Recommended Tashkent restaurants
Cafes, Chaikhanas & Fast Food
For cheap eats and beer there are hundreds of street-side cafes, Korean noodle outfits and shashlyk stands to choose from; one cluster is on Mirobod roughly across from Mirobod Bazaar, where you’ll find good shashlyk. Another cluster is on the walking street between Kulkedash Medressa and Chorsu Bazaar in the Old Town, where you’ll find shawarmas, kebabs, hamburgers and hot dogs.
Muloqot UZ (Olmazor 6/7; working hours 9am-11pm). Well-heeled teenagers gather to preen in this Western-style fast-food court, with pasta, burgers, sandwiches and kebabs on offer.
National Food (Milliy Taomlar; Gafur Gulom 1; working hours 6am-10pm). You’ll be hard pressed to find a restaurant with more local colour than this bustling eatery opposite the Circus. Walk through the entrance, overhung with goat parts, and be greeted by giant kazan (cauldrons) filled with various national specialities. In addition to the requisite plov, and laghman, you can sample beshbarmak, dimlama, halim and naryn, the latter prepared in the main dining room by an animated assembly line of middle-aged women.
II Perfetto (Mirobod 9A; sandwiches & pizzas). A popular meeting spot in a great location, it’s best known for coffee and tuna sandwiches, but also serves middling Italian fare. Wi-fi only available from 10am to 12.30pm and from 3pm to 6pm.
Tashkent Hypermarket has two fast-food eateries on the ground floor that are worthy of your som. To the left as you enter, Troy has a generous picture menu of Western fare plus lide (pizzas), doner kebabs and other Turkish specialities. Towards the right the Waffle House Cafe does a surprisingly faithful rendition of a Belgian waffle.
The following add on a 15% to 20% service charge unless otherwise noted.
Efendi (Azimov 79A). This non-alcoholic Turkish restaurant has a menu, but don’t bother – just saunter inside and pick out a kebab and a mouth-watering salad from the refrigerated display case. The mixed grill (assorti) is a good bet for small groups.
Sharshara (Bobojonov 10). Restaurant real estate comes no riper than the canalside patch occupied by this popular Old Town standby. The sprawling patio is cooled by gentle mist from the rumbling manmade waterfall on the premises, making it an almost perfect warm-weather spot for a shashlyk and a cold beer.
Sunduk (Azimov 63; working hours 9.30am-midnight). The comfort food at this diminutive eatery, kitted out like a French country kitchen, is as perfect as the handwriting on the menus – on homemade paper, no less. The business lunch is popular with the diplomatic set, many of whom work nearby.
Manas Art Cafe (Mirakilov). To dine in a yurt without schlepping over the desert on a camel, head here. There are a few yurts decorated in traditional style, with chill-out tunes and shisha (hookah) smoke wafting through the air. It specialises in Kyrgyz cuisine such as beshbarmak. Reservations recommended.
Al Delfin (Bogishamol & Bodomzor Yuli). At this colourful Syrian restaurant, you can load up on appetisers such as baba ganush (eggplant puree), hummus, falafel, samsa (samosa) and tabbouleh, all redolent with ancient spices and bathing in exotic oils. If you still have room, dive right into the equally scrumptious mains – try the mosakan (chicken cooked with sumac and olive oil). Once you’re finished, lie back on your tapchan (bedlike sitting platform) and send wisps of heavenly shisha smoke into the air.
Bistro (Amir Timur 33; working hours lunch & dinner). This delicious Italian eatery serves up large portions of pasta, pizza and grilled meats along with bottles of Uzbek or Georgian wines. The Roquefort salad is to die for. It’s in a candlelit, courtyard setting, with live music.
Caravan One (Abdulla Kahhor Lane VI). Caravan’s newly opened sister also has lovely local art on the walls and an excellent crafts store. But the ambience is more understated, the service better and the Westernised Uzbek food even better here – try the lamb in pomegranate sauce. There’s no service charge.
Han Kuk Kwan (Yusuf Khos Khodjib 1). Tashkent’s large population of ethnic Koreans is what drives demand for all those Korean restaurants around town. Popular Han Kuk Kwan is one of the best. It fries up pork and national dishes like bi-bim-bab (rice, egg and chopped meat) right at your table.
Amaretto (Usmon Nosir 28). The mouth-watering Italian food, professional English-speaking service and subdued, candlelit ambience combine to make this the obvious choice for a romantic dinner. The pasta dishes, perfectly al dente and enriched by a choice of four sauces, are the highlight.
City Grill (Shayhontohur 1). This steak house has an understated, refined interior and some of the best beef in the city, plus pasta dishes and a lengthy wine list heavy on French vintages.
Caravan (Abdulla Kahhor 22). Tashkent’s quintessential theme restaurant is tarted up like a madefor-Hollywood Uzbek home. The original menu is heavy on arcane but well-prepared Uzbek dishes. The walls are festooned with purchasable paintings by local artists, and the attached store, filled with high-quality crafts from all over the country, is open late, making Caravan a great place for a last-minute giftbuying spree. No service charge.
Yolki Palki (Shakhrisabz 5). Sprawling Russian chain famous for all-you-can-eat hot and cold salad bars with every Ukrainian and Russian speciality imaginable. No service charge.
Peggy’s Bar & Grill (Mashhadi). Intriguing Uzbek version of American Tex-Mex resto grills mouth-watering T-bone steaks and more-than-passable Mexican food.