Rumochnayas have no equivalent in the world. All are home to high tables at which you can only stand, hard liquor is sold in 100-millilitre glasses and Russian sandwiches are served to chase the alcohol with. Because of these sandwiches, rumochnayas were often referred to as sandwich houses in the Soviet era.
Rumochnaya on Bolshaya Nikitskaya, Moscow
This place is considered to be one of the oldest in Moscow. It is close to the conservatoire, so you can find hungry students who are keen to discuss their preparations for a test on harmony, or their senior colleagues who remain nostalgic for the old days. The menu can certainly induce nostalgia: eggs under mayonnaise, Russian sandwiches, fried Borodinsky bread, herring with vegetables – all this witnessed with a slight smile and a sense of melancholy.
While hard liquor is the priority here, vodka is not alone sold: beer, wine and even whiskey is also available. As for the prices, this place is not the cheapest in the capital but it is one of the most colourful.
Kak Ogurchik, Ekaterinburg
This place in Yekaterinburg remotely resembles a classical rumochnaya. Here you will not find high tables or simple low-cost snacks. Instead of trivial sandwiches, they offer genuine Ural dumplings and chicken wings. Instead of drunken talks, you can watch sports, dance at the “village discos” and enjoy parties. Instead of inexpensive brands of alcohol, they serve homemade spirits that are the pride of the establishment. Some would say this is not their cup of tea but for many visitors it is a new and interesting way to unwind.
Pinta in Stremyannaya, St. Petersburg
This is St. Petersburg’s oldest rumochnaya, which whole generations have been visiting. The regular customers are known by name and it is similar in Soviet-era nostalgia to the famous doughnut shop on Bolshaya Konyushennaya Street. Pinta is emblematic and popular, and its visitors like to remember how the writers Sergei Dovlatov and Lev Lurye used to come here in years past. If you are up for a shot with representatives of the old St. Petersburg intelligentsia, this is your place.
Bukhuchet sounds like the word for “accounting” in Russian, but bukh also means booze, so the name is a pun. This place on Solyanka is neither cheap nor authentic, and yet you can have a great time here. It has a Soviet design, a wide choice of alcohol and a fun atmosphere. Its owners revived another half-forgotten tradition of the Soviet intelligentsia, the so-called flat concerts when popular bards were invited to sing at someone’s flat as they were not allowed to sing elsewhere. At Bukhuchet, you can hear avant-garde artists play in an intimate environment. Entrance is usually free.
Rumochnaya No. 1, Krasnoyarsk
Everything follows the canon here: a traditional menu, high tables, vodka, port wines, spirits and herbal liqueurs. Snacks include pickled cucumbers, mushrooms, Russian salads and sauerkraut. There is a separate section in the menu with sandwiches typical for such places, served with anchovies, sprats, lard or herring.
Siberian dumplings are the main gastronomic feature of the place and during the first month of its existence, this rumochnaya tried several very different modes of entertainment, ranging from broadcasting US President Donald Trump’s inauguration to staging plays. The latter, judging by visitors’ reviews, was much more to their liking.