Irkutsk for aesthetes and hedonists

Irkutsk, Russia

9 places

Ирина Мацанова

Simply put, this is a selection of places for those who enjoy delicious food and contemplation of beauty. Start your day with a cup of flavorful coffee and a good book, then go to the art gallery and to the places of the Decembrists for spiritual food, and dedicate your evening to wine at the best enoteca of the city. In the meantime, do not forget to take a look at the art-space on the territory of a former factory. Such places here have their own Siberian charm.

Cafe "Belaya Vorona" (White Crow)

It's a quiet, decent place for fans of quality coffee and good literature. The regulars of "Belaya Vorona" are freelancers with laptops, students and creative people. Exhibitions of Irkutsk artists and concerts of local musicians are held in the second hall. You will find an event poster on the stand by the entrance. Next to the coffee house, there is a shop of handmade exclusive gifts.

The menu here is democratic — you can have breakfast for less than 300 rubles and lunch for up to 500 rubles. A large cappuccino will cheer you up both with the price (135 rubles) and the quality of coffee beans if the Siberian cold has a sleeping pill effect on you. If you are not a coffee fan, the coffee house has an extensive tea menu: rooibos, oolong tea and warming home-made teas with ginger, honey or cinnamon.

The secret coffee house is located on the central Karl Marx street but it will not be easy to find — there is a reason it is secret. To get inside, you need to go through a flower shop and go down to the basement.

Average check: 500 rubles per person

Museum of the Decembrists

After the uprising of December 14, 1825, it was the first time that dukes, earls, and barons appeared among the Irkutsk nobility. This had not happened before in the history of the Siberian hinterland. Perhaps that is the reasons the locals perceived the Decembrists, who had been exiled to Siberia for organizing a secret society, first of all as aristocrats, and not as criminals. Their houses regularly hosted performances and balls, literary and musical evenings, as well as discussions of important political issues.

The estates of the Decembrists are still considered the best examples of the XIX century architecture. Only now there are no longer balls there — since 1967, the houses of the first oppositionists are included in the "Decembrists in Irkutsk" museum complex. However, you can still attend music or literary salons — check the schedule at the box office and on the official website.

At the museum, you can see two estates, which used to serve as homes to the families of Volkonsky and Trubetskoy dukes. The interiors of the rooms are recreated with historical accuracy. Some items that belonged to the Decembrists have been preserved, including Maria Volkonskaya's rare pyramidal piano, dated 1831.

Entrance fee: 200 rubles for adults, 70 rubles for seniors and students, 15 rubles for preschool children.

Bar "33 wine and tapas"

It's an establishment of a new format, not only for Irkutsk but also for Russian gastronomy in general. The idea of ​​tapas bars with an extensive wine menu and snacks was borrowed by the creators from the Spanish. Some salads and hot dishes have been added — just a few options in case you happen to be very hungry. Regulars love the local tar-tara and duck with amaranth porridge and currant oil.

The bar defines its concept as “Wine, gastronomy and good people”. The former, by the way, is appropriate here at any time of day or night: no one would be surprised if you order a glass of Shiraz or Riesling for lunch.

The interior of the place is slightly reminiscent of Molchanov-bar, which was started by the same team. It's a somewhat bohemian place, with slightly worn out antique armchairs and an atmosphere of relaxation, but without the familiarity its predecessor was known for.

The average check is from 1000 to 1500 rubles per person.
Business lunch is from 12:00 to 17:00 and starts from 390 rubles.

Viktor Bronstein Gallery

It's an exhibition space with a rich collection that started forming in in 1998 and belongs to Viktor Bronstein, an Irkutsk entrepreneur, and poet. Over the years, the benefactor has managed to collect more than 1,500 exhibits that embody the traditions and modernity of Siberian painting. The collection makes it possible to follow the key turning points in the development of the local art school — from the artists of the start of the last century to modern ones. Of course, you can also see the beauty of Siberia: here you will find paintings depicting the nature of Baikal and Baikal landscapes, drawings of the life of minorities and sketches of the old streets of Irkutsk.

The central place in the permanent exhibition is occupied by the works of the famous Buryat sculptor Dasha Shamdakov. Samples of the Baikal steppes are embodied in bronze: Buryat shamans, mythological creatures, women in traditional costumes. By the way, a separate part of the exhibition is dedicated to incredibly feminine and elegant dolls, created with contributions from Dasha's entire family. The exhibits are part of private collections around the world and just recently were gathered together in the author's homeland.
Entrance fee: 150 rubles for adults, 50 rubles for privileged categories of citizens and children from 3 to 18 years old. A ticket for a student costs 100 rubles.

The Enoteca "Bardo"

After visiting the gallery, fans of noble drinks should go directly to the enoteca. This is probably the only place in the city with such an extensive collection of wine, accompanied by exquisite dishes. You can taste wine by glass if you are not sure that you are up for ordering an entire bottle or if you want to enjoy the wine tasting experience. Professional sommeliers will help you with the choice of beverage and food pairing.

The interior is thoroughly thought through — its understated design features color accents, high wine shelves and drawers, and a view of the gallery from the large hall. You can continue exploring the modern art over a glass of your favorite wine.

The menu features items typical for a wine restaurant: fish and meat snacks, tapas, some hot dishes, risotto, and pasta. Only fresh ingredients that have not been frozen are used in cooking: veal is purchased from local farms, Baikal omul and grayling are bought from fishermen. And from 12:00 to 16:00 "eno-lunches" with an obligatory glass of wine are served — the Siberian version of the French art de vivre.

Average check: 1000-1500 rubles per person

N.P.Okhlopkov Drama Theater

The to-do list for Irkutsk visitors must include seeing Lake Baikal and catching a performance based on a Rasputin or Vampilov piece. For the latter, go to the N.P.Okhlopkov Drama Theater. This stage was the launchpad for the works of Siberian authors, including “Deadline” by Valentin Rasputin and “The Eldest Son” by Alexander Vampilov. "This is the best performance of my work out of all the ones I've had a chance to see," said the author about "Deadline." Performances based on works by local authors are extremely popular among the public, but if tickets are sold out, do not despair — the repertoire of the theater includes other interesting pieces as well: from classical plays to modern drama.
The Irkutsk Drama Theater is the oldest one in Siberia. The rumor is that the theater has even seen Kolchak. "Drama," as the theater is affectionately called by the city inhabitants, has operated as an official city theater since 1985 when it became home to its first acting troupe.

Tickets can be purchased online on
Ticket price: from 100 to 500 rubles for the main stage, from 250 to 500 rubles for the chamber stage.

Molchanov bar

It's an iconic place on the bar map of Irkutsk. A few years ago, it was a secret bar “for insiders” near the Victoria Hotel, and guests could tell by the green lantern if it was open. Now anyone can visit Molchanov. For regulars, the second-floor features recreated the interior of the old bar.

The owners of “Molchanov” introduced and started popularizing the cocktail culture among inhabitants of Irkutsk. If the city's party-goers used to prefer night clubs, now they gather here and take their time to taste signature cocktails. The presentation is also worth mentioning but we don't want to spoil the experience for you-you should go and see it for yourself.

By the way, this place is good not only for cocktails but also for food. While the menu here is short, it is quite decent — visitors love the beef tartar and duck breast with smoked pear. And the highest ranking goes to the signature burger.
The average check is from 500 to 1000 rubles per person

Library bar

This is a bar created for intellectuals. Everything here reinforces this message — from the name of the place to the Hemingway picture on the front door. But there is not even a hint of snobbery, in fact, it's quite the opposite — you would feel as if you were in the company of old friends here. The moment you make yourself comfortable behind the bar, the bartender greets you with a handshake — now you are not just a guest for him, but an acquaintance.

The cocktail menu contains hits at very affordable prices: 250 rubles for Negroni, White Russian, Whiskey Sour and Moscow Mule. The menu is constantly updated. You will always find something seasonal here. If you want to feel like a regular, order a limoncello (do not look for it on the bar menu).

The soulful and stylish bar opened two years ago at the end of Karl Marx Street, and over the course of this time has become a favorite place for those who are "in the know." Proximity to the equally popular Molchanov Bar worked well for both places: on Friday and Saturday evening, guests flow from one establishment to the other, without even trying to figure out which one is better.

The average check is from 500 to 1000 rubles per person.

Edison Craft Bar

This is an atmospheric bar with craft beer, high-quality sound, and nourishing food. You can find American and European dishes here and enjoy more than 20 varieties of tap beer from local producers. The bar also serves imported brands for those who stay true to their habits, even given the chance to try local products.
The interior is understated and cozy. The simplicity of the unfinished brick walls is complemented with an Edison retro lamp hanging from the ceiling.
Thanks to the acoustic capabilities, this place is a favorite among local and visiting musicians. They play mostly rock, indie, and blues. There are occasional jazz jams on Wednesdays. Every Thursday the intellectual public enjoys quizzes. You can see the schedule of upcoming events on the official website. During the time when there are no events, this place is known for warm evenings with lamps and screening of favorite movies.

Average check: 700-1500 rubles per person


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