Traditional Crimean Tatar cuisine is one of the biggest attractions for everyone who comes here. Keep in mind that it varies according to the area. Vegetables, fruit and fish are the main staples of the traditional cuisine of Crimean Tatars on the southern coast and the mountains, while the mainstay of the diet in the Crimean steppe is meat and dairy products. Bakhchysarai is the gastronomic capital of Crimean Tatars. There, you can sample timeless classics like chebureks, yantyks, kebabs, shish kebabs, dolma and sarma. A coffee shop museum located in a complete replica of a 15th century tower in Yevpatoria, for instance, serves coffee made to an old-fashioned recipe that features egg yolk and honey. In eastern Crimea, such as the towns of Sudak and Stary Krym, you can try chibireks (not to be confused with chebureks) and a special recipe for yantyks.
The Little Jerusalem route in Yevpatoria offers a great variety of Crimean cuisine flavours. Next to churches of various religions, you can find restaurants and cafes serving a wide range of traditional cuisines: Jewish, Armenian, Crimean Tatar, Russian and Ukrainian. Don't miss the chance to sample the Crimean Karaites' fare: Crimea is one of the few places in the world to offer dishes from the national cuisine of this small indigenous community, such as lamb with walnut sauce and lentils, low-alcohol millet beer called boza, and soup with dumplings so tiny that it takes at least ten to fill a spoon.
Sevastopol and Balaklava offer freshly-caught red mullet as well as other fish and seafood. When in Yalta, you should try the authentic sweet onions that only grow in Zaprudnoye. If you love beer, check out the traditional Crimean German restaurants — found, for instance, in Donskoye, near Simferopol.
Another source of pride for the peninsular is Crimean wines. Their history goes back to the days of Greek colonies. The wine is traditionally produced near the place where grapes grow, so for wine tasting you should take a trip to Massandra, Solnechnaya Dolina, Koktebel, Novy Svet, Inkerman or Balaklava. Since 2017, Crimea has hosted the Novemberfest wine festival, which offers a specially developed programme for wine enthusiasts during the Unity Day national holiday weekend.
Another subject of interest is Crimean oysters and clams. To the tourists' astonishment, these molluscs abound both in the special farms in the Black Sea and on the local restaurants' menus.
If you enjoy fresh fruit and vegetables, you will be delighted to find the great variety of locally grown food. Every year, the peninsula's orchards and farms yield plenty of apricots, peaches, cherries, apples, grapes, strawberries and raspberries.
Crimea's top ten delicacies
- Compare cheburek recipes in Yevpatoria, Bakhchysarai and Sudak
- Drink sparkling wine Lev Golitsyn-style in Novy Svet, taste the favourite fortified wine of Emperor Nicholas II in Massandra, and appreciate the wine bouquet made from grapes introduced to Crimea by the Greek colonists
- Have an aromatic coffee made according to the Crimean Tatar recipe with qurabiya biscuits
- Savour a freshly picked apricot from a tree in Bakhchysarai
- Sample freshly caught oysters in Katsiveli
- Try local shark fishcakes on the shore of the Donuzlav lake
- Enjoy the authentic Ukrainian borsht
- Try olives grown in Artek
- Eat grilled red mullet in a local fish tavern in Feodosia
- Buy your friends a jar of jam made from cornelian cherries, rose petals, locally grown figs or white wild cherries, anywhere on the Crimean coast.