Tajikistan is not a prosperous nation and does not have a well developed tourist infrastructure; however, its people are friendly and known for hospitality, and it is easy for tourists to enjoy a pleasant meal or evening’s entertainment in the restaurants and nightclubs that do exist in the country. Food and drink is usually very cheap, particularly away from the capital Dushanbe, and the meals are hearty and filling.
Bars and Pubbing in Tajikistan
The capital city of Dushanbe is the best option for bars, dancing, and entertainment, with Port Said (Rudaki 114, north of City Centre) being one of the better known nightclubs. It plays western-style club music and has a good range of beers and spirits. Male visitors or solo female travelers should be aware that many of the local women in the club are likely to be prostitutes, although this should not affect a good night out if avoided. The People’s Bar (Mirzo Tursunzoda Street, Dushanbe) is another popular nightspot with DJ’s, drinking, and dancing. Dushanbe also has an Irish Pub (Shota Rustaveli Street, Dushanbe), which is comparatively expensive but a good approximation of the real thing, even serving Guiness. It is open from 5:00 p.m. to 11:30 p.m. Another popular expat hangout in Tajikistan is Kellers (Ismoili Somoni 6, city center), which makes its own German-style beer and Chinese and European food, all served in pleasant outdoor seating. For those interested in classical music, ballet, or opera, Ayni Opera and Ballet Theatre (Prospekt Rudaki, Dushanbe) has a beautiful ornate interior, where matinees and evening performances take place.
Dining and Cuisine in Tajikistan
Tajikistan cuisine is often compared to that of Russia, but with Afghan and Pakistani influences. Plov is considered the national dish, comprising of rice, cubed mutton or beef, and strips of carrot, fried together in fat or vegetable oil. A vegetarian alternative is qurutob - layered crispy bread, yogurt, fried onion, and vegetables. Both dishes are traditionally communal meals, with a large bowl placed in the center of the table for diners to share.
In Dushanbe, Rudaki Street is home to a cluster of dining options, including the vegetarian-friendly Indian restaurant, Delhi Darbar (88 Rudaki St, Dushanbe) and Cafe Merve (92 Rudaki St, Dushanbe) , which serves kebabs, pizza, French fries, salads, and breakfast. The unusual open-plan Choykhana Rokhat (84 Rudaki, Dushanbe) boasts high columns supporting an ornately decorated ceiling. In summer, this is a good place to people-watch while sampling the local cuisine, particularly if live music is playing in the courtyard. Street and cafe food such as sambusa baked pastries, grilled chicken, fish or beef shashlik, or meat stuffed grape leaf dolma make good snacks.