Sovetskaya Cheburechnaya / Советская чебуречная
ul. Krasina 27, str. 1
Metro Mayakovskaya (See Map)
Greasy Spoon, Soviet Kitsch
Snacks for $2; Meals for $4-8
The cheburek is a fried turnover, traditionally stuffed with meat, that is said to have originated among the Crimean Tatars. During the Soviet era the delightfully greasy pastry became a street-food staple all over the USSR. Going to a cheburechnaya is only exotic if you think that Taco Bell serves authentic Mexican cuisine, but for this edition of “Cheap Eats” I didn’t go eastern—I went retro. Sovetskaya Cheburechnaya’s commitment to Socialist kitsch is serious—hammer and sickles adorn the windows and doors, drinks are served in thick glass tumblers, and Soviet posters line the walls. Best of all, most likely, is the full-length mural of a Soviet dirigible floating over a Central Asian city.
Both the menu and the overall atmosphere are distinctly proletarian. Chebureki are available with a variety of fillings, like mushrooms, beef, or cheese. I went with the traditional lamb option for 60 rubles. As a side I ordered some borsch (60 rubles) and a vegetable salad, also 60 rubles. I washed it all down with a bottle of Zhiguli beer, known as the “mother of all Russian beers.” It was founded in 1881 as one of the first large-scale brewing operations in Russia, and, when nationalized by the Soviets, became THE Soviet beer — well-known as a substandard beverage that could be easily found almost anywhere in the USSR. Altogether my bill came to 250 rubles. The prices, as you can see, were proletarian as well.
The cheburek was as delicious as it sounds—minced lamb meat and spices cooked into fried dough. In my opinion it could have used a bit more meat, however. The borsch, unfortunately, was thin and didn’t have enough beets—I would have been better off just ordering another cheburek for the same price. The salad was a simple affair consisting of fresh tomatoes, cucumbers, and onions topped with dill and soaked in a briny dressing. It was quite refreshing. I’m not an expert on beer, so I’ll just say that Zhiguli, despite its recent rebranding campaign, is a beer that should not have survived the transition to a capitalist economy.
If you find yourself near Mayakovskaya metro station and have a craving for something unhealthy, you should definitely check out Sovetskaya Cheburechnaya. The chebureki, at least, are cheap and delicious, and the décor alone is worth a trip. And if you’re feeling like a real Soviet proletarian, you can finish off your meal with a plate of herring with onions (сельдь с луком) and a shot of vodka.
For groups and faculty-led tours, this location is not likely to be the best choice. Some of the kitsch is offensive and vulgar, seating is scarce, and the food itself not entirely remarkable, if cheap. Perhaps have this a place that group members might try on their own time, if so inclined.