Pyshki are crunchy, small round doughnuts with a hole in the middle. The traditional pyshki come dusted with sugar. You will be tempted to eat a dozen.
The Saint Petersburg donuts are called Pyshki, while the Moscow ones go by Ponchiki. The tradition comes from the 1930s and many pyshki joints are still there from the middle of the 20th century.
Tasting pyshki should be on your list of things to do when in Saint Petersburg.
Even if you dislike deep-fried dough, step into one of these cafes for the experience, the lineup, the funny coffee drink and enjoy a look into the Soviet era days and of course the irresistible snack.
I have collected the best places to have pyshki.
12th of April (12 апреля)
This little cafe is honoring the date of the 12th of April 1961 when the first human went into space.
It offers excellent pyshki and syrniki (Russian cheesecakes) and good coffee at low prices. They also offer pelmeni in case you are looking for a savory snack.
I like the interior with old Soviet newspapers and posters with the first cosmonaut Yury Gagarin.
Conveniently located on the central street Nevsky prospect near the channels.
20 Nevsky Prospect, (Невский проспект д. 20)
If I take the liberty to translate Pyshechka, I would say “a cute little donut”.
This is a pyshki chain by Ginza, a large restaurant company in Russia.
They mix traditional nostalgic pyshki culture with elements of modern hipster chic in their interior and menu.
Drinks include sweet fruit juices, Soviet-style lemonades, milkshakes, coffee.
Here at Pyshechka, the choice of condiments for the donut is leaving me overwhelmed – whipped cream, honey, condensed milk, Nutella and jams. I still prefer classic sugar-dusted pyshki.
Open daily till 9 pm.
Na Bolshoi Konyushennoy (на Большой Конюшенной)
If you are the type of tourist who wants everything authentic, this place is for you.
Right from the 1960s, this joint still uses the same equipment and the recipe as 60 years ago. The staff doesn’t smile, there is a lineup – you are back into the Soviet times.
For the real experience, get at least 5 pyshki and a cup of coffee with milk, no-frills and cheap. Coffee with milk isn’t a latte style, rather it is an element of Soviet nostalgia, an instant coffee with sweet condensed milk.
Some more tips: this place isn’t for a long leisurely breakfast, but rather eat and go, they take only cash and there are no toilets. You can pet the cats.
From 9 am to 8 pm.
A simple local cafe in Vasilievsky Ostrov, where you can taste pyshki, bulochki, pirozhki and vatrushki with tea, coffee, or milkshake.
Pysheshnaya Na Sadovoy (Пышечная)
A traditional pyshki cafe with a recipe unchanged for decades. Just pyshki and coffee-like drink with sweet milk. Very cheap and very Soviet-style place, where you would come for the experience rather than for great coffee or excellent service.
During busier times, there is a long queue and no places to seat. Take this as a part of the experience too.
Petersburg Donuts (Петербургские Пышки)
Very conveniently located inside the Gostinyi Dvor shopping centre, this is a small cafe with limited seating.
Come here early or take some pyshki “to go” and enjoy them on the walk of Nevsky.