Almaty has a wide variety of restaurants to choose from, with a mix of Asian and European cuisines well-represented. The long-term traveler will be happy to leave the Central Asian staples behind, while the new arrival can still sample them all in modern surroundings: the old Soviet stolovaya has made room for a bevy of new, stylish restaurants spanning all cuisines and budgets.
If you only plan to eat out once a day, make it lunch. Between 12 and 2-3pm, many restaurants offer business lunch deals at bargain prices. Restaurants in Almaty are definitely open until 22 or beyond.
Budget ( mains 2-6$)
- Fakir (address) – Great, well-seasoned Chinese food in a clean, modern environment. All the classic Russian/Kazakh staples are available as well.
- Kompot (Panfilov 90-99, cnr Zhibek Zholy) – the cheapest decent canteen
- UFO (Zhandarbekova 239, corner of Timiryazev street) – You dine in a giant UFO surrounded by medieval knights + the food is tasty and cheap. Total winner!
- Basilic (Shevchenko 127, corner Mukanova) – Another modern, clean canteen that stays off the grease (sort of). Basic Central Asian food at basic prices.
- Rumi (Dostyk 63, cnr Shevchenko) – Uzbek plov in stylish surroundings. It’s very greasy, though. Equally stylish subsidiaries are Madeni (Abay 44, cnr Baytursynova) and Rumi Lounge (Abylai Khan 92A, cnr Karasai batyr)
- Shashlik on Kirova: (address) The smell of shashlik wafts from virtually every street corner in summertime Almaty, but nowhere do you get it cheaper and bigger than at this proletarian meat-and-beer shack. Perfect to start a night out.
- Princessa (address) – Always packed, this big restaurant offers big plates and good cuisine at very affordable prices. Princessa serves up all the Chinese classics, and they do know how to use spices, unlike most others.
Midrange (7 – 20$)
- Trieste: (address) Small, cozy, authentic Italian place. Great pizza, tiramisu to die for.
- Namaste: (address) There aren’t many Indian places in Almaty, making Namaste an easy favorite. Classy food close to what you would get in Mumbai or New Delhi. Always lots of Indians in the restaurant vouch for the quality.
- Kabuto: (address) You will find lots of Japanese people at this authentic haunt with Japanese speaking staff and hostess. Great sushi, teriyaki. The menu is adapted to Kazakh tastes as they are ready to admit themselves, but if you crave for the real stuff, try asking for the сёку меню (定食メニュー), with dishes like sukiyaki nabe, shabu-shabu and otsumami.
- Vitamin (Gornaya street 103b, on the way to Medeu, a bit beyond Royal Tulip hotel): Raw, vegan, gluten-free.
- U Afanasicha: (address) A huge menu at U Afanasicha. Caucasian food, American, European, Japanese, Italian and Russian. I recommend Russian and Caucasian food. Great for big groups.
- Korean House: (address) has been here forever, and the food is still great. Try funchezoi or kuksi!
- Dasarang: (address) Unassuming little restaurant with nonetheless great, darn spicy Korean food. The lunch special for 1000 tenge is filling to the point of unfinishable. Always full of Koreans here from the nearby tax office (are all Koreans accountants in Almaty?).
- Rodem: (address) Another great Korean that has been around forever and which never gets bad reviews. Simply great food: try their kuksi, bulgogi or rice cakes, you will see what I mean. As a bonus, you get to sit on the floor, which is a fun respite from all those chairs.
High-end (> 20$)
- Zhety Kazyna: (address) Not your run-of-the-mill grandmother’s kitchen, this restaurant offers all of the Kazakh classics in a highly polished environment. Great for business dinners. High service level at a reasonable price.
- Belyj Slon: (address) Run by a Kazakh woman who spent years living in Bangkok, this is the best price/value option for Thai food in Almaty. Inside the interior exudes style and elegance. All dishes are prepared to exacting standards.
- Wagon Restaurant: (address) A successful concept restaurant where diners sit in wagons. All dishes are the unique creation of the now famous Uncle Geni. Highest level of service and food.
- Alasha: (address) If you didn’t make it yet to Uzbekistan, go to Alasha instead. Great Uzbek food, all the classics. The main attraction is the restaurant itself, really drags you into the Silk Road atmosphere with its interior and exterior. Belly dancers, circus artists and more make for a great evening show. [/su_spoiler]