Cafes & watering holes

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Only my favourites. My personal favourites. Disclaimer: I’m poor and nostalgic for the no-frills Soviet days, thus my choice of eating and drinking establishments. Plus my somewhat perverse value system. And my dislike for being watched they way clients are in every professionally run establishment. I don’t like places and situations where rules of behaviour are implied, that have dress code, or anything smacking of thought control. For most my compilation below may be a list of places to avoid..

First, the famous Второе Дыхание (vtoroye dykhaniye, Second Wind) behind Metro Novokuznetskaya. It is generally acknowledged by connoisseurs of anti-glamour as the dirtiest and stinkiest of them all. Standing room only. Hole in the floor toilet. Smoking permitted and expected. A classic. This at a glance appears like a true-to-life set of photos of Second wind >>

Аист (ayist, Stork), Lubyansky Proyezd 25, by the park which is Moscow’s main gay and lesbian hangout.  Gays assemble by the Plevna monument while lesbians have their get-together by Cyril and Methodius. The Plevna monument commemorates the ugly story of 1877, when Russian incessantly attacked Plevna by throwing crowds of poorly trained recruits at Osman Pasha’s guns, eventually took over, took 40+ thousand Turks prisoners and sent them north where most of them died of cold and hunger. You may want to read more about in Wikipedia or consult Turkish sources for a perspective that I personally find more credible and convincing than the official Russian patriotic interpretation. The moral is don’t fuck with Russians but if you do don’t surrender because Russian captivity leave you a 10% chance to survive. Cyril and Methodius are the inventors of this Russian neither-nor alphabet, and I’ll spare you my opinion on these two jerks and of my compatriots’ maniacal drive to be different even when it comes to information exchange standards. Here I just want to tell you of Aist, which is between Plevna and gays on the one hand and the Cyril and Methodius brothers and the lesbians on the other.

See a series of Aist photos here >>

While at it I’m mention a chebureki joint at Solansky projezd 4/1.  Both this and Aist above are standing room only. Aist has pretty good food though and is probably the fanciest of “zabegalovka” (=run into (fast)) style places, and a drink and a chaser will easily cost you over 300 roubles ($10). Cheburechnaya at Solansky projezd 4/1 as basic as they get and same $10 is about as much as you can stuff and pour into yourself.

No-name cheburechnaya, Solansky projezd 4/1, Metro Kitay-Gorod, close to these two characters who came up with a new alphabet to make life difficult for your foreigners.

Домовая кухня (domovaya kukhnya, Home Kitchen), metro Pervomayskaya, south-east corner of Devyataya Parkovaya and Izmaylovsky Boulevard. is one my favourites partly because it was there in the 70s! Good solid Soviet-era food too. Photos coming up. Recommended for real hungry authenticity enthusiasts. Huge menu for an establishment that gives you a choice of bent aluminum and reused plastic forks. Vegetarians too will find something to eat there!

A babushka-run stolovaya at Krasnoprudnaya 18 or 20, between Komsomolskaya (train stations) and Krasnoselskaya. One of the most spartan places to eat yet food itself is prepared with great care.  A mix of bent aluminum forks and reused plastic ones, 28 roubles per shot vodka, train passengers drinking and talking life in the corner, a stay dogs wondering in and getting fed. The bright facade dissonates a bit with what’s inside. Possibly that’s why I never went in till recently, when I froze my ass off during these futile and unfocused winter protests. Speaking of freezing, I recommend a cup of tea with lots of sugar, a piece of lemon, and with 50g of vodka poured in, plus a couple of chocolate bars as a quick way to warm.  Vodka needs to be **in** the tea to have more warming and less inebriating effect!

At Hatter’s calls itself “Intellectual and leisure club”. I would not go there myself, one of the reasons being a job sign that lists age as the main requirement. Not that I would want to work there but being told that I’m not welcomed because of my age offends. But the place is just the sort many travellers like so I’ll list it. The concept is that you pay for time: 2 roubles per minute for the first hour and 1 rouble per minute for each subsequent hour, which works out to be $4 and $2 per hour. During that time you can consume all the tea and toasts and jam you want. It is in Kadashi that was in the news recently because of the destruction of yet another 19th century building. Defenders of old Moscow centered around the church that, a couple of years ago, organized a pogrom in the Sakharov center. A good illustration of how hard it is to tell here who are the good and bad guys. It is close to Kadashavskiye Baths, and within easy walking distance from my apartment that for rent. The exact address is Tretiy Kadashevsky Pereulok 6/13. They regularly host meetings in English. See www.inhatter.ru

Old Believers Refractory at Rogozhsky Val. (Metro Marksistskaya, Metro Proshad Il’ycha) is so good that it is managed to make it to the list of my favourites even though no booze is served. Even if it is – I wonder what’s in those little bottles in the back – the spirit of the place makes impossible to even think of having it in my habitual quantities and manner. On many days it is purely vegetarian/vegan but not wimpy New Age type vegetarian but proper human food. Starts early (something like 7:30) and stays open till at least 10pm. You’ll find some pictures on the Old Believers site here >>


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