Best Fresh Fish
The spare stone arches of St. Petersburg's Restoran (St. Petersburg; 2 Tamozhenny Pereulok; tel. 812/327-8979) evoke another era, but its elegant lines and innovative chef keep things thoroughly modern. The unobtrusive salad bar offers marinated Russian specialties. The fish is so fresh you can forget any fears and indulge.
Best Literary Dive
Just a small streetlight above the entrance marks the bohemian vegetarian basement cafe Idiot (St. Petersburg; 82 Moika Canal; tel. 812/315-1675), named after a Fyodor Dostoyevsky novel. Mulled wine warms visitors in the winter months; lightly fermented kvas cools you in July. Pick a book in English from the cafe's eclectic library to peruse while you sip.
Best Quickie Meal
Yolki-Palki is a Russian chain with basic sit-down service in a country kitchen setting. It's also kid-friendly, a rarity on Russia's otherwise up-to-date dining scene.
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