Vegetarianism is quickly becoming better understood and even more widely adopted in Russia. Moscow in particular now has a handful of cafes that specifically cater to vegetarian clientelle. Below are few that former SRAS students in Moscow would like to recommend!
Чистопрудный бульвар, 12/2
To find Avocado simply come out of the Chistie Prudy station, stay to the right, and walk down the street. You’ll run into the restaurant in about a quarter of a mile or so. They serve exclusively vegetarian food, and in fact, according to folks on various internet forums, some of the best vegetarian food in the city.
Avocado is nestled amidst drooping trees and seems almost purposefully tucked away from the busy street. The covered entrance gives the feel of a high-class restaurant, yet you can tell right away that it’s a pretty casual place. To the left of the entrance you see outdoor seating visually connected to the inside via vibrantly painted windows and decorated with large white drapes. The inside of the restaurant itself has a bar on the left, most of the seating on the right, and light rock music coming through hidden speakers. The waiters (at least some of whom speak English as evidenced by the service given to the two American women sitting near me) seem to just be hanging out when they aren’t rushing food to various tables.
Scanning the menu, the place does seem a bit pricy. Ordering a salad and an entree will probably run you close to 300 rubles and it would be easy to spend much more. However, like many such places in Moscow, they do offer a fairly cheap business lunch. Avocado’s is just 210 rubles.
The lunch came to me in three courses: the first, a beet salad with a French roll and a glass of juice. The second was a bathtub-sized bowl of vegetable soup with tiny pasta, red and yellow peppers, onion, tomatoes, and parsley. As the weather seems to be slowly but surely changing to the chillier side, I had actually awoken that morning feeling a bit under the weather. But this soup warmed me right up.
I thought I was through after the soup, but the waiter brought one more dish. I’m still not too sure what it was. It seemed to be slices of cooked potatoes (or perhaps pumpkin?), carrots, peppers, tomatoes, and onions covered in reddish sauce and garnished with dill. Whatever it was…it was transcendent.
I’m a person of considerable carnivorous leanings, so I had my doubts as I prepared myself for a meatless meal on this adventurous outing. But that final dish was just so amazing. It was heavily seasoned without being the slightest bit overbearing. It satisfied both my palate and appetite in a way that usually only a few (usually meat-ridden) dishes can. The whole procession of salad, soup, and savory, saucy goodness was, it seems to me, nothing short of genius. Perhaps I’m pushing the boundaries of hyperbole, but I assure you, it was really, really good.
I found Avocado to be my ideal type of restaurant: sit-down, full service, and having that aesthetic that communicates confidence and dedication to its food, yet also a casual, unpretentious attitude towards its presentation. I have to say that when it gets even colder, this will probably be the first place that comes to my mind when I want a satiating meal that will warm and replenish the insides.
For groups and faculty-led tours, Avocado might be an option, but you might want to call ahead and have an arranged meal so as to keep the budget tidy, the service fast, and the seating available.