Outdoor Wining and Dining
When you go to Tallinn in the summer, you don’t want to be cooped up inside a restaurant. You want to be able to enjoy your coffee or beer or wine outside, on a terrace. We look at the places where you can find great al fresco dining in Estonia’s capital.
Terrace dining is an integral part of Tallinn culture, and it’s something tourists can enjoy just like the locals do. If you’re in Estonia on a budget, there are many places to recommend, all around Tallinn’s historic Old Town and beyond.
Starting, as many people do, out on Freedom Square, Wabadus Cafe (Tallinn Old Town) is still pretty similar to the old Cafe Moscow that used to sit comfortably opposite St. John’s Church. Though the food selection isn’t anything to write home about, it’s a prime spot for people-watching, and if you have something, or someone, to keep you occupied, you can sit happily for hours as people go by on one of Tallinn’s main thoroughfares.
On the other side of the Old Town, if you like water pipes with your food, we recommend walking past the uber-flash Deja Vu bar, for Popular bar (Vana-Viru 6, Tallinn Old Town), where the atmosphere is low-key, the music is up-tempo and bright, and you can sit next to Vana-Viru street, one of the nicest, most historic streets in the Old Town. If you decide to have a bit of boiling water with your tobacco, we recommend banana and mint.
Katuse Kohvik (Viru 13-15, Tallinn Old Town) is near to Popular, up on the fourth floor of a shopping centre across the street from the Viru Gates. It’s hidden away, but follow the signs and you’ll find it easily enough. The cafe, refurbished in 2014, is deceptively pricey, but is an enduring favourite. Take a seat outside on the balcony for one of the best overhead views of the Old Town, preferably with a Long Island Ice Tea in hand.
For the more financially-flush, there is a wealth of choice. As interesting alternatives to the same-old Old-Town places, give Viimsi a try. There are two incredible restaurants, Paat (which translates as "boat", Rohuneeme Tee 53, Viimsi) and the world-beating NOA (Ranna Tee 3, Viimsi), which was designed from scratch with instructions from the owners to create a dream restaurant. The architects, together with knowledgeable, attentive staff and some of the finest cooks you will find, have managed this. Our tip is to enjoy their extraordinarily flavour-some cucumber soft drink on the purpose-built patio, as the sea laps at the edges of the restaurant, and boats and windsurfers make shapes on the water in the distance.
The best hotels in town, such as the Telegraaf Hotel (Vene 9, Tallinn Old Town), have terraces where you can enjoy award-winning food while catching up on your rays. The charms of the Telegraaf, whose Tchaikovsky Restaurant has Bocuse d’Or competitor Vladislav Djatsuk as head chef, are well-known, though you really haven’t lived until you’ve eaten there. Across Mere Puiestee in the Rotermann quarter, you’ll find Platz (Roseni 7, Tallinn), located on a courtyard where peace and tranquillity, as well as surprisingly fine dining for such a modest price, can be found.
The Viimsi area also plays host every summer to the popular RootSu Rannabaar (Kesk Tee 20, Viimsi), where the ambiance is always set to ”chill”. Reggae music permeates the air, and you’d better bring your best swimming shorts or bikini, because you’ll want a dip in the Baltic before enjoying the fine barbeque food on offer. When there’s a live band on, there is nowhere better to be on a summer weekend.
If you want to stay close to the port, give Sadama Suveterrass (Sadama 6/8, Tallinn) a try. It’s not in a location that is going to win awards for style, but the joyful way you are greeted when you join the party makes it feel like an outdoor bar where everybody knows your name, and the people are always beautiful.
One more for the Old Town – Schössle (Pühavaimu 13/15, Tallinn Old Town ) will once again open their beautiful summer garden terrace. Enjoy live music and the favourite weekly POP UP Grill. What’s best is that it’s an “all-you-can-eat” style event every Thursday. Choose from an assortment of grilled meats and fresh salads. And if you haven’t had a chance to visit Leib Resto & Aed (Uus 31, Tallinn Old Town) or their other restaurant Umami (Kadaka tee 141, Tallinn), located slightly outside of the city centre in Õismäe, both of their summer gardens are the perfect place to sit and enjoy a great meal with a fabulous wine selection.
TEXT KRISTINA LUPP, STUART GARLICK, PHOTOS ANDREI CHERTKOV