Yough Pioneer Tours

A Beginner’s Guide to Russian food

Russia aside from borscht, caviar and vodka isn’t exactly known for its cuisine. However, in our many years of travelling through this vast and varied country YPT guides have encountered some amazing Russian foods! This is our guide to ordering and eating well in Russia.


Russian Foods

To begin, the biggest obstacle is language, many cheap and delicious places in Russia don’t have English speaking staff or menus, and if they do have an English menu it is usually bizarrely translated. This can be very off-putting to travellers. Take your time and know some keywords:


Russian type of samosa filled with assortments of cabbage, potatoes and meat. Just think samosa with a Russian accent.



Russian style ravioli which can contain numerous combinations of ingredients topped with a sauce of some kind.


Sour cream. Now if you’re like me you’re obsessed with sour cream. This makes a great addition to many Russian foods, however sometimes needs to be asked for. Think of it as the “cement” of the meal and the word should pop into your head.


A Russian favourite which can be served with different jams, caviar and of course sour cream. Found nearly everywhere, they are cheap and quick if you’re in a rush.


From the Islamic influence of surrounding nations this is Russia’s answer to a kebab stick. Marinated in spices and served with a bit of flat bread and sauce it’s definitely a must try for the meat lovers.


Now for Russian’s and anyone who’s taken the trans-Siberian borscht is life. Simple and like blini found everywhere. Always cheap, always reliable and served with a dollop of sour cream what’s there not to love.

russian food
Borscht with cream


The Russian word for medalions, found in many restaurants and usually made from pork, these can be served with roasted vegetables and a great sauce. Perfect for a main meal.


This is perfect as a starter or when having some friendly vodka shots and you need a chaser. Zaguday is raw fresh fish with olive oil, onions and a bit of pepper. Absolutely amazing and is perfect with everyone’s favourite alcoholic potato juice.


Beer. When you order beer in Russia you will be offered the brand name and if you want light (as in colour not alcohol content) or dark. Light is known as svetloye and dark is called temnoye. Every time I crave a beer I simply say piva svetlyoe (in an atrocious accent) and it gets the job done eventually.


This is the Russian word for fried. Super useful to know as there are many things like Kartofle zherenoe (French fries), or my favourite sir zherenoe (fried cheese).

Russian Mannerisms

Secondly, people working in restaurants in Russia can sometimes be very intimidating. I personally have experienced what seemed like a scolding from an old Russian babushka because I was taking too long to figure out the menu. Don’t fight the babushka, love the babushka and smile and she will help you through your culinary excursion.

Key Phrases

Lastly, manners in Russia go a very long way. Learn please and thank you.

Spasiba – thank you

Pozhalusta – please (seems way to long for please but trust me this word is golden)


If you follow this quick guide, you’ll be eating an array of different Russian-inspired delicacies and ready for a YPT tour to Russia. 

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