Trying Latvian Food at Riga Central Market

"Trying Latvian Food at Riga Central Market" - Two Traveling Texans
by Anisa // 62 Comments

I consider myself a foodie and I love to try new food whenever I have the opportunity.  It’s an important part of the culture.  Before our trip to Riga, though, I had never had any Latvian Food.  

Normally, I would just try the local food when dining at a restaurant, but the Central Market in Riga is a tourist attraction in its own right.  Let me tell you more about what you can expect when you visit Riga Central Market.

Note: This post contains affiliate links. Please see disclosure for more information.

The Latvian cakes are almost too pretty to eat. -
The Latvian cakes are almost too pretty to eat.

About Riga Central Market

Riga Central Market is the largest market in Europe and one of the most important Riga landmarks.  It opened in the current location back in 1930.

The market consists of several pavilions made from reusing old German Zeppelin hangars and incorporating Neoclassicism and Art Deco styles. Riga Central Market is 72,300 square meters wide and has more than 3,000 stands, some are outside the pavilions.  While there are four main buildings, one was empty when we were there.  

The Market is considered part of the UNESCO World Heritage site called the Historic Center of Riga.


Our Visit to Riga Central Market

We visited the market on a Thursday afternoon during our Riga city break in December.  The market was surprisingly quiet, but I’m not complaining.  Normally, 80,000-100,000 people shop at Riga Central Market on average each day, so I was expecting it to be crazy.  It was nice we didn’t have to wait in any long lines.  I’m not sure if it was unusually quiet or if it just felt quiet because the market is just so huge.  The weather the day we visited was bad – rainy and cold – so we didn’t visit any of the vendors with stalls outside the market.

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Riga Central Market from the outside. -
Riga Central Market from the outside.

Prices were all clearly marked and cheap.  I am not sure how well the vendors spoke English, but we were able to easily order just by pointing and using my fingers to say how many.

Building 1 – Cheese, Desserts, Other Baked Goods, and Latvian Crafts

The first thing we saw when we walked in were the pastries.  I know you should save the sweets for after your meal, but I couldn’t resist the Latvian desserts.  Everything looked delicious and was so cheap.  I bought a few pastries to taste and some Latvian cookies for later.  We also saw some beautiful Latvian cakes, but not in small portions.  

We had to try some of the Latvian desserts.-
We had to try some of the Latvian desserts.

In addition, they also had a lot of Latvian cheese and honey that looked good but we couldn’t find it sold in tasting portions.  This is where it would have been helpful to be part of a tour.  We did get to try some of the cheese later when we sat down at the restaurant.

We also saw a few stands selling handicrafts and Latvian amber.  We didn’t spend much time looking at the offerings since we would be visiting the Riga Christmas Markets the next day.

One of the Latvian pastries that we tried. -
One of the Latvian pastries that we tried. Spoiler: It was delicious!

Building 2 – Meats and Vegetables

The next area had Latvian meat and fresh produce.  For meats, they had a lot of delicious looking ham and sausages in addition to other meats.  They also had a lot of pickles and a Latvian salad that looked like coleslaw to me.

The selection of sausages and hams at Riga Central Market was impressive. -
The selection of sausages and hams at Riga Central Market was impressive.

The fruit and vegetables looked delicious and fresh.  I saw a few things I didn’t recognize.  They also had some stands that were selling spices. The rich smell of these stalls as we walked past was wonderful.

In the back of this section, there were a few sit-down restaurants where you could relax.  We returned once we had finished seeing the rest of the market.

The fruits and vegetables looked fresh. -
The fruits and vegetables looked fresh.

Building 3 – Fish

Fish is common in the Latvian cuisine since the country is located right on the Baltic Sea.  Not surprisingly, you can smell the fish before you enter this building.  Still, I was impressed with the selection of fresh fish and caviar that was on display.  

Some of the fish at the market was dried. - -
Some of the fish at the market was dried.

Salmon seemed to be the most popular fish.  I also thought they did a nice job with the presentation of the seafood.

Lots of fresh salmon! -
Lots of fresh salmon!

Meal at Riga Central Market

Since we just did a few tastings during our time at the market, we decided to sit down and relax and have a bit more of the Riga traditional food.  There are a few sit-down restaurants throughout the market, we chose one in the back of the meat section.  You order at the counter and they will bring it out to you. 

Our meat and cheese plate. The cheese was cut link crinkle fries. -
Our meat and cheese plate. The cheese was cut link crinkle fries.

We ordered a cheese and meat plate, potato pancakes, and a large local beer.  The cheese was cut in the shape of crinkle cut fries. The cheese had a little bit of a caraway flavor to it, which we both thought was interesting.  It also came with Latvian rye bread which was delicious.  The stand next to the one we ordered our food from specialized in Latvian soups.

The potato pancakes are a Latvian staple. -
The potato pancakes are a Latvian staple.

Riga Food Tour

We explored the market on our own.  I think looking back it might have been a good idea to have done a tour.  It would have been nice to have a guide with us to explain what we were tasting and to make sure we tried all the staples of the Latvian cuisine.  

I also didn’t realize that the Riga Latvia food tours would be so inexpensive.  You can book your Riga food tour before you go.  This tour also includes learning about the city’s history and architecture.



Riga Central Market Video

Please eat something before you watch this video because it is all about the food.  Come with us as we visit Riga Central Market and taste some of the Latvian food for the first time.

Other Places to Try Latvian Food

In addition to Riga Central Market, there are a few other places that you can try traditional Latvian foods.

Riga Restaurants

Riga Lido Restaurant is a popular chain that serves traditional Latvian food.  The Old Town location can be crowded, so it’s probably best to visit the location at Elizabetes iela 65. There is a bigger food selection and it will be easier to find a table.  

If you want the full Lido experience, head to the Lido Recreation Centre in the Moscow District (take Tram #7 from the National Opera to the stop “Lido Rekreācijas Centrs”). Inside this huge wooden building, you will find both fine-dining and buffet restaurants, a pub with Lido’s own beer, live music, rides for the kids, and ice-skating in winter.

Laima Chocolate

While we tried some chocolate desserts at the market, unfortunately, we did not try any Latvian chocolate.

You may have heard of the chocolate brand Laima? Well, they are from Riga and they were the first to start making chocolate there in 1870.  The famous clock that you see in Riga is the Laima Clock.  If you want to see how they make chocolate, you can visit the chocolate museum in Riga (Address: Miera iela 22).  They even do guided tours.  

If you can’t make it to Riga, you can actually buy the Laima chocolate on Amazon. (Click here to check price and availability)

Lots of options for different fruits and vegetables at Riga Central Market. -
Lots of options for different fruits and vegetables at Riga Central Market.

Latvian Recipes

If you would like to make some typical Latvian food at home, a Latvian cookbook would come in handy.  Unfortunately one of the most popular Latvian recipe books, “Latvian Cooking, Recipe Collection From a Baltic Cuisine” is currently unavailable on Amazon.  

Most other Latvian cookbooks did not get good reviews.  If you are interested in getting a Latvian cooking book, then I would suggest “The Food and Cooking of Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania: Traditions, Ingredients, Tastes and Techniques in 60 Classic Recipes.”  It includes recipes from all the Baltic states.  Click here to check price and availability.


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Latvian Food Online

In addition to the Latvian chocolate that I found on Amazon.  I also saw that you can buy Latvian smoked sprats.  Sprats are small fish that are part of the herring family. Click here to check price and availability.

Latvian Drinks

You are going to need something to wash down all the delicious food and Latvian bread!

While you are in Riga, you must try the Black Balsam.  Riga Black Balsam is a traditional Latvian herbal liqueur made with 24 different ingredients mixed in pure vodka making it 45% ABV (90 proof).  You can drink the Latvian Balsam straight (i.e. sip it) or have it in a cocktail.  I enjoyed the Clavis Riga Cocktail that we had at the Skyline Bar, it’s the official cocktail of Riga.

We tried some local Latvian beer while we were exploring Riga Central Market. I had no idea that Latvia has such a wide selection of exciting beers and a thriving beer culture. 

Next time, I am back in Riga, I would also like to try some Latvian wine.  Most Latvian restaurants do serve local wine.  There are also several vineyards outside of Riga.

Where is Riga Central Market Located?

Riga Central Market is located at Nēģu iela 7. The market is located walking distance from the Riga Central Train Station, Riga Central Bus Station, and Old Town Riga. We didn’t have any issues finding it using google maps directions.

What are the opening hours for Riga Central Market?

In general, the Riga Central Market is open from 8 am to 6 pm. Sundays the market closes at 5 pm.

Is Riga Central Market Worth Visiting?

Yes.  You can learn about Latvian food and even taste some of it if you like.  There is no admission charge, so why not explore for a bit.

You should make sure that Riga Central Market is on your Riga sightseeing itinerary!  We had fun trying the delicious Latvian foods, but looking back I wish we would have taken a guided tour of the market (like this one).

Have you visited any local markets on your travels?  Did you find any local food that you liked?  Tell me about your experience in the comments.


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food at riga central market

Expert Tips for Visiting Riga Central Market

  • Go to the market hungry there is plenty of food (especially Latvian sweets) that you will want to try.
  • Consider taking a tour of the Central Market (like this one) to learn more about the food. 
  • Riga Central Market is easy to get to, you can just walk from Riga Central Station

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Last Updated on July 27, 2023

About the Author

Anisa is an experienced international traveler with extra pages in her passport and stamps from 41 different countries across 5 continents (and counting). She was born and raised in Texas. After a 13 year stint in NYC, she moved to England to live with her husband.