It might surprise you to know that Belarus has some great food and it’s very possible to plan a DIY Belarus Food Tour in Minsk restaurants throughout the city.
Belarus is an independent country whose tight relationship with Russia might make it seem like they are one in the same sometimes.
But Belarus has a very different culture and cuisine from its massive neighbor.
You’d be missing out if you did try some Belarusian dishes. So if you’re in Minsk, here are some basic dishes you can try on your Do-It-Yourself Belarus food tour.
We’ll also tell you about some of the best Minsk restaurants you can try and what to order at each.
Belarusian cuisine’s Slavic roots
Under the tight grip of the Soviet Union, communist ideology wiped a lot of innovation, including in Belarusian cuisine. As a result, it is quite difficult to distinguish Belarus cuisine from that of its neighboring countries.
Being a Slavic country, Belarus cuisine is similar to what you find in Russian restaurants, as well as those in Ukraine and Poland.
For those with the finest palates, there are definitely things in the Belarusian cooking style and taste that stand out from the rest.
Nowadays, as communism starts to dwindle in Belarus, capitalism is emerging. Chefs in some of the finest Minsk restaurants are trying to reinvent traditional Belarusian tastes, while foreign food and international chains are becoming trendy: pizza, Spanish tapas, burgers, steak, and more.
Even Kentucky Fried Chicken Minsk restaurants are popular!
In this post though, we’ll just focus on traditional Belarusian dishes and the country’s unique cuisine.
What is Belarusian Cuisine?
Traditional Belarusian cuisine relies heavily on only four ingredients: potatoes and meat, with vegetables and milk products. Potatoes are the main staple of the Belarusian diet.
Locals affectionately use the unique Belarusian word “bulba” for potatoes, instead of the Russian word, “Kartofel.”
Belarusians have to consider harsh winter months as a main factor in their diet and to preserve their food. They make a lot of pickled jams and juices.
In more traditional rural areas of Belarus, they prefer hot soup and clay pot dishes.
It is a very simple and rustic style of cuisine.
On a typical Belarusian dining table, you’ll find dill and parsley as garnishes. They also use a lot of sour cream.
Wild berries and other seasonal vegetables are common.
Traditional food in Minsk restaurants
While different regions in Belarus have unique cuisines and styles, we’ll focus on the Belarus food in Minsk.
Even here, you can find many of these unique regional Belarusian dishes in several Minsk restaurants.
So, what – and where – should you eat in Minsk?
Draniki – дранікі
Draniki is similar to potato pancakes or hash browns. It is Belarus’s national dish. It’s also the most popular dish among locals. Preferably served golden brown, or even crispy, you’ll get it with sour cream and sauce.
Bacon is optional.
Different regions of Belarus have unique ways to make draniki. In rural Belarus, it is sometimes referred as potato babka – or kartoflaniki in the area bordering Poland.
While potato pancakes are common staples in many other countries, Belarusian draniki has a unique smooth and fine texture.
Potato is liquefied before cooking. As a result, they are not chunky or clumpy.
Machanka – Мачанка
Machanka is part of the peasant food category. It’s also a Belarusian national dish.
It is a creamy and thick stew. Different chef have different recipes and prepare it accordingly, depending on the availability of the ingredients. Machanka is rich in broth, water and flour.
Leftover meat trimmings and bones thicken it even more. Mushrooms, as well as onions, dill, and peppers often make their way into a Belarusian machanka dish.
Usually, pancakes and sour cream come with Belarus machanka.
Other Belarusian stew dishes
Some other stew variations you can find in Belarus include Vantrobianka (Вантробянка), which is mostly pig organs stew in smaller chunks, and Vereshchaka (Верещака), pig brisket in kvass or beet infusion vinegar and covered with bread crumbs.
Belarusian Hearty Soup: my favorite
Like many other cultures around the world, thick and warm soup, served with various seasonal vegetables and meat, are essential to Belarus cuisine.
A few names to look for on Belarus food menus in Minsk are polivka (cereal and vegetable soup), krupenia, and zhur.
My favorite soup in Minsk is the buckwheat and mushroom soup in a bowl of sourdough bread. You can find this particular Belarusian dish in Talaka Restaurant.
Dumplings are a common staple in many of the world’s culinary cultures. Belarusian dumplings are no different.
They are closely-related to some of the Slavic regional dumplings you can find in neighboring Ukraine or Poland (similar to Polish Klecki dumplings).
Try a dish of dumpling varieties from Valsiki, which can be combined with different type of fillings.
Belorussian dumplings are doughy and filled with minced beef, pork, mushrooms, or potatoes. Typically, you’ll get them in a bowl of broth with dill for garnish.
You’ll usually get a side dish of sour cream for dipping or to use as a condiment.
Belarus food in Minsk: Try a traditional dessert
I’m a bit disappointed that I wasn’t impressed with traditional Belarusian desserts. Many Belarusians opt to have drinks after dinner instead. Because of this, there is not a huge selection of traditional Belarusian desserts in Minsk.
Any sophisticated dessert creations often come from western Europe and the rest of the world.
If you insist on a Belarusian traditional dessert, look for Tvorozhnik – a cottage cheese tart, and apple or pear tart, that is sometimes served with Kulaga.
Kulaga is a fruit sauce made from variety of berries, sugar, or honey and flour. Adding kulaga to ice cream or crepes is also a thing.
You can find a few of these creamy desserts at Lido Restaurant. You can also visit Stolle (щтолле). They have a few locations throughout Minsk where you can get their delicious cakes with different fillings.
Stolle’s official Web page is here.
Belarusian Alcoholic Drinks
Due to high import taxes imposed by the Belarusian government, high quality alcohol, including fine wines, is expensive and hard to find.
A typical alcoholic drinks in Belarus is a type of moonshine – a mix of vodka, honey, and mixtures of local and some exotic herbs.
By far, Kvass is the most popular drink in Belarus. Kvass is a fermented drink made rye black bread. It’s a kind of mixture between beer and soda with 1% alcohol.
It is slightly sweet.
Even kids here start drinking Kvass at an early age. Although it’s rare to find it on the streets of Minsk, you can find some kvassniks (people who make kvass) selling their signature drink from street carts.
Some other names to look out for are a birch bark wine called Berezovik (Вино березовик), Klenovik, Sbiten, and Krambabulya (Крамбамбулю) – a mixture of vodka and herbs like cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, bitter red pepper, and honey.
Valsiki serves a sample platter of Belarusian alcohol. You can sample three different local alcohol favorites: A cranberry drink, Grandfather’s treat, and the signature Krambabulya drink.
For college bars and other drinking scenes, go to Zybitskaya Street or Oktiabrskaya streets. There, students gather in the many bars and pubs.
Because students here (like everywhere else in the world!) have little money, pubs in Minsk serve cheap alcohol, mostly local beer.
You can also check out 1067 Pub (Bolodarskogo St., 22, Minsk 220030) for more variety of beer, including Belarusian homemade stout.
They also serve barbecue and burgers.
Where to eat Belarus food in Minsk?
Minsk is more open and friendly towards foreign visitors than it used to be. So there are a lot more places to eat than there used to be.
I’ve been asked about where you can eat a traditional Belarusian food in Minsk.
Here are some of the best Minsk restaurants where you can find great Belarusian cuisine.
Valsiki – Васiлькi
Valsiki Restaurant, Nezalezhnosti Avenue, 200m from the Independent Square (Ploscha lenina Metro Station)
The national symbol of Belarus, Valsiki means “cornflower.” It is a local chain with six Minsk restaurants.
With its relatively reasonable prices and high standard of service, Valsiki Restaurant is one of locals favorites for Belarus food in Minsk. It is a child-friendly place, with baby chairs, coloring books, and even a special menu for kids.
The restaurant’s decor includes traditional village house decorations – even the staff wear traditional costumes as uniforms. While they speak enough English to accommodate foreign visitors, I love Valsiki’s bilingual menu.
It comes with pictures to highlight the various types of Belarusian cuisine you can choose from.
Try traditional Belarus dishes such as Machanka or Drainiki. They also have a sample drink platter where you can try different traditional Belarusian drinks, like as krambabulya and Grandfather’s treat.
Lido – Лiдо
Both locations are accessible from the nearest Metro Station of Ploscha Yakuba Kolasa
Lido, Ulitsa Kul’man 5А, Minsk 220013
Lido, Nezavisimosti Ave 49 Praspyekt Nyezalyezhnastsi 49/1, Minsk
Hands down, Lido is the local favorite. Forget about coming in over lunch in Minsk! It’s very busy.
Lido is a comfort food chain restaurant, and you can also find a few Lido locations outside Belarus, such as in Lithuania or Ukraine. However, Lido’s Minsk restaurants have a few Belarusian varieties that are definitely worth trying.
The two Lido restaurants in Minsk are a few blocks away from each other. Both can be tricky to find from the metro station. The one that I visited was closest to the Ploscha Yakuba Kolasa metro station.
Look for the Belarusian Olympic team’s headquarters. Lido is right behind the massive building.
Lido has a huge dining room and cafe-style seating. Again, it is packed during lunch time. You start by grabbing a tray and going into the open kitchen.
Then, you hop from one station to the next to get appetizers, salads, pickled herring, fried comfort foods, and mouthwatering desserts.
Lido is a great place to eat cheap in Minsk, especially if you are on a budget. If you want cheap, but good Belarus food in Minsk, this is where I recommend you go.
Talaka – Талака
Talaka, Rakovskaya street 18
With one of the most extensive menus in Minsk, Talaka means “community” in Belarusian language.
Talaka Restaurant is well-known for its nostalgic interior decor. You’ll think you’re stepping into a restaurant from the 1800s rustic Belarusian countryside.
Rusty iron machinery and agriculture tools and cookware.
Talaka’s prices are above average. The restaurant is in the historic and oldest surviving part of Minsk.
Cafe Maestro – кафе “Маэстро”
Contributed by Megan Starr
Cafe Maestro is a Soviet cafeteria-style restaurant inside of the famous underground shopping center, Stolitsa, in the heart of Minsk. Minsk has quite a few good options for food.
And while Cafe Maestro will not win any Michelin stars, it is one of the Minsk restaurants that is popular with locals and deserves to at least be visited once while traveling through the Belarusian capital.
At Cafe Maestro, you have a choice to put whatever they have ready on your tray and you will pay for items individually at the checkout. Everything is affordably-priced and you will see only locals checking out the place.
Most tourists don’t even know that Stolitsa exists, since it is underground! I ate here twice with locals during my two trips to Minsk.
Both times, I gulped down potatoes, some type of meat, and a salad or bread of sorts.
Simplicity is their game and the food does its intended job filling you up.
If you’re looking for a real local experience in Minsk, definitely check out Cafe Maestro inside of Stolitsa!
Stolitsa Shopping Center Подземный торговый центр “Столица”, Nezavisimosti pl. (Площадь Независимости)
U Franciska – У Франциска
U Franciska, Nezavisimosti 19, Minsk 220030
Here is one of a few Minsk restaurants where vegetarians can feel relief from the deluge of meat in Belarusian cuisine. Although there are still many Belarusian and other European dish with meat here, they do have a vegetarian section on the menu.
The small cafe is a great lunch spot. Its cordial and friendly staff are there to make sure that you are taken care of.
You can find some traditional vodka appetizers and several types of draniki here.
Café de Paris and Grand Cafe Minsk
Grand Cafe Minsk, Ulitsa Lenina 2, Minsk
Café de Paris and Grand Cafe are landmarks of Minsk’s culinary scene in Minsk city center.
Grand Cafe Minsk is a high-end restaurant that’s great for either a date or a business meeting. It’s definitely not a casual place. It’s open from noon to midnight.
I originally thought that, because it has the word “cafe” in the name, I could get a coffee here in the morning.
Grand Cafe offers visitors a great dining experience. Ask for window seats where you can enjoy your meal while looking on the bustling street outside.
They serve gourmet Italian food, and some signature Belarusian dishes and desserts.
Expect to take your time dining here, and enjoy a coffee or other beverage at Minsk Grand Cafe.
Dzedava Karchma – Дзедава Карчма
Dzedava Karchma, 19th km road P1 Minsk-Dzerzhinsk, 222750 Volkovichi
If you are up for a day trip from Minsk, you can try to visit the legendary Dzedava Karchma restaurant in the rural Belarusian countryside.
It’s 20 minutes away from the city center, which isn’t that far away, but you’ll need to arrange a car hire in Minsk to get there.
Dzedava Karchma follows an 1800s Belarusian countryside theme. The dining room looks like a traditional banquet hall in a traditional Belarusian village.
You can also arrange a traditional steam bath here.
Local Favorite Minsk Restaurants
While I was more interested in testing some good traditional Belarus food in Minsk, here are a few Minsk restaurants that are also local favorites.
- Tempo Pizza (Pitstsa Tempo) at Galileo shopping center, vulica Karla Marksa 9, Minsk. A popular location to eat with a great view of the city.
- Tapas bar – Тапас, Ulitsa Internatsional’naya 9, Minsk. A Spanish style tapas bar in Minsk. It is located in a great district and an attractive neighborhood to explore. The menu is small and easy to understand. Don’t miss dessert, the chef’s specialty.
- Union Coffee, Ulitsa Bobruyskaya 6, Minsk 220050. With a few locations in Minsk, it is a great place to get a cup of Joe and small breakfast pastries.
- Garage Cafe (Cafe Garazh), Pritytskogo St. 93, Minsk 223050. A small eatery with an over-the-top car theme, complete with several racing cars. You’ll even sit at car-styled booths and tables!
- La Scala trattoria Ignazio, Nemiha 36, Minsk 220004. A locals favorite for Italian cuisine with good wine selection.
- Feelini, Internatsional’naya 36, Minsk 220030. Italian breakfast place with cozy interior. Don’t miss thei risotto!
- Enzo, vulica Kastryčnickaja 23, Minsk. If you are craving steak dish, head to Enzo. It has one of the most modern rustic decors in Minsk.
- Kitch’n Brasserie, Komsomol’skaya 8, Minsk 220030. Craving good pastries and western Europe comfort food? How about French and Italian food for breakfast?
- Kentucky Fried Chicken, Prospekt Pobediteley 1, Minsk. Not a mistake! It’s popular in Minsk. You see ads everywhere in the city for KFC. For curious visitors, it’s a landmark by itself. Soviet era Communism meets Capitalism.
Things to know about Belarus food in Minsk
Consider organic food
Although it is getting better, historically, Belarus used pesticides heavily on crops. Unfortunately it is difficult to find out whether your ingredients are completely pesticide-free.
Having said that, more and more people are beginning to realize the dangers of pesticide use.
Things are improving in this respect.
Vegetarian Options in Minsk
It’s still very rare to find vegetarians in Belarus. Still, vegetarian Belarus food is gaining traction here and there are a very limited number of vegetarian Minsk restaurants.
One great cafe and restaurants to find vegetarian Belarus food is the U Franciska (У Франциска), Praspyekt Nyezalyezhnastsi 19, Minsk.
Thankfully, due to Belarus’s dependence on potatoes, mushrooms, and vegetables in their traditional cuisine, you can always find something as a vegetarian in most Minsk restaurants.
Maybe not KFC though.
Our Minsk food vlog on YouTube
Here’s my experience trying out Belarus food in a couple of Minsk restaurants. While I’m not even close to being a food vlogger, I had a chance to visit the Talaka and Valsiki restaurants.
And while you’re there, consider subscribing to our YouTube channel.
Then, hit the notification buttons for more of our exciting travel vlogs!
Also check out our Recipes and Cooking Classes for more of food related posts.
Where to stay in Minsk
Minsk hotels are surprisingly easy to find, and there are a lot of options for budget travelers. This capital city is one of Europe’s friendliest for backpackers and budget-conscious people!
Find Minsk hostels and hotels here by typing Minsk in the box:
Looking for a Couchsurfing host in Minsk? Check out our Couchsurfing tips. They’ll help you create or improve your profile, write requests, and be a great guest.
Considering using Airbnb for the first time in Minsk? Sign up using our referral link to get $40 off your first stay!
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Halef moved from Indonesia to the US nearly two decades ago to go to college here. He hasn’t looked back. He’s been to over forty countries and doesn’t plan on stopping anytime soon. He’s a Landscape Architect in Atlanta, GA.