Bistro Coffee and Pizza
115 Ibraimov St./ул.Ибраимова 115
Pizzas from 245 som ($4.70),
other entrées from 200 som ($3.84)
Bistro Coffee and Pizza recreates a European-style café in the heart of Bishkek with charming décor, sidewalk seating, and fresh Italian favorites. While it might not be the traditional experience you came to Kyrgyzstan looking for, Bistro does deliver some comforting dishes for the homesick, and more importantly plenty of vegetarian options for the herbivores. Located on ул. Ибраимова, Bistro is also a great option if you’ve just finished a workout at the nearby Karven Sports Club and don’t want to undermine your fitness efforts with a heavy, greasy dinner.
The food is good: better than I expected upon hearing about an Italian-style Bistro in Bishkek, yet no comparison to actual Italian bistros. Most notably the food is fresh and light, which feels like a welcome break after all the meat and bread that otherwise abounds in the city and the traditional Kyrgyz diet. For the vegetarians out there, I definitely recommend adding Bistro to your city map. There are many options to choose from including soups, salads, pastas and various pizzas – vegetarian dishes with diverse preparations much more numerous than more traditional Kyrgyz or Russian restaurants. The pizza was very tasty, with a thinner crust, not too heavy on the sauce and cheese, and generous toppings. Portion-wise, one pizza could be an individual meal, or is ideal to share around the table in addition to individual pastas, salads or soups. My two friends and I shared the mushroom pizza (275 som), and it had different varieties of mushrooms as well as fresh chives on top. Between the three of us we quickly polished it off, but with a big bowl of tomato soup (125 som) I left feeling full. My glass of merlot (245 som) was very good and added to the Italian experience, but at the same price as the pizzas it was a luxury I might otherwise forgo.
The best part of Bistro is the ambiance, including the sidewalk seating. Though ул. Ибраимова is a busy street, the sidewalk is set back from the road and you don’t notice the noise of passing cars. Instead, you can relax in the plush wicker armchairs and enjoy the company of friends, watch the couples and families strolling by, or even bring your laptop and lose yourself in the free WiFi. The restaurant wasn’t too busy on a weeknight for dinner, but there were a few couples enjoying a date-night and another table of girls enjoying a few bottles of wine and pizzas. Our waitress was very friendly and attentive and, after overhearing our conversations, spoke to us in English. The one major downside to the experience was the harsh fluorescent lighting that gets switched on across the patio after dark. While I’ll definitely be going back to Bistro, in the future I’ll make sure it’s well before sunset.
For groups and faculty-led tours, it would be easy and fun to order a lot of pizzas to share. There is a dining area off the main dining room, but I’d recommend calling ahead to confirm the restaurant can accommodate a large group.