A Foodie’s Guide to Tallinn Restaurants

I didn’t have many expectations of Tallinn – capital of Estonia, the northernmost Baltic country on the border with Russia. And yet this quiet, compact, clean and efficient city enchanted me. Its walled, cobbled Old Town is much like many others throughout Europe, but the relative lack of tourists make it far more enjoyable to explore. The Kalamaja neighbourhood to the north is a combination of traditional wooden workers’ homes, hipster street art and modern docklands. While surrounding the centre and to the east in Kadriorg Park, there’s so much green that Tallinn is also paradise for dogs and their owners.

Estonian food was also unexpected: despite having had several Tallinn restaurants recommended to me, I hadn’t anticipated how big the flavours would be. The Estonians are no strangers to spice and citrus, smoke and salt. Big game, like elk and mousse, feature on lots of menus, as do smoked fish and pickled anchovies. Bread is dark and malty with rye, and served with salted butter. Vegetables are fresh and in season, which during our stay meant plenty of beetroot and summer leafy greens. The craft beer scene also seems to be hopping (pun very much intended) and there’s so much to interest wine lovers that I’ve created an entirely separate guide to wine bars in Tallinn. In short, this Medieval-meets-modern city has much to recommend it.

Travel to, and accommodation in, Tallinn, Estonia

Before you can explore Tallinn’s restaurants, you’re going to need to get there! At the time of writing, airBaltic, LOT Polish Airlines and Ryanair fly direct to Tallinn, but you can compare times and prices on sites like SkyscannerExpedia and GoEuro. Tallinn city centre is extremely walkable, and the public transport works well, but we also found the Bolt taxis to be very convenient and affordable. The first time I visited Tallinn, I stayed at the Kreutzwald Hotel, which is well located and very good value (you can still get a room for under €100 per night, which is almost unheard of these days). The rooms were clean and comfortable, and the staff very helpful.

Best restaurants in Tallinn Old Town

Known as Vanalinn in Estonian, Tallinn Old Town is every bit the charming, cobbled, walled city that characterises so many European capitals. But Tallinn’s Old Town is even older than most, with much of the architecture dating back to Medieval and Hanseatic times (as Mr Foodie said, it looks like the original that Disneyland was based on). Food-wise, you’ll find everything from traditional “Medieval” fare to modern European fine dining to authentic Asian cuisine.

Rataskaevu 16 / Rataskaevu-väike

Rataskaevu 16 is in fact just the street address of this restaurant that couldn’t come up with a name. But it must be doing something right, as it seems to be perpetually fully booked! The same owners have therefore opened another, smaller branch, just around the corner – known as Rataskaevu-väike (little Rataskaevu) – where the menu is almost the same but a touch smaller, and the interior is all warm brick, wood and tile.

Rataskaevu’s signature three-cheese pie

I visited both and tried several options from the menu – including old favourites and new additions. The starters of beetroot tartare and three-cheese pie were both popping with big Baltic flavour. Braised elk with mustard seeds and blackcurrant was every bit as savoury, tart, sweet and spicy as I remembered it. And a new dish of pork ribs with creamy sauerkraut sauce plus salty bacon and crisp apple was a flavoursome triumph. The service was as warm as the atmosphere, and we had a delicious bottle of Txakoli rosé from the Basque Country which (surprisingly) went well with almost everything. Rataskaevu is a great example of the range Estonian food has to offer, and makes a perfect first or last night in Tallinn.

Olde Hansa Medieval Restaurant

Entering Olde Hansa is like stepping back in time… You’ll be greeted by a costume-clad waiter (or wench) who will speak to you in appropriately olde English (I can only assume the staff affect some kind of ancient Estonian for the local guests). Beer is infused with honey or herbs and comes in clay jugs. Lighting probably isn’t actually by candlelight but it feels like it is. And the Hanseatic-inspired food ranges from smoked fish to bear sausage to haggis. While Olde Hansa might look and sound like a tourist trap, leave your preconceptions at the door because the food is surprisingly good and the experience is definitely something to tell the folks back home.

Smoked fish platter and Medieval beers at Olde Hansa

III Draakon

Speaking of indulging your inner tourist… Housed beneath Tallinn’s Town Hall, III Draakon looks like a hole-in-the-wall, but behind the heavy wooden door you’ll find a dark Medieval tavern, complete with terrifying Medieval landlady. She’ll sell you meat pies, elk soup, ox sausages and local cider – and you’ll pay not with euros but with “monies”. Just don’t forget to save one extra money for the landlady!

Medieval pies and landladies at III Draakon

Tblisi Tavern

There’s a significant Georgian influence in Tallinn, so it’s no surprise that you’ll also find a few Georgian restaurants in the city. We tried Tblisi Tavern, which was a good introduction to Georgian food and wine: kubdari pies stuffed with cheese or pork, tsakapuli soup laden with stewed lamb and fresh herbs, and Georgian wines both dry and sweet (try the Mukuzani). My only complaint was that the food came rather fast, implying that it was all sitting in the kitchen being kept warm (or cold) rather than being made to order.

Straight outta Georgia: Tblisi


I love pretty much any and all dumplings, and Russian pelmeni are no exception. In Tallinn, you can eat tasty and good-value pelmeni at the eponymously named Pelmen on the southeastern edge of Old Town. We tried the classic version stuffed with beef and pork, as well as a slightly fancier version filled with duck and thyme. Both came with a cooling yoghurt sauce and cost under €10 a portion.


Swedish log cabin meets gastropub is the vibe you’ll get at Pööbel, on the western outskirts of Vannalinn. The food feels similarly northern European: we enjoyed the hot smoked salmon salad and dill-yoghurt dressing, plus the lamb patties with a sweet pepper and tomato stew. Prices are reasonable, and Pööbel has a large outdoor terrace under the trees that’s perfect for keeping cool on a warm summer’s day.

Smoked salmon salad at Pööbel

Kanuti Ramen Bar

One rainy hungover Sunday in Tallinn, we were craving the comforting warmth of a hearty soup. Kanuti was tantalisingly close to our apartment, so we dashed over for a bowl of Japanese ramen. The artwork and music were giving off serious hotel lobby vibes, so we didn’t have particularly high hopes. Luckily, however, first impressions were entirely wrong. My broth was made from a creamy combo of beef, chicken and vegetables, seasoned with spicy miso. The noodles were excellent, the pork chashu meltingly tender and generously portioned, the eggs perfectly jammy. I was in ramen heaven.

Ramen heaven at Kanuti


Brunch can still be a tricky proposition in many European cities, so we were pleased to stumble across 5Senses. Don’t be put off by the slightly terrifying proprietor (he’s a sweetheart and a dog lover underneath his brusque mannerisms). Instead, order a flat white and a plate of huevos rancheros or Turkish eggs. Big flavours that hold their own on the international brunch scene – although portion sizes could be a little bigger.

Eggs two ways at 5Senses

Beer House

My last recommendation in the Old Town, Beer House looks like a German beer hall with its long wooden tables and ginormous handled beer glasses – not to mention the costumes of the waiting staff. But don’t let all that cheesiness put you off because the beer is fantastic. My favourite was the Medovar Honey – an easy-drinking amber ale – soaked up with a few juustupallid (fried cheese balls) and õlleampsud (smoked strips of pork with onion). We went looking for Estonia’s answer to borrelhapjes, and we found them.

Best Tallinn restaurants in Kalamaja and Telliskivi neighbourhoods

Telliskivi is a highly hipster, street-art-clad sub-neighbourhood of Kalamaja that’s dubbed the “Creative City” of Tallinn. Somehow, it’s not as annoying as it sounds. I loved visiting Fotografiska (Tallinn’s popular photography museum), browsing the vintage shops, and digital nomading from the co-working cafés before popping into Balti Jaam market on my way home.


One such café is F-Hoone, a veritable Tallinn institution with a huge area both inside and out. It serves good value meals and drinks, with an all-day menu to suit a range of occasions. I enjoyed a late “Kalamaja Breakfast,” which involved smoked salmon, fried egg, bacon, hash browns and avocado, plus toasted bread with curried hummus and red pepper cream cheese for spreading purposes. A hearty start to the day.

The “Kalamaja breakfast” at F-Hoone

One Sixty Smokehouse

Designed for BBQ lovers, One Sixty Smokehouse occupies another of the converted factory buildings in Telliskivi. (Presumably one that had something to do with motorbikes, as it now features biker paraphernalia adorning every corner of the restaurant.) The menu is all classic American: think pork ribs, buffalo wings and southern fried chicken. We found the food to be a little hit and miss, but then again we cook a lot of American BBQ at home so we’re pretty picky… If Franklin isn’t your benchmark, I’d venture to say you’ll be happy enough. Throw in the flowing house beer and friendly service, and One Sixty is still worth a visit.


The interior at restaurant Ülo is a modern take on a trendy 1970s apartment, but the menu is definitely 2024. To start, try one of their original sours from the cocktail menu (I loved the sweet-meets-tart “Sloe Sour”) before moving onto the veg-led food menu. Grilled cabbage is possibly my new favourite vegetable, and at Ülo it came in a creamy walnut and mustard-seed sauce with crunchy pecans. Trout is big business in Estonia: here, it was given the slow-cooking treatment and served with a rich, buttery, chorizo-laced potato purée. The flavours were bold and the service superb.

Duck tacos and sloe sour at Ülo

Põhjala Brewery & Tap Room

Põhjala is a household name in Estonian beer – you’ll see the brand in shops and on menus all over Tallinn. But for the best tasting experience, head to Põhjala Brewery & Tap Room – housed in a huge location near the coast in Kalamaja. Upstairs, you can order from 24 own-brewed beers on tap, while the kitchen serves a very convincing line in Texan BBQ. Both the pork ribs and the pork belly were properly smoky and meltingly tender, served with crunchy coleslaw, pickles and a roll. As if that wasn’t enough, we also ordered the smoked chicken, Greek salad and elote (a street corn-style salad with feta). Everything was top notch, and was washed down well with several glasses of Põhjala’s beers. It was a hot summer’s evening, so our preference went to the refreshing Orange Gose, Sun City and Juicy IPA. But in winter, I have no doubt the dark beers are just as good.

Lore Bistroo

Out on what we dubbed “Tallinn Houthavens” (the gentrified docklands of Kalamaja), you’ll find Lore Bistroo in a roomy, industrial space that’s casual and relaxed at the same time as having been awarded a Bib Gourmand from Michelin. In fact, Lore is so relaxed that they have toys and books for children dotted around the restaurant, and they welcome dogs inside as well. Bonus, if you have babies or fur babies!

Lore Bistroo, where dinner is served like afternoon tea!

We chose the “Lore Experience”, which was made up of six courses to share. The first three came stacked on the kind of contraption I usually associate with afternoon tea, and included an excellent beef tartare, marinated Jerusalem artichokes with leeks, and burrata with avocado chimichurri. Again, all three were bursting with far more flavour than I’d have expected from their descriptions on the menu. Mains included lightly smoked trout with peas, fennel and potatoes, plus beef tenderloin with roasted carrots, chanterelles and a cognac-pepper sauce. They were a little less innovative than the starters but still well made. And the atmosphere made for a special evening out.

Best Tallinn restaurants in Rotermann and Kadriorg Park


Just east of the Old Town is the Rotermanni Quarter: a sort of downtown area, full of what look to be converted factory buildings (if an Amsterdam reference helps, this is the Westergasfabriek of Tallinn) but now brimming with restaurants, bars, shops and offices. Further east still, you’ll walk through a rather grey zone before reaching the edge of Kadriorg Park – a huge green space that’s home to Kadriorg Palace’s grand Baroque architecture and Versailles-esque gardens as well as several art museums. In between all that culture, you’ll of course find plenty of good food too…


On the spectrum of what I suppose should be described as Estonian-Asian fusion food is restaurant Salt – a tiny space near Kadriorg Park, with tables crammed together, an even smaller kitchen and a menu that leans heavily on seafood. As you might anticipate from my description so far, the dishes at Salt are a veritable flavour bomb: scallops ceviche came with mango and a green foam that tasted of both shiso and ponzu. Okonomiyaki was authentically Japanese but with (presumably) locally caught shrimp and squid. Octopus with crispy potatoes and salad sounds more pedestrian, but was elevated by a feisty dressing of basil and olives. And Thai-style mussels were genuinely spicy, but worked perfectly with our bottle of Weissburgunder. I couldn’t get enough of this place, and I’m happy to report that it was just as good when I went back two years later.

Thai-style mussels at Salt

Mantel & Korsten

Sporting a green Michelin star, Mantel & Korsten is nestled into the edge of the park, surrounded by trees. Inside, the culinary offering is similarly nature-led while the interior feels calm and restful. We opted for the five-course tasting menu with paired wines, and were particularly impressed by the truffle arancini with shaved smoked duck, and the tomato tartare that somehow took on the texture and umami flavour of beef. The wine pairings were also spot on: with dessert, we were served an Estonian apple ice wine that was unlike anything I’ve tasted before. All of this doesn’t come cheap, but Mantel & Korsten is a lovely location for a special occasion.

Truffle arancini at Mantel & Korsten

NOP Shop and Café

In the same direction, and with a terrace that’s as green as Kadriorg Park itself, NOP Café is serving up some of the best (and best value) brunch dishes in Tallinn. The latke with fried egg, bacon, red cabbage kimchi and sour cream was a fantastic fusion of flavours that was both Estonian and very international. The hummus with chimichurri, aubergine, picked carrots and sourdough made a healthy yet luxurious light lunch. NOP caters very well to vegetarians, vegans and a number of other dietary requirements, and many of their products are available to buy from the organic shop as well.

Brunch at NOP


Escaping a rain storm in Rotermann, we dived into R14 by accident. Happy accident, that is, because it turned out to be a wine bar, shop and restaurant in one, all housed in a converted power plant. That first time, we drank an excellent glass or two of pink bubbles made from the Sicilian Nero d’Avola grape, but then only lightly pressed to create a sparkling rosé rather than a fruity red. We were hooked, so we went back for a second visit for dinner on another occasion. Although everything we ate was pleasant enough, I had some serious food envy – wishing I’d ordered Mr Foodie’s picks rather than my own. His scallop tartare with salty trout roe and tart marinated rhubarb on a kind of chickpea tostada was an inspired fusion of flavours, while the main of chicken with dual sauces of lime yoghurt and sweet-spicy red pepper reminded me of a similar dish I’d eaten (and loved) in Amsterdam.

Wine bar, shop and restaurant R14


Also in the Rotermanni Quarter, very close to R14, you’ll find an industrial yet cosy little bar serving Alsatian flammkuchen and a range of wines (two of my favourite things). You can’t go wrong with a classic flammkuchen, topped with cream cheese, speck and red onions, but don’t be scared to go off-piste either: we loved the “Grüezi” with Swiss cheese, black truffle, rosemary and rocket. Try one of Flamm’s Alsace whites or their Syrah-Grenache blend from the Languedoc if you’re in the mood for a red.

Creative Flammkuchen and Alsace wines at Flamm

Baltic bound? Check out my foodie guides to Vilnius, Lithuania and Riga, Latvia while you’re here! And if you’re a wine lover, be sure to read my guide to Tallinn’s wine bars – coming soon…


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