“Secret” is, perhaps, the best word to describe Lviv, a city in the southwest of Ukraine. Narrow streets, old buildings, and picture-square courtyards hide evidence of historic events, rebellious Ukrainian character and charming stories of a daily city-life. “Secret” is, perhaps, as well the most popular type of bars and restaurants. Throughout the city, there are dozens of them. Not marked on the maps, without any sign, usually hidden by the shabby flat doors.
You can easily find yourself circling around, sneaking into small courtyards, looking for the hidden doors. But when you find them – usually its more than worth it.
My favorite one is called „Libraria“ (easy to guess, meaning „library“) – jazz bar on the 3rd floor of a casual old residential building, with a heavy wooden and leather furniture and rows of old books… Ad to that amazing cocktail and smiling staff. But to find this one – we spent almost half an hour walking around and only thanks to local Ukrainians, we finally managed to get in. The entrance to the courtyard is marked only with a small graffiti, saying in kirilica: „Books of the forgotten ancestors“. By the way, you can listen to the live jazz performances every evening there.
We would have never known about „Libraria“ if not a friendly bartender in the other local cocktail bar „No. 44“, where we as well ended up accidentally. One of our friends decided to grab a snack in the main city Market square. After entering what looked liked as a fast food place, downstairs he found an amazing bar, with a stunning interior.
It is said, that trend of secret bars and restaurants in Lviv started with “Kriyivka” – a history based bar in the same Market square. Even though this bar does not have a huge sign, these days it is easy to find – just look for the long queue of locals and tourists. “Kriyivka”, by the way, means “hiding place” in Ukrainian. To enter this one – you will have to know the password. For many years it stays the same: “Slava Ukraini. Herojam slava” (meaning – “Glory for the Ukraine. Glory for the heroes”).
Just next to “Kriyivka” there’s another secret restaurant, named “Mason”. People say that this one is the most expensive restaurant in Ukraine. But don’t worry, throughout the city, there are several places (Google them out) where you can pick up the 90% discount check and that will make “Mason’s” prices very reasonable.
The restaurant is located on the second floor of, again, usual residential building in the Market square. When we visited it, the doors were marked with number “79”, but they say, that sometimes this number is changed. You knock on the doors to see it opened by an old guy in a bathrobe. Shabby kitchen behind him, worn out curtains, old TV, some jars with home-made food and an instant thought in your head: “Oh no, not the restaurant, just some old guys flat…”. But you are just where you have to be. “Mason” is just behind the kitchen.
And those are just a few worth a visit… “Trapezna Idey” welcomes with an unmarked door, behind the paper-aeroplane monument, which leads into the bowels of Bernardine monastery, amazingly cute and popular local cafe “Atlas”, a sport for local cuisine “Gutsulsky Dvir” or the best gastronomical restaurant in town – “Baczewski”, yet another two with striking interior “Dim Legend” and “Hasova Lyampa”…
All in all, Lviv is a perfect city for your gastronomical weekend!
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