Tasty Bites from Northern Estonia

Source: Visit Estonia

Tasty Bites from Northern Estonia

 Northern Estonia is honored of being named the culinary region of  2021 food. Local farmers and food producers are united by the motto "Limestone Flavors". What should you definitely enjoy when traveling in Northern Estonia?

You're invited to come and discover the attractive food culture of North Estonia.

Cuisine from the North

Northern Estonian cuisine distinguishes itself by the use of different ingredients that grow in the region and the different ways it's prepared. The region has loads of limestone plateaus that give the soil its unique qualities as well as the produce that grows there.


Since 1925, Northern Estonia and the surrounding islands has had the most land dedicated to growing and harvesting potatoes. At the beginning of the 20th century, potatoes were on the table every day in Northern Estonia, which was unique to the region. In fact, in Harju County in the 1930s, potatoes with meat sauce were very often eaten for breakfast to start the day.


Fish remains one of the most important foods for Estonians throughout the year. In particular 'silk' (salted herring) holds a special place in North Estonian cooking. The people of Harju, Järva, and Virumaa counties regularly catch fish from the northern coast along the Gulf of Finland. Residences of the area have been catching fish to bring home as part of the family meal. And when possible, surplus fish was sold locally and the connection between fisherman on the beach and inland residents who bought them continued from generation to generation.


For centuries barley has been a staple food of Northern Estonia due to its many uses and ability to endure the strong winds of Northern Estonia. The relatively cooler climate of the North led to the wider use of barely in the region. As one of the oldest cereal foods, ground barely has been a key ingredient in barley flour, bannocks, dumplings, and porridge for ages. Today barley bread made with kefir or sour milk known as 'karask' is one of the national dishes of Estonia.


Vodka production was probably brought into Estonia at the end of the 15th century. From 1646 onwards, the landlords of manor houses had a monopoly on distilling and producing vodka. The active trade with St.Petersburg make vodka a valuable product and brought wealth to Virumaa as it became the most important region for distilling alcohol.

The wealth of many manors was founded on vodka production

Today, you can take part in spirits and spirits workshops.

Photo by: Sagadi manor

Summer Kitchens and Greenhouses

Estonians have used summer kitchens as a place to cook during the warmer months for centuries. Although this practice began to disappear in most of Estonia during the 20th century, summer kitchens survived longer in places like Lääne County and Northern Harju County where they were still being used into the 1920s and 1930s. Over time it became common to build greenhouses next to manors, a tradition that remains unique to Northern Estonia.

The winter buildings as well as the tomato and herb growing have found a place in the greenhouse at Palmse manor.

Photo by: Palmse Manor

Trying out Northern Cuisine for Yourself

You can enjoy the flavors of Northern Estonia anywhere that carries the local food label of Northern Estonia. These include restaurants and cafés like:

Come and discover the flavours of North Estonia for yourself!

Last updated : 20.08.2021