Time traveling in Tallinn's restaurants

Source: Kätriin Huttunen, Visit Estonia

Time traveling in Tallinn's restaurants

A trip to Tallinn is the closest you may ever come to time travel. Thanks to the cobblestone streets and red-topped roofs, the medieval vibe is a given, but your time travel experience doesn't have to stop in the Middle Ages. These historic Tallinn eateries can transport you back to any point in the last two hundred years.

Dine like a medieval merchant

Olde Hansa is Tallinn's most famous medieval restaurant. Great care has been taken to transport you back to the Middle Ages as soon as you step inside — a rustic interior, strolling musicians, and long tables with wooden benches. The food is prepared according to 15th-century recipes. You won't find potatoes on the menu as they didn't arrive in Europe until much later, but you can have your fill of bear stew, barley, and mead.

Peppersack, Tallinn's second largest medieval restaurant, is right across from Olde Hansa. A sack hangs over the door, typical signage used centuries ago. The food here tends to be more contemporary, but they do brew their own beer according to an old traditional recipe.

A medieval meal at Olde Hansa

Photo by: Karl Markus Antson

A more intimate medieval experience can be had on the Town Hall Square at III Draakon, named for the three dragons adorning the Town Hall's exterior wall. Reminiscent of a humble medieval tavern, this quaint locale offers rich elk soup and flaky pastries. And don't forget to grab a pickle from the big wooden barrel before you dig in!

Elegant eateries untouched by time

Café Maiasmokk is Estonia's oldest continuously operating café. The café opened in 1864 on Pikk Street in Old Town, and the interior has remained unchanged for over a century. Visitors can find a marzipan room at the front of the building they can learn more about the history of marzipan.

Restaurant Gloria opened in 1937 and has always been a haven for the Tallinn elite. Plush carpets, mirrors, chandeliers — dinner here is a memorable Art Deco experience featuring local dishes with a French flair.

The best of Tallinn's retro restaurants

Tuljak is a classic Tallinn restaurant that first opened in 1964. The restaurant has been completely renovated, earning it a spot in the Estonian MICHELIN Guide. Diners will enjoy delicious Estonian dishes with a modern touch in a beautiful glass building recognized as a masterpiece of Estonian modernist architecture.

Pegasus opened its doors in 1962 and has become a Tallinn institution. The Estonian Writer's House is across the street, making it a meeting place for poets and writers. Seating at Pegasus is spread over several floors, and the restaurant features an unobtrusive retro style. The high windows on the upper floors offer a beautiful view of Old Town.

Most Tallinners have probably been to Narva Kohvik at some point, as this café has been around for over 70 years. The real star of the menu at Narva Kohvik is the kringel — take your pick from a list of dozens of sweet or savory options. The clientele skews towards older folk who like to swap stories over a cup of coffee and a slice of cake.

Classic confections to take home

Kalev sweets and chocolates have been beloved by Estonians for over 200 years. The company dates back to 1806 when a sweet shop began in the building that would later house Café Maiasmokk. While Kalev sweets can be found at any grocery store, you'll find a larger selection at the Kalev store in Balti Jaam market or Rotermann Quarter. Choose from the entire range of the factory's traditional sweets, exclusive hand-made chocolates, and hand-painted marzipan figures.

Vana Tallinn liqueur is another classic Estonian treat you can pack home as a souvenir. The recipe was invented in 1960 and combined rum and exotic spices with citrus accents. Vana Tallinn liqueur can also be found in all local grocery stores or visit the Liviko Distillery's interactive museum. Take some home and enjoy neat or splashed into a cup of coffee or hot cocoa. Insider tip: Kalev makes Vana Tallinn cream chocolates — the best of both worlds together in one box!

Last updated : 30.06.2023

In category: Tallinn, Food & Drink & Nightlife