Lviv Restaurant Tips by toonsarah
Lviv Restaurants: 116 reviews and 321 photos
The moonshine spy test
This is another place I would never have known to visit without Victor’s helpful guidance – nor would I have known how to find it or how to gain admittance! It is a “theme” café/bar, something that seems to be popular here in Lviv. In this case the theme is that of the Ukrainian resistance to the Soviets, so potentially politically contentious – but a lot of fun for tourists.
The first step is to find the entrance. Look on the southern side of the main square for an arched passageway with a winged Venetian lion above. There are a lot of lions in Lviv, so it’s important to look for the wings – see photo 5. The second step is to gain admittance. In keeping with the spirit of the theme, you will need a password. The man guarding the entrance will greet you with a Ukrainian patriots’ motto, “Slava Ukrayini!” (“Glory to Ukraine!”), and you must answer “Heroyam slava!” (“Glory to the heroes!”). [I am indebted to Victor (again) for this wording and translation].
Even after this you have not yet passed the test. The doorman will test whether you are a Moscow spy, firstly by asking you (of course you say no) and then by offering you a shot of sweet local vodka. He will tell you that all these spies die after drinking this, so you must drink it to prove your innocence. You drink, you live ... you may at last enter the bar. The doorman pulls aside the heavy wooden bookcase (photo 2) to reveal a passage and steps down into the cellars, to the several successive rooms. The first is non-smoking so we stayed there, but it’s worth having a quick look at the others, in particular for the small collection of guns with which you may pose for photos (photo 4).
The menu is presented as an old partisans’ leaflet (photo 3). There seemed to be lots of choice but we were only here to drink. I had an excellent espresso; others had tea (served in tin cups) or beer. You can buy souvenirs of your visit – shot glasses, t-shirts and other mementoes. The walls are covered with patriotic posters, photographs of old soldiers etc. It’s a fascinating place and well worth a visit, both for the drama of the experience and the interesting setting.
Address: Ploscha Rynok 14
Directions: On the southern side of the square but unmarked – look for arch with Venetian winged lion above (photo 5)
Red hot chocolate
I loved this place, and would never have known to visit it were it not for Victor (hunterV) who had done his homework and knew that it claimed to offer something no other café did, namely red hot chocolate! I took this to mean chocolate with chilli (“red hot”) but no, this is hot chocolate that is coloured red, as you can see in the photo! It gets its colour from the red berries that are not only blended in it but also pureed and floated on top, and it is absolutely delicious :-)
But to be honest I would have loved it here anyway. It is small (OK tiny – we were lucky to get a table) and a little dark, and full of intriguing curios. One wall is taken up with a sort of 3D mural of a Krakow street scene of the past (photo 3). Most of the clientele seemed young – maybe students? The atmosphere was so cosy on this rainy afternoon and we lingered over our drinks for a while. Before we left Sue and I wrote comments in the Visitors’ Book which Victor helpfully translated so that the owners would be able to read our compliments!
On the way out I spotted the traditional coffee roaster which was giving off a wonderful aroma, and I would have really liked to have found the time to come back here later in our visit to see if the coffee was as good as the chocolate – I have a feeling it just might be!
Address: 20 vulytsia Ivan Fiodorov
Directions: At the junction of vulytsia Ivan Fiodorov and vulytsia Rus’ka which runs east from the southeast corner of the Market Square - look for the "coffee lion" (photo 2)
Phone: +38 032 235 62 63
In the High Castle Cafe
After our visit to the Folk Architecture Museum (see Things to do tips) we were hungry and also a little damp. There is nowhere at the museum to eat so we took taxis to the High Castle Hill, where a small bar and restaurant was suggested by the taxi driver. I was really surprised to see the style of this place – not the simple café I had expected but something like a miniature stately home, with ornate fireplace, gilded mouldings everywhere, chairs draped in cream upholstery, and even a couple of private dining rooms.
The prices here reflected the décor and were a little high compared with other places we ate in the city, although low by western standards. My tasty wild mushroom soup and bottled water cost approx 35 UAH (I don’t know the exact prices as we split the bill between us), but as that’s only 3.5€ or about £3 it's very reasonable really.
Address: 39a Kryvonos Street
Price Comparison: more expensive than average
Directions: At the foot of the High Castle Hill where the television aerial is situated – take a taxi from town or climb stairs from the Old Town
Phone: +38 032 243 65-80
Price: less than US$10
A group of us chose this place on spec for lunch on our first day in Lviv and it proved to be a pretty good choice. There was plenty of space at the outside (but covered) tables, and an English menu was available. And when I say “an English menu" I do mean just one, so there was a bit of a delay as we passed it around between us. But once we had ordered we could settle back and enjoy the company. The restaurant was busy as there was a special children’s art event taking place so we knew we would have to wait a little while, but when the food did come it was very good and served with a smile.
Favorite Dish: Like most of the group I only wanted a light lunch so I chose a soup, Rassolnik. This is a local favourite and was described as “sour” on the menu, which seems a fair description. It had pieces of pickled cucumber giving it that sourness, as well as potato chunks and a couple of bits of ham/bacon which were a bit fatty to eat but clearly gave the soup much of its flavour. What gave it its bright yellow colour I am less sure, but it was a welcoming sight on a not very warm day and I really enjoyed it. The soup cost just 25 UAH and a small beer a further 8 UAH, so the total bill was about 3.3€ or a little over £2 – a bargain compared with what I am used to paying in the UK but fairly average for Lviv.
Address: Prospekt Svobody 16-18
Price Comparison: about average
Directions: Very near the Shevchenko Monument beneath a brick tower (the Merchants' Tower) on the eastern side of Prospekt Svobody
Phone: +38 032 272 39 39
Price: less than US$10
In U Pani Stephy
On both of our evenings in Lviv we ate as a group at this family-run restaurant towards the southern end of the central boulevard. It had a lot going for it – appealing traditional “country-style” décor, a friendly owner willing to cater to our group, convenient location only a few minutes from the George Hotel, live music on our second evening, and tasty food at very reasonable prices. The downside was that they were clearly unaccustomed to catering to a large group (about 40 of us). We had to choose from a very restricted version of the menu and even within that could only have a certain number of each item – so if 15 people had already ordered your chosen dish you had to choose again! On our second visit I was unable to have my preferred pierogies and settled instead on meat pancakes, but even then had to wait over an hour before these were served. Hansi was in the same position, and the two of us sat watching longingly as others around us enjoyed their meal. We had a suspicion that they had run out of ingredients and had to go shopping! But I have to say that when the pancakes did finally arrive they were absolutely delicious – and I don’t think it was just my hunger making me appreciate them so much. Also delicious was the home-made cheesecake that the owner, the eponymous Stephy, made especially for us that evening.
Prices here were incredibly reasonable by western standards, and good value even by local ones. I paid 50 UAH on each evening (about 5€). The first day that covered a tasty borscht, turkey in a sauce of cheese with apples, chips, pickles, a small beer and a tip. On the second I had the aforementioned pancakes and cheesecake and two beers.
On the whole, despite some of the chaos our group caused them, I like U Pani Stephy a lot, and would almost certainly come here again if I were to return to Lviv – but maybe in a smaller group!
Address: Prospekt Svobody 10
Price Comparison: less expensive than average
Directions: Towards the southern end and on the eastern side of Svobody Prospekt behind St. Mary's Monument
Price: less than US$10
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