Поварешка / Povaryoshka
ул. Ленина, 32
Open from 10 am to 10 pm
Meals from $4
Povaryoshka, which means “ladle” in Russian, is a fast-food cafe in downtown Irkutsk, not far from the Irkutsk State Linguistic University. They serve fairly standard Russian fast food, plus pizza and a number of interesting soups.
I discovered this place after two friends and I went searching after classes one day for a lunch place nearby the university because it was a very cold day. We saw Povaryoshka, which we often pass on the way home and thought we’d give it a shot. The interior of the cafe is homey, with two rooms of booths and tables and a counter to the side, where you place your order. The place was pretty full when we arrived and there was a line, but we grabbed a table and waited in line for several minutes while looking at the menu. I ordered a slice of Margarita pizza (65 rubles), a cup of vegetable puree soup (45 rubles), and tea with lemon (15 rubles). The food was quick, although the women behind the counter were a bit stressed because of the line. My total was only 125 rubles, and I didn’t expect it to fill me up, but the food was delicious and surprisingly filling, and by the end of the meal I was very full.
The soups we ordered were all delicious, with lots of flavor and served with rye croutons (гренки) on the side. One friend of mine ordered borsch and meat lasagna, and another friend ordered solyanka soup and an apple pastry (яблочный пирог). Everything turned out well, and the pizza was surprisingly good, with real cheese and tomatoes (it’s not uncommon to find pizza made with mayonnaise and ketchup in place of tomato sauce in Irkutsk’s fast food restaurants).
Povaryoshka seems to be a popular place for weekday lunch in Irkutsk. People eating there were mostly solo, eating a quick lunch and heading back out. But it is also a nice place to come with friends, as there is enough space to stay for a while and not feel rushed. With no check to worry about paying after your meal, you can sit and drink tea for awhile and no one will hurry you out the door.
For groups and faculty-led tours, Povaryoshka will likely prove to be a bit small for groups of more than about 10. Service can be a little slow, particularly at the lunch rush, when a line tends to form at the counter. But for smaller groups, this could be a great place for quick, cheap meal between events.