Adhering to a gluten-free diet in Russia is not always easy. Generally, in big cities you can buy gluten-free products in supermarkets. However, the farther from Moscow and St. Petersburg you are, the less opportunities you have for a gluten-free diet.
To make it easier for you to organize your trip, we provide you with celiac friendly places in different cities of Russia:
(Note: аollowing information is about cafes and restaurants) Unlike many cities in Europe and America, there are no gluten-free menus. There a very few menus with gluten-free items on them. In fact, if you say that you are gluten-free, they will
not have any idea what that is. You must explain that you cannot eat any flour, bread, wheat, etc. After spending a year venturing to different Moscow restaurants, we have assembled several tips and a list of generally gluten-free-friendly restaurants.
However, there is absolutely no guarantee that food will be 100% gluten-free. Cross contamination is a real possibility, so please keep that in mind if your celiac disease or gluten sensitivity is severe. Russia is just not as contusive to a gluten-free
lifestyle as you might be used to.
One of the best things that you can do is to avoid fast food type restaurants. They are more likely to use more processed ingredients that likely have gluten. The second major tip is always to tell your waiter that you have an allergy to wheat, bread,
flour, etc. Bread is a staple in Russian cuisine and can be shown up at your table often without asking or without realizing that the item you ordered comes with bread, cookies, etc.
One of the benefits to eating at higher end restaurants is that the staff is always very well versed in the ingredients in their food. Your best bet is almost always grilled meat with vegetables, which fortunately can be found almost anywhere. Russian
cuisine is also famous for amazing soups. Beware of thick soups which often use flour as a thickener. The staff should know if there is wheat in the soup, so please ask. («Bez muki? Bez testa?»)
When traveling, bring gluten-free snacks, granola bars, etc. with you. While visiting the sites you might find yourself at a cafe where you cannot eat anything but an apple. Do not leave the hotel without a snack! For breakfast, your best bet will
be eggs, but please remember to tell your waiter that you cannot have bread. Toast will be on almost every plate and you will want to leave it off. («Bez toasta, bez khleba»). However, many five-star and four-star hotels offer gluten-free bread,
muffins and muesli on request - do not forget to ask them about it when booking the hotel.
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Russian cuisine is hearty with a lot of heavy cream sauces, potatoes, meat and bread. However, there are still a lot of soups (borsch, shchi, solyanka, mushrooms) which should be safe. Remember to order without bread (bez khleba) since they often
come with croutons or some sort of roll. Be sure to ask if cream soups have flour in them (muka est?).
(Moscow) Lavka Lavka: This is one of new restaurants. It is a farm to table concept and their menu changes often, so it is hard to recommend a specific dish. However, if they have the borsch with brisket you have to try it. It is phenomenal! Their
staff always speaks excellent English.
(St. Petersburg) Farm Benua (ссылка). The gluten-free menu has recently appeared in this restaurant. Most staff are aware of cross contamination (note: gluten contamination).
Have you ever experienced Georgian food? It is amazing and definitely worth a try during your stay in Russia. Shashlik is grilled meat and any Georgian (and Russian) restaurant will have a wide selection. Beware that shashlik is often served on
a flatbread, so be sure to order yours "bez lavasha" - without lavash. Georgian cuisine has a wide variety of salads, which should be safe. Try the baklazhan s orekhami (eggplant with walnuts) or pkhali (paste of crushed nuts, spices and vegetables).
Unfortunately, you will have to avoid the khachipuri (cheesy bread) and khinkali (dumplings).
Here are a few Georgian restaurants:
Khachipuri: Three locations in Moscow and an excellent English website:
Azerbaijani cuisine is diverse and not similar to others. That is why many well-known restaurateurs turn to the theme of Azerbaijani cuisine. There are a lot of meat, vegetables and unusual pilaf (plov). There are many dishes that do not contain any
flour and dough. However, ask the waiters necessarily, whether there is flour. Also, ask not to serve any bread and pita bread (lavash).
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