James Beard Publication of the Year 2017

Shitty But We Love It: Cheburechnaya Druzhba

Cheburek is one of those great feats of Central Asian product engineering—stewed meat that comes with its own carrying case.

I lived in Moscow in the bad old days, the mid-90s, when it was a somewhat violent city. It was the kind of place that, if you happened to be finishing a beer while walking home at night, you might smash one end of the beer to fashion a makeshift weapon, just in case.  But these days there is very little shivving going on in central Moscow. In fact, there’s very little spontaneous anything, and very little still has that old edge. But lunch at Cheburechnaya Druzhba is a glorious way to get at least a feeling for the Moscow of my early twenties. Cheap, greasy, delicious.

A cheburek is one of those great feats of Central Asian product engineering—stewed meat that comes with its own carrying case (in this case, a crescent of dough). And Cheburechnaya Druzhba (Cheburek Friendship) on Pankrat’yevskiy Pereulok is an unchanging downmarket temple to that innovation. The lighting is gloriously fluorescent; there are communal sinks for washing your hands before and after. It’s just 40₽ (US$0.64) per cheburek, each slightly bigger than your hand and enough for at least a light meal on its own.

But the best part is the accouterment. You can buy little bottles of vodka and cans of Fanta, and chase each fatty bite with a swig of vodka followed by a gulp of soda. It’s something like the tequila ritual in the U.S., but inverted and infinitely more filling. (Protip: grab an extra plastic cup to put your cheburek in as you’re eating, because the grease and goodness will run out of the bottom if not).

Cheburechnaya Druzhba [Чебуречная Дружба]
Pankrat’yevskiy Pereulok, 2
Moscow
Opening hours
Weekdays 9 a.m-9 p.m.
Weekends 9 a.m-9 p.m.

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