With its grand canals flanked by imposing, neo-classical facades and stately palaces, St Petersburg’s gorgeous streets lend themselves perfectly to exploring on foot whilst sampling tasty local delicacies. While you’re strolling along the city’s boulevards, you’ll see kiosks and markets galore selling all manner of pastry and pancake delights.
A deep-fried, generously filled pastry turnover, these are a traditional Tatar delicacy and perhaps Russia’s most beloved street food snack. Within a crispy, flaky outer pastry shell you’ll find spiced ground meat, onions and cheese.
Tiny pancakes with a dollop of sour cream and smoked salmon; as a go-to canapé choice in the west, you’ll be familiar with blinis on a small scale. In Russia, these little treats are big street food business – literally and metaphorically. Cooked on a round griddle, the large pancake can be stuffed with plenty of sweet or savoury filling varieties like honey or caviar and folded over into a cone shape.
Originally a Levantine dish, shawarma is hugely popular in St Petersburg. Essentially a Middle Eastern burrito, it’s a pita wrap generously filled with grilled, shredded meat, salad and tabbouleh.
Vatrushka are sweet, round buns filled with a rich condensed milk, jam or fruit puree centre. Fillings are typically cream cheese – often dried fruit’s added and they’re devoured for breakfast, dessert or any time of day. Its name comes from ‘Vatra’, the Slavic word for ‘fireplace’.
Sprinkled in a sweet and spicy dusting, you’ll find toasted almonds, pistachios and hazelnuts rolled up in paper cones at kiosks all over St Petersburg.
Close to Nevksy Prospekt, Rubinstein Street has seen an explosion of trendy of eateries and has become something of a foodie destination. Drawing a hip crowd, it hosts discerning diners looking for authentic street food and cool café culture.
If you can’t find what you’re looking for in the streets, head to one of Teremok’s outlets. Starting off as a humble kiosk selling blinis, Teremok grew to become a St Petersburg institution specialising in traditional Russian street food dishes. In fact, they’re so popular, they’ve even opened branches in New York.
You can seek out many street food items alongside local produce at St Petersburg’s fabulous, historic markets. Sennaya Square has been home to lively, atmospheric Sennoy Market for centuries, where locals and farmers trade fresh produce. This market is so iconic, Dostoyevsky captured it in his Crime and Punishment novel. Open daily from 8am-8pm, you’ll find fruit and veg, pickles and meats from the Leningrad region. Sytny Market is St Petersburg’s oldest, dating back to 1710. Here, you can buy excellent salmon, dairy and meat as well as street food items from kiosks outside.
Murder, intrigue, crime and punishment… St Petersburg has it all. Those fascinated by the more ghoulish side of history will love these significant spots from fiction, and real life.