Saint Petersburg is known as the cultural capital of Russia, so it’s only natural that you may want to spend less time and money munching away and dedicate the better part of your trip to soaking in all the culture and history it has to offer. We’ve picked 7 spots that will help you save on food in favour of a ballet ticket.
The Chinese canteen
Extremely popular with the locals, this legendary canteen is owned and managed by Chinese immigrants. It’s cheap and simple, but the food is so delicious – an authentic taste you might find in Shanghai or Beijing. Get rice with 3 free toppings, it’ll only cost you ≈$4; add a fizzy drink for ≈$1 or the Chinese pear drink for ≈$2. Tea is complimentary. This place is trying hard to remain the best kept secret and might be a challenge to find: follow the address, enter the yard and go under the arch to the end. Then go into the residential house door and turn right: you’re on the spot!
10 AM – 10 PM
The Canteen №1
A great choice, if you’re on a budget, as you’ll get a full meal for ≈$5 there. The food is nothing pretentious – just the comfort dishes Russians eat every day. There are a lot of options to choose from: salads, fish, meat, pies. Even a picky eater will find something. Here are some menu items: cabbage soup, curry rice, porcupine meatball, berry drink, every dish for ≈$1.
This is a Russian fast food chain: they have a bunch of joints all over the city, both restaurants and small stalls. “Teremok” was what houses owned by the wealthy were called in ancient Russia. Hence, though a chain, with budget friendly fast food, expect to be treated like royalty! Teremok is best known for their blini (crepes) of which there is a huge variety, with meat, fish and sweet fillings, made on the spot. There are also signature Russian dishes like borsch if you want something different. The Borsch costs≈$3, add a crepe with mushroom sauce for ≈$2.That’s a starter and a main for $5!
93 Nevsky Prospect, 11 Bolshaya Morskaya Ulitsa, 3 Vladimirsky Prospect (see the full list here)
Weekdays: 7:30 AM – 11 PM, Saturday, Sunday: 8:30 AM – 10 PM
Pishechnaya (The Donut Café)
This is an iconic place to have a cheap snack. This small café was opened in 1958 and hasn’t changed ever since. If you ever wondered what it was like to live in the Soviet era, this is the place for you. Old-style fried donuts, ordinary milk coffee, bold saleswomen, a lovesome red cat – it all feels like time travel! The prices seem to have frozen in time too: where else can you get 5 donuts for ≈$1? There are several donut joints in this area, so make sure you’re in the right one. Look for the “since 1958” sign.
9 AM – 8 PM
This street food bar offers one of the best shawarmas in town. Shawarma has become a very popular street food in Russia, and there’s even an ongoing battle for whose shawarma is the best. Well, we’ll let you decide on what’s best, what we know for sure is that here you can definitely find one for under $5. They also have other dishes wrapped in tortillas, such as burritos or falafel. The signature shawarma with chicken and vegetables filling is the one you can definitely afford.
32 Gorohovaya Ulitsa; 65 Nevsky Prospect; 10 Naberezhnaya Reki Karpovki; 23 Kronverksky Prospect
11 AM – 11 PM
This is a Russian and Middle Eastern cuisine diner chain. Super friendly and fast service, prices are favorable too. It’s tempting to try cabbage meat rolls (5) or Leningrad-style baked cod with potatoes, but we recommend you go with their special dish cheburek (deep fried meat filled pockets ). For instance, the “Eastern cheburek” with minced lamb, paprika, cilantro and chili pepper, served with salsa sauce, sounds promising and will go for only ≈$3!
Here everyone will discover something suitable for them: late risers will get a breakfast anytime they want (fried eggs with toasts and salad for ≈$3); city explorers running low on fuel can quickly grab a cheap lunch offer (plate of the day served with salad + soup + drink for ≈$4); romantic couples can visit this spot to enjoy a glass of homemade wine (≈$2) before watching the bridges draw. The house DJ sets the mood every weekend with live sets.