This inner circle of the Historic Heart is so packed with palaces, museums and churches that there is hardly any room left for regular places such as restaurants. But you'll find a few gems on the smaller streets, especially Gorokhovaya, Malaya Morskaya and Bolshaya Morskaya.
@ 571 7591; www.neprestoran.ru; nab reki Moyki 37; meals R600-800; ® Nevsky Pr
Unlike most communist-theme restaurants in the city, NEP celebrates the early 1920s, a period of entrepreneurial activity and relative liberalism under Lenin's New Economic Policy. The restaurant's hip 1920s style evokes a kind of vaudevillian luxury, as does the delicious Russian menu. Live music and cabaret plays from 8.30pm from Wednesday to Sunday.
TANDOORI NIGHTS Map pp68-9 Indian $$ @ 312 3886; Voznesensky pr 4; meals R400-600; ® Nevsky Pr
The city's most stylish Indian restaurant is also among its most authentic, offering a mix of traditional and modern recipes road-tested by a top London Indian chef. Great choice for vegetarians.
TAVERNA OLIVA Map pp68-9 Greek $$
@ 314 6563; www.tavernaoliva.ru; Bolshaya Morskaya ul 31; meals R300-500; É Nevsky Pr
Greek-themed photographs and folkloric art bring the requisite Mediterranean atmosphere to this cavernous hall. (The atmosphere is also 'enhanced' by live music, which can be a bit much.) Nonetheless, the place is extremely popular, and with good reason. The traditional Greek cooking is excellent, as attested to the Greek expats who seem to frequent this place. There is also a pleasant sidewalk café which offers a partial menu.
FIDELIO CAFÉ Map pp68-9 Italian $$
"3 314 8444; Gorokhovaya ul 13; business lunch R200, meals R300-400; ® Nevsky Pr
Pressed white linens and serious scrubbed waitstaff lend an upscale atmosphere to this surprisingly affordable café. The menu is not extensive, but what the café does, it does well: crispy pizzas and pastas with various tomato- and cream-based sauces. The three-course business lunch is a steal.
FAT FRIER Map pp68-9 Russian $
Tolstiy Frayer; ~s 314 5921; www.tolstiy-fraer.ru; Kirpichnyperl;mealsR200-400; S 10am-1am Sun-Thu, 10am-3am Fri & Sat; ® Nevsky Pr
Now with branches around the city, this beer hall on the back streets of the Historic Heart provides a fun hideaway for some comfort food and a Baltika beer. The nostalgic communist paraphernalia recalls the days of Leonid Brezhnev, but thankfully the staff do not - there are smiles all round and good service.
PELMENY BAR Map pp68-9 Russian $
@ 570 0405; Gorokhovaya ul 3; meals R200-400; ® Nevsky Pr
Specialising in the old Siberian standard pelmeni (dumplings), this cute café serves them up with beef, pork, salmon or mushrooms. Choose a soup or a salad as a starter, and you've got an immensely
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