Samara Restaurants and Cafes.
A great Chinese restaurant with tasty meals and
excellent service. Featuring Chinese staff, this is one of those oh so rare Chinese restaurants in Russia where the food tastes like it does in the west. That is to say, it hasn't been made extra bland to suit Russian tastes. Main courses cost around 400R ($15), starters are about 200R ($7.50) and drinks are roughly 100R ($3.70). Dzhin Dzhu has a simple yet effective decor and the relaxing Chinese background music adds to the agreeable ambience. They have an English menu and the waiters speak limited English. Open 24 hours, Dzhin Dzhu is a good choice at any hour. A free fortune cookie with every meal!
Address: Kuibysheva Ul., #7. Tel: 332-9956. Open 24 hours.
Another 24 hour restaurant in the very center of Samara,
Mama Sita is an Argentinean-style steakhouse. Steaks don't come cheap at a minimum of 750R ($28), but you can get a main course for as little as 350R ($13) plus a bit extra for a garnish. It seems strange for a 24 hour steak house not to have a breakfast menu. It's hard to imagine too many people looking for a big steak to the start the day, and indeed there weren't any customers on a morning visit. Service at Mama Sita is rather surly, perhaps because of the ridiculous multi-colored, striped uniforms the waiters are forced to wear. Luckily there are call buttons at every table to harass them with. The food is quite tasty if a bit over-cooked and it comes in generous portions. The jalapenos in the meal were de-seeded, so obviously this is adapted cuisine. A fair amount of effort has been put into the interior design.
Address: Leningradskaya Ul., #30. Tel: 333-2785. Open 24 hours.
Right next to Mama Sita is yet another 24 hour restaurant.
This one, as the name suggests, is predominantly a seafood restaurant. And, once again, it's not as cheap as you would expect. An average main course at Marlin costs about 500R ($18.50) while starters and desserts are around 250R ($9.25) a pop. While most meals on the menu are fish-based there is also a selection of meat-based dishes. There's nothing really to complain about with this restaurant. Marlin has a dated but fun interior with a large fish tank taking center stage in the restaurant. The trappings are all very nice, there's pleasant background music and the Italian-accented meals are quite tasty. The service can be a little over-bearing but in some ways that's a refreshing change. Once again, you have to wonder who wants heavy meals like these at breakfast time. If they're open 24 hours why not have a breakfast menu?
Address: Leningradskaya Ul., #32. Tel: 332-4051. Open 24 hours.
U Palycha is an over-priced but genuine Russian restaurant that boasts plenty
of tongue-based dishes. Among the incredibly long list of dishes on the menu are all the Russian favorites. Main courses average around 500R ($18.50) plus another 150R ($5.50) for a garnish. Drinks cost about 150R ($5.50) while starters come in around the 200R ($7.40) mark. They charged me $19 for a glass of juice because it was 'fresh'. What the hell is that??? Food service is very slow - expect to wait a good 30 minutes until your meal arrives. The service isn't so friendly. Wait staff in Samara always seem mildly shocked when a customer walks in and all stare in disbelief for a little while before swinging into action. But the setting of U Palycha isn't unpleasant with a smart interior, relaxing background music and live music from 7pm. The noise from the kitchen isn't so relaxing. It almost sounds like road works are going on in there. Overall U Palycha is a worthwhile place to go to sample some genuine Russian cuisine. Just make sure you stick with the regular juice.
Address: Kuibysheva Ul., #100. Tel: 332-3605. Open 12:00-0:00. Website: www.palich.ru/services/restaurant/info/.
A nice, cozy little Czech restaurant that takes the name of one of the lesser known
brews of the Czech Republic. All different types of Platan beer are on tap for around 120R ($4.40) per half liter. There is also a decent if not extensive menu with tasty meals that average around 350R ($13) in price. There is a bigger selection of beer snacks and starters on offer for between 150R - 200R ($5.50-$7.50). Plasma TVs adorn the walls at regular intervals, making this a good place to enjoy sports events. When there are no big sports events music videos are shown. A relaxing place with friendly service, Platan is a safe bet for a decent meal or a few beers, even if it isn't the most exciting bar/restaurant around.
Address: Leningradskaya Ul., #22. Tel: 310-6494. Open 12:00-0:00.
A sunny, pleasant little cafe, just across
the street from the Volga, offering limited views onto the famous river. Colombia Cafe is also one of the few places in the city where you can get a decent breakfast, although it doesn't open until 10am so isn't much good for early risers. The waiters seem to only seldom venture into the second room of the cafe so you need to sit in the room with the bar if you want to be served within a half hour or so and table space in there is limited. The best feature is probably the huge windows that let in plenty of sunlight and allow views of the riverside boulevard outside. The breakfast, cakes and coffee are good quality and reasonably priced. The wicker chairs and tables are irritatingly uncomfortable but otherwise Colombia Cafe is a relaxing place for a coffee or snack.
Address: Leningradskaya Ul., #2. Tel: 264-1083. Open 10:00-0:00.
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