Among the many foods I like to gorge on – beef, Russian mayo-based salads, bread, spicy pasta – street food is pretty high up on the list. First of all, it’s like they save all the best greasy, cheesy, meaty, bready stuff just for the on-the-go folks. Secondly, everything just tastes better when you have to juggle the food and drink without spilling the contents onto your belongings whilst power-walking through a rush-hour crowd and breathing in the fresh air of a megalopolis.
Thankfully, Moscow has no shortage of outdoor kiosks catering to the most discerning street-meat-eaters among us.
Here’s a sampling:
Kroshka-Kartoshka (Little Guy Potato)/ Mister Kartoshka (Mister Potato)/ Chudo-Kartoshka (Wonder-Potato), and so forth.
By far my favorite ‘street food’ option. The gigantic, baked and buttered potato comes loaded with your choice of fillings. I usually get three at once: feta & dill, sliced hot dogs in mustard sauce, and smoked salmon. Other classic and seasonal options include everything from pickled wild mushrooms to Italian salad to bacon & onion (and you can vote for your favorites online!).
Blinnaya Fantazia* (Bliny Fantasy) and other Russian bliny chains.
Though most commonly compared to French crêpes, the Russian iteration is usually a tad thicker and more buttery. Traditionally they are also smaller than crepes – usually the size of a salad plate – but most fast food kiosks just use the standard crepe maker. Plus bigger blinys means more room for fillings! Blinys come with sweet and savory fillings (my favorites are smoked salmon for savory, and strawberry jam for sweet) and in a hermetically sealed, heat-preserving pouch, if you get yours ‘to go.’ Love them!
Russians are no longer satisfied with the basics. This hot dog chain offers at least 5 different kinds of sausage (‘beef,’ ‘pork,’ spicy, etc.); buns, baguette and wrap options for the bread; and condiment/ accoutrement selections that range from the basics like pickles and ketchup to mashed potatoes. I love hotdogs. I used to always get one on my walks through Central Park in NYU – regular dog, spicy mustard, sauerkraut. Once, while eating a hotdog in Central Park, I saw a pregnant Ivanka Trump power-walking with her husband!
Naturally, as soon as I had an opportunity and an appropriate level of hunger, I enthusiastically tried a couple of Stardog!s creations. Let’s just say, I was not a fan. And neither were my intestines.
Vypechka (Freshly Baked Goods).
This really is an endless category in and of itself, so for now let’s take a look at the most common ‘Svezhaya Vypechka’ kiosks, which can be found at the entrance to nearly every metro station around the city.
Their trademark product is a ‘sloika’ – a ‘layered’ pastry of flaky dough and filled with anything from a hotdog link to fruit jams to sweet cheese to sautéed cabbage. They are really cheap (usually under $1 apiece) and fairly decent, especially fresh.
BONUS non-meat: Ice Cream.
Ice Cream is not just a summer snack in Russia. I’ve encountered long lines at outdoor ice cream kiosks in the middle of winter, in -20C weather.
And these crazies would unwrap and eat their Waffle Cups and Eskimos and Plombirs right away, outside! Most kiosks have dozens of varieties to choose from – I once counted more than 70 different ice cream products at one place – many of which are reinvented Soviet classics.
Soviet ice cream was AMAZING. THE BEST EVER. But that’s a subject for yet another post.
*If you search for Блинная фантазия on Google Images, you get so much insane deliciousness that has no relation to the fast food chain, but is sure to make you want to learn to make bliny yourself. Or to come to Russia. They are worth it.