Restaurants and local delicacies to try out

7/24/2019 10:24 AM

Local delicacies in Lappeenranta and Imatra region by Finland´s largest Lake Saimaa

The best way to enjoy the relaxed, pleasant atmosphere in Lappeenranta and Imatra region is to pop in the idyllic cafés for a coffee break. Visitors are charmed by the local delicacies served in the restaurants and coffee shops of the Saimaa area. Some of the local delicacies include traditional meat pies with amusing names (such as 'vety' - hydrogen and 'atomi' - atom); and the 'särä' roast. You should not be surprised if the café owner starts to chat with you – Karelian people are very outgoing and happy to hear what holidaymakers have been up to.

Restaurants in Lappeenranta and Imatra area

South Karelia has always been a region of hearty meals, so the traditions of the Saimaa cuisine have stewed and simmered thoroughly and for a long period, with several decades and generations of expertise. You should definitely taste the delicacies of the local cuisine, rich with tradition, but you can also swap the local fish, Karelian stew and meat aspic for the flavors of international cuisine.

Delicious gastronomic alternatives are served not only in the towns of Imatra and Lappeenranta, but elsewhere in the region as well. The spa hotels in the Saimaa area also pamper their guests with high quality restaurants.


Traditional dishes, slowly but surely

Everything good in life takes time. One of the seven wonders - Särä, the lamb stew from Lemi - also needs time to stew. The secret of Särä is hidden in the way it’s prepared in a birch-wood trough called “särä”, which gives this traditional dish its name. The basic ingredients are lamb and potatoes, and the only spice used is salt. Before Särä is ready to be served it stews slowly in a wood-heated oven for as long as 8 hours. Särä is a delicious lamb dish made according to a 1000-year-old tradition. In the traditional Lemi way, Särä is enjoyed slowly, and you are welcome to have as many servings as you like.

Restaurant Säräpirtti Kippurasarvi in Lemi has served the mouth-watering roast lamb with Lemi potatoes for 40 years. Kippurasarvi is the only restaurant in Finland that specializes in this one dish. Särä is served with bread, butter, low alcohol home brew and water – and don't forget the mixed fruit soup served for dessert. The restaurant has set serving times, which need to be booked in advance. Tables for groups of more than ten people can, however, be reserved for slots outside the set serving times.


While waiting for the Särä to be ready, the hungriest visitors can pop out to Lappeenranta to try Vety and Atomi ('Hydrogen and Atom'), the favorite local snacks. The pies where created in the early 60's by a local coffee shop owner. The test group of clients named them after current topics of the time: the atom bomb (ham or egg) and the H-bomb (ham and egg). These meat pies with ham, egg, ketchup, mustard, pickle, onion and mayonnaise inside, are indigenous local delicacies, which you can find nowhere else. Try them at the market place or harbor in Lappeenranta. The taste will capture your heart!

One of the most famous and best-loved traditional Finnish delicacies, Karelian pasties taste their absolute best in the place where they originated. A beautifully pinched rye pastry and a filling of rice porridge, barley porridge or potato constitute one of the region’s best-known and most popular delicacies. Karelian pies are found on the menu in most cafés and restaurants in the Saimaa area. To accompany them, you can choose crispy fried vendace (fresh local fish), widely available in the summer season in particular. Vendace is usually served fried crunchy in butter and you can find it in some restaurants and also on market places. If you wish to catch your own fish, Vuoksi Fishing Park in Imatra next to the river Vuoksi is the place to be.

Top 10 restaurants to visit when in Lappeenranta and Imatra region

And many more great restaurants which you can find here >>


Finnish forest offers everyone a free lunch or dessert

Truly independent travelers can head out to the forests of South Karelia, where sharp eyes will discover plenty of delicious berries and mushrooms in summer and autumn. Nothing beats the flavor of self-picked berries and mushrooms, but the counters groaning with the treasures of the forest at the farmer’s market will also make your mouth water.

If you are visiting during the summer or autumn, instead of packing a backpack and camping supplies, all you need to take is a basket, a bottle of water and this article – it’s time to go to the forest and gather mushrooms and berries. It’s an easy way to get to know the local landscape and, at the same time, collect ingredients for all sorts of delicious treats. Thanks to Finland’s everyman’s rights, you can forage and move around anywhere in Finnish forests, so long as you behave nicely.


The wild strawberry is a small, delicious berry that grows commonly in glades, headlands, on the edges of forests and rocky, dry meadows. The small delicacies are not usually gathered for preserves, but during your hike you can pick the tasty berries and eat them straight away. Wild blueberries grow in coniferous forests throughout Finland. The blueberry is a real superfood, containing many healthy antioxidants. Raspberries grow in grove-like, new boreal forest, at the edges of the forests, in felled clearings and at roadsides, as well as in other open areas. They are juiciest when fresh but can also be frozen or used to make jam. The lingonberry is the highest-yielding natural berry in Finland and the one most commonly gathered for both household and industrial use. Lingonberries grow throughout the country in fairly dry boreal forests, but it can also be found in swamplands and deep forest.


There are a few things you should know before you go out and collect a basket full of mushrooms. The first thing is to pick mushrooms only if you are certain you know what kind they are.

There is nothing more delightful than finding a beautifully round and solid porcini mushroom (Boletus edulisi). Even just one sturdy porcini mushroom will give you a delicious meal. Chanterelle mushrooms (Cantharellus cibarius) often look like fallen leaves in autumn and finding them is always a lovely surprise. If you find a handful of chanterelles, you can use them for a sandwich – a whole basket is enough for a soup. The slippery jack or sticky bun (Suillus luteus) can be found on the sandy edges of forest paths. Add some onion, cream and a few spices and you’ll have a fantastic filling for an omelet.

Lake Saimaa, Purest Finland Regional Council of South Karelia Centre for Economic Development, Transport and the Environment Rural 2020 The European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development: Europe investing in rural areas
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