Kafe na Volzhskoi / Кафе на Волжской
Weekdays 900-2000, Sunday 900-1900
A stolovaya, or cafeteria, is always an excellent place to look for cheap food, and Irkutsk is home to a wide range of stolovayas with widely varying quality. Most students will quickly become familiar with the cafeteria at IGLU, but if you’re looking for a quick, cheap meal closer to the dormitories, you might want to check out Kafe na Volzhskoi, a small cafeteria next to the Volzhskii Market, about a 3 minute walk from the dorms.
While small and fairly unremarkable, Kafe na Volzhskoi has the advantage of being one of the closest eateries to the dormitories, and also conveniently happens to be very reasonably priced. It also is extremely easy to find, just walk up to Baikalskaya from the dorms, cross the perekhod, and the cafe will be on the left side of the building right next to you, very close to to the small Volzhskii Market. Once inside, you’ll see that it’s a fairly small cafe, with approximately six tables and communal seating, so you may wind up sitting with people you don’t know if you come at a busy time. Like in many Russian restaurants, you’ll have to go up to the front counter to order, where the usual surly old women in blue smocks can tell you what they are serving that day. The menu is fairly extensive, yet you can be sure that most of the items on it will not be available. If you look in the glass display case on the left, you’ll also see a wide assortment of pirozhki and other baked goods if you aren’t up for a full meal. The cafe also serves beer, so it might be a good place for a early-evening drink, and would certainly be cheaper than most bars.
The food is generally pre-cooked and then reheated in a microwave upon ordering, so the quality suffers somewhat as a result. Nonetheless, whoever cooks the food manages to turn out highly edible versions of pretty much all the traditional Russian standards. All of the entrees are less than 100 rubles, and the pirozhki and generally about 12 rubles, even cheaper than at some of the sidewalk stands. Occasionally, the cafe has specials which are generally quite tasty, when I was last there they served a very delicious Solyanka. Generally, I’d say their pastries and soups are better than their cutlets, which tend to be dried out from reheating and are frequently slathered with mayonnaise. In general though, it’s a nice cheap place to go if you’re not in the mood to cook.
For groups and faculty led tours, Kafe na Volzhskoi is probably not a good choice due to the lack of table space and the limited staff, which might result in slow service for a large group.