Index Café

Art Nouveau District

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My initial plan for the day was to have breakfast at Rocket Bean Roastery before heading to the art nouveau district. However, when I got to Rocket Bean Roastery, it was closed. I had forgotten to check to see if it was open. So I google-searched the area for a cafe open at that hour, and Index café came up. Index café is a coffee chain that is ideally located in the art nouveau district.

The interior was somewhat dim with yellowish lighting but had a calm and quiet ambiance. The café offers various seating – bay window seats, banquette seatings, and high-top tables with stools. The service was mediocre. The staff doesn’t seem to show any ownership of the establishment.

I ordered the French breakfast consisting of croissants, brie cheese, butter, orange marmalade, seasonal fruits (€ 5.50), and a cappuccino (€3). The cappuccino did not look nor taste like a cappuccino; the milk foam was underdone. The French breakfast was a letdown. The croissant tasted like store-bought, and the baguette slices were hard ( they should not have put it through a sandwich press).

Other than being located in a beautiful part of the town, I am not impressed with this café.

 

Index Café

Website: http://www.indexcafe.lv/

Telephone: +371 67 806 409

Opening hours: Monday to Friday 7:30 a.m. – 19:00 p.m.

Saturday 9:00 a.m. – 19:00 p.m.

Sunday 9:00 a.m. – 18:00 p.m.

Address: Antonijas iela 12, Centra rajons, Rīga, LV-1010, Latvia

 

Café by Ķīšezers lake

Cabo café is located on the shores of the beautiful Ķīšezers lake. This laid-back café is open all year round with a huge terrace overlooking the lake. It is a popular surfer hangout spot in the summer. The restaurant also offers a sports academy providing classes on various water sports activities.

I cycled from Riga’s old town, and it took about 45 minutes. It was a delightful bike ride. I got to see the suburbs of Riga and stunning European-style houses in the wealthy Mežaparks residential area.

Customer service was pretty much non-existent. I entered the café, and no one greeted me. Two staff walked past me and completely ignored me. I did not feel welcomed. The restaurant uses a paging system, whereby customers are given a digital coaster after placing an order. When the food is ready, the coaster will beep, and the customer is to take the coaster to the counter and pick up their food.

I got the creamy tomato soup with basil-pesto sauce and croutons for lunch. The soups have a half or full portion option. I went with the half portion for the creamy tomato soup for 2.90 euros. The Pasta Carbonara was 6.20 euros. The soup tasted like a cream of tomato soup. The croutons were lightly sautéed, so they became very soggy in the soup. The carbonara was a substantial portion. It was very rich and overbearingly creamy. I ate about 1/3 of the pasta and could not take another bite.

It was not an exciting meal experience.

If not in the area, I would not make a special trip to this café – terrible service and mediocre food.

Cabo Café

Websitehttp://www.cabo.lv/

Telephone: +371 28 639 556

Opening hours: Monday to Sunday 11:00 a.m. – 22:00 p.m.

Address: Roberta Feldmaņa iela 8A, Ziemeļu rajons, Rīga, LV-1014, Latvia

 

A taste of Punjab

Singh’s in an Indian restaurant boasting authentic Northwestern Indian and Punjab cuisine. There are three branches in Riga. I went to the one on Ģertrūdes street. There are two floors. The 2nd floor has three dining halls suited for private dining and events. The decor has a subtle Indian, yet modern flair with dark wood leather upholstered chairs; red, orange, green, and white square ceramic tiles; three big black and white pictures on the wall of what seemed like India during colonial times.

The service was good, but the waitresses lacked emotion and connection.

I ordered a plain papadum (2.50 euros), Murgh Makhani (pieces of chicken cooked with tomato and ground cashews in rich buttery sauce) (9.95 euros), plain basmati rice (2.95 euros), and a coke (2.50 euros).

The papadum was huge. The biggest papadum I have had was the size of a teenager’s hand. It was a new papadum eating experience for me. Some dips came along with the dish (three different types of chutneys and an onion salad). I have only eaten papadum either on its own or with rice and curry.
I wanted something spicy, so I asked the waitress if they could make the curry spicier. The waitress told me that it is quite spicy, and I assured her that I can handle the heat (having the stereotypical thinking that it’s Europe, they don’t eat spicy food… how spicy can it be?). True enough, it was spicier than I expected. The chicken pieces were tender; unfortunately, the buttery tomato sauce was not prominent. However, I have had spicy curries in the past, and it was full of flavors.

Honestly, I was not blown away by the food. However, I was not a fan of the price either; it was a little high.

 

Singh’s

Website: http://www.singhs.lv/

Telephone: +371 66 220 000

Opening hours: Monday to Thursday 11:00 a.m. – 23:00 p.m.

Friday 11:00 a.m. – 12:00 a.m.

Saturday 12:00 p.m. – 12:00 a.m.

Sunday 12:00 p.m. – 22:00 p.m.

Address: Ģertrūdes iela 32, Centra rajons, Rīga, LV-1011, Latvia

Café for coffee lovers

Rocket bean roastery located on Dzirnavu is a specialty coffee house. It is just a block away from the art nouveau district. The café has a chill vibe with big glass windows and a retro, rustic style decor. There is soft electronic music playing in the background.

Their main branch is located on Miera street and is also their coffee production site. In addition, the main branch occasionally organizes coffee cuppings, training, and educational trips. Rocket bean roastery roasts their own coffee, and it can be purchased at both cafés. Lunch and dinner menus are available.

I got to the café around 11:00 a.m. I wanted to order a pancake, but they were no longer taking breakfast orders at that hour. There was one last open sandwich with arugula, sun-dried tomatoes, pickled cucumber, and an egg in the glass display case. The guy behind the counter suggested that I could order that. So I got the sandwich (3.50 euros) and a Cappuccino (3.40 euros). The Cappuccino was aromatic, intense, creamy, full-bodied, and bitter without being overwhelming. At the bottom of the cup, there is a picture of a thumbs up with a phrase ( Vella milti, ku’ labs). I tried looking up what the phrase means but had no luck. I did find that the word “labs” in Latvian means good. If I had to make a guess, it could probably mean’ good job for finishing the coffee.’
The sandwich was light and healthy. Fresh ingredients on rye bread with sesame dressing.

A cool place to hang out and have a great cup of coffee.

 

Rocket Bean Roastery (Dzirnavu)

Website: http://www.rocketbean.lv/

Telephone: +371 27 337 746

Opening hours: Monday to Friday 8:00 a.m. – 21:00 p.m.

Saturday to Sunday (closed)

Address: Dzirnavu iela 39, Centra rajons, Rīga, LV-1010, Latvia

Rocket Bean Roastery (Miera street)

Telephone: +371 20 215 120

Opening hours: Monday to Friday 8:00 a.m.- 21:00 p.m.

Saturday and Sunday 9:0 a.m. – 21:00 p.m.

Address: Miera iela 29, Centra rajons, Rīga, LV-1001, Latvia

Where the locals eat

My local tour guide and Airbnb host recommended this buffet restaurant chain for Latvian cuisine to me. It is where the locals go, especially for lunch. There are 16 branches in Riga, and the locations are available on their webpage. The biggest and most impressive Lido restaurant is the Lido leisure center. It is located in a three-story log building with a garden, a winter skating rink, and an amusement park. The restaurant’s basement is the brewery, the ground floor is the buffet restaurant, and the third floor is for fine dining.

The Lido restaurants serve almost the same food, with bigger branches serving a more extensive range of choices. There are salads, starters, poultry, meat, fish, potatoes, drinks, desserts…etc. Not only is the food impressive, but the price is reasonable. I was amazed at how cheap it was for the variety and amount of food I ordered. The ingredients were fresh and of good quality. The flavors of the food have both western and eastern European influences.

Lido Vermanitis is the largest chain near the old town. I ordered three different kinds of salad (beet salad with pickled cucumbers, spinach salad, potato salad with yogurt dill dressing), chicken pilaf, fried boiled potato, turkey meatballs in carrot tomato sauce, and solyanka soup. All of these cost me 10.50 euros, a pretty sweet deal! It was truly a satisfying lunch!

Lido Ģertrūde is a bistro restaurant that also serves breakfast. It has a small selection of food. As my apartment was close by, I came here for dinner. I did not want anything too heavy, so I went vegetarian. I ordered the basmati rice with vegetables, mashed potatoes, and steamed vegetables, and it cost me only 5.50 euros. The mashed potato was creamy and smooth. The rice was savory and sweet (from the raisins)… delicious!

I highly recommend this place for affordable mouthwatering Latvian food. Visit the larger branches such as Vermanitis and leisure center for more food selections. As they are also more popular, it may be difficult to find a table during lunch hour. If you decide to go for lunch, try to go early or after 2pm (my experience).

 

Lido

Website: https://www.lido.lv/en/

Lido Vērmanītis

Opening hours: Monday to Sunday 10:00 a.m. – 22:00 p.m.

Telephone: +371 67 221 318

Lido Ģertrūde

Opening hours: Sunday to Thursday 8:00 a.m. – 22:00 p.m.

Friday 8:00 a.m. – 12:00 a.m.

Saturday 24 hours

Telephone: +371 27 800 633

Caffeine roasters

Caffeine roasters, also known as Caffeine LV, serve freshly brewed coffee, cakes, snacks, and salads. Depending on the coffee, some come in one size, two sizes, and three sizes. For example, milk-based coffee drinks come in three sizes (small, medium, large).

I made my way over to the Caffeine roasters located on Brīvības 76 for breakfast. The cafe was spacious, not cluttered with furniture. There are leather couches located in the front of the cafe. The place looked a bit old and did not feel inviting. The other branches of Caffeine roasters have a more modern, attractive decor. The service was okay, and the staff who took my order was not warm.

 

 

I ordered a vegetable quiche for 1.95 euros and a medium Cappuccino for 2.15 euros. The Cappuccino was good, and the quiche was decent. Unfortunately, there was a lot of cottage cheese (Latvians love cottage cheese). For me, that overpowered the other flavors. I was looking forward to a more eggy, savory quiche.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Caffeine LV ( Brīvības 76)

Website: https://caffeine.lv/

Opening hours: Monday to Thursday 7:00 a.m. – 21:00 p.m.

Friday 7:00 a.m. – 22:00 p.m.

Saturday  to Sunday 9:00 a.m. – 21:00 p.m.

Telephone: +371 27 757 341

Address: Brīvības iela 76, Centra rajons, Rīga, LV-1010, Latvia

A cozy cafe for the sweet tooth

Kūkotava is located a few shops away from Lido Vērmanītis. This cozy and warm cafe offers a variety of cakes, pastries, pies, and cookies. One can watch the bakers work in their open-plan kitchen behind the counter as you wait for your order.

I visited the cafe for two consecutive days, each after a long day of exploring the city. The staff behind the counter’s attitude was not welcoming. He had a serious look and sounded impatient. I don’t recall seeing a menu, and there were no English labels for the food. I had to point and ask about each cake or pastry. As there were people behind me and I did not want to hold the line, I chose a few to ask and pick the one I like best.

I ordered a pistachio mousse cake (3.50 euros), a berry cake (3.50 euros), and a cup of hot cacao (2.45 euros). The hot cacao was kind of like a latte, light with a bit of foam. It is also sugar-free; thus, it was the perfect pairing for the cakes. Both cakes were tasty; I especially enjoyed the pistachio mousse cake. It was rich and creamy, with a hint of pistachio flavor; it reminded me of a pannacotta. The berry cake had a creamy gelatin texture with a more fruity sour taste.

I love this cafe because it is relatively quiet, and there are a lot more dessert choices compared to other places.

 

Kūkotava

Website: https://www.kukotava.eu/en/

Opening hours: Monday to Friday 8:00 a.m. – 20:00 p.m. , Saturday to Sunday 10:00 a.m. – 18:00 p.m.

Telephone: +371 67 283 808

Address: Tērbatas iela 10/12, Centra rajons, Rīga, LV-1050, Latvia

 

Uzbekistāna

Located in a quiet neighborhood, in a charming house with a cozy outdoor seating area, Uzbekistana serves traditional Uzbek dishes like shashlik and pilaf. Uzbekistana’s menu offers an array of soups, salads, hot dishes, snacks, and desserts. The interior walls are decorated with Uzbek elements such as instruments, pictures, ceramic plates, and tubeteikas (Central Asian caps); the floor is covered with vivid red Uzbek carpets, bamboo ceilings, Uzbek music playing in the background, and staff dressed in traditional Uzbek clothing. When you enter the restaurant, it’s like being transported to Uzbekistan. Kudos to the owner for the beautiful decor, which gives customers a glimpse into the culture.

The waitress who served me was nice. She spoke in a friendly tone with a smile. I visited the restaurant for dinner.

I ordered a Borscht (3.95 euros) and a lamb pilaf (9.95 euros). The cream came separately with the Borscht, which was perfect as I did not want too much cream in my soup. The soup was more on the sweet side, but the natural sweetness that comes from vegetables, somewhat different from the Russian Borscht.

The pilaf was aromatic and delicious; mutton pieces tender. The rice was a bit too oily; however, the fresh tomato slices and cucumber were a great palate cleanser. Initially, I did not think much of the dish, but the more I ate, a gentle crescendo of flavors slowly unfolds in my mouth.

This is a good place for those who would like to try something different from European cuisine. I would be interested to come back to try the other dishes.

 

Uzbekistāna

Website: http://www.uzbekistana.lv/en/

Telephone: 

Opening hours: 12:00 p.m. – 23:00 p.m. Daily

Address: Bruņinieku iela 33, Centra rajons, Rīga, LV-1001, Latvia

Miit, a vegetarian cafe

Once a bicycle workshop, this trendy hipster cafe is now a popular hangout spot for the locals. Miit offers vegetarian food and freshly baked cakes to go with your coffee. The baristas at Miit are young and professional. The cafe uses specialty coffee beans from small coffee-growing farms worldwide and uses different brewing methods to make your desired cup of coffee. There are also live music performances on Friday and Saturday evenings. Coffee beans and various teas are available for purchase as well.

Brunch is offered on weekdays for 5 euros. It was a simple spread of waffles, various salads, potatoes, omelets, jams, and bread when I was there. It was okay; the waffles were a bit dry due to being out in the open, and the salads were a little salty. My favorite is the coffee. I loved the coffee so much that I went back the second day for breakfast. I am a fan of Cappuccino. The Cappuccino here has a slight intensity tempered by a mild sweetness accompanied with cocoa-like aromatic notes. Personally, my most enjoyable cup of coffee. After having coffee here, I stopped adding sugar to my coffee and learning to enjoy and savor the natural flavors of the coffee.

An excellent place for healthy food and a good cup of coffee!

 

Miit

Website: http://www.miit.lv/

Opening hours: Monday  7:00 a.m. – 21:00p.m. , Tuesday to Thursday 7:00 a.m. – 23:00 p.m., Friday 7:00 a.m. – 1:00 a.m.,  Saturday 9:00 a.m. – 23:00 p.m., Sunday 10:00 a.m. – 18:00 p.m.

Telephone:+371 2889 1351

Address: Lāčplēša iela 10, Centra rajons, Rīga, LV-1010, Latvia

An elegant experience at The Dome Fish Restaurant

The Dome Hotel’s The Dome Fish restaurant located in the old town, Riga, serves delicious fish dishes using fresh seasonal ingredients, which are prepared by chef Sergei Siporov, who was trained in Michelin-starred restaurants outside of Latvia. Most of the restaurant’s fish source comes directly from small local fisheries.

The restaurant is elegantly decorated with dark wood furniture, upholstered chairs accompanied with a seat cushion, and dark wood tables draped with a pristine white tablecloth. The warm color palette of the interior, along with soft lighting and jazz music in the background, created an atmospheric ambiance. There is a small alfresco dining area with two tables.

Aside from the A la carte menu, the restaurant offers business lunch during weekdays and dinner on the rooftop terrace from April to October. Their daily business lunch menu is available on their Facebook page.

The staff was well-mannered and attentive; they laid out the table with care and grace. When I was about to leave, the waiter who served me apologized for the poor service, which took me by surprise because I thought the service was excellent.

I decided on the 2-course business lunch for 10.50 euros. For the 3-course, it would be 13.50 euros.  I had the catch of the day with pumpkin puree, bulgur nut salad, lemongrass, and lemongrass coconut sauce. For the dessert, I went for the Balsam panna cotta with berry sauce and granola.

I was served bread accompanied by a black rock creatively adorned with whipped butter. The bread was hands down one of the best I have had in a restaurant. It was fresh and tasted like sweet rye bread. The crust had a slight crunch with a firm but soft inside.

Each dish was like a piece of art, each one beautifully plated. The catch of the day was the orange trout. It looked simple but packed with sophisticated, nuanced flavors. The trout is beautifully cooked with perfectly crisp skin. The sauce was deliciously savory and sweet, but umami. The addition of chervil added a lovely minty-like taste that accentuated the flavor of the dish. The panna cotta was refreshing. The sourish berry nutty flavor (from the sauce with the granola) was an excellent accompaniment to the sweet custard.

The lunch was intensely satisfying. I got to savor an interesting and creative combination of tastes. An elegant, memorable gastronomic dining experience!

 

 

Le Dome Fish Restaurant

Website: https://www.domehotel.lv/en/restaurant

Telephone: +371 67 509 010

Opening hours:Weekdays 7:00 a.m. – 23:00 p.m.  Weekends 8:00 a.m. – 23:00 p.m.

Address: