 6 months out of my stay in Tallinn, I was lucky enough to share a beautiful, spacious and very comfortable apartment, on one of the best streets of the Old Town, Muurivahe. Down this street I discovered two sister cafes, both charming, decorated in 70’s style, with good music and great atmosphere – Must Puudel and Sinilind (Black Pudel and Blue Bird). They’re great for food, cakes are amazing in both places and the pumpkin risotto they used to serve in The Pudel was delicious. A good choice for lunch or for hanging out for a couple of hours – they have corky vintage Estonian literature and free WIFI.
3. Vapiano is a chain of Italian non-junk-food-but-pretty-fast-food restaurants. Simple dishes that they prepare in front of you, modern design. All the dishes are good, I especially like the pasta there. The best one in Tallinn can be found in the Roterman district.
4. I for one love a good clean self-service place, just as long as it’s not too much of a cafeteria. I like to see the food before it’s being served to the table and I like to pick and choose. Lido (Solaris center) is a great choice for this. They have a multitude of options, big portions and comfortable sitting area. Eggplant stew, I miss you!
5. To my surprise, I found that Estonians love their sushi and that sushi is very much in the trend righ now. It’s so popular that you can even find it in most supermarkets and that’s great, since it’s one of the few premade meals that they sell and that are not fried meat, potatoes or mayonnaise covered salad. There’s a big range of sushi places, the budget ones are SushiMon & SushiCat. They’re cool and decorated in anime style, but you will have to get used to some Estonian variations involving sour cream and cream cheese in the famous Japanese dish.
6. F-Hoone (Telliskivi street) is a super hip and happening restaurant. It’s located in an old creepy warehouse behind the train station, in the Kalamaja district. They had a great decorator for sure and they were able to turn the place around and create a great atmosphere. Not the best for vegetarians, bu I did have an onion pie there once that was just amazing.
7. Pub food is always a choice, especially when you’re going out for drinks and you want a snack next to your selected beer; both Hell Hunt (Pikk street) and The Dubliner (Suur Karja street) have some good options – the tomato soup with melted cheese in Hell Hunt is delicious and also a traditional Estonian dish and the salads in The Dubliner and fresh and crunchy (you can ask to replace the meat topping with cheese or whatever else you prefer if you’re a vegetarian like me).
8. Fast and easy, nothing fancy. Go to Loca Pizza (Tatari street) just for pizza, the rest of the dishes are not great quality. This Brazilian owned place is colorful, one of the few eating places that stay open after 22 (at least on the weekends) and has a big pizza menu with some amusing surprises on it, like their hot dog pizza.
9. A chain of cafes that offers pretty good salads and soups are the Reval Cafes. The confusing part about them is that all have the same name and brand, but the menus and prices are different in each of the places, which is quite unusual. The best one I found to be the one on the corner of Parnu Maantee with Sakala street.
10. The two favorite places of the hostel visitors and staff are Kompressor (Rataskaevu) and Drakoon (inside the town hall, in the basement). Kompressor sells mainly huge pancakes, they have both sweet and savory options, they go for 4-5 euros each and they make for a meal, ideal when with a hangover. Drakoon sells their famous elk soup, pies (greasy pastries filled with meat, cabbage, carrots, apples etc.), home brewed beer. They have a giant pickle barrel and you can fish your own from there – no extra charge for that. It’s cool cause it’s just inside the Town Hall and has a medieval theme, you eat out of clay muggs, there’s no electricity (except for their fridges haha) and rude waitresses. Everything goes for 1-2 euros at Drakoon.