This Russian gem has become one of my favorite restaurants in San Diego. Pushkin serves up a sumptuous array of dishes- everything from the traditional borsch (beet based soup with various veggies) to beef stroganoff; this restaurant has all the famous eastern European dishes. The menu was created by the owners, the lovely Ike Gazaryan and his beautiful wife Yulia. Both from Moscow, they opened up the restaurant two years ago. Ike has lived in a few different countries of the former soviet republic including Armenia, Uzbekistan and Russia, which is why there are influences on their menu from those areas. Yulia learned from her mother and grandmother, with a lot of these recipes passed down through the generations. The Pushkin menu is truly authentic, with homemade traditional dishes that you can only eat at a Russian home. They also designed and handmade most of the rich and modern interior. Named after their favorite Russian poet and novelist, Alexander Pushkin, the restaurant has a romantic and cozy ambience to it, with photos and books by him placed around the restaurant.
We toasted our dinner with their house-infused vodkas. Created with their secret vodka, the ingredients were made from real fruits and herbs, ranging from flavors such as lychee, raspberry, to more savory flavors such as dill and horseradish. My favorite was definitely the dill; it reminded me of a pickle-back shot. All of the shots were easily drinkable (so dangerous, haha), and tasted exactly like the food item. They infuse some of their vodkas as long as 6-8 weeks to get as much flavor as possible. Yum!
We started our meal with the blinis with red caviar and smoked salmon. They are Russian styled crepes served with butter, cream cheese, and sour cream. Simple yet incredibly satisfying.
Next we had the traditional soup borsch, which is Eastern European comfort food at its finest. A hot beet soup with cabbage and meat, the satisfying, ruby-colored borsch was the perfect light soup between meals.
We had “Salo” next, aka make your own Russian pizza as Yulia described it. It consisted of rye bread with cheese, with sides of pickled veggies, salt, minced garlic cloves, horseradish and mustard to place as optional toppings. I remember my Russian friend Madie making these as an after-school snack! A unique and delicious Ukrainian tradition.
The next dish was the Russian dumplings, an absolute must whenever you go to a Russian restaurant. The silky little meat and mushroom/potato stuffed dumplings came with a cooling bowl of soured cream and remind me of a mix between Chinese dumplings and pirogis.
The entree is the most popular dish on their menu and I can see why. The rack of lamb was beautiful-it came grilled and placed on top of a thin flat bread, with a side of their house made potatoes and a pomegranate dipping sauce. Yulia recommend we use our hands to break off the meat, roll it up with the flat bread and dip it in the sauce. I could eat this every day for both lunch and dinner. The flavors were not too overwhelming and the lamb was flawlessly cooked.
And lastly, they gave us a sneak preview of their “Breakfast Boat” aka the “Ajarian Khachapuri”- my mouth is salivating just picturing this bread of delicousness. The baked bread is in a boat shape, stuffed with cheese and an egg cracked on top. You mix the egg with the cheese and break pieces off the bread while dipping it in the cheesy-egg heaven. Pair your khachapuri with an overflowing glass of Georgian wine, and you might start questioning why you ever eat anywhere else.
For dessert, the 5-layered Russian honey cake. This is definitely one of the yummiest cakes I’ve ever had. I cannot describe how amazing this cake is. It’s perfectly light and sweet and you can’t stop eating it.
Pushkin had outstanding food, service and ambience. I was pleasantly surprised and didn’t realize how great Russian food is. Perfect for a date night or a night out with your friends. Check out their menu here and make sure to stop by. You won’t regret it. I was back with ten friends after this meal and have been boasting about it since!