During my six weeks in Uzbekistan, I admit, I ate out way more than I probably should have. The affordability of a dinner out, not to mention the social aspect of dinner with other colleagues when you are traveling alone was a big pull. It also didn’t hurt that the food was amazing! Some of my favorite places became regulars on my rotation, in particular, Franklin’s BBQ. I have to say, they did a darn good job of bringing the flavors of American BBQ to Uzbekistan. One of the things I love to do when I travel is eat the local cuisine and see what locals like rather than the tourist version of what they think we want. I also love to see what other countries versions of my favorite cuisines are – Italian, Japanese, and Mexican. Uzbekistan didn’t disappoint!
One of the first places I went was a local chain called Rayhon. They serve up local favorites like plov and manti in a no nonsense environment. This is a favorite among locals because of the fast service, reasonable prices and great food. There are several locations in the city, with English menus for those of us who don’t speak English or Russian.
Bread and Fish
This little place was located near my flat in the Miribad district. It features a great location on the edge of a little park that is popular with families, especially in the evenings. The location has both indoor and outdoor seating, but I did prefer the lovely views and squealing children playing nearby. The food was simple but good. Most of the entrees involve a fish sandwich of some preparation or the other, with traditional side of various salads and soups. I usually had a grilled fish sandwich and a cucumber salad. There is enough food for two people if you get both the sandwich and the salad. Prices here are a little more expensive as it is in a prime location of the city, but the views are peaceful and the food is good, so it still ranked multiple visists.
Oh my goodness! I can’t tell you how I felt the first time I walked into this place! It absolutely smelled like home. After weeks away, I was really craving some comfort food and this place delivered. The wait staff was in red Buffalo Check flannel shirts, which also made me kind of giggle as they gave their best “American” style look. Given that Uzbekistan is a Muslim country, there is no pork on the menu, so beef BBQ was certainly the main option for many of the selections.
The ribs were amazing! The BBQ sauce is homemade, and the seasonings for the ribs hit the spot. I was a little surprised to find cole slaw, but given that it was a BBQ joint, I shouldn’t have been. I visited this place several times while in Tashkent and thoroughly loved it.
I also tried the Sloppy Joe – this was more reminiscent of a chipped BBQ sandwich to me, but it was great. The portions are quite large, so go with an appetite. I love that they serve them with gloves so that your hands don’t get dirty. As an aside, the music was AMAZING! They were blasting classic rock – which helped a bit with the bought of homesickness I was feeling. If I ever make it back to Tashkent, this is certainly on my rotation! Franklin’s is located off of Ulugbek St.
Peggy’s Bar and Grill
Peggy’s Bar and Grill is a little out of the way, but when you are missing Mexican food like crazy, it is worth the drive. Peggy’s version of Mexican was ok. Given that I live in the South, we have some amazing Mexican and Tex Mex here. I had high hopes, but after weeks of craving it, it was quite passable. If you go here, you need to try the steak. It was delicious! I actually liked that a bit more than the Mexican options. All in all, it was a really fun location with good music and decent food.
I didn’t get to this restaurant as much as I would have liked. It is in an area near the Grand Plaza Hotel. A bustling little neighborhood with lots of eating and shopping options. I had a few amazing dishes from here – my favorite of which was the Dahl. The naan was also absolutely amazing. The pricing was reasonable and the service was great – if you have a hankering for Indian food while in Tashkent, this is your place.
Quite near Shalimar, I had to try out the Uzbek version of Japanese. It was ok, but not exactly what I was looking for. This hibachi style restaurant had a great outdoor patio and attentive wait staff. I had teriyaki chicken, which was quite good. Don’t expect the hibachi to be cooked right in front of you, but the style is there and the options will certainly quell your craving for Japanese.
Ok, now this little place has a special part of my heart. I absolutely loved this little pub. Yes, it was a pub, but it was also a great little restaurant. I spent a good bit of time there with friends, drinking espresso until WAY to late into the evening for a woman my age to drink coffee. The atmosphere was lovely, the menu eclectic, and the service was fast and personal. I had several great meals here, one of my favorites being spaghetti.
I will absolutely go back if I make my way back to this part of the world. The espresso comes with a little chocolate heart, which was a perfect little taste of sweet to balance the coffee. I loved sitting on the patio and watching the world go by.
There are two coffee chains in the city that I really loved. For a city that is primarily a tea drinking location, these two coffee chains make a good cup. The first is Black Bear Kofi. This chain is all over the city. There are a variety of locations from mall locations to small shops on commercial streets. The atmosphere is laid back, the coffee is strong, and the treats are divine.
The second coffee chain, which is much smaller than the first, is Book Café. I loved the outdoor seating and interior that was floor to ceiling books. The coffee came in massive mugs (which I loved!) and they had a variety of treats from doughnuts to apple pie and “American” cookies. It took me a while to figure out that “American” cookies where what they called chocolate chip cookies. Too funny! I suggest eating under their covered portico in the front of the shop if the weather is suitable.
Ok, I know, but hear me out. Fast food chains are not usually on my lists of must visit eats in any city. But not unlink in Trinidad, the chicken in Uzbekistan is not altered or force fed in any way, making for a MUCH better product, even for fast food. Fast food stores are a new concept in general in Uzbekistan, especially from the West. KFC is one of the mainstays of Uzbek fast food culture. The food tastes surprisingly fresh, much more flavorful. There are some different options as well, but the chicken sandwiches and chicken “bits” (popcorn chicken) were both good the two times I ate at a KFC. Be prepared to pay for each condiment over 1 that you request as they do not have the same affinity for ketchup that we Americans do.
The food scene in Uzbekistan was much more vibrant and varied than I expected it to be. I did start to miss certain types of food (mainly Mexican and Italian), but the variety of ethnic restaurants was amazing.
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