Star quality: a foodie guide to Vilnius

 A restaurant exterior in the traditional old town of Vilnius.
Many of the city's top chefs are dedicated to rediscovering historical national dishes . | Credit: Alamy / M Ramirez

Lithuania has joined Estonia and Latvia to complete the Michelin guide's trilogy of Baltic countries. And it's Vilnius, Lithuania's vibrant capital, that scooped all four of the new one-star accolades, as well as three Michelin Bib Gourmands for restaurants offering outstanding value for money.

A trip to the culinary hotspot won't cost much, either. The Post Office's latest annual City Costs Barometer crowned Vilnius as the best value city, with a weekend break there costing an average of just £236.51 – more than 10% less than runner-up Lisbon, which claimed the top spot last year.

When it comes to award-winning food, Lithuanians are "world class" at smoked meats, pickled veg and farmhouse cheeses, said George East in The Guardian. In Vilnius, traditional "soul food" is the order of the day, from pork-stuffed cabbage rolls (balandėliai) to potato dumplings (cepelinai) and fried black bread rubbed with garlic (kepta duona).

These hearty dishes are "delicious, comforting and satisfying", said the BBC's travel writer Joe Baur, but "that's only scratching the surface" of Lithuanian cooking. Many of the city's top chefs are dedicated to rediscovering national dishes that were forgotten after Lithuania was incorporated into the Soviet Union in 1940. Although the country re-established its independence in 1990, "generations of gastronomic knowledge" were lost.

Alongside the city's many food markets and bakeries (visitors should be sure to try the poppy seed rolls), there's also a burgeoning collection of high-end eateries putting a contemporary twist on traditional Lithuanian dishes. Menus are built around foraged ingredients, with chefs going out of their way to embrace waste-free, nose-to-tail cooking. Here are five of the Vilnius restaurants honoured in Michelin's first-ever guide for Lithuania.

Traditional Lithuanian stuffed potato dumplings.
Traditional Lithuanian stuffed potato dumplings.


With its "sleek and earth-toned interiors" and "innovative reinterpretations of Lithuanian cuisine", said Toyo Odetunde on the i news site, Nineteen18 is part of a new wave of restaurants taking Vilnius by storm. The eatery was awarded a Michelin star after impressing with head chef Andrius Kubilius's adventurous 10-course menu. His pillowy mushroom dumplings are "a joy to eat", as was the "beautifully cooked" Danish beef, said the guide.


Cafe by day, before morphing into stylish restaurant later in the week, Demo dazzled inspectors enough to scoop a star in the inaugural Lithuania guide. Ambitious young chef-owner Tadas Eidukevičius was said to have proved he was "wise beyond his years" with his "imaginative" set menus, which promise "excitement at every course", from the suckling lamb to the delicious kogel mogel (an elevated take on a traditional Polish dessert made with eggs and sugar).

Pas mus

Described by the Michelin guide as a "truly special spot" in the city's bustling old town, Pas mus roughly translates as "our house", and chef-owner Vita Bartininkaitė and her team go out of their way to make the dining experience a memorable one. From beautiful wooden tables made by Bartininkaitė's partner, to the inventive dishes crafted from ingredients grown in her mum's garden, the restaurant "exudes passion and energy", said the inspectors, who bestowed one star and recommended the "heavenly" raspberry snow dessert.


Džiaugsmas was the final eatery to be awarded a Michelin star in Vilnius. The exterior of the grand period house "belies the industrial-style modernity that sits within", said the guide. Diners can choose from an array of sharing plates on the à   la carte menu, or opt for the full tasting menu for tasty dishes such as a doughnut with black pudding, and halibut with shrimp mousse. Head chef Martynas Praškevičius produces "easy to eat" food with a "pared-back style" that lets the core ingredients "shine".


This small neighbourhood restaurant on the border of the capital's Old Town was bestowed a Bib Gourmand award in recognition of its excellent value for money. Chef-owner Gaspar Fernandes was born in Goa in India but is of Portuguese heritage, and his food is an "intriguing blend" of both cuisines. A six-course tasting menu is offered, but there's also a good selection of à la carte dishes. Diners can't go wrong with "My Mum's Curry", served with naan bread made from locally milled whole wheat flour, which adds a "unique nuttiness" to the flavour, said the guide.

La Travi

For a "great value night out" in Vilnius, the Michelin guide recommends this charming Italian restaurant. Diners can sit up at the counter to "watch the magic happen", and the daily-changing menu consists of around eight dishes that are written on the walls. Chef Mattia Rupilis's food is "nonna-style cooking with a pure Italian heart" for dishes that "burst with flavour". There's also an excellent selection of natural wines.


Located in Senatoriu pasazas, a restored mansion in the heart of Vilnius Old Town, this farm-to-table restaurant was also deemed by Michelin inspectors to be worthy of a Bib Gourmand award. Head chef Justinas Misius has built a menu around seasonal ingredients grown locally at his regenerative farm in Radiškis – and often brings dishes to the table himself. "The 'beef from nose-to-tail' is a must".