Socialite, Instagram star, soul of the party – that is all about Tolik, a dandy ram who has become the icon of Georgian restaurant chain Khachapuri. As its official art director, he has quite a busy schedule – giving out interviews, autographs and starring in trendy events all around the city. However, he always makes time to visit his own cafes – to host weekend workshops for kids, pose for pics with ladies or throw a dazzling party with free shots and rap battles. Just check his calendar on the website – and you are promised a cuddle and a selfie!
This airy, village-style cafe will treat you to some creative European foods and tons of cuteness. When its mascot, an adorable minipig Funny starts roaming the place, her nose sniffing diners’ shoes and her tail wagging non-stop like a helicopter rotor, no kid or adult can resist the charm. Lunching office workers take pics, /mommies and daddies let children indulge in cuddling and wine-sipping downtown girls reach to pat the fuzzy hostess. Funny, however, rather fancies her work buddies – mainly since they adore her back and know exactly how she likes her ears rubbed.
To soak up true soviet ambiance and try rich Georgian cuisine, go no further than Kavakazskaya plennitsa - a restaurant themed on the iconic Russian comedy "Kidnapping. Caucasian style." While one if its halls reproduces the film scenes in an old-school carpets-on-the-wall setting, another will take you to the beautiful countryside of Georgia with authentic stone ovens, hand-woven rugs - and live chickens clucking quietly in a mini-coop. They aren’t there just for charm though - they lay eggs like any other chicks, and those can be taken directly to your plate.
To bring back memories of your blissful countryside childhood, go no further than “Shinok” - a downtown restaurant that recreates an idyllic Ukrainian village and boasts its own mini-farm. Majestic peacocks rest on a thriving tree; rabbits and chickens roam in the grass next to a big docile cow; and a Ukrainian-dressed woman keeps them all company. And there is, of course, a disturber of the peace, the mischievous billy goat named Gipsy who just fools around and keeps bothering everyone in hope someone would play with him.
Nestled among embassies and old town mansions at 5 minutes’ walk from Arbat, Elargi is a true snug oasis in the heart of the bustling city. With its own flowered, greenery-filled courtyard, it feels less like an eatery and more like your Gran’s summer cottage, so don’t be surprised to see some four-legged diners. A cuddly she-goat Lucy and her bunny mates live right in the garden and will make your heart melt as here, sharp-dressed businessmen and power-lunching CEOs suddenly find themselves patting and feeding the furry cuties right next to exhilarated kids.
This restaurant falls nothing short of a true 1001 nights palace: huge dining halls rather remind of Aladdin’s settings with their relief paintings, ornate lights and embroidered furnishings - all handcrafted by best masters from various corners of Asia. The food option is just as rich and covers a wide range of cuisines from Middle East to China but specializes - you guessed it - in Uzbek delicacies including its signature pilaf. And if dining in a full-on sultan mode is not to your taste, you will find a perfect quiet spot in the riad - an interior garden where you can feast your eyes on two magnificent peafowls.
Warm, all-wooden interiors lit with antique chandeliers, ornate stairs and carved balconies, countless rooms, nooks and crannies - this 4-storey restaurant looks like it could have a hidden door to Narnia. Well, it will take you on a culinary trip to a land no less magical – the beautiful Georgia since that’s where all the recipes come from – as the owner says, right from her Grandma’s cooking book. And while drooling over Caucasian delicacies, don’t be surprised to hear some cheerful chirping – the attic is home to a bunch of playful parrots which will liven up your business lunch and help melt the ice at your first date.
Remember that time you begged mom for a guinea pig? Well, in Lucky Lori your child dreams may come true as they have a whole set of traditional home pets - a nice and sociable cavy, a chinchilla, a hamster and a parrot, all rather friendly to visitors. Another plus – you get to experience the unique Russian concept of time cafes where you pay not for food, but for the time spent. So, while the supply of tea, coffee and biscuits is limitless, you can bring your own snacks to have a games night with friends, or watch movies on a projector, or just work on your laptop in a relaxing ambiance.
Who said pets should be soft and fluffy? This anti-café opted for prickly ones hosting a dozen African pygmy hedgehogs which will give a thrill to kids and adults alike. When these critters start roaming around sniffing, snuffing and puffing, there’s hardly a single person who can resist their charm. A visit here could also help you educate your kids about nature as, before visitors are allowed to play with the spiny creatures, staff members instruct them on the rules and will offer guidance afterwards. Beware, cat and dog lovers: you might leave this place a fully converted “hedgehog person”.
Loads of long-eared, fluffy cuteness awaits you in Zaycafe, another pay-per-minute joint where a host of buoyant bunnies will make your time fly. You can pet stylish ginger white Hermione, or brush Lev Nikolayevich, or get a photo op with the other bunnies – needless to say, these fur balls will likely explode from your Instagram. And if you seek something more than a playing session, the café holds regular lectures and workshops on how to take proper care of these pets. Do take note – you will inevitably want to take one of these cuties home, and, luckily, Zaycafe does offer them up for adoption.
You might not have a lightning bolt scar, but you still can make friends with your own Hedwig at Moscow’s Owl House anti-cafe. There are eight birds from long-eared owl Morty – actually named after Lord Voldemort, though much kinder and not lacking a nose – to cheeky polar owl Sirius that will likely challenge you to a shouting contest. The owls are acquired from breeders, so are rather used to humans, but you will have to book a visit in advance – that helps the café limit the number of guests, and keep the animals well rested.
As biggest feline fans in the world, Russians have cat cafes all across the country. Most of them take cats from shelters in hopes of then placing them in a loving family. The idea seems to work - the oldest cat café in Moscow, Kotiki y Lyudi, has found a new home for 300 pets since it opened in 2015 and keeps rescuing moggies from the streets. But even if you aren’t ready to be a cat parent, do come for a therapeutic petting and purring session and have the graceful felines jump on your lap or stretch out right on your table.
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