The gastro map of Kaunas is full of different cuisines and approaches – we must admit, however, just a handful of the restaurants and cafes have been open for longer than 20 years. This has a lot to do with the fact Lithuania was occupied by USSR until 1990s. During the occupation, owning a private business was something you couldn’t really do legally (of course, all the pre-war restaurants were closed down), and the majority of state-owned places have been privatized, renovated, reshaped, closed and then opened again etc. after we regained independence.
Still, there are two restaurants in Kaunas that can officially be called the oldest and both of them have been opened since the 60s. Let’s start with the slightly older one, shall we?
Medžiotojų užeiga (The Hunters Inn)
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Conveniently located in the heart of the Old Town, the restaurant claims ‘ We treat our guests with exceptional game meat dishes since 1965’, and nobody could even start arguing with that. The bulding of the restaurant is of course much older and is now a construct of Gothic, Renaissance and Classicism styles. The legend tells us that a famous Lithuanian-Polish poet Adomas Mickevičius used to come here quite often in the beginning of the 19th century – if not for the food, then for the beauty of a woman who lived here.
In 1965, a restaurant was open here and it was called ‘Medžiotojų užeiga’ from day one. The main feature of the exquisite menu – game – is reflected in the interior, too, as the halls are decorated with hunting trophies. Premises in the second floor were only available to high-ranking communist party members and their allies in Soviet times – this only certifies the restaurant was one of the best places in town. Still is!
This is a perfect place to celebrate a family occation, a graduation or any other significant moment in your life. Maybe even a wedding? Couples get married in the Town Hall, so if you are not ready yet, at least celebrate the happiness of those who just tied the knot.
Apart from the dishes which are all great (check the menu online!), we’d like to give a round of applause to the staff. Great manners and a light-hearted attitude!
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A Shashik may as well be called an adopted Lithuanian dish – it’s as popular as some of the dishes we’ve really created during the past hundred years or so. A Caucasian specialty is served in most of the older restaurants and you can still run into shacks outside bigger cities that can fix you a perfect skewer.
Anyhoo, the oldest place in Kaunas you can try some authentic Shashlik is Žaliukė, a small family restaurant located near Akropolis mall and Žalgiris arena. Opened in 1966, the place is still busy with meat lovers and the recipe of Shasklik has not been changed since day one. The interior is also swinging by the same sentimental mood (or Soviet groove, as some might call it), and that’s why the place is valued by its loyal customers. Why fix what isn't broken, right?
Žaliukė in 1970s (?), photo from the oceans of internet
P.S. For the dessert, of course, head to Spurginė – we’ve already covered the legendary donut place in our blog and that was a total hit! Look no further if you need some #kaunastic pub recommendations, too. Here's our 6-piece list.