Tallinn Budget Restaurants Impress
I didn’t know what to expect as my flight from Stockholm touched down on the tarmac. The Baltics were an unfamiliar part of the world to me but one I had always wanted to explore. After my time in Scandinavia, I was also excited for a more favorable exchange rate. I was on a mission to find some great Tallinn budget restaurants.
I had no idea this wonderful country, its food and people would find a place in my heart. Tallinn is one of the most beautiful and charming places I’ve ever visited. The architecture, walk-ability of the city and close proximity of restaurants and bars in Old Town make this a very fun city in which to spend time.
I found several Tallinn budget restaurants that appeared to have refined, high-quality food at prices in the $6-$12 range. Factor in the many fresh, local ingredients from the Estonian countryside and it makes for a lot of excellent food to enjoy at budget prices. It looked too good to be true and I couldn’t wait to give them a try.
Kompressor – Rataskaevu 3, 10123, Tallinn
“Legendary pancake pub” – Kompressor
For my first lunch I found myself at local favorite Kompressor. They describe their restaurant’s style as a “Legendary pancake pub” near the Old Town Square. Although they call them ‘pancakes’ in much of Europe, they are similar to crepes, served with ingredients wrapped inside.
Both sweet and savory options are offered and the portions are quite large. My personal favorites were the bacon with gouda, and the garlic option. The crepes are slightly sweet but not so much so that it clashes with the savory options. The salmon with smoked cheese was also very good. The cheese in each crepe combined with the sour cream dip can be a bit much so I didn’t eat much of the dip.
They also serve the local style of garlic bread as an appetizer. Their preparation of this dish is to season and roast the black bread and serve it with a garlic dipping sauce. It’s definitely worth a try. My friend and I split this appetizer along with the garlic crepe. Everything was delicious.
Kompressor is open 7 days a week starting at 11am. They also offer beer on draft, in bottles and a wine menu. Orders can be served to their common seating area or ordered to go.
Their complete menu can be found here.
Pegasus – Harju 1, 10146 Tallinn
I was fortunate to come across two fellow foodies in my hostel named Isabelle and Sofie. They had done some research and when they suggested we try local spot Pegasus together and I happily agreed. The three of us dined there on a rainy evening in July and it was one of my most memorable meals in Europe so far.
To start, Isabelle and Sofie ordered the traditional beetroot soup. It was served chilled with pumpkin seeds and a quail egg. They said it was fantastic. I ordered the vegetable broth soup which was served with herbs, a quail egg and a carrot pirukad, a local bread stuffed with meat or vegetables. In this case the pirukad was stuffed with carrots. The soup was rich and was complemented well by the herbs and bread. An incredible dish for around $5.
Our server suggested the goat cheese and eggplant tart as lighter main course. Although this vegetarian dish is not something I would typically order, it sounded interesting and I’m glad we did. Their interpretation of the tart was more as a crispy, flavorful base. This was the first time I saw the term rocket salad, which essentially means mixed greens. The mixed greens were on top of the tart along with the eggplant, goat cheese, pumpkin seeds, tomatoes and a drizzle of vinaigrette dressing.
The flavor and texture combination of the dish were impressive. The rich eggplant and cheese were perfectly complemented by peppery greens, acidic tomatoes and the beautifully done dressing. The texture combination of leafy greens, juicy vegetables and a crunch from the tart was quite enjoyable. All of us agreed we would certainly order the tart again.
The service staff did a fantastic job. Tipping culture is becoming more common in Estonia and we followed the recommended 5-10% of the total bill recommended here.
Although Pegasus doesn’t have a website at this time, their menu can be found here.
Rataskaevu 16 – Rataskaevu 16 Kesklinna Linnaosa, Tallinn
Although I didn’t know it at the time, Rataskaevu 16 is sister restaurant to Pegasus. Its popularity also means you’ll most likely need to make a reservation to get in. We tried a few times to get in on the same day and they were fully booked so we recommend at least a few days’ notice. One of the many Tallinn budget restaurants I enjoyed during my time here, it seemed to cater to a slightly more upscale crowd.
To start, I went with the server’s recommendation of what he considered a true Estonian salad. It was a medley of mixed greens, smoked white fish, radish and a cottage cheese dressing with a dash of olive oil and a squeeze of lemon. Fresh and refreshing, this salad was very flavorful but wasn’t too filling, despite its size. I had never tasted cottage cheese in a dressing format before but it added a nice and light creaminess I enjoyed.
For my main course, I went with another Estonian dish of braised elk with beet, carrot, herbs, black currant sauce and celery puree. The elk was very rich and flavorful and paired well with the currant. The beats and carrots provided an element of sweetness with a little cream from the puree and a final elegant pop of flavor from the sprouts and herbs. The elk appeared to have been roasted closer to a medium well or well, which may be the local style, but typically I would prefer closer to medium or medium-rare when possible. Still, it was a very enjoyable meal and it was nice to taste what the service staff stated was a local style of dish.
I enjoyed both courses and was happy to try what are considered traditional Estonian fare. I again received excellent service from the staff. I highly recommend making a reservation here for lunch or dinner.
Their menu can be found here.
III Draakon – Town Hall – Raekoja plats 1, Tallinn
Ask any local about Tallinn budget restaurants serving good local dishes and they will almost certainly send you to III Draakon for the elk meat soup. Available to eat there or as a street food to-go, it’s only $2. This rich and hearty dish was one of my favorites in Estonia. The restaurant is located in the Town Hall Square and is easily the best deal you’ll find there. They also offer the local favorite pirukad (pasties) stuffed with a variety of vegetables or meat. The ones stuffed with carrots are said to be the most popular and were my personal favorite. They range from about $1-$2 each and pair well with the warm soup.
Be prepared for some humor and personality from the staff here. No, they will not give you a spoon. Yes, you will drink the soup straight from the bowl. Yes, if you ask them for free homemade pickles from the barrel you can take as many as you want. Lastly, if you are tired from too much soup, pirukad and pickles you can rent a bunk bed they have in the back for about $1 per hour. A great overall experience and I highly recommend a visit.
Locations for Tallinn, Estonia: Budget Restaurants Impress
My love of Estonia goes well beyond Tallinn budget restaurants but they alone provided reason enough to enjoy travel to this country. Tallinn budget restaurants more than impressed me. With Estonia’s focus including many vegetables, dairy and fresh bread, vegetarians should also be able to enjoy a multitude of dishes without issue.
I cannot wait to return and spend more time here. I highly recommend considering Estonia and the Baltics as a travel destination. Just make sure to check the temperature before you head over as it can get quite cold in the winter months! That said, I visited in July and the weather was perfect.
Additional Budget Resources for Tallinn
- Free Walking Tour: Take a look at FREETOUR.com and sign up for a free walking tour during the day. I went on it and found the guides to be very knowledgeable and funny. Then head off to the Pub Crawl (€12) they recommend at night.
- Where to stay: Check out Monk’s Bunk hostel for their active nightlife and relaxed daytime vibe. I made so many friends there I lost count. Highly recommended. If you would rather have a more relaxed environment, check out hostel Euphoria.
I hope you enjoy your time in Estonia and I hope this helps everyone locate some great Tallinn budget restaurants. Please comment below!
Terviseks! (Cheers in Estonian)
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