Let me start out by reminding you that Azerbaijan holds the infamous record of having the world unhealthiest cuisine – finding fantastic, not-too-greasy food out here is a problem 🙈
We ended up in Ganja almost by mistake – we knew absolutely nothing about the place other than a pin on Google maps that we’d dropped at some point as a potential stop.
We hitchhiked in, honestly expecting a small, backwater town, and found ourselves gobsmacked by a modern, European city. While the name is deceiving, what it lacks in cannabis it more than makes up for in culture!
The city is covered in art and sculptures, beautiful public spaces, parks, fountains, cafes, museums to famous poets, shopping aplenty, and even a few quirky things, like the house made from 50000 glass bottles.
The food scene, however, was a bit more tricky to navigate. There are a lot of slightly more upmarket spots, serving Western and international cuisine, and plenty of doner houses that can fill your stomach for R12, but very few of the mid-range good local places we love to find.
TripAdvisor here was virtually useless, as the place gets very few international tourists. The real gem of this town we actually found on Google maps, of all places, and ended up being incredible.
We found an old Soviet themed underground restaurant called Zirzemi restaurant, and its here: M9J9+3X Ganja, Azerbaijan.
The quirkeyness starts when you bang on the iron door and a Soviet soldier with a kalishnikov opens the flap and demands a password. We saluted and said “greetings comrade (Привет товарищ!)” in Russian and that seemed to satisfy him 😂
Everything on the inside was straight out of 1950’s Soviet russia, from the gas masks hanging on the wall, machine guns stacked up next to the door, old radio transmitters and a large vodka collection, down to the waiters outfits – old Soviet war uniforms!
The food however, was excellent. Not at all greasy or heavy, we had 9 dishes, a vodka (of course!) and some sparkling water, for 20AZN – around R160!
We had a strained yogurt with dill, Adjika, a sour milk, rice, tarragon and egg soup (way nicer than it sounds!), fried dumplings, two salads, a plate of lamb wrapped in grape leaves with a garlic yoghurt dipping sauce, a flatbread stuffed with spinach and cottage cheese, a chicken kebab, and a bread basket – all of which were cooked perfectly.
And at the end of the meal, we got to take some photos with the props!
All in all – a fantastic experience, and if you are at all considering Ganja as a destination, definitely stop in! Drop us a comment if you make out here 🙂