Bishkek travel guide

Where to eat in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan

Aria

  • Sovetskaya str.

One block south of vefa center, this iranian-owned restaurant serves good iranian and turkish dishes while also offering russian fare. the multi-flavored kalyan-hookahs attract a varied, hipster-like crowd.

Fakir

(behind bishkek city shopping mall) provides authentic and safe traditional kyrgyz food and is very popular with locals. good sized portions and excellent prices. open for lunch and dinner. beer and non-smoking areas available. (kgs80-160)

A typical Kyrgyz meal will feature starchy foods like bread, rice, and potatoes, usually centered around some sort of meat, usually lamb, mutton or beef or even sometimes horse meat. Some of the more popular staples are plov, a Central Asian dish consisting of a bed of rice cooked in oil, topped with lamb or mutton, shredded carrots, and occasionally whole garlic cloves. Shashlyk, a marinated and grilled lamb, mutton or beef kebab, is popular all over the former Soviet Union and is typically eaten with bread, raw onion slices, a voluminous amount of vodka. Samsas, much like the Indian samosa, are available at roadside stands across the city. Usually these are cooked in a tandoor oven as a puff-baked pastry and filled with onions, mutton and mutton fat.

The national dish of Kyrgyzstan is called besh barmak (literally: five fingers, because the dish is eaten with one's hands). It usually consists of horse meat, although sometimes mutton or beef is substituted in, that has been boiled and served mixed with home made noodles. A sheep's head is usually served along side it. If you can land an invitation to a wedding in Bishkek, you'll most likely get a chance to eat besh barmak, although you can also find it are traditional restaurants.

Russian dishes are also fairly ubiquitous in Bishkek because of the large number of ethnic Russians who still live in the city. There are a also growing number of restaurants and cafes catering to more varied tastes.

Uyghur food is popular and fits the taste of many westerners as well as locals. Eg, the chain Arzu has a few restaurants.

There are hundreds of stands that sell gamburgers, a local adaptation to the American hamburger but really share little in common. They are sliced döner kebab-style meat served on a bun with cole-slaw, cucumber, mayonnaise, ketchup, and some fries. They usually cost around KGS60.One of the most popular gamburger stands in Bishkek is at the corner of Sovietskaya and Kievskaya, across the street from the main post office. It's a popular area for local students to pick up a cheap meal and they even serve the rare chicken hamburger.

Throughout the city are a lot of street-side vendors selling samsis, which is a staple of most locals' lunch. The green kiosks opposite the Philharmonic Hall ticket office sell some of the freshest, cheapest and best prepared in Bishkek and they are popular with students from the nearby universities. You can usually find a row of shashlyk grills inside any bazaar or just outside any chaykhana (teahouse).

For some pre-independence nostalgia, try the cafeterias of government ministries and universities. For about a dollar you can experience what it was (and still is) like to eat Soviet-style cafeteria food.

Faiza

(jibek jolu) excellent local food frequented by locals. great samsas and laghman (noodles). dirt cheap. (kgs80-160)

Alabama Steak House

(on baitik baatyr (formerly sovietskaya) - opposite fizpribori) the only steak house in bishkek, it offers a wide range of steaks (c. kgs200-600), as well as an extensive menu of georgian and european cuisine (c. kgs150-250). the bar has a good selection of whiskey and wines and is well stocked with other elite drinks. tv-sports on a 98 inch screen. their website has an english version where the menu and the bar list are available, as well as the schedule of sport events. (http://alabama.kg/index.php/en)

Cafe Stari Edgar

Located behind the russian drama theatre; this is one of the most popular places with the expat crowd. in the summer, there is ample outdoor seating and in the winter, the bomb-shelter style building (decorated in a unique nautical motif, interesting considering the landlocked location of kyrgyzstan!) presents bishkek's most original dining venue. the food tends to be average, but the house band has entertained generations of visitors.

Cyclone Italian Restaurants

(136 chui) less expensive than the more upscale adriatico, it features an extensive menu. it specializes in dishes featuring fresh veal, which is not in short supply in the mountains of kyrgyzstan. (c. kgs250-350)

Dolce Vita Pizza

(on akhunbaeva, to the east of manas, about one block) one of the good pizza spots in bishkek. its thin crust is baked in an open-fire oven; there is also a whole range of italian dishes and pastas. (c. kgs250-380)

Mac Burger & Pizza

(on the corner of sovietskaya and toktugul st (137 sovietskaya st) one of the oldest pizza serving restaurants, as a matter of fact the first to serve pizza in bishkek. for you pizza hut lovers out there- its like pizza hut but with more flavor, not to mention way cheaper. also serves excellent indian style plov (spicy rice) which has to be asked for since its not on the menu and burgers, fries, wings etc. excellent for those pizza cravings (c. kgs250-400)

Metro Pub

(chui and turizbekova) this is where international aid workers, embassy staff, mining personnel, and manas airport contractors from all come together to down a pint and grab a decent meal. the staff are also quite popular and are used to back and forth flirting between themselves and the expat patrons. especially crowded on st. patrick's day and halloween. (~210-300 som) -- aussie butcher is now located in back of metro pub.

Pirogoff-Vodkin Restaurant

(kievskaya st 107, near intersection with toglok moldo) authentic russian high cuisine served in a tsarist-era setting. and as expected a full vodka list. telephone: 312-61-28-75

Shao Lin

(jibek jolu and isanova) one of the best known chinese restaurants in bishkek. the quality is up to most western standards, but tends to still be a little oily. the soups are especially large - better to be shared. (~210-300 som)

Vis a Vis Cafe/Aussie Butcher

British-owned & run cafe serving the only Western-style steaks, bacon, ham, sausages etc in Kyrgyzstan( prepared by their British butcher and sold retail in the attached Aussie Butcher Shop), full all-day British & American breakfasts, free Wi-Fi, dart board,no smoking, no service charge, satellite sports inc live premier league football, rugby, cricket, etc.

Sugar & Spice

(146 toktogul st., slightly east of the intersection with isanova) this indian-owned restaurant serves good indian food, including a lunch buffet on weekdays for kgs 250.

Four Seasons Restaurant

  • 116а, Tynystanov st.

Delicious food with a large selection of european and asian cuisine. outside dining is available in the summer. live music year-round, baby-sitting for the kids, and popular with foreign dignitaries. while it's not to be confused with the four seasons restaurant in new york city, it's a great dining experience nonetheless. be careful not to break anything, they will add large amounts to your bill.

Bishkek Park

  • Kievska and manas

A brand new shopping center which makes you feel in an European capital. Bowling tracks and a nice skating ring available plus all sorts of mainstream brends and products. A popular hang out of internationals and local high class

Buddha Bar

(corner of akhunbaeva and sovietskaya) possibly the most popular restaurant in bishkek. regular entertainment and a menu featuring other dishes than pizza and sushi; shashlyk is also good here. you don't need to brush up on your russian or kyrgyz language skills as there is a menu in english. (c. kgs210-300)

Mexican Cantina

Mexican restaurant in Bishkek. Real chips and salsa served when you sit down. Burritos, tacos, enchiladas, carnitas, gazpacho are served. This is the place to go for margaritas and the best happy hour in town!