The Sauna Side of the Street
There are endless great times to be found in Tallinn, but if I said that it was possible to find a legendary night out on just one side of one street, would you believe me? When planning an evening, you’ve got to think about location, because particularly with the changeable weather you get in the Estonian capital, you don’t want to be dressed up to the nines and walking through strong wind and rain. Sauna street is slap-bang in the middle of the Old Town, close to accommodation like the Telegraaf, St, Petersburg and My City Hotels. Let’s look at what you can expect from this narrow street on a hill.
Santa Fe (Sauna 10, Tallinn Old Town) is one of those places that can equally get the party started, or finished, on a high. With its huge space over two floors, with a cocktail bar above and a more conventional shot bar below, plus party music all night, this is a great place to bring your friends for some inexpensive drinks and fun. If you are in there for a good time not a long time, we recommend the special deals on five of the same shots; you can choose from a panoply of options on the chalkboard, and they’re all guaranteed to make you smile.
Given that nights out are meant to be enjoyed, not analysed, you might think that Sigmund Freud (Sauna 8, Tallinn Old Town) was an odd name for a bar, but step inside there and you’ll feel at peace, and able to mull over an interesting evening. Sigmund Freud specialises in cocktails, and has a sizeable menu of choices for you and your companions, but there’s also a house red ale that is satisfyingly cloudy and enjoyably mellow. There is a feel of a 1960s bar from the set of a movie like Catch Me if You Can, and with bright, friendly bar-staff, the atmosphere is completely welcoming.
Some friends and I were sitting at the bar in BART Pianobar (Sauna 10, Tallinn Old Town) when the live show started. A man (presumably Italian) started singing Abba’s “Gimme Gimme Gimme” in a broad accent, complete with electronic keyboard flourishes that will remind UK readers of a scene from Peter Kay’s Phoenix Nights. I asked my friend if it was meant to be taken in an ironic way. The people dancing to the music seemed to be enjoying it unapologetically, and why not? There’s room even for cheesy cabaret, especially in this world where fun and laughs can sometimes be so few and far between. Go there for the cocktails, stay for the Barry Manilow medley.
Next to the craziness of five-shot orders at Santa Fe, or Italo-disco at BART, Frank (Sauna 2, Tallinn Old Town) can seem a bit conventional - but that’s no bad thing. The red-and-black-adorned bar and restaurant has been open for a few years now, and has a loyal clientele who appreciate the good food and reasonable selection of Estonian and international craft beer, alongside a wine selection that cannot be sniffed-at.
The so-called “Lower Frank” is the original bar, open most nights fairly late, but for additional entertainment, or just for a later nightcap, step across to Frank Underground, the new section, which feels like a secret hiding-place for all your favourite people, while keeping the Hemingway-in-Paris colour scheme and ambiance of the original establishment. Whether here or in any of the other bars mentioned, you’ll have a great time, and all on one side of a narrow street.
Click on the address to see the location.
TEXT STUART GARLICK, PHOTOS ANDREI CHERTKOV
Stuart Garlick is a journalist and English language teacher based in Tallinn. Since 2012, his blog, Charm Offensive, has covered food, music and fashion in Estonia.