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Moscow Expat Guide

I repatriated to Moscow in late 2016, and will likely stay here for the rest of my life. It is my favorite city in the world by a large margin. Basically, it has First World amenities and living standards, and some of the most interesting communities gathered up from across the entirety of a minor world-civilization, but without the problems of demographic and cultural Third Worldization that afflict the major Western metropolises such as London, Paris, and New York.

So why would one want to visit and/or live in Moscow?

  • Moscow, for the most part, has developed more naturally than Saint-Petersburg, the former imperial capital, making it “denser” and more walkable.
    • While the climate will not be everyone’s cup of tea, it is still arguably far better than the cold, swampy, maritime climate of Saint-Petersburg.
  • Russia is hyper-centralized. This might not be good for the country as a whole, but it does mean that a disproportionate amount of the most interesting people are concentrated in Moscow. In short, “things are happening” (жизнь кипит), whether your interests be economic, technological, political, scientific, or artistic.
  • Moscow all the advantages of life in Russia vs. the USA, but much less of the disadvantages of provincial Russia (e.g. lower real incomes, bureaucracy).
  • It is cheap (~50% of London prices); as an expat, your money goes much further.
  • There is no shortage of first-rate gastronomy from across the entire world in either the restaurants or the food markets (lack of fancy Michelin ratings regardless).
  • The transport system is cheap and highly efficient. The metro system, which carries more people everyday than London and New York combined across palatial bunkers, is deservedly one of Moscow’s prime charms. Or you can order a Yandex.Taxi (Russia’s Uber).
  • In the past decade under our great mayor Sobyanin, large areas of the city have become gentrified, with an emergent SWPL/bobo/hipster culture characterized by things such as:
    • Establishments serving food on wooden boards and craft beer in random jars;
    • Gyms, yoga classes;
    • Spruced up streets with beautiful decor, renovated modernistic parks;
    • Time sharing cafes;
    • Many affordable eateries for the impoverished and lazy NEET.
  • Moscow is a Russian city (~85-90% Slavic) in a way that London or Paris (~50% native) are not so much “English” or “French” cities as open air anthropological exhibits.
  • Crime is very low. Moscow is rated as the world’s safest megacity for women. I got my cell phone stolen in London during three months of living there; have not been the victim of any crime in Moscow for three years and counting.
  • There is little political correctness and almost no SJWs (while there are many girls with colored hair, it is not a reliable indicator of problems as in the West).
    • Young women are slim, feminine, and mostly non-feminist but without being wet rags.
    • Young men are enterprising, risk-taking, and are now less prone to drink than in many European countries (that particular stereotype is very much dated).
  • Almost all the accoutrements of Western digital life (Google, Wikipedia, online deliveries, any of the major social media and messaging apps, Tinder, etc.) work without problems in Russia, and you won’t get in trouble for piracy either.
  • There is a sizable expat community.
  • English language knowledge is near universal amongst young people.
  • Moscow is more of a “technopolis” than the large Western cities, e.g. the Metro having had free WiFi and mobile banking having been prevalent for many years now. The “My Documents” centers and the “Gosuslugi” website make most bureaucratic operations a breeze these days.
  • This and the Moskva-City skyscraper district give a nice cyberpunk vibe.
  • There is substantial civic life. Legitimate political protests that follow basic rules (i.e. as in the West) are allowed, and residents have the chance to influence policy and vote on city-building proposals via the “Active Citizen” app [ag.mos.ru].

As a bonus, unlike the tourist cities of East-Central Europe, Moscow remains largely undiscovered by foreign revellers (though, unfortunately, not Chinese budget tourists). I’d be perfectly happy it if remained that way. Moreover, I wouldn’t be writing about it – if not for the fact that I know that my readers are an elite, K-selected group who would (unironically) “enrich” my city. So with that caveat out of the way, let’s move onto the main part of the Moscow Expat Guide.


Settling In

 

 

Bureaucracy

Generally speaking, I can’t give any specific recommendations on getting into Russia apart from how to get a temporary re-entry permit on account of one’s Russian passport becoming dated (a rather exotic situation that won’t apply to many people). But I understand that getting a Russian visa is relatively trivial, at least relative to the hurdles that Russians have to leap through to visit many Western countries.

Barring a few exotic exemptions, it is currently impossible to get a Russian citizenship unless you are willing to give up your other citizenships. This will not be workable for most people. Alternative solutions:

  • Get a multi-year reentry visa.
  • Get residency.
  • Get citizenship in one of the “easier” CIS states, and utilize an easier route to Russian citizenship through that (Armenia is often recommended for this).
  • This requirement may be dropped over the next few years.

As I understand, if you are a foreigner and are planning to stay for more than 7 days, your hosts (hotel, landlord, etc.) are required to register you with the police/post office.

 

Finance

People who are staying in Russia for the long haul may be well advised to get an account with Sberbank, the Russian banking giant. They have a highly convenient and digitized mobile app that allow you to send money to anyone if you have their phone numbers (Russian grandmothers were using it to collect rent money while Americans in Silicon Valley were still mailing in checks to their landlord), and it also offers a variety of savings accounts and competitive brokerage services.

I have found Transferwise to be the cheapest and most efficient service for sending and receiving money from abroad.

 

Health & Fitness

One can either make use of state healthcare insurance, or opt for private clinics that tend to have better quality service at much cheaper prices (e.g. American Medical Center).

As regards sport and fitness

  • Almost all Russian housing developments feature playgrounds with calisthenics equipment, such as pull ups bars, benches, etc.
    • No reason not to use them, if you’re not particularly self-conscious about being seen to be using equipment that’s primarily installed for children.
    • Map of outside workout areas in Moscow (and Russia) here: https://workout.su/areas/city/1-moskva
  • There is no shortage of gyms, e.g. the USSR Fitness chain seems highly rated.
  • There are a number of rock climbing gyms, e.g. Limestone, Rockzona, Skala City, and X8 seem especially high-rated.

There are three sports that I like, and on which I can some advice: Shooting, skiing, and horse riding.

  • So far as guns are concerned, Russia is unfortunately not the United States. Shooting ranges are not that all that frequent, and bullets are expensive.
    • In the South-East area where I live, there is an indoors shooting range called Object [theobject.ru], which is highly modern and convenient, but you need to take lessons from them and pass an exam before you can use their range.
    • There is also the SSKVOO [sskvoo.ru] outdoors clay pigeon shooting range. Acquiring guns in Russia (legally) is a complex process that needs a separate article.
    • The Labirint complex near Kievskaya hosts paintball, laser tag, and an underground firing range.
  • For obvious reasons, horse riding and skiing/snowboarding relate more to outer Moscow oblast and Sochi/Adler, respectively.

 

Shopping

Online shopping. Ozon. How to not get scammed.

Libraries.

Food markets.

 

Transport

Metro. 38 rubles. Troika card. Wi-Fi setup.

Buses.

Don’t use gypsy cabs.

You can also buy your own car, though to be frank there’s not that much point doing that in Moscow, where taxis are cheap and the Metro can get you almost anywhere. If you want to get a driving license, you will need to spend an ungodly amount of hours on mandatory driving lessons. (Fortunately, if you already have a driving license from a country that is a member of the Vienna Convention – that is, most countries that are not the United States – then you could exchange your license for a Russian one). You will need to obtain proof from a drug-testing dispensary and a psychiatric dispensary located in your area that you are not a drug addict, an alcoholic, or suffer from mental problems. You will also need to bring a medical certificate of clean health from a clinic (they will guide you through it). You will then need to sit a theoretical exam, and two driving tests – one that tests you on maneuvers, another one that tests you on real world driving.

 


 

Map: Red = must see; blue/green = nice to see; yellow = feel free to skip.

Things To Do

This section is a list of some of the most interesting attractions, museums, and restaurants in Moscow. Above is a map that I will be slowly filling in over the next months.

Please note that this guide covers a geographic area that I intuit to be a part of Moscow, so e.g. I consider the air force museum at Monino and the New Jerusalem Monastery at Istra to be part of Moscow (~50km), but not the towns of Obninsk, Volokolamsk, or Kolomna (~100km+). Trips to the latter I typically cover in separate posts on the Unz Review and collate as a list on the Travel section of this website.

Places that I consider to be “must-see” during a 1-2 week stay in Moscow are underlined. Places that I have yet to visit are denoted by the tag “Review Pending”, and places that I want to prioritize visiting (which are mostly but not exclusively places I haven’t yet visited) are tagged “PRIORITY”.

 

Attractions

REVIEW PENDING Big Moscow State Circus

REVIEW PENDING Central House of RAN Scientists

Izmailovo Kremlin ★★
Ersatz “Kremlin” built under Luzhkov with some mid-range hotels, an overpriced shooting range (“Patriot“), and historically inauthentic museums (e.g. the Vodka Museum).

Kremlin ★★★★ – PRIORITY

PRIORITY Kuskovo Summer Palace ★★★★

Mausoleum of Lenin
I will raise this to 5 stars when we kick out the bald syphilitic and replace it with an underground Museum of the Russian Genocide.

REVIEW PENDING Moscow Planetarium

REVIEW PENDING Moscow Zoo

REVIEW PENDING Museum of Illusions

REVIEW PENDING Museum of Sweets

Ostankino Tower ★★★★★

Saint Basil’s Cathedral ★★★★★

PRIORITY Tsaritsyno Estate ★★★★

PRIORITY VDNKh ★★★★
Includes a bunch of museums, including Russia – Our History, the Museum of Cosmonautics, the Roerichs Museum, and the Monument to the Worker and Kolkhoz Woman.

 

Art & Culture

Bolshoi Theater ★★★★★ PRIORITY
Visiting Moscow and not going to see ballet or the opera at the Bolshoi is like visiting New York and not going to a Broadway production.
Demand is high, so make sure to book weeks in advance. [bolshoi.ru/]

Bulgakov Museum ? / REVIEW PENDING

Gorky’s House ? / REVIEW PENDING

International Fund of Slavic Literacy and Culture ★★★★

Mayakovsky Theatre ★★★★★ ? / REVIEW PENDING

Moscow Academic Art Lyceum of the Russian Academy of Arts ★★★★

Moscow Museum of Modern Art ★★★

Moscow Print Yard ? / REVIEW PENDING

Museum of Modern Russian History ★★★
The best exhibit are the two pieces of military tech from World War I at the front of the building. Although some of the exhibits were nice and informative, the post-1991 sections were a shameless paeon to Yeltsin (one otherwise empty room full of his photographs) and to successes under Putin (e.g. which are shamelessly exaggerated, with one graph illustrating the rise in wages failing to adjust for inflation).

Museum of the Roerichs ? / REVIEW PENDING

Museum of Zurab Tsereteli ? / REVIEW PENDING

New Tretyakov Gallery ★★★★

Pushkin State Museum of Fine Arts ★★★★★

State Tretyakov Gallery ★★★★★

Tchaikovsky Concert Hall ? / REVIEW PENDING

 

Ecclesiastical

Cathedral of Christ the Savior ★★★★

Donskoy Monastery ? / REVIEW PENDING

New Jerusalem Monastery ★★★

 

Entertainment

Movies: See English search. Formula Kino is favorite one.

Anvio VR: https://anvio.com/ru-ru/moscow/

 

 

History

Bunker-42 ★★★★
65 meter deep bunker constructed in 1950s to protect elements of the Soviet military leadership in the event of nuclear war. Used to have an entrance from nearby Taganskaya Station, but it has since been blocked off. One can only visit as part of a pre-booked tour. Though the tour is quite long, about half of it is taken up by the viewing of a documentary about the Cold War that will not be of interest to history buffs. There is a bunch of rather cheap gimmick towards the end, although I suppose it may be fun for children. People familiar with the Metro 2033 universe will smile at a couple of Easter Eggs. There is also a restaurant decorated in a style redolent of the Fallout vaults, though the food is otherwise unremarkable.

Central Museum of Medieval Russian Culture im. Andrey Rublev ? / REVIEW PENDING – PRIORITY
There is a monastery (St. Andronicus) and a monument to medieval icon painter Andrey Rublev in the adjoining park.

House of the Russian Diaspora im. Alexander Solzhenitsyn ? / REVIEW PENDING – PRIORITY

House on the Embankment Museum ? / REVIEW PENDING

The Jewish Museum & Center of Tolerance ★★★★★ FULL REVIEW (2019) / ENGLISH FRIENDLY

Moscow Museum ★★★★★

Museum of the History of the Gulag ? / REVIEW PENDING

Public Museum of the Moscow Metro ★★★★

State Historical Museum ★★★★★

State Museum of Oriental Art ? / REVIEW PENDING – PRIORITY

Tapan ? / REVIEW PENDING

 

Institutions

Civic Chamber of the Russian Federation ★★★★

Confucius Institute RGGU ? / REVIEW PENDING

Higher School of Economics ★★★★★

Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology ★★★★★
One of Russia’s most elite STEM institutions, located in Dolgoprudny, a small town just north of Moscow. There is a very nice intelligence-themed IQ Cafe there.

Rossiya Segodnya MIA ★★★★

RT ★★★★
The HQ of the infamous Russian TV station that is the bugbear of Western information warriors. The internal design is quite nice. There’s a good Irish “Arti-Pub” down the street.

Russian Academy of Sciences ★★★★★
Presidium of the Russian Academy of Science HQ (left) looks like a cult HQ. Powerful aesthetics. Needs to officially merge with Russian Orthodox Church (right) to create Adeptus Mechanicus, melding religious zeal and scientific rationalism into single unity.

— Institute of Africa RAS ★★★★★

— Institute of Psychology RAS: I should probably refrain from rating my own institution. It’s a relatively pleasant Stalin-era construction, though it could do with a remont.

Russian State Library? / REVIEW PENDING – PRIORITY

 

Military

Central Museum of the FSB Border Guards ? / REVIEW PENDING

Central Museum of the MVD ? / REVIEW PENDING

Central Museum of the Russian Air Force ? / REVIEW PENDING – PRIORITY

Central Museum of the Russian Armed Forces ★★★★

Kubinka Tank Museum ★★★★★
Russia’s premier tank museum, located in Kubinka just west of Moscow. Also hosts Patriot Park.

Museum of the History of the Moscow Police ? / REVIEW PENDING

Museum of the History of the Russian Navy ★★★★
The centerpiece of the exhibition is a B-396 diesel-electric submarine; inducted into the Soviet Navy in the 1970s, that makes it one of the newest military submarines on display anywhere in the world. It is recommended to book the tour in advance, since space is limited. There is also an ekranoplan and some smaller combat boats on display.

Museum of Military History RVIO ? / REVIEW PENDING

Museum of Strategic Rocket Forces ? / REVIEW PENDING

Victory Park ? / REVIEW PENDING – PRIORITY
Has the Victory Museum, as well as the Poklonnaya Gora (scene of pro-Kremlin manifestations in 2012) as well as the new Monument to the Heroes of the First World War.

 

Philosophy & Science

Museum-Library of N. Fyodorov ★★★★★

Museum of the History of Moscow State University ? / REVIEW PENDING

State Geological Museum im. Vernadsky of Russian Academy of Sciences ? / REVIEW PENDING – PRIORITY

Zoological Museum of Moscow State University ? / REVIEW PENDING

 

Shopping

Chitalkafe ★★★★ / BOOKS

Falanster ★★★★★ / BOOKS

Gorbushka ★★★★
Infamous cyberpunk flea-market selling all kinds of pirated programs and pilfered databases during the 1990s, it is now quite a beige, bourgeois place where everything is dull and legal.

GUM ★★★★

Kirillitsa ★★★★ / BOOKS

Molodaya Gvardiya ★★★★ / BOOKS

Moscow ★★★ / BOOKS

Tsiolkovsky ★★★★★ / BOOKS

 

Technology

Museum of Cosmonautics ★★★★
Includes Monuments to the Conquerors of Space.

Museum of Soviet Arcade Machines ★★★★ FULL REVIEW (2018)
This quaint little museum hosts a few dozen Soviet arcade machines, on which you can play 15 rounds for 450 rubles in the Moscow branch of the museum (there’s also one in Saint-Petersburg). There is also a cafe attached. The website hosts virtual versions of most of these games. [15kop.ru]

Polytechnic Museum ? / REVIEW PENDING – PRIORITY

Technology Museum of Vadim Zadorozhny ? / REVIEW PENDING – PRIORITY

 

Parks

List of notable/favorite parks:

  • Kuskovo Park:
  • Park Zaryadye:

 

Viewing Spots

List of notable/favorite viewing spots

  • Sparrow Hills:

 

Monuments

List of notable/favorite parks:

  • Alexander Pushkin: …@Tverskaya
  • Alexander Solzhenitsyn: … @Taganskaya
  • Cobblestone – Weapon of the Working Class!: … @Ulitsa 1905 goda
  • Conquerors of Space: … @VDNKh
  • Girl with an Oar: … @Avtozavodskaya
  • Heroes of the 1905 Revolution: … @Ulitsa 1905 goda
  • Mikhail Kalashnikov: … @Mayakovskaya
  • Yury Dolgoruky: … @Tverskaya
  • Yury Gagarin: … @Leninsky Prospekt
  • Worker and Kolkhoz Woman: … @VDNKh

 


Restaurants

Moscow has varied food scene, blah blah. Note that sovok culture = going to restaurants to show off; is no longer true, now it’s just about having good culinary experience.

Standard tip amount = 10% for good service.

Food Courts

Central Market on Maroseyka @Kitay Gorod ★★★★
The most notable feature is free tea from a giant samovar that they keep outside… very nice during winter.

Central Park Food Lounge @Kuznetsky Most ★★★★
This place in Central Moscow is open 24/7, although not all the individual eateries are – perfect for going here after watching a movie at the Formula Kino cinema a block away.

Danilovsky Market @Tulskaya ★★★★★ – PRIORITY
This place hosts a remarkable variety of Russian cheeses that matches almost anything that Europe has to offer, and has stalls catering to a variety of world cuisines, e.g. Bo (Vietnamese).

DEPO ? / REVIEW PENDING

Ekomarket @ Konkovo ★★★★
Food market containing a Kitaiskie Novosti restaurant and a wonderful French bakery.

Tsvetnoy Univermag @Novoslobodskaya ★★★★
Large shopping center and food market that contains a Lao Lee (Vietnamese), Dagestanskaya Lavka (Caucasian), and Ostorozhno, Slon! (Indian) amongst others.

Vokrug Sveta @ Lubyanka ★★★★★
Features wide variety of world cuisines, including top budget Indian eatery Kurkuma.

Russian

Beluga ? / REVIEW PENDING

Cheburechnaya USSR ★★★★
This basement dump sells greasy chebureki and cheap beer, living up to its name. Visit for a Soviet experience in central Moscow!

Chemodan ? / REVIEW PENDING

Deti Raika ★★★★★ CLOSED / BAR
One of my favorite watering holes in Central Moscow when I returned here, with cheap, quality beer and spacious surroundings. It closed.

Grand Cafe Dr. Zhivago ? / REVIEW PENDING – PRIORITY

In the Dark?! (В Темноте?!) ? / REVIEW PENDING
This is a normal Russian restaurant dedicated to Russian cuisine… except that you eat in the dark, with your friends. Sounds like an interesting concept.

Krasnodar Bistro ★★★★ / RESTAURANT
First restaurant I went to on repatriating to Russia – wanted to try out the nutria burger on a recommendation from what I consider my ultimate authority on Russia, The Guardian (/s). It was good but not particularly memorable.

Kroshka Kartoshka ★★★ $ / FAST FOOD CHAIN

Lepim i Varim ★★★★★ $ / FAST FOOD
For a period during 2017-18, this pelmeni joint was rated Moscow’s top restaurant on TripAdvisor. While there’s limits to what one can do with pelmeni (dumplings), they’ve explored them all.

Mari Vanna ★★★★ $$ / RESTAURANT

Mu-Mu ★★★ $ / STOLOVAYA CHAIN
This is a Soviet stolovaya-style fast food chain that is perfectly serviceable but not particularly cheap or anything to write home about.

Novikov Bar ? / REVIEW PENDING

Oranzheriya ? / REVIEW PENDING

Pirogi, Vino, i Gus ? / REVIEW PENDING

Pushkin Cafe ★★★★★ $$$$ / RESTAURANT

Severyane ★★★★★ $$$ / RESTAURANT

Shinok ? / REVIEW PENDING

Teremok ★★★★★ $ / FAST FOOD CHAIN

Teschin Borscht ★★★ $$ / RESTAURANT
Traditional Russian cuisine in VDNKh region; formerly called “Korchma Taras Bulba”, with a Ukrainian theme.

Ugolek ? / REVIEW PENDING – PRIORITY

White Rabbit ? $$$$ / RESTAURANT
Rated as the world’s 13th best restaurant in 2019, it has a wonderfully scenic view of Moscow.

Voronezh ? / REVIEW PENDING (STEAKHOUSE) – PRIORITY

Yuzhane ★★★★★ $$$ / STEAKHOUSE

Zhiguli ? / REVIEW PENDING

 

Caucasian

Cafe Natakhtari ★★★ / RESTAURANT
I am of the opinion that Georgian food is generally overrated, and this establishment is no exception; overpriced for what it offers.

Dagestanskaya Lavka ★★★ $ / FAST FOOD CHAIN

Genatsvale ? / REVIEW PENDING

Kazbek ? / REVIEW PENDING

Restaurant Armenia [★★]
Don’t go – consensus is, this place at the heart of Tverskaya is a tourist trap.

Vaime Cafe ★★★★ $ / FAST FOOD

 

Central Asian

Chaikhona №.1 ★★★ $$ / RESTAURANT CHAIN

Uryuk ★★★★ $$ / RESTAURANT CHAIN

 

European

15 Kitchen + Bar ★★★★★ $$$ / RESTAURANT

Anderson ★★★★ $$ / CAFE
This is a great place for parents with children.

Aviator ★★★★★ $$$$ / RESTAURANT
The food is very good, but you aren’t going for that so much as the stunning, 270 degree view from this stunning restaurant perched on the 52nd floor of the Federation Tower.

Bobby Dazzler ★★★★ $$$ / BAR
Typical British sports bar close to Turgenevskaya. As I recall, its British owner also makes some rather good hot sauces that he sells on the side.

Bonjour Provence! ★★★★ $$ / RESTAURANT

Brauhaus G&M ★★★★★ $$ / BAR
Solid German bar by near Mendeleevskaya.

Brugge ★★★★★ $$$ / BAR
An excellent Belgian bar near Baumanskaya.

Cross Keys Pub ? / REVIEW PENDING

Dark Patrick’s Pub ? / REVIEW PENDING
Acquaintance BM says its “horrendous”, recommends Paddy’s and its sister Katie’s instead.

Dictatura Aestetica Wine and Kitchen ★★★★ $$$ / CAFE

ERWIN RekaMoreOkean ? / REVIEW PENDING

House of the White Crane (Дом Белого Журавля) ★★★★★ $$$ / CAFE
Excellent assortment of Chinese teas within a beautiful constructive building populated by hipsters and SWPL people.

IQ Cafe ★★★★★ $$ / CAFE
Amusing intelligence-themed cafe in academic town of Dolgoprudny.

Jean-Jacques Cafe ★★★★★ $$ / CAFE CHAIN

Kocherga ★★★★★ $$ / (ANTI)CAFE
You don’t go here for the coffee, but for the company – this place is a central node within the Russian digital nomad, crypto, rationalist, transhumanist community.
Be sure to check out their list of events and workshops beforehand, and register for them online. [kocherga-club.ru]

Kozlovna ★★★★ $$ / BAR CHAIN
This Czech chain, which has two locations – one right next to the Higher School of Economics – serves great goulash and has its own brewery.

Kristiss ★★★★ $ / CAFE
Very cheap and conveniently located cafe at the center of Moscow.

Kvartira 44 ★★★★ $$$ / RESTAURANT CHAIN

MASON.STONE ★★★★ $$$$ / BAR
This luxuriously decorated bar in the English style belongs to Igor Dmitriev, a political emigrant from the Ukraine who has participated in the wars in Donbass and Syria. It’s expensive, but you’ll be patronizing the right people.

Microbe ? / REVIEW PENDING – PRIORITY
This bar was accused of xenophobia when it refused to hire Chechens in 2017. I will need to patronize it sooner rather than later.

Paddy’s Irish Pub & Eatery ? / REVIEW PENDING

Receptor Cafe ★★★★ $$$ / CAFE
This is one of the most SWPL places in Moscow.

Sakhalin ? / REVIEW PENDING

Selfie ? / REVIEW PENDING

Spatenhaus ★★★★★ $$ / BAR
Excellent German eatery by Tverskaya with all the traditional dishes, good beer, and a very cost-effective business lunch.

Strelka ? / REVIEW PENDING
Acquaintance BM says good in summer but full of hipster hacks otherwise.

Tchaikovsky Cafe ★★★ $$ / CAFE
Cafe by the Tchaikovsky Concert Hall. I enjoyed it until one of the waiters started rudely angling for a tip when I was speaking in English and entertaining an American there (guaranteeing that he would not get a tip, and that I wouldn’t visit them again).

Tsiferblat Cafe ★★★★ $$ / (ANTI)CAFE
Nice, quiet anticafe with a clock theme. Good place to find helpful hipster girls.

Twins Garden ? / REVIEW PENDING

Ukubar ★★★★ $$ / BAR

Wine & Crab ? / REVIEW PENDING

 

American

BAP Duckstar’s ★★★★ $$ / BAR

Boston Seafood & Bar ? / REVIEW PENDING
This place is supposed to have New England Clam Chowder, should you get the craving for it.

Brisket BBQ ★★★★★ $$ / RESTAURANT

Burger Heroes ★★★★ / BURGER CHAIN

Chicago Prime ★★★★★ $$$ / BAR

McDonald’s @ Tverskaya ★★★★ / FAST FOOD CHAIN
The restaurant in Tverskaya is notable as the first McDonald’s in the USSR – the Soviet elites were so enamored of it they sold off their “own” country.

Papas ★★★★★ / RESTAURANT
American burger joint in Central Moscow that’s open until 6am, has cheap beer and has a strong Tex Mex component.

Starlite Diner ★★★★★ $$ / RESTAURANT

 

Asian

Chinese

Bruce Lee ? / REVIEW PENDING

Cafe Se Xiang Wei ? / REVIEW PENDING

China Garden Restaurant ? / REVIEW PENDING

Harbin ★★★ $$ / RESTAURANT

Huang He ★★★ $$ / RESTAURANT

Jimmy Lee ? / REVIEW PENDING
The owner is apparently Taiwanese mainlander who came by way of Singapore. Reviews are good, though Chinese acquaintance said the hong shao rou was oversalty.

Jintang ? / REVIEW PENDING
This restaurant at the Cosmos Hotel in VDNKh has been recommended to me – will need to try it out soon.

Junk Food & Bar ? / REVIEW PENDING

Kitayskaya Gramota ★★★ $$ / RESTAURANT CHAIN

Kitaiskie Novosti ★★★★★ $$ / RESTAURANT CHAIN

Stary Sichuan ★★★★★ $$ / RESTAURANT

Tri Mudretsa (Three Wise Men) ? / REVIEW PENDING

For those of you who want to cook you own Chinese food, I strongly recommend paying a visit to the Chinese market (Китайский Рынок) by the Moskva shopping mall near Lyublino.

 

Indian

The Russian palate is not used to spices, so Indian restaurants in Moscow keep it tame. So make sure to formulate your order as “extra spicy” or “I have been to India, make it like you do there” if you want any heat.

Aromass ★★ CLOSED
I publicly rated this as the worst Indian restaurant in early 2019. And – guess what – it closed down a couple of months later, so perhaps I knew what I was talking about.)))

Curry & Bar ★★★ $$ / RESTAURANT
One of the newer Indian restaurants in Moscow, run by a Sikh.

Darbars ★★★★ / RESTAURANT

Devi ? / REVIEW PENDING

Jai Hind ★★★★★ $$ / RESTAURANT

Khajuraho ★★★★★ $$ / RESTAURANT
This is my favorite Indian restaurant in Moscow bar none, and a guy who knows India (spent two years there) agrees with my assessment – though he places Jai Hind joint first.
There is a wide variety of dishes and a very competitive business lunch option.
The establishment is run by a very nice Indian gentleman called Anil.

Kurkuma ★★★★★ $ / FAST FOOD

Moscow-Delhi ★★★★★ $$ / RESTAURANT

Ostorozhno, Slon! (Careful, Elephant!) ★★★ FAST FOOD
Adequate for the low prices. Do not order the masala chai.

Paprika ★★★★ $$ / RESTAURANT

Taj Mahal ★★★ $$ / RESTAURANT

For those of you who want to cook you own Indian food, I strongly recommend the “Indian Spices” (Индийские Специи) chain.

 

Japanese

Cutfish Bistro ? / REVIEW PENDING

J’Pan ? / REVIEW PENDING

Ku ? / REVIEW PENDING

Marukame ★★★★ $$ / NOODLE SHOP

Matsuya ? / REVIEW PENDING

Menza ? / REVIEW PENDING

Todase ★★★★ $$ / SUSHI CHAIN
One of the better sushi chains – also has cheap beer, which isn’t trivial to find in central Moscow.

 

Korean

Bely Zhuravl (White Crane) ? / REVIEW PENDING

Dom Kuksu ★★★★ $$ / RESTAURANT

Hite ? / REVIEW PENDING
Acquaintance BM says this place in Ulitsa 1905 goda is the best Korean in Moscow, and he claims to have been in all of them.

Kimchi ★★★ $$ / RESTAURANT CHAIN

Koryo ★★★★★ $$ / RESTAURANT
One of a kind North Korean restaurant, with kitschy 1970s Sovietpunk decor, excellent food (kimchi is authentic), and adequate if slightly weird service (one of its employees surreptitiously photographed visitors).

 

Latin American

Casa Agave ★★★★ $$ / RESTAURANT

 

Thai

Thai Thai ★★★ $$ / RESTAURANT
Overpriced and inauthentic.

 

Vietnamese

Bo ? / REVIEW PENDING (PHO BAR CHAIN)

Lao Lee ★★★★ $ / PHO BAR CHAIN
Very cheap and reasonably high quality Vietnamese pho eatery, although I prefer the Viet Cafe.

Saigon ★★★★ $$

Viet Cafe ★★★★★ $$ / PHO BAR CHAIN
This venue is competitive with any pho that I have had in America – the only place I can recall doing it even better is family run Phở TNT in Portland, but that might have been because it was cold and rainy that day.

 

Music & NightLife

I repatriated to Russia a bit too late in life to have much interest in going out to nightclubs, something I never much enjoyed on account of the loud noise anyway. In any case, Moscow’s real heyday as a party city – as explored in the eXile, and confirmed by all of my expat acquaintances – were the mid-1990s to late 2000s. Since then, it has settled down into a more bourgeois and sober life.

Chinese Pilot Jao Da ? / REVIEW PENDING

Crazy Daisy ★★
The pole dancers were a 6 at best (i.e. below average) and didn’t even take off their clothes. The hookah cost something like $40. And it was far, far too loud.

GIPSY ? / REVIEW PENDING

Happy End ? / REVIEW PENDING
Acquaintance BM says this place at Patriarch Ponds is hot right now.

Propaganda ? / REVIEW PENDING
Acquaintance BM says this techno club is packed 7 night a week: 5/5.

 

Doing Keto?

In SWPL world, there is no issue whatsoever in getting vegetarian/vegan options, and Moscow is no different in that respect. So I won’t bother covering that separately, especially I am hardly an expert on the topic (the one vegetarian place that I sometimes visit is the Moscow Deli, which specializes in Indian dishes).

However, maintaining a ketogenic/low carb diet while dining out is much tricker. Fortunately, Moscow is rather competitive in this respect. It is surprisingly easy to maintain a ketogenic/low-carb diet even when dining out in Moscow. Here are some basic points to get your bearings:

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  • Russian cuisine is surprisingly keto-friendly by default, e.g. Ukha soup, Beef Stroganoff, meat roasts, etc. tend to come without carbs.
  • The “Koster” chain provides fire-grilled cuts of meat and vegetables at extremely competitive prices (e.g. 380R for beef steak; 250R for turkey).
  • As “veterans” know, it’s not difficult to convert most any McDonald’s or Burger King sandwich into a low carb version by removing the buns.
  • Many burger joints make a version of the sandwich without buns – “Fitness Burger” @ Burger & Fries (Miratorg); “Hagrid” @ Burger Heroes; “Hipster Burger” @ Starlite Diner.
  • There is no shortage of American-style steakhouses, as well as more recent Russian adaptations such as in the Yuzhane and Voronezh restaurants.

Historical note: The post-Crimea sanctions have resulted in a renaissance in the beef industry, with Russia beginning to make its own, high-quality steaks. Yet another Bolshevik crime: Destruction of Russia’s steak tradition. During the USSR, beef consisted of low quality meat from slaughtered old milk cows; post-Communism, steak culture was reimported whole from America – the names of cuts you’ll find in supermarkets are Cyrillicized US names (rib-ay, Chak Roll, etc). The idea of eating medium/rare steak was very strange to post-Soviet Russians and took a while to catch on (I recall a US businessman acquaintance complaining that steaks in Sochi cost ~$100 c.2010, five times more than in USA). This only changed for the better in the past decade, esp. since 2014 sanctions. Russia now produces steak from its own beef cows. Unlike in the US, grass-fed is actually cheaper than grain-fed, thanks to abundant unused land. Prices similar to American ones. Hail Miratorg!

 


Communities

Moscow officially hosts 12.6M people as of 2019, but its metro area contains upwards of 20M, making it the largest such conurbation in the Greater European world. It accounts for about 10% of Russia’s population, almost a quarter of its GDP, and well more than half of its science output. As a major economic center (GDP PPP per capita comparable to Canada) that serves as a magnet for human capital (highest average IQ in Russia along with SPB and Yaroslavl), it hosts a wide variety of communities that are sure to satisfy any niche. For obvious reasons, I have neither the time nor the resources to cover all of them. However, there are three in particular that I am somewhat familiar with and which can serve as not entirely unrepresentative examples.

 

Moscow Expats

As a major world capital, Moscow hosts a sizable expat community from the “Far Abroad”. My cursory impression is that the following nationalities are strongly represented: Germans, Americans, French, Britons, Italians. There is also a very substantial Chinese presence, though as in the West, they tend to keep to themselves (I know more “active” Indian expats than I do Chinese). The expats whom I know tend to be in business or finance; Russian repatriates (including a descendant of composer Mikhail Glinka); or journalists (the Moscow “hack pack”).

Online, perhaps the two most useful Anglophone resources for potential expats is the Russian Expat Forum [expat.ru] and the Russia subreddit [/r/russia]. I am not aware of any particular place in Moscow that serves as an expat central. That said, the Chicago Prime bar on Tverskaya is known as a favorite haunt for expats, as is the H2 – Hudson Bar at Mendeleevskaya.

While Saint-Petersburg is the more “touristy” of Russia’s two major cities, my impression is that more expats stick around for the long haul. Of the two expats whom I know well from Russia’s largest city-millionaire (as I call the putative “northern capital”), both are not entirely happy there and are considering movie to Moscow for the greater opportunities it offers.

 

Transhumanists

 

 

KrioRus Cryonics Facility ★★★★★ / REVIEW PENDING

Kocherga Cafe (LessWrong meetups; SSC)

The Geek Picnic

The cliodynamicists

https://umneem.org/

Научная Среда group

 

Nationalists

SVORA

MASON.STONE

Limonov

 

Reconstruction

http://www.reconlog.ru/

Festival every summer in Central Moscow

https://moscowseasons.com/

 


Advanced Muscovology

 

Maps & Sociology

Maps of all the bobo vs. prole areas.

 

Notable Districts

More detailed descriptions of certain districts that are more interesting and/or with which I am more familiar.

Tverskaya

  • Houses of eminent personalities

Novokuznetskaya

 

Mendeleevskaya

 

Ulitsa 1905 goda

 

VDNKh

  • Pettina, Sonata

 

Taganskaya

 

Profsoyuznaya/Akademicheskaya

 

Vykhino/Zhulebino

 

 

***

Links

  • Local
  • http://www.unz.com/akarlin/geek-picnic-2019/
  • http://www.unz.com/akarlin/moscow-elections-2018/
  • http://www.unz.com/akarlin/moscow-scenes-of-swpl/
  • http://www.unz.com/akarlin/russian-liberals-are-the-nomenklaturas-children/
  • http://www.unz.com/akarlin/the-moscow-municipal-elections-2017/
  • http://www.unz.com/akarlin/myth-of-moskvabad/
  • http://www.unz.com/akarlin/10-ways-usa-better-than-russia/
  • http://www.unz.com/akarlin/10-ways-russia-better-than-usa/