A Foodie’s Guide To Latvia: 20 Popular Food In Latvia

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Latvia is a country famous for its cultural diversity and rich culinary traditions. Its cuisine is heavily influenced by neighbouring countries like Russia, Germany, and Sweden, resulting in a unique blend of flavours.

The country’s diverse geography also significantly develops its food culture, with seafood dishes from the coast and hearty meat dishes from inland regions. Are you a foodie looking to explore new cuisines? Latvia is a country with a rich culinary tradition that is often overlooked. But it’s time to change that.

Here we have compiled a list of Latvia’s top 20 popular foods that will tantalize your taste buds. From the hearty Rupjmaize (Rye Bread) to the savoury Pelmeni Dumplings and the refreshing Kvass, there is something for everyone. So, whether you’re planning a trip or want to try something new, this guide will give you a taste of Latvian cuisine.

Popular Foods In Latvia

Top 20 Popular Foods In Latvia Try It Like A Local

Latvian cuisine is known for its diverse flavours and unique dishes that please any foodie. From the classic rye bread to the savoury grey peas and bacon, Latvian cuisine is a perfect blend of hearty and flavorful dishes. The country’s love for potatoes can be seen in its famous potato pancakes, which are crispy on the outside and soft on the inside.

Additionally, Latvia’s rich brewing tradition has given rise to various local beers worth trying. With such a wide range of delicious options, it’s no wonder that Latvian cuisine is becoming increasingly popular among food enthusiasts. Here is a list of the top 20 popular foods in Latvia try it like a local.

1. Rupjmaize (Rye Bread)

Neighbouring countries heavily influence Latvian cuisine, and rye bread is a staple that reflects this. Rupjmaize, or rye bread, is made from a mixture of rye flour and wheat flour and has a dense texture with a slightly sour taste. Despite being a simple food item, it can be found at almost every meal in Latvia.

This versatile bread is typically eaten with butter, cheese, or meat toppings and is also used in traditional Latvian dishes such as bread soup and sauerkraut stew. Some bakeries even offer specialized versions of rupjmaize with added ingredients like nuts or dried fruit to add an extra layer of flavour.

2. Pelmeni Dumplings

Pelmeni dumplings are a popular dish in Latvia, with Russian roots that have become an integral part of Latvian cuisine. These small meat-filled dumplings are typically served with sour cream or butter and can be enjoyed as a main course or appetizer.

Making Pelmeni is simple, but the results are delicious, creating perfect comfort food. One unique feature of these dumplings is the variety of fillings that can be used, ranging from different types of meat to vegetables. This versatility makes Pelmeni an excellent choice for any mealtime.

3. Karbonade (Loin Chops)

Karbonade, or pork loin chops, is a classic Latvian dish enjoyed for generations. This hearty meal typically consists of breaded and fried pork chops served with mashed potatoes and sauerkraut. While it may seem like a simple dish, the crispy exterior and the tender interior make for a delectable combination.

Karbonade can also be made with other meats, such as chicken or veal, but the traditional pork version remains the most popular. Whether you’re at a restaurant or enjoying a homemade meal with family, carbonade is sure to satisfy your taste buds.

4. Speck

When it comes to smoked and cured meats, few are as unique and flavorful as Speck from Latvia. Made predominantly from pork belly, Speck is thinly sliced and used in sandwiches or as a topping for salads. The smoking and curing process gives this meat a distinct smoky flavour that differentiates it from other types of bacon or ham.

In Latvia, it’s often enjoyed with rye bread and traditional Latvian cheeses. But Speck is not just delicious; it’s also a source of protein that can help keep you feeling full and satisfied throughout the day.

5. Pelēkie Zirņi (Grey Peas)

Grey peas, or Pelēkie Zirņi, are a beloved Latvian staple. People often make this dish with smoked bacon and onion for added flavour, which makes it a hearty and satisfying meal. Grey peas have a unique flavour and texture that sets them apart from other legumes.

Often served with boiled potatoes and pickles, this dish is perfect for those looking to experience authentic Latvian cuisine. If you’re visiting Latvia, try this traditional dish and savour the rich flavours Latvians have enjoyed for generations.

6. Maizes Zupa (Bread Soup)

Introducing Maizes Zupa, a traditional Latvian soup made with rye bread, bacon, onions, and other ingredients. This classic dish has become a staple of Latvian cuisine and is especially popular during the colder months. The hearty consistency of this soup makes it perfect for warming up on chilly days.

Many families have passed down their own recipes for maizes zupa from generation to generation, steeping it in history. It’s a food that brings people together and evokes a sense of nostalgia. So if you want to experience authentic Latvian cuisine, try Maizes zupa and savour the unique flavours of this cultural delicacy.

7. Skābeņu Zupa (Sorrel Soup)

Introducing Skābeņu zupa, a traditional Latvian soup made with sorrel leaves and vegetables. You achieve this dish’s tangy and slightly sour taste by adding sour cream or yogurt to the recipe.  You can serve sorrel soup hot or cold, making it a versatile dish year-round.

It’s particularly popular during the summer solstice celebrations in Latvia, known as Jāņi. Plus, its high vitamin C content is believed to provide health benefits. Don’t miss out on trying this unique and delicious soup when exploring Latvian cuisine.

8. Aukstā Zupa (Cold Soup)

Aukstā zupa is a refreshing Latvian dish that is perfect for summertime. Made with kefir or buttermilk, boiled potatoes, cucumbers, radishes, and dill, it’s a light, healthy, flavorful option. Some soup variations include hard-boiled eggs and smoked fish for added protein.

Aukstā zupa can help boost digestion and is popular for its probiotic properties. It’s a popular choice in Latvia during hot weather when people crave something filling yet light. Try it as an appetizer or main course for a satisfying and nutritious meal.

9. Frikadeļu Zupa (Meatball Soup)

Frikadeļu zupa is a hearty Latvian soup perfect for cold winter days. Made with meatballs typically made from ground pork or beef, this dish is combined with carrots, potatoes, and onions and flavoured with herbs and spices to create a rich and filling meal.

Many restaurants throughout Latvia serve this traditional soup with bread or sour cream. Anyone visiting the country must try it, and families often enjoy it at gatherings and special occasions.

10. Rasols (Potato Salad)

Introducing Latvian cuisine without mentioning Rasols would be a culinary faux pas. Most households and many restaurants nationwide have this delicious potato salad on their menus as a staple. People mix boiled potatoes, eggs, pickles, and sometimes meat or fish with sour cream or mayonnaise and season it with dill, parsley, or other herbs to make the dish.

But what makes Rasols so special? Well, not just the succulent ingredients that make this dish so popular. Rasols is a perfect combination of flavours and textures that come together to create a delicious harmony. It’s creamy, crunchy, tangy, and sweet- all at once! Whether you’re enjoying it as a side dish or as part of your main course, you’re sure to savour every bite of this Latvian favourite.

11. Jāņu Siers (Traditional Cheese)

Jāņu series is an essential ingredient in many Latvian dishes, and its unique flavour and texture make it stand out from other cheeses. People typically enjoy this traditional cheese, made from cow’s milk and flavoured with caraway seeds, during the summer solstice celebration known as Jāņi.

It’s tangy taste and firm texture make it a versatile ingredient in salads, sandwiches, and other dishes that you can slice or grate. Jāņu series is also a perfect accompaniment to beer and other alcoholic beverages, making it a popular choice among drinkers.

12. Beetroot Salad

Beetroot salad is a classic dish in Latvia’s culinary landscape. You can make this tangy and sweet salad using boiled or pickled beets, onions, sour cream or mayonnaise. It’s a popular side dish that pairs well with meat or fish. Beetroot is a nutrient-dense vegetable that helps improve digestion and blood pressure levels.

This vibrant pink salad brightens up any table setting, making it visually appealing to foodies. Those who enjoy experimenting in the kitchen can easily prepare beetroot salad at home and customize it with ingredients like apples or carrots.

13. Pīrādziņi (Rye Pastry)

Introduced centuries ago, Pīrādziņi is a traditional Latvian pastry still popular among locals and tourists. This dish is a perfect appetiser or snack option made of rye flour dough and filled with savoury stuffing.

We season the bacon, onion, mushrooms, or minced meat filling in the pastry with salt and pepper to enhance its flavour. Most Latvian bakeries and cafes offer Pīrādziņi, which can be served as is or paired with sour cream or mustard sauce for an added zing.

14. Sultīti (Fruit Juice)

Introducing sultīti, a refreshing and healthy drink made from freshly squeezed fruits and vegetables. In Latvia, sultīti is a local staple beverage, and tourists enjoy it. This popular drink comes in various flavours, such as apple, carrot, beetroot, and berry. Most cafes and restaurants nationwide offer ultīti, making it easily accessible for anyone seeking a quick refresher.

Not only is sultīti delicious, and packed with vitamins and nutrients that help keep you healthy. This refreshing drink is an excellent way to cool off during Latvia’s hot summers or get extra vitamins during the winter months. With a juicer or blender at home, it’s easy to experiment with different combinations of fruits and vegetables to create your unique sultīti flavours.

15. Riga Black Balsam (Melnais Balzāms)

Riga Black Balsam, a traditional herbal liqueur in Latvia, is a quintessential drink that embodies the country’s cultural heritage. Its unique blend of 24 natural herbs, roots, and berries gives it an unparalleled taste and aroma that can be enjoyed on its own or as a versatile ingredient in cocktails and desserts.

The bitter-sweet flavour of Riga Black Balsam has been captivating drinkers for over 260 years, making it an important part of Latvia’s food and beverage culture. Don’t miss out on trying this iconic drink when you visit Latvia!

16. Kvass

Kvass is a unique and refreshing traditional drink worth trying in Latvia. Made from fermented bread, it has a slightly sour and tangy taste that is perfect for hot summer days. Whether enjoyed on its own or used as an ingredient in soups and marinades, Kvass offers a one-of-a-kind culinary experience.

People can find Homemade Kvass in supermarkets and speciality stores, but it is particularly popular in Latvia. So next time you’re exploring the cuisine of Latvia, don’t forget to try Kvass!

17. Asinsdesa (Blood Sausage)

Asinsdesa, also known as blood sausage, is a traditional Latvian dish that might not be everyone’s cup of tea. Still, it’s worth trying for those looking to sample authentic Latvian cuisine. The sausage comes with pork meat and blood, seasoned with onions, garlic, and various spices for added flavour.

Typically served alongside potatoes or sauerkraut, this hearty meal is perfect for colder months. Although it may not be for those with a faint heart, adventurous eaters will love the rich and savoury taste of Asinsdesa.

18. Ķimeņu Siers (Caraway Cheese)

Caraway cheese, or Ķimeņu Siers, is an essential ingredient in Latvian cuisine. Made with caraway seeds and cow’s milk (or sometimes sheep or goat milk), this strong and tangy cheese is a staple in many traditional dishes, including potato pancakes and meat pies. Its distinct flavour comes from the caraway seeds used during cheese-making, giving it a firm texture. Whether sliced or grated on bread or crackers, Ķimeņu Siers will surely add a unique twist to any dish you try in Latvia.

19. Pankūkas (Potato Pancakes)

Latvians nationwide enjoy a beloved dish known as Pankūkas, which are potato pancakes. People often serve these crispy and savoury pancakes, made with grated potatoes and flour, with sour cream or apple sauce. Many restaurants throughout Latvia offer pankukas, a staple during holidays and celebrations like Christmas and Midsummer. Variations of this classic dish include adding bacon or onions to the mixture for added flavour. Don’t leave Latvia without trying this traditional delicacy!

20. Latvijas Maize (Latvian Bread)

Latvia’s love affair with bread is evident in its staple dish, Latvijas Maize. They make this bread from rye flour and it has a distinct texture and slightly sweet taste. The dense bread pairs perfectly with smoked fish or cheese and also features traditional dishes like rupjmaize (rye bread soup) and maizes zupa (bread soup). Visitors to this country must try this unique bread, which plays a crucial role in Latvian cuisine and culture.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. What Is The Traditional Food In Riga?

The traditional food in Riga includes a variety of unique dishes and drinks. Riga black balsam, a herbal liqueur, is a must-try when visiting the city. Grey peas with bacon, a popular Latvian dish that originated in Riga, is another must-have. Rupjmaize, a staple in Latvian cuisine, is available throughout the city as a dark rye bread.

2. What Foods Originated In Latvia?

Latvian cuisine has a variety of unique and delicious foods. Rye bread is a staple enjoyed for centuries, while grey peas with bacon is a traditional dish dating back to the Middle Ages. Sklandrausis, a sweet pastry filled with carrot or potato, is another Latvian speciality. Additionally, smoked fish like eel or salmon is popular in Latvia.

3. What Is A Typical Breakfast In Latvia?

A typical breakfast in Latvia usually consists of porridge, bread, and tea or coffee. People often make porridge with grains like oatmeal, barley, or buckwheat. Latvians also enjoy adding fruits, nuts, or honey to their porridge for flavour. Other popular breakfast options include scrambled eggs with bacon or smoked fish.

4. What Latvia Is Famous For?

Latvia is famous for its natural beauty, stunning forests, lakes, and beaches. The country is also popular for its historic architecture, particularly in the capital city of Riga.

Latvian cuisine features hearty meat dishes, smoked fish, and dairy products like cheese and sour cream. Additionally, Latvia is renowned for its traditional alcoholic beverages, such as black balsam and Riga Black Vodka.

5. What’s The National Dish In Latvia?

The national dish of Latvia is “pelēkie zirņi ar speķi,” also known as grey peas with bacon. This traditional Latvian dish consists of boiled peas served with fried bacon. Other popular Latvian dishes include cold sour cream soup, Latvian pastries filled with bacon or vegetables, and Latvian sausage known as “rūgtā desa.”


Latvian cuisine is a perfect blend of different cultures and traditions. From warming soups to hearty meat dishes, there’s something for every foodie in Latvia. We hope this guide helped you explore the 20 most popular food in Latvia. Don’t forget to try Riga Black Balsam, a local herbal liqueur enjoyed for centuries.

If you plan a trip to Latvia, add these mouth-watering dishes to your must-try list. In addition to their tasty dishes, Latvians are also proud of their high-quality local ingredients, such as smoked fish and creamy cheeses. With a growing foodie scene in Latvia, visitors can now enjoy modern takes on classic dishes while still experiencing the authentic flavours of this Baltic gem.

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