Best of Helsinki: Eat and Drink in Punavuori
The former worker district has slowly turned from sinful and dangerous to laid-back and enjoyable, without losing its vitality. The core of Helsinki's bohemian night life has shifted away from Punavuori towards Kallio, but Punavuori is still beating. Several new restaurants have opened in the area, to join the several Helsinki classics already found on these streets. We listed the best of Punavuori restaurants from Michelin dinners to hung over pizza.
A Punavuori classic, nowadays open only for lunch after the Methodist Church owning the space banned the selling of alcohol. During the weekends open until 5pm. Always a great meal and nice atmosphere, in the summertime a big outdoor terrace. Tori classics include salmon soup, meatballs with a brandy sauce and beetroot steaks.
Opened in 2003, this top restaurant is found on Uudenmaankatu. The Finnish Gastronomic Society picked Demo as Restaurant of the Year in 2006. In 2007, Demo became the first Finnish bistro-style restaurant to be awarded a Michelin star, reclaiming its star every year since then.
CAFÉ BAR NO 9
On Uudenmaankatu, this living room style restaurant has been catering to culturally savvy locals since 1996. The interior is designed by architect Matti Kulovesi, and has hardly been changed through the years. The milieu can be described as simple yet cosy. Known as Ysi ("Nine"), this establishment stands strong, even if the bohemian centre point of the city's night life has switched from Punavuori to Kallio. Two classics on the menu include the coriander wok and the Pollo Limonello pasta. The kitchen is open until 11pm.
Opened where the legendary Beefy Queen diner used to stand, OX is run by Anders Westerholm and Matti Sarkkinen as a part of their array of top restaurants like the Michelin-awarded Demo, the Old Market Hall's Story, and Sushibar + Wine. The beautiful and intimate interior is by Joanna Laajisto. The menu includes a burger that is called the best in town, as well as a mouthwatering spring lamb tartar. Vegetarians will also be pleased.
Pieni Roobertinkatu 13
Opened in 2004, Juuri swears on Finnish food and organic fare. Selected as Restaurant of the Year by the Finnish Gastronomic Society in 2004, and having hosted visitors such as Yoko Ono and Jared Leto, the restaurant is owned by Ilja Björs and Jarkko Myllymäki, who also operate the Latva bar found in the same block, as well as the Mari Cafés in Marimekko shops and the Pihka lunch canteens.
MAT & RUOKAKAUPPA
Cute and tasty grocery store ('ruokakauppa') and lunch restaurant in one. Mat has become one of the most popular lunch spots on Iso-Roobertinkatu. The tasty, home-style buffet is served on weekdays from 11am to 2pm. Pick and mix, pay per weight, enjoy on the spot or take away.
Iso Roobertinkatu 20-22
The New York style Penny is a compact, 25-seated restaurant in the Punavuori district. Lunch is a simple deal: just one daily changing option, plus a vegetarian alternative. Lunch is 10 euros on the spot, 9 euros packed to go, or 8.50 euros in your own lunch box. Add a crispy bread roll baked by Teemu & Markus or a coffee for an extra euro, or three euros for a glass of wine. The menu has plenty of vegetables and a few carefully selected cocktails. The after work hours from Wednesday till Friday at Penny include food and drink offers. Stop by for just a cocktail or a glass anytime. Comfort Sundays serve breakfast all day. How about some scrambled eggs with foie gras, or a pile of pancakes with white chocolate and rhubarb? A three-course dinner can be enjoyed for 35 euros.
PIECE 'N' LOVE
The new pizzeria and bar on Uudenmaankatu serves praised pizzas with tasty drinks. A laid-back and comfortable place, with a kitchen open until 11pm and midnight during the weekend, guests are welcomed until 2am (Mon-Tue until midnight).
The best kept secret and home-style lunch place around, you'll be sure to fall in love. A small, small place but if you have a moment to wait you can always find a table. The central European atmosphere is boosted with some Eiffel Tower posters. No webpage. Open weekdays 11am-3pm.
A small, intimate restaurant in the heart of Punavuori. Hoku combines the kitchens of Japan, Korea and Hawaii. One of the most beloved Punavuori secrets.
A Finnish-Japanese pearl at the location where Japanese film director Naoko Ogigami shot her cult movie Kamome Diner (Jap. かもめ食堂, Kamome shokudō). With its premiere in 2006, the film was based on a novel by the same name written by Yōko Mure and tells the story of Japanese woman running a café in Helsinki's Punavuori district. The popular movie made the Kahvila Suomi lunch canteen previously found here a cult favourite of especially Japanese tourists.
Re-opened in summer 2016 in a bigger space at the corner of Albertinkatu and Pursimiehenkatu, Kuuma is an excellent high-quality café also serving light and tasty lunches, breakfasts and brunches. The space also hosts the loveable interior decoration shop Nest Factory.
One of the new restaurants found on Pieni Roobertinkatu. Vinkkeli has been praised for its food and wine. One of its owners is the ex-sommelier of Savoy, Antti Uusitalo, alongside chefs Olli Marttila and Matti Vesikkala also of Savoy fame, and Juhani Salo who is known from e.g. the Solmu microbrewery. Reservations recommended.
Pieni Roobertinkatu 8
BASKERI & BASSO
Opened in November 2015, the restaurant has been one of the most popular places in town since day one. Operated by Nicolas Thieulon and Kalle Kiukainen, this is one of the best restaurants in town. A top quality establishment with a nice bistro-like feeling, almost perfect food and a fantastic wine list. Reservations a must.
For the love of beer, sausages, good food and coffee. Opened in 2015 in a space that used to house the Kynsilaukka restaurant, this Brooklyn-style restaurant is laid-back, enjoyable and highly recommendable. Beers brewed on the spot, they also serve other top microbrewery beers, as well as delicious handmade sausages.
Opened where a bakery once used to stand, this lunch and dinner restaurant is also a delicatessen. The place is run by Manu Torchio (known from Helsinki's Mexican restaurants), Patrick Lindström who is also behind the restaurants Lupo and Bones, and the owner of the Italian Mille Mozzarelle, Lorenzo Dotson-Smith. The trio combines their backgrounds in an interesting way. The deli opens already early in the morning, lunch is served on weekdays, and dinner can be enjoyed from Tuesday through Saturday.
Housed inside the coworking space MOW, this laid-back restaurant is open from breakfast to lunch and from dinner to drinks. A great place to work or to switch to a party mood.
Pieni Roobertinkatu 9
DELI CAFÉ MAYA
On Punavuorenkatu, this loveable, home-style breakfast and lunch restaurant invites to enjoy food and baked goods prepared with a passion. The diverse salad buffet, homemade sausages and meatballs are a sure hit.
Standing on the Liuskaluoto islet just outside Kaivopuisto Park, you can find the original summertime Skiffer. Its sister restaurant is found all year round on Erottaja, serving the maritime inspired "liuska" pizzas, baked into the shape of the islet that they were first served on. By the way, the name Skiffer comes from the Swedish name for Liuskaluoto ('slate islet' in English).
First opened in 1924 at Viiskulma, the restaurant Primula was reopened in 2015 with a concept nodding to the historical roots. The menu is civilised, yet laid-back enough to be enjoyed with friends, family or business partners. The bistro-like atmosphere has sought inspiration from central and southern Europe, without forgetting Nordic flavours such as salmon soup. The restaurant also serves pizzas by Skiffer. Lunch, dinner, and an excellent brunch during the weekend.
SUSHIBAR + WINE
A small chain of enjoyable sushi restaurants in Helsinki. Always fresh sushi, small estate wines and Nordic design.
"A small piece of France in the heart of Helsinki", an enjoyable and popular restaurant on Pieni Roobertinkatu serving French classics from top ingredients. The kitchen is led by Timo "Sir Lintsi" Linnamäki, whose signature touches include pâtés, terrines and desserts. Excellent wine and, of course, Pastis. Reservation is recommended especially at lunch time.
Pieni Roobertinkatu 2
Just a stone's throw away from the popular Viiskulma intersection in Punavuori, this ambitious pizzeria makes delicious pizzas with an organic wheat-spelt dough base, with some excellent wines to wash them down.
MOKO MARKET CAFÉ & STORE
An excellent interior decoration shop, with also a large café serving lunch on weekdays 11am-2pm and a weekend brunch.
SIS. DELI + CAFÉ
A coffee shop chain opened in 2008, also serving lunch and brunch. Popular, intimate, ethical and diverse. The Sis. Deli on Pursimiehenkatu is laid-back and child-friendly.
Founded by a group of young and passionate restaurant professionals, this fresh and new top restaurant is found on Iso Roobertinkatu. The staff has plenty of experience from one, two and three star Michelin level restaurants. The menu takes a Nordic twist on southern European tapas, mezes and pintxos.
Iso Roobertinkatu 11
This is where it all started. Nowadays found even outside Helsinki, this popular falafel and pita dish restaurant first started in this small kiosk on the pedestrian street Iso Roobertinkatu. The freshest fast food in town, open till late at night during the weekend.
Iso Roobertinkatu 2
At the corner of Iso Roobertinkatu and Fredrikinkatu, this great Lebanese place serves take away food. Open until midnight during the weekend.
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A cosy and high quality Thai restaurant, with restaurants in several cities.
Iso Roobertinkatu 18
Popular and legendary late night pizza and kebab joint on Iso Roobertinkatu, open till 5am. Authentic and ordinary, yet friendly. Great for a hangover or a late night craving.
Iso Roobertinkatu 26
THE BOOM ROOM
At the Albertinkatu side of the pedestrian street Iso-Roobertinkatu, this small but edgy, almost unnoticeable pearl serves top coffee and lunches like sushi, salmon teriyaki and pho soup on Fridays (usually). On top of that, excellent raw cakes and other treats.
Iso Roobertinkatu 46
A cosy Italian restaurant in the heart of Punavuori. Beloved by locals for years, they serve excellent pizza and pasta. Open until 10pm.
Opened in 2015, this restaurant is still a secret to many. A sweet and soulful place, serving lunch from Wednesday until Saturday and a weekend brunch.
Iso Roobertinkatu 3-5, courtyard
On Tehtaankatu, Sandro has secured its post as the neighbourhood favourite of Punavuori and Eira locals. Top chef Richard McCormick's menu is always a delight and a surprise. Flavours from Beirut to the Balkans.
Tehtaankatu 34 D
On the southside of downtown Helsinki, Himalaya stands on the edge of Punavuori as the country's oldest Nepalese restaurant. Opened in 1993, it is one of the warmest restaurants in town. Open until 11pm.
Ratakatu 1 b
Opened in 1999, this tasty and popular Nepalese restaurant fills the stomach with lunch and dinner, never failing in quality.
KOKOMO TIKIBAR & ROOM
Kokomo is Finland's first tiki bar, open since 2011. Kokomo is a restaurant, cocktail bar and night club.
LEN’S KEISHOKU BAR
A small Japanese family restaurant owned by Japanese rapper Ilmari (Rip Slyme, Teriyaki Boyz) and his sister Elisa Hanazawa, who is also in charge of the daily operations together with her husband Isamu Hanazawa. The restaurant is open for lunch Monday to Wednesday, and on Thursdays and Fridays also for dinner. Closed during the weekend.
Opened in 2015, the smallest and cosiest restaurant in this laid-back Mexican fast food chain is found in Punavuori. Burritos and tacos with no frills.