Ukraine has plenty of restaurants, cafes, pubs, fast food joints and kiosks... all cuisines for all wallets. Sometimes service is far from perfection (at any category, including the top-rank establishments). Nevertheless compared to the previous 5-10 years the changes are welcome.
You won't have communication problems at most places of middle+ category in big cities or tourist destinations, targeted to host both foreigners and sophisticated Ukrainians. Their staff will generally have basic English at least.
The price range for cuisine differs significantly around Ukraine. Kyiv is definitely the most expensive city in all terms, including eating out. Travel a short distance and you'll find places offering incredible cuisine for half the price outside the capital. Odessa, Lviv, Trans-Carpathian and Crimea regions (in some degree) are famous for their original cookery culture. Each of them has its own peculiarity: Odessa is acknowledged as the proven gourmet paradise. Lviv is a symbol of coffee and chocolate cookery art. The Carpathians traditionally take in Hungarian, Romanian and Slovakian cooking ideas. Testing Crimean ethnical cuisine means to visit Tatar family establishments - they exist and are worth the visit.
Rough cost guide to eating out in Kyiv:
* Top category: an overage receipt – from UAH 1000 excl. alcohol. (e.g. restaurants of “Mirovaya karta” (“The World Card”) and “Kozyrnaya karta” restaurant chains).
* Upper – middle and middle categories: from UAH 500 (well designed places not only of the central location).
* Low category: from UAH 200 (mostly ordinary cafes and restaurants outside Kiev).
* Canteens and fast food chains: UAH 40-70. The most famous fast food chains are “Domashnaya Kukhnya” ("Home Cooking"), “Trali-Vali”, “Shvydko”, “Puzata Khata”, “Dva Gusya” ("Two Geese"), “Drova”, Mister Snack (sandwich bar), Chelentano pizza, McDonalds, McFoxy, Domino’s Pizza, KFC (very few points). They offer meals of appropriate quality for reasonable price.
Recently there had been a surge of food trucks, pop-up food stalls and coffee trucks in Ukraine. No mass outdoor event goes without them and it's worth to check them out. Food trucks offer a wide range of foods — from classic kebab and burgers to salmon, mussels and steak.
The new – pay just for time – cafes were open in Kyiv and Odessa. Its key idea matches those who use eating out places rather for working and communicating. Paying for hours or minutes, spent there, you get unlimited access to free Wi-Fi, tea, coffee...
All restaurants commonly operate from 10-12 a.m. till midnight, as well as pubs. Cafes and fast food operating time varies from 7-9 a.m. till 8-11 p.m.
Smoking is forbidden in all public places (incl. eating out points) in Ukraine.
Either you go to a casual cafe or to a top-rank restaurant, don’t neglect having a few hundred hryvnya in cash – some establishments may not accept credit cards (especially late at night).
Almost all top-rank and premium rank places have free Wi-Fi. Such cafe chains as “Double Coffee”, “Coffee House”, “Shokoladnitza” and the above mentioned pay-for-time cafes are widely recognized by those locals and travellers, who need to work on their laptops. Just buy a lunch or a few cups of coffee – and you can stay for hours using free Wi-Fi access.
Tipping etiquette in Ukraine is very similar to that elsewhere in Europe or the US. Commonly it is 5-10% of the bill – up to your decision. You may also just round-up the sum, as many locals do. Some places include “cost of service” on the bill, so it’s worth to check it before paying.
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