Monday, July 11, 2011

Eating and Drinking in Turku

Finncon is almost upon us, and since many of you will be visiting Turku, I thought I’d share a couple of tips of places to eat, drink, and be merry during the weekend. This is not a comprehensive guide, but just some suggestions for places I think might be worth visiting.

Most of the places mentioned are either in the city center, or close to the convention site. I’ve created a Google map where you can see the convention site and some other places of interest, plus the places mentioned in this article at <is.gd/fc11tku>.

Food

Baan Thai (Kauppiaskatu 15). If you find yourself wanting Thai food, this place is generally considered the best in Turku.

Blanko (Aurakatu 1). Italian–Asian fusion kitchen. Good food, menu more interesting than in many restaurants. On Sundays, a popular brunch is served from noon to 5 PM. Voted as best restaurant 2011 in Turku by the City magazine.

Cantina Azteca Mexican Bar & Grill (Eerikinkatu 8). Excellent Mexican food.

China Thai (Kauppiaskatu 1 A). I haven’t visited this relatively new Chinese & Japanese restaurant myself, but have heard good things about it (especially that it is less “fast food style” than most of the Chinese restaurants in Turku).

Delhi Darbar (Hämeenkatu 8). A nice Indian restaurant quite close to the con site. Voted as the best ethnic restaurant 2011 in Turku by the City magazine.

Dennis (Linnankatu 17). The oldest pizzeria in Turku still has excellent pizzas and pastas. Get the garlic bread as an appetizer if you go here (but it’s probably best to share it with a friend unless you are really hungry).

Harald (Aurakatu 3) may be familiar if you’ve visited Turku, Tampere, or Jyväskylä before. It is a Viking-themed restaurant (which is not as kitchy as it sounds) that has a very nice decor. The food, while not authentic viking food, is pretty nice, and a bonus is that they use lots of traditional Finnish ingredients such as root vegetables and berries. To go with your food I’d recommend their honey beer.

Kuningas Kebab (Itäinen pitkäkatu 90). The oldest and, in my opinion, the best kebab restaurant in Turku (if not the cheapest—a kebab here costs almost twice what you pay in the run-of-the-mill kebab/pizzeria, but is definitely worth it). If you want spicy, the ”superhot” sauce is your friend, but for others the place is famous for their garlic dressing. Also serves burgers.

Pinella (Vanha Suurtori 2) is a mix of old and new: the oldest part of the restaurant dates back to mid-19th century but the whole place was recently renovated and reopened after a few year’s break. I’ve only eaten lunch at the new Pinella, but it was excellent. The location between the old marketplace and the river Aura, across the street from the Turku Cathedral is beautiful. Pinella also has a couple of terraces, plus a champagne and coctail bar.

Pippurimylly (Stålarminkatu 2). A traditional Finnish family restaurant, founded in 1974 (and still looks pretty much the same, so if you want to see what Finnish restaurants used to look like a couple of decades ago, this is the place). Serves some of the best steaks in town.

Shamrock Café (Eerikinkatu 10) is not an Irish pub/cafe, despite the name, but a restaurant and bar that is part of the big chain restaurant block near the market place. It has very tasty burgers and pizzas.

If you want scenery, there are some nice restaurants by the river, many with riverside terraces. The menu varies from just a salad or a pasta to pizzas and some very fine dining (If you’re in for the latter, Mami or Rocca, side by side at the beginning of Linnankatu are probably what you should look into. Both have lovely terraces for eating outside if the weather permits).

Lunch: Many restaurants serve inexpensive lunch dishes on weekdays (usually from 11 to 2 or 3 PM). The regular price for lunch varies from seven to nine euros. A couple of places near the convention venue are: Kiinanmuuri (Vähä-Hämeenkatu 1—huge portions of basic but ok Chinese food—especially a takeway lunch serves 2 to 3 persons easily), Resepti (Kiinamyllynkatu 5—a bakery café that also has tasty salads and very nice home cooking–style lunch dishes), and Delhi Darbar, mentioned above.

Coffee

Arnolds (Eerikinkatu 15 and Aurakatu 8). If you want to eat something small, Arnolds has very tasty bagels and smoothies. Also, delicious donuts and good, inexpensive coffee.

Café Art (Läntinen rantakatu 5) is probably my favorite coffee shop in Turku. They have absolutely delicious pastries, and the coffee is lovingly prepared by award-winning baristas. Has a nice riverside terrace. Definitely woth a visit.

Café Brahe (Aurakatu 10 and Yliopistonkatu 27). Coffee, huge cinnamon rolls, yummy pastries, and also baguettes, ciabattas, soups and salads if you’re feeling a bit hungry. Also a good selection of different kinds of mineral water, fruit juice and smoothies if you’re not big on coffee. Big terraces (in Yliopistonkatu, and inside the Hansa mall) good for people-watching while you have your cup of coffee.

Fontana Café (Aurakatu 1). A very nice café with a selection of goodies from their own bakery. Serves also lunch on weekdays, and a brunch on Sundays.

Nuvole Gelateria (Eerikinkatu 13). If you want ice cream, this is the place. Absolutely delicious Italian ice cream, enjoyed while sitting in comfy armchairs. What more could you want?

Beer

The closest place to the convention site is the pub Proffan kellari (Rehtorinpellonkatu 6), just across the street. It’s a nice neighborhood pub that is used to serving the students and staff of the university. They were kind enough to come back earlier from their summer vacation to open the place just for Finncon, so it is advisable to reward them by visiting them during the convention. Open from noon to 6 PM, Friday to Sunday on Finncon weekend.

The Old Bank (Aurakatu 3) is one of the better (and more expensive) pubs for beer aficionados in Turku. They have around 150 different beers in their selection, some of which are exclusive in Finland, so if you want to sample many different kinds of beer, this is your spot. The Thursday evening pre-Finncon gathering will be here.

The Brewery Restaurant Koulu (Eerikinkatu 18) has a room booked for the convention for most of Friday, and the Friday evening party is also there. As the name suggests, they have their own beers (the wheat beer is especially recommended, if they happen not to be out, which they sadly often are) and ciders. You can also eat here (there is the restaurant side plus a separate pub menu). The place has the biggest outside terrace in Turku (where you can also play pétanque or Mölkky, and, if you’re traveling with children, it’s the only one that also has a playground for kids).

Teerenpeli (Eerikinkatu 8) is another brewery pub. It’s where the Turku pub meetings are held. The place is a chain pub (the brewery is in Lahti), so it’s not local. It has lots of small tables that accommodate groups of different sizes. And if you feel adventurous, their selection also includes their own whisky.

Cosmic Comic Café (Kauppiaskatu 4) is a curiosity among pubs: it has a large selection of comic books you can read while having a coffee or a beer. They also feature exhibitions by Finnish comics artists. The place has rather a good selection of bottled beers, and also (going by what I’m told) a very good selection of ciders for all you suspicious non-beer-drinking types. The prices are probably the consumer-friendliest of this lot of pubs.

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