With over 140 architectural monuments to visit in the UNESCO world heritage city of Bukhara, it’s fair to say you may develop an appetite after accumulating some serious steps across the city.
Luckily for you, there are plenty of options for eating out in Bukhara, with most restaurants serving Uzbek cuisine which is certainly not lacking in calories!
If you’ve eaten more rice and lamb than your stomach can handle then fear not as the city also offers a number of international cuisines, although not quite to the extent of eating out in Tashkent.
In this guide I’ll show you all the best restaurants in Bukhara for all price ranges including where to get the best plov and shashlik in the city.
How much is eating out in Bukhara?
Eating out at restaurants in Bukhara is a wonderfully cheap experience. Uzbek food restaurants on the outskirts of town offers the cheapest options but even the tourist restaurants in the center of the city will be a bargain for most visitors.
Bear in mind however that many restaurants have a service charge which can be as high as 20%. Check the menu carefully so you know how much you’ll be paying.
- For budget meals you can order a plate of plov for 30,000 Som ($2.50) at the Labi Hovuz restaurant. This is especially cheap given its prime location next to the Lyabi-Hauz pond, the centerpiece of the Lyabi-Hauz Ensemble.
- Mid-range restaurants such as Zaytoon have main courses such as steal from 100,000 Som (~$8)
- Even the restaurants at the higher end of the price range are very reasonable. A 4 course dinner with plenty of drinks cost us only 700,000 Som (~$60) per person but you could do it much cheaper.
Where to Eat Uzbek Food in Bukhara
Best Plov in Bukhara
Bukhara plov shares similarities with Samarkand plov, as both preparations involve cooking the primary ingredients such as chunky meat pieces, carrots, chickpeas, and dried fruits separately from the rice and serving them in layers rather than mixing them. However, Bukhara plov, locally known as “osh,” is typically prepared with sesame oil instead of animal fat, imparting a lighter texture to the dish.
You can buy plov in dozens of restaurants in the Old Town of Bukhara but for the best plov in the city it’s best to visit one of the specialty restaurants.
Just a 10 minute taxi from the Old Town, ‘The Plov’ offers the best overall experience. With a choice of Bukhara or Samarkand style plov, you can customize your dish with extra meat, quail eggs, horse sausage and more.
The walls and ceiling are decorated with Uzbek style lanterns, scarves, ornamental plates and photos of local monuments and this is definitely the fanciest plov restaurant in the city. A plate of Bukhara plov costs 30,000 Som and nobody will judge you (or me) for ordering a 70% portion!
It gets busy at lunch time so book in advance or arrive just before midday to secure a seat. They have an English menu and some of the waiters spoke excellent English.
The Plov Center, bizarrely now known as Mo Salah, is another great choice for plov in Bukhara. It’s an authentic, no-frills restaurant where the locals come to eat.
There’s no chickpeas or raisins in their version of plov but what it lacks here it makes up for its meat: thick chunks of beef that you won’t find elsewhere. You can also add quail eggs and horse sausage and it comes served with a whole red chili which is unusual for Uzbek food which is rarely spicy.
English speaking tourists are quite rare here so a translator app or some basic Uzbek or Russian are required. You’ll be rewarded with the most authentic and down-to-Earth plov restaurant in the city.
Magistral Plov Center
A little further out of town is the Magistral Plov Center, which is a large dining room with wooden beams and multiple chandeliers.
Admittedly I didn’t have the time to visit this one but from what I can tell in addition to regular plov, you can order larger portions of plov to share with a group. These plates are fancier than the usual version as they come lined with quail eggs and topped with multiple layers of meat.
Best Uzbek Restaurants in Bukhara
Bukhara’s central restaurants are very tourist-oriented but even the biggest tourist hotspots offer decent food and good value for money.
Old Bukhara restaurant caters to tourists passing in and out of the city but despite that the overall experience is certainly not bad. The restaurant offers unique seating options: a small courtyard with a tree at its heart or the second-floor balconies with city views.
While the food doesn’t rank as the city’s finest, it’s decent enough. Service was fast, making it a convenient choice for a quick bite and some elegant photo opportunities.
With its central location right on the edge of the waters of Lyabi-Hauz pond, this restaurant has no problems drawing in the crowds.
Labi Hovuz is one of the best places for shashlik in Bukhara. Portion sizes are not small and even the vegetable skewers are impressive. Offering Uzbek food plus salad and pizza, the menu is diverse enough to please most. Try the olot somsa – a meat samosa wrapped like a parcel and served with tomato dipping sauce.
It’s a bit hectic with the constant influx of tourists and and waiters running around like headless chickens but worth a visit, especially if you manage to get a water-side table as the fountains switch on. The best time to visit is between 2.30pm and 4pm between the lunch and dinner peaks.
JOY Chaikhana Lounge
One of the livelier spots to eat in Bukhara, this restaurant has live music, alcohol, and of course, dancing. Also known as Joy Lounge Bukhara, this place also features on our list of top bars in Bukhara.
Offering mainly Uzbek cuisine, this is where you can try good quality meals such as noodle dish lagman, Uzbek style dumplings manti, and lamb shish kebab shashlik.
Set in a beautifully reconstructed old guesthouse, Joy Chaikhana gradually turns from restaurant into bar as the night goes on and the lights go down.
Hidden off the backstreets of Bukhara Old Town lies one of the best restaurants for excellent value Uzbek food. The highest rated Uzbek restaurant according to Google Maps, I had to try it out.
If you can manage to find your way to Jam, you’ll be rewarded with Bukhara’s friendliest restaurant, a beautiful interior, and cheap, tasty food and wine.
A two course meal for one with 3 glasses of wine and a beer cost 200,000 Som (~$16). Had I been undercharged for this feast of meat, yoghurt, and dizzying grape juice? I guess I’ll never know…
International Cuisine in Bukhara
Sooner or later on your trip you’re likely to want a break from red meat and carb heavy food. Although there aren’t a ton of other types of restaurant in Bukhara, there are certainly a small number of excellent choices.
‘Modern and Traditional Middle East and Mediterranean cuisine in the middle of Bukhara.’ Zaytoon is one of the highest rated restaurants in Bukhara, and it’s not difficult to see why.
With a menu including dips such as hummus, yoghurt, and guacamole as well as Middle Eastern favorites such as falafel and tabouli salad, this place is an oasis for those with a lighter appetite. Zaytoon is the best restaurant for vegans and vegetarians in Bukhara.
If Italian food is your thing then this is the highest rated Italian restaurant in Bukhara. As I’m not overly partial to pasta or pizza, I gave this a miss but it’s definitely an alternative to Uzbek food if you’re wanting something different. Reviews are hit and miss but generally good. Just don’t go there expecting too much.
Fine Dining Restaurants in Bukhara
If you’re looking for something special then there are a couple of excellent restaurants. Don’t expect Michelin star level food but do expect delicious food and great service at a bargain price all things considered.
The best overall restaurant in Bukhara for food, ambience, and setting, Ayvan is incredibly popular. Set in the 19th Century Lyabi House Hotel, the restaurant is worth a trip just for a photo.
Their food is mainly European, including plenty of salads, fish, pasta, steak and more. I tried a Greek salad, plate of mussels, salmon steak, and cheesecake all washed down with local wine.
If you plan to go there make sure you book. I was turned down on my first night and only managed to secure a smaller table in the courtyard on the second night.
Looking like a fairy tale garden, Garten Restaurant is the most beautiful, modern restaurant in Bukhara. The interior of the restaurant looks like a huge illuminated garden with plants and even a pond. It’s quite spectacular to see.
With a diverse menu featuring everything from pasta and baked fish to fancy desserts, spirits and wine, this place has a very different vibe to the rest of the city.
It’s a short journey out of the Old Town so you’ll need to take a 10 minute taxi to get there.
If you’re planning a trip to Bukhara then read our full Bukhara travel guide.
Bukhara offers a delightful culinary journey with options for all tastes and budgets. Whether you’re indulging in Uzbek classics like plov and shashlik at ‘The Plov’ or savoring international flavors at Zaytoon, the city has something to satisfy every palate.
Don’t miss the chance to dine at Ayvan Restaurant or experience the enchanting ambiance of Garten Restaurant for a fine dining experience that won’t break the bank.
With affordable prices, delicious food, and plenty of choices, eating out in Bukhara is not only a treat for your taste buds but also a memorable part of your visit to this UNESCO World Heritage city.
If you’re looking for a place to stay in Bukhara then continue reading.