Transnistria may be called ‘the last of the USSR’ but trust us, the days of Soviet food are long gone. Well, almost. The old stereotype of Eastern European food being bland and unexciting is dead. As the crossroads of various empires throughout history, Transnistria offers a wide array of fantastic cuisine to the intrepid traveler.
For a hearty breakfast in Transnistria, foodies can’t go wrong with a trip to Kumanyok. This is a traditional Ukrainian restaurant in the backstreets of the capital city of Tiraspol. The staff here are just phenomenal and very friendly. They speak enough English to get by and the menus have English translations.
Their meat and eggs plate is the restaurant’s most hearty breakfast in my opinion and combined with fresh Russian tea or coffee is a fantastic breakfast. For vegetarians, the traditional fruit porridge or ‘Kasha’ as it’s called in Russian, is very tasty and a great way to start a day of hunting down Soviet nostalgia throughout Transnistria.
The YPT favorite for lunch in Transnistria is, of course, the CCCP cafe at the bus station in the city Bender which is only twenty minutes from Tiraspol. This is a nostalgic restaurant for locals and is teeming with Soviet relics from busts of Lenin and propaganda posters to military medals and WW2 relics! The food here is traditional Soviet-style food with a modern twist. It’s extremely tasty and unbelievably cheap. It’s also the best place to get the famous plastic coins in Transnistria!
For lunch in Tiraspol, your best bet is Dolce Vita cafe by the university. This is the go-to place for the students at Tiraspol University, a degree from which is unrecognized outside of Transnistria. Food is done via a buffet-style ordering system. Even if you don’t speak Russian you can just point at what you’d like and the friendly staff will show you your total on a calculator. The price will likely shock you. I’ve been inside here many times and ordered a complete feast of food, only for my total to come up just south of $2!
You’ve traversed the territory of a breakaway state since the early hours and uncovered bullet-riddled Lenin heads, Soviet tanks, and more weird and wonderful sights than you can shake a hammer and sickle at. You deserve to sit down for a rest and a hearty dinner and luckily, Transnistria has more than enough worthy options.
One of our favorite dinner spots in Transnistria is 7 Fridays. Located in the center of Tiraspol, it’s a Transnistrian institution. Don’t be intimidated by the number of menus they give you, but this place serves almost everything: Russian, American, Japanese, and more! The food can sometimes take a while but it’s worth the wait and you can kick back with some local Transnistrian beer whilst you wait. Which brings us onto our next point!
Another dinner spot in Transnistria is Andy’s Pizza. This is a chain restaurant that runs through Transnistria and Moldova respectively. They have two extensive menus full of local food and western food. Naturally, we recommend their pizzas which are huge, cheap, and pretty epic!
Alcohol in Transnistria
Transnistria has a wide range of local alcohol
that’s a must-try when in the country if you drink. We’ve undertaken the
arduous journey of sampling them all so you can limit yourself to the best of
Kvint Cognac – Legally, you can’t call it Cognac as it’s not from the Cognac region of France. However, when you write it in Cyrillic and produce it in a country that (technically) doesn’t exist then you can get away with it. It starts at around $3 a bottle but goes up depending on the age of the batch.
Volk Vodka – a classic beverage everyone is keen to try on their first trip to Transnistria is vodka. In our opinion, locally produced Volk (wolf) vodka is by far the best and like most things in Transnistria, is very cheap despite being pretty high-quality alcohol.
Our Beer (Nashe Pivo) – locally produced Transnistrian beer is called the pretty unoriginal name of ‘Our Beer’, however, it’s damn good!
Top 5 foods to try in Transnistria
Russian Sushi – Ok, hear me out. Transnistria is located entirely on the River Dniester which has an abundance of fish. The Russian’s in Transnistria make a range of excellent Sushi using fresh produce from the river and it is very tasty!
Pelmeni – for those who love dumplings, Russian dumplings are called Pelmeni and are seriously moreish! They can be filled with potatoes, meat, cabbage, or cheese and often come with a sour cream dressing or mushroom sauce. Perfect for cold winter nights or a summer snack!
Borscht – Another classic Russian dish is Borscht. A cabbage soup made with or without meat, trying an authentic Russian made Borscht is a must-do when in Transnistria.
Transnistrian Pizza – Don’t miss the chance to try out Transnistrian pizza at Andy’s Pizza or other restaurants, it’s a solid contender for many other countries known for their pizza making.
Transnistrian smoked cheese – a perfect accompaniment with Transnistrian beer, the locally made smoked cheese is shaped like a rope tied in a knot. It’s heavily smoked and salted. An acquired taste, but if you like it it’s guaranteed to get you hooked!