Archive for March 27th, 2008

More on Riga

Where do you go to find beer in Riga?

I visited two supermarkets, and did not get through the beers on their shelves. The Stockman supermarket is close to the railway station, and Rimi is a few blocks away in the Old Town. I am sure there are cheaper shops if you venture into the suburbs, but there is no need to bother. The beers in shops start at about 30 (Euro) cent, so they won’t ruin any visitors.

Riga has a huge central market in converted zeppelin hangars (!). There is lots of food to be had there – cheese, meat, vegetables, bread, fish.. – but not much in the way of beers. There are supposedly some cheap Latvian and Russian beers in stalls at the rear, but I did not see any. I recommend a visit to the market anyway – you feel a bit closer to everyday life than in the more whitewashed streets of the Old Town.

I had draft beer in a few places:

The Alus Seta and the LIDO recreation centre south of the city are part of the same chain. The concept is loads of food served from cafeteria style counters, with an emphasis on national cuisine. Lots of pork, but also pasta, chicken etc. Everyone should be able to find something here. Both the places we visited were family friendly, at least during the daytime. The cellar bar at the huge LIDO centre, with an amusement park outside, has its own micro brewery. Their beers are also available at the other LIDO restaurants. If you go to the brewpub you can also buy takeaway souvenir bottles of their beers at rather stiff prices. In addition to their own beers, the LIDO places also sells beers from other national breweries.

There is a LIDO restaurant at Riga airport, too, but it was not in the terminal we used.

The Alus Arsenals– the Beer Arsenal – offers beer, food and snacks at very decent prices. They have 6 beers on tap as well as a dozen domestic bottled beers and some imports. Nice service for Riga. Their house beer, another unfiltered pilsener style lager with honey, was very nice, and so were two beers from the Uzavas brewery. A pleasant basement restaurant, but I imagine this is dominated by stag nights when the tourist season takes off. Outdoor seating in the summer.

The vaulted cellars of the Rozengrals Medieval restaurant makes up a more pricey establishment, but it is a nice evening out. Good beers here, too, their house red beer is from the Ingver brewery.

For planning your trip, the Riga in Your Pocket web site is splendid, and you can pick up a printed version at your hotel. For more on the Riga beer scene, Gazza at Scoopergen has a comprehensive report.

There are a number of restaurants in Riga offering food from various corners of the former USSR. I had no time to look them up, but I am sure there are beer finds there, too. And if you are a beer ticker with time on you hands, I imagine Riga would make a splendid base for exploring, who knows what you could find in the Russian speaking parts of the country, not to mention crossing the border into the neighbouring countries!

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