Last year I spent my birthday in Vilnius wandering snowy streets, pausing often to discover local cuisine at the best restaurants, and sip on hot mulled wine.
Having not done much research about Vilnius ahead of my trip, I was surprised both by how much there was to see and do, and by the diverse food scene.
Due to the sub-zero (minus eleven) temperatures, we stopped for food even more often than usual just to warm up. Plus, you burn more calories when it’s cold, right?!
So although this blog post might look like a list of every place that we dined at, I can assure you that we ate so much that these are just the highlights! Read on for my guide to the best restaurants in Vilnius, based on my own experiences and a couple of recommendations.
Best Restaurants in Vilnius for Breakfast
You can’t spend the day explore a new city without filling up on the most important meal of the day! Especially when you’ve spent the night before sampling the local drinks in cosy Vilnius bars and pubs.
The day before I headed to Vilnius I posted on Instagram asking for recommendations of things to do and places to eat. Someone recommended Sugamour, so off I went to try it for myself!
It was a treat before we even stepped inside, with a beautifully festive shop front (it was the end of January).
The interior was just as festive – I’m not sure whether it always looks like that or if they hadn’t yet got round to taking down their Christmas decorations – and the cake display got me salivating the second we walked through the doors.
Craving Eggs Benedict, I was overjoyed to see a whole page on the menu dedicated to the dish, and after much deliberation I went for the ‘Spanish Eggs Benedict’ which completely satisfied my craving and exceeded my dreams of the dish that I’d been experiencing since I woke up.
Due to the cold weather, we visted several cafés during our time in Vilnius. My absolute favourite was Mint Vinetu – a book café with walls lined with books in several languages and plenty of cosy corners to enjoy a coffee and a good read.
My boyfriend, Billy, claims to hate reading but even he gave it a go when I found him a book about funny sporting moments. Oh, and the coffee was excellent!
Best Restaurants in Vilnius for Lunch or Snacks
We mainly took a grazing approach to lunch, stopping off at various places for dumplings, beer snacks (on to these in a moment!) and cheese. These were my favourite snacking places, but they would be just as good for a full lunch or dinner!
If you’re in Vilnius and you like cheese, you must visit Say Cheese. We were actually just looking for a toilet when we walked past this cheese shop and couldn’t resist going in. Stepping inside and realising that we could sit down for some cheese and wine was a moment of pure joy!
There weren’t any English menus and so we asked the lady working there to bring us a selection of her favourites. We were literally given a mountain of cheese, and whilst I can’t tell you what cheeses they were, I can tell you that they were all fantastic… as was the wine!
Paupio 5 is a cosy family-run restaurant situated in Užupis, just over the bridge from Vilnius old town. We went in for a quick drink because I needed the toilet (there seems to be a theme here) but ended up staying a while due to the lovely warm fire and a very cute dog!
This was where we had our first Cepelinai: Lithuanian potato dumplings stuffed with meat and usually served with a topping of bacon and a dollop of sour cream. This place served them fried, but I later discovered that they’re even better boiled!
This was more of a pre-dinner-drink-with-a-snack-because-we-couldn’t-resist place than a lunch place for us, but the food menu looked amazing and it could definitely fit on your list of where to eat in Vilnius for either lunch or dinner.
I fell in love with Bromas because it was super cosy, the wine was excellent, the barman was really friendly and made us feel instantly welcome and, most importantly, the snacks.
One of the best things about Lithuania is that you will often be served snacks with your beer (beer snacks) which are deep fried chunks or slices of rye bread. We sampled several helpings of beer snacks in Vilnius and I these were definitely the best!
On our final day we broke the grazing trend and went for a big lunch. We browsed the menus outside a few restaurants but chose Aline Leicai because it had provided content for a slightly tipsily taken photograph a couple of nights earlier, which you can enjoy below.
If you want a hearty, traditional meal and some good beer I would absolutely recommend this restaurant. We started with a tasty flight of beer and a portion of Cepelinai for me (boiled this time) and a beef & beer soup for Billy.
For our main courses I had ‘wild meat’ (venison) in beer sauce and Billy had the biggest portion of sausage & mash I’ve ever seen!
This one isn’t in Vilnius, but rather Trakai. We took a trip here to see the stunning lake and castle and, having heard that you can’t go to Trakai without trying some kibinai, we headed to Senoji Kibininė.
Kibinai are Lithuania’s answer to the Cornish pasty and it turns out they are really, really good! We ordered a selection including venison, veal, beef and my favourite, chocolate and hazelnut. Smooth, silky chocolate and soft, sweet hazelnuts are the ultimate combination inside pastry.
The Best Restaurants in Vilnius for Dinner
One of my favourites thing about Eastern Europe is the low cost of living, meaning that I can indulge in some fine dining without breaking the bank. So in our usual fashion, we ate at a couple of fancy restaurants during our long weekend in Vilnius.
Džiaugsmas (or Dazungazunga as I like to pronounce it) has been named the number one restaurant in Lithuania – ok, I did do a little bit of research – so of course we went here for my birthday dinner. It was a real treat, and despite being named the best restaurant in Lithuania, it wasn’t at all poncy. I was also very full afterwards!
To start we shared some duck doughnuts and some toast with lard and apple jam (sounds gross but it was so good). We then shared beef on the bone for our main course which was the highlight of the meal – the meat fell straight off the bone and was incredibly sweet.
We shared a dessert of angel wings (a traditional Lithuanian pastry) which didn’t blow me away, but that’s only because it doesn’t fit with my mantra of ‘chocolate or nothing’ when choosing a dessert.
Somm is listed as number nine in the top 30 restaurants in Lithuania, but in my opinion it should absolutely be placed at the top and probably deserves its own blog post. The restaurant revolves around its 450 strong wine list, and I was blown away by our sommelier’s in-depth knowledge of every wine we asked him about.
We started with a glass of the best Prosecco I’ve ever tasted before moving onto a delicious bottle of Armenian red. My favourite thing about this (other than the taste) was that it was brought to us on a wooden trolley and slowly poured into a decanter over a single candle… so much care went into making the wine taste perfect for us.
You might think that with such a focus on the wine, there would be a compromise on the food. This wasn’t the case whatsoever, and the food was outstanding.
The waiter recommended that we order a few starters to share, so we began with a homemade charcuterie plate, venison tartare and tuna tartare. We then moved onto our main courses of confit duck leg – if this is on a menu I always order it, and I wasn’t disappointed.
Every dish was perfectly presented and packed full of flavour, I honestly don’t have a single criticism. The service was spot on (when I finished my glass of wine it was refilled in less than 20 seconds), and although this was the most expensive meal of our trip, it was still pretty reasonable.
Restaurants for Next Time
A short break means you can’t do (eat) everything, and there are a few restaurants that I’d have loved to try. I’m sure this won’t be my last visit to Vilnius and next time I’ll definitely be giving the following a go. So if you want some additional restaurants to add to your list of where to eat in Vilnius, keep reading!
This restaurant in Užupis serves up a three hour tasting menu, which only uses local produce and therefore changes constantly based on local nature and weather. Traditional food is served in a modern manner and it looks amazing!
Again seasonality is key for this restaurant, with the menu chaning on the first Tuesday of each month.The rule here is that nothing is ever to be repeated! What made me really want to visit this restaurant is that the evening menu is served at an appointed time only (7pm) and is not served according to individual orders but to what the chef wants his guests to taste.
We very nearly went here on our last night instead of Somm because we bloody love a curry! This restaurant combines Indian spices (apparently the chef has a secret blend of spices that is very difficult to decipher and unique to Europe) with Lithuanian produce to produce a unique modern cuisine. Definitely number one on my list for next time!
So there you have it, a pretty comprehensive guide to where to eat in Vilnius and Trakai! I’d love to hear anywhere I’ve missed out on so please get in touch if you’ve been and have any favourites. If you enjoyed this post, you might also enjoy the following:
- Cosy Places to Drink in Vilnius
- A Very Snowy Weekend in Vilnius
- How to Spend 24 Hours in Ljubljana if You Like Food & Wine
- 30 Foods to Try in Istanbul
- Finding the Best Cicchetti in Venice