Vilnius, the culinary capital of Eastern Europe: the definitive guide for 2019
The Užkalnis List 2019 – Vilnius
You have trailed through tourist votes and scores, but they only tell you where the tourist traps are. Here is a list from someone who has been writing about food in Vilnius and the world for nearly three decades and has seen it all.
Subjective, effective and honest. The what and the why.
They have been around forever and served kings and presidents, but that’s not why you want to go there. Gerdvilas Žalys, their star chef from Paris, worked under more world famous Michelin chefs de cuisine than you can imagine. Pay attention to his foie gras and mashed potatoes.
The best view in Vilnius but again you go there not only for that. Kempinski Hotel restaurant pulls off such understated elegance that it’s hard to understand how they do it. The best Lithuanian-infused international menu and fantastic wine list.
They call themselves a wine bar but do not be fooled. Egidijus Lapinskas, a powerhouse chef, and his friends, two internationally awarded sommeliers set up this little gem in a wine-shy country. Let them choose the food, skip the menu, and allow them to match the wines.
The number one place to eat Italian not just in Vilnius, but anywhere in Lithuania. They are cosy, with confident understatement, but this is the place which is home to everyone who calls the shots in this country. Eat anything you like but you must try their pasta.
Another place next door to the famous Stikliai, this ancient-looking beer hall is the place to eat ethnic Lithuanian. Cepelinai, torpedo shaped potato dumplings with meat filling, is what everyone tries in Vilnius at least once. For a reason. You try them at Stiklių aludė or don’t eat them at all.
They call themselves a Meditteranean restaurant and this is what they do, with quiet confidence. Tuna tartare is a must and ask them about their meat or fish recommendation. You will not want to leave – that’s why they habitually stay open until the last customer leaves which might be until four in the morning.
There is no other pizza place of this caliber – this choice is so obvious that anything else is a waste of time. The one and only officially accredited Neapolitan pizza place not just in Lithuania but in the Baltics. Chef Federico is their star. Do yourself a favor and make a reservation: they are crazy popular.
This is the number one Indian in Lithuania with a few Thai dishes to make it more interesting. They are tuned mild-ish to match Northern tastes, but you can always ask to turn the spice dial up a couple of notches and they will know what to do.
The best steak and the best burgers if you crave meat. Their signature Caesar salad dressing will leave you wondering how you will ever be able to do without it.