A double cheeseburger, fries, and coffee. This all cost about 140 soms ($3.20).

Cheap Eats in Bishkek: Begemot

Published: March 19, 2012

Kiosk, intersection of Gorkovo and Batik-Baatyra/Sovyetskaya
Meals for ~$3.25

After spending enough time in a place like Kyrgyzstan, one thing I (and perhaps many visitors) begin to miss is a good ol’ AMERICAN burger and fries and Coca-Cola. While many of the fast food places in Bishkek do sell a “гамбургер,” which is often a schwarma made of beef or lamb shavings with cabbage, french fries, ketchup, and mayo in a hamburger bun, nothing comes as close to real American fast food as the Begemot stands. They’re all over the city, but the stand closest to the London School is at the intersection of Gorkovo and Sovyetskaya, across from the Vefa Center. The menu includes the absolute basics of fast food: single/double hamburgers and cheeseburgers, chicken burgers (which, unfortunately, aren’t breaded and deep fried), french fries, and several kinds of soda. The prices are roughly the norm for local fast food places, if not cheaper, and a burger, fries, and a drink will rarely cost more than 150 soms ($3.25). There are no places to sit, but there are a few benches near the kiosk on Gorkovo Street, and the one on Ahunbayev Street is only a short walk from Ata-Turk Park.

Trying the local food is, of course, very much part of the adventure of visiting Central Asia. However, if you ever find yourself homesick for some American transfats and carbohydrates in a country with none of our fast food chains, the Begemot is your best bet.

For groups and faculty-led tours, this might be a good choice. As I’ve hinted, the kiosks tend to be near parks or public benches. However, they often only have one person taking orders, and large groups will likely take a long time to process.

About the author

Peter Bourgelais

Peter Bourgelais is a second bachelor's student at the University of Massachusetts. He has a BA in Political Science from the University of Maine, and is spending the spring semester in Bishkek in the Russian as a Second Language program while interning at the Bishkek-based Civil Initiative on Internet Policy, a local NGO that deals with IT policy in Central Asia.

Program attended: Challenge Grants: Funding for Study Abroad

View all posts by: Peter Bourgelais

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