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good local and caucasian: ukraine/moldova/romania/poland

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Hi,

We're two New Yorkers (one first generation Ukrainian-American) coming to Eastern Europe for a week in May/June.

We're looking for good, authentic non-touristy local restaurants in the following cities:

Ukraine: Kyiv, Odesa, Lviv, Ivano-Frankivsk,

Moldova: Chisinau

Romania: Gura Humorului area; Maramures area around Sighet (heard that the best food is at
village homestays?; please advise)

Poland: Zamosc

We both enjoy skillfully prepared Slavic and Romanian cuisine at reasonable prices.

Also interested in Georgian, Uzbek, Armenian, Azerbaijani, Turkish, Tajik and other Caucasian/Central Asian cuisines. Even Korean.

NOT interested in Italian or Chinese or Mexican or the kind of ethnic food you can find in the States.

One of our grandfathers worked as a cook/butcher in Ukraine, so we're familiar with Slavic home cooking (we love lamb, roast pork, varenyky, stews, wild game, meatballs, soups, and good sausages, but we don't really like "chicken kiev," smoked fish, or anything with too much smetana or mayo). Pelmeni are also delicious.

We don't care if the restaurant is rustic or refined or a humble café, as long as it's not a tourist trap or an overpriced place with crazy decor and a floor show (although if the food is outstanding and the prices are ok, we can sometimes deal with crazy decor).

But basically, we want to eat where local people who appreciate good food would go. Eating and drinking are a big part of our vacation.

Please advise.

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  1. Another 'hound looking for recommendations here! I will be in Kiev this weekend and am hoping to find some good food. I'm up for anything so long as the food is tasty and local. Thanks for your advice!

    1. In Maramures, it being up north and very rural, you aren't likely to find too many "proper" restaurants. If you're staying at an inn ("pensiune") your best bet is eating something made in their kitchen. It will be traditional Romanian fare, but the quality varies. If you manage to catch a meal at a local's house, jump at the chance, it will probably be heavenly. You're very lucky to be visiting that particular area as it's the province of Romania where traditions are best integrated into everyday life, food included.

      I'm sorry I can't provide you with a restaurant name, but I haven't been there in a couple of years. As for tips: if the place is too done up in traditional decor, they're scrimping on the food. If the staff is young and emulates French waiters, the food will be too greasy or fusion cuisine. If there's traditional live music, expect large portions of passable food with one outstanding dish (family recipe). The locals there are very proud of their heritage, so trust their directions and advice on local establishments.

      Have a safe trip!