Don’t be put off by the signs advertising what seems like a “complex lunch”. A common sight in Riga, there’s nothing complex about it. Kompleksās pusdienas are set lunches and most often consist of soup, a main course and dessert or a drink.
Since the name doesn’t even sound too appealing in Latvian, many trendier establishments have now rebranded the classic as a business lunch or biznesa pusdienas. Often due to their setting these tend to be a bit pricier and are less likely to include a drink. Commonly, you get a main course and starter or dessert.
Dienas piedāvājums or offer of the day is yet another name for the same, age-old concept.
While a “complex lunch” can cost as little as 3 euros in cafes on the outskirts of town and areas around the Central Station and Riga Central Market, usually, you should expect to pay around 4 euros. In comparison, an average business lunch is more likely to cost between 5 euros and 10 euros.
Struggling to find a good place to eat? Some of the best places are hidden but well known among locals. It’s common for colleagues to eat lunch together so ask to join someone and you’re bound to get intel.
Lots of us Latvians flock to ēdnīcas at lunchtime – cheap and cheerful canteens in office and academic buildings throughout town.
Popular canteens in Riga
- Pipars, a cafe at Alfa and Olympia shopping centre food courts
- Ēdnīca Zītari, a cafeteria that calls itself an eatery in English, located at Vaļņu 30 in the Old Town
- Divi Labi, in the offices of the Central Statistical Bureau and the Ministry of Economics
- Īve in the basement of the Investment and Development Agency of Latvia (LIAA) at Pērses iela 2
- Spināti un sviests, Old Town
- 1/2dienu restorāns, corner of Kr.Valdemāra iela and Lāčplēša iela
I’m a big fan of the canteen, so much so that I’ve dedicated a post to ēdnīcas in Riga with a much longer list of spots to try!
Foods you can expect at typical canteens
Frikadeļu zupa – meatball soup
Borščs – beetroot soup
Soļanka – a hearty tomato and meat based soup
Karbonāde – a chicken or pork schnitzel fried in a light batter rather than breadcrumbs
Vārīti kartupeļi – boiled potatoes
Maltās gaļas mērce – minced meat sauce
Griķi – buckwheat
Rasols – a heavy potato and cream based salad
Kāpostu salāti – cabbage salad
Šokolādes krēms – a cocoa-based dessert, like a chocolate and cream jelly
Maizes zupa – Latvian rye bread dessert
Kompots – sweet fruit compote
Kefīrs – kefyr, a soured milk drink
Keen to try more typical foods? Here are my top tips on what to eat in Riga.
Lunch spots loved by young locals
Austra, Skolas iela 15
Mazā Terapija, Skolas iela 28
Miit, Lāčplēša iela 10
Stockpot, Ģertrūdes iela 6
Kolekcionārs, Blaumaņa iela 7
Buberts, Dzirnavu iela 15
Annas dārzs, Mūkusalas iela 44
Terra, Blaumaņa iela 9
Himalaju virtuve, Blaumaņa iela 14
Piens, Aristīda Briāna iela 9a
(List updated in November 2019)
These hotspots have embraced social media so check Twitter and Facebook for their daily offerings.