Local Russian restaurateurs still like to think that a die-hard soccer fan would travel thousands of miles for nothing less than a meal of baked home-grown sturgeon served with a bucket of beef aspic a-la mode and some buckwheat blini (all available only at their fancy place). Ok, whatever. But here’s a list of proven good casual places in the center of the city, where they serve fast and the food is more familiar and hot.
(Piskunova street, 15)
All kinds of pasta with all kinds of toppings and seasoning. Wide selection of drinks: champagne, fruit water, beer, wine and even Russian black tea in a trademark cup holder.
The place looks like an ideal Soviet canteen that never existed.
(Bolshaya Pokrovskaya, 2)
Again, a Soviet-style place that would have never lasted a single day in the USSR. They serve Asian noodles here, very affordable prices, the place is frequented by students and hip people.
(Bolshaya Pokrovskaya, 42)
All American burgers in a very loud youth-oriented place, hosted by the self-proclaimed Russian Rap Czar Timati.
The burgers are nicely fat and hot, the place is booming (partly because they play Russian rap here all the time) .
This place is a bit more sophisticated, but it still serves good and tasty burgers — not only with beef, but with other kinds of meat, fish and poultry. Vegan burgers too. Be prepared for an orderly line for the burgers on the weekend, there are DJ sets and grill parties here, this is definitely a local hub for the hip and trendy.
A very classy, natural and cosmopolitan place in the center of Russian province. There are only a couple of seats there, so take it away and eat in a nearby park
Top Hot Dog
(Minina street, 2)
Go for a chicken hot dog with french fries and ketchup, it won’t disappoint you. Also it’s not the finely-ground sausage hot-dogs you’re probably used to — it’s more of an Italian sausage, and it’s grilled, not baked or boiled. With a whole meal of greens, cheese and mustard on top.
(ул. Октябрьская, 9а)
This is a classy Italian-style pizza place that could have opened anywhere, but somehow opened in Nizhny Novgorod. They also serve good wine there.
Gyro/Doner-kebab/Shawarma and alike
(Nebo Mall, 5th floor)
If you’re feeling adventurous and end up getting on the 5th floor of this rather maze-like mall, there’s an oriental food place there where you can dine without the risk of being served something awful.
The legendary place for Russian Doner-kebab. Be warned: in Russia they ALWAYS add a lot of mayo, spicy carrot salad and also sometimes pickles, french fries and cabbage! Of course, this only makes the dish better. This is the staple for taxi-drivers and students — and they can’t be wrong. There are a few booths and walk-ins where they serve the shawarma, find the one where there’s a line of hungry people.
Orinental Shawarma #1
Same as above, but it’s an actual place, with a couple of tables, some service and some other oriental dishes served.
I can see how it would be a real quest to find this place, but it’s definitely worth it — here they serve a hearty portion of meatballs with rice/potatoes on the side, and unlike some other foods above, this is both a healthy and a nourishing choice.
(Bolshaya Pokrovskaya, 15)
A great place for people who like chickpea, hummus, lentil, couscous, muhammara and other fancy Middle-east words. They serve a few authentic eastern dishes here, some beer, tea, coffee and desert. Also they play some nice music and it’s a very democratic place (in Russia it means they let well-behaved dogs inside and don’t frown upon little kids).