Fast Food Russianstyle

Now that Russians are part of the capitalist world, they sometimes need to eat on the go just like the rest of us. There is no shortage of American fast-food chains around St Petersburg, but there are also a few uniquely Russian chains that are every bit as popular as their Western counterparts. Perfect for travellers who are short on time and/or short on cash, these options for bystrayayeda (fast food) offer an authentic Russian experience at a faster pace and lower price. Outlets are located around the city:

Blin Donalt's (Map p84; ul Zhukovskogo 18; meals R60-100; S lOam-IOpm; ® PI Vosstaniya) This funny fast-food joint has somehow avoided legal action from a certain well-known American chain. Here you get fast-food bliny (crepes), chicken Kiev and borscht (beetroot soup) - all as far from the real thing as McDonald's apple pie, but a fascinating comment on post-Soviet Russia.

Chaynaya Lozhka (Tea Spoon; meals R150-250; S 9am-9pm); Smolny (Map p84; pr Chernyshevskogo 9; ® Chernyshevskaya); Vosstaniya (Map p92; ul Marata 3; (M) Mayakovskaya); Vasilevsky Island (Map pp108-9; Sredny pr 32/44; (M) Vasileostrovskaya); Petrograd Side (Map ppl 14—15; Kamennoostrovsky pr 40; (M) Petrograd-skaya) Chaynaya Lozhka is an excellent bliny, soup and salad joint that has become a citywide phenomenon. It's serve yourself cafeteria-style, but the bliny are made to order and the soups and salads are fresh and delicious.

Teremok(Map pp68—9; www.teremok.ru; cnr Malaya Sadovaya & Italiyanskaya ul; bliny R40-100; S lOam-IOpm; (M) Gostiny Dvor) Sprinkled all over the city, these kiosks are superb value, serving up fresh bliny with the fillings of your choice. There is no seating, sograbyoursnacktogoand eat it at the standing-room-only tables in the vicinity. Besides this central location in the Historic Heart, there are Teremok outlets outside many metro stations.

U Tyoshi na Blinakh (meals R200-300; S 24hr); Historic Heart (Map pp68-9; Malaya Morskaya ul 4/1); Vosstaniya (Map p92; Zagorodny pr 18; (M) Vladimirskaya); Petrograd Side (Map ppl 14—15; Sytninskaya ul 16; (M) Gorkov-skaya) 'Auntie's pancakes' are being served up in so many locations now that it's a wondershe's not dropped dead yet. This cafeteria-style chain is a great place to fill up quickly and cheaply. Besides the tired-looking bliny, you can also sample hot soups, fresh salads and a variety of tasty pre-prepared mains.

walls are adorned with B&W photos, while well-stocked bookshelves and a range of board games (not to mention wi-fi access) encourage lingering. This is the kind of place where it's easy to become a regular.

IL PATIO Map pp68-9 Italian $$

@ 314 8215; http://il-patio.rosinter.com; Nevsky pr 30; meals R300-500; ® Nevsky Pr

Patio Pizza was one of the first post-Soviet restaurants to gain widespread popularity for its tasty pizza and extensive salad bar, all at prices that were manageable for Olga and Ivan Russian. Branches quickly spread around Moscow, and then across the country. Now this tried-and-true favourite has gone slightly upscale, with a new, more Italian name, and a new, more stylish look. Wood-oven pizzas and fresh salad bars are still the highlights of the menu.

KILIKIA Map pp68-9 Armenian $$

@ 327 2208; Gorokhovaya ul 26/40; meals R200-400; S noon-3am; ® Sennaya PI

An excellent option for the late-night munchies, the Kilikia is famous for its shashlyk, which sates the appetite of the post-clubbing crowd. Otherwise, it's a popular spot for St Petersburg's Armenian community, which should tell you something about the authentic and delicious food. Live music plays most nights.

YOLKI PALKI Map pp68-9 Russian $

@ 571 0385; www.elki-palki.ru; Malaya Konyushen-naya ul 9; meals R200-400; S 24hr; M Nevsky Pr

Another chain restaurant that made it big in Moscow, Yolki Palki is now attempting to woo the St Petersburg diners - and having some success of it. Its wooden interior is decorated with stuffed animals and fake trees, reminiscent of the Russian countryside, and its menu specialises in reliable, affordable Russian country classics. The salad bar is the main drawcard here - a huge selection for one fixed price, with no waiting and no deciphering Russian menus. It's an excellent option for vegetarians.

STOLLE Map pp68-9 Russian $

@ 3121862; www.stolle.ru; Konyushenny per 1/6; meals R100-300; S 9am-11pm; M Nevsky pr; X

This is one of St Petersburg's coolest places to come for coffee, although you'd be a fool to leave without sampling one of its magnificent pirogi (pies). In fact, the entire menu is excellent, but the pies are irresistible. A 'stolle' is a traditional Saxon Christmas cake: the selection of sweets and savouries sits on the counter, fresh from the oven. It may be difficult to decide (mushroom or meat; apricot or apple?) but you really can't go wrong. This outlet on Konyushennaya pi is one of the city's largest, and it comes with a separate nonsmoking room.

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