Written by Jingwen Hu

Exploring food is one of the most important things during travel. However, this is not easy for travelers in Joensuu – the North Karelian food is different from other more well-known Finnish cuisines, and there are not enough online reviews about local restaurants. Being local for two weeks, we are able to give you a recommendation list of the best restaurants and local food that you cannot miss.

Top 5 restaurants

  • Kielo

We went there after a long bike trip on a holiday. Make sure you wear a yellow scarf and order some wine for this bright and vibrant dining environment. Don’t be surprised when they hand you an envelope with the menu.

Everything is delicately designed, and the taste is exceptional – a perfect combination of meat, vegetables, and sauce while you have no idea what it is.

  • Ravintola Aittaranta

This restaurant is on the other side of the river and is relatively modern. You should go there on a sunny day and sit next to the window to enjoy the nice river view. Food is amazing, especially the meatballs and fried fish with an authentic and magical taste.

  • Ravintola Filipof

You will firstly be impressed by the Nordic decoration when you walk into this wooden cabin. They provided various types of fish and meat with amazing sauces, and we also tried a snail entree.

  • Ravintola Wanha Aitta

This small and lovely catering place is 3 blocks away from Sensire’s office where we had lunch buffet several times. They have homemade bakery and cuisines, making it a nice place to try very authentic local food.

  • Local Bistro

This is a well-known place for locals to treat guests, partly due to its good location. Cuisines are decent but not special. However, this restaurant is special to us because we ran into JP and his family here and received a secret gift with superb desserts.

Our one last recommendation is not a restaurant, but the hotel we stayed during this trip – Lietsu Boutique Aparthotel. It provides traditional breakfasts, including Karelian pie (with butter & egg), Finnish porridge, sour herring & other fermented fish, Finnish berry jam, and rye bread.

Local food

  • Finnish pastries – while there are a lot of options if you go into a bakery, Karelian pie and Korvapuusti (cinnamon pastries) are our top picks
  • Reindeer cuisine
  • Paistetut Muikut (fried vendace) – you can get it at a restaurant or as street food

Dining tips in Finland

  • No tips. Tips will be included in your check.
  • Every restaurant provides FREE coffee and tea.
  • Most restaurants have buffet lunch.
  • No worries when you see a Finnish menu that you barely understand, because most Finns speak English.
  • Prepare to wait for a long time (30 min can be normal) before a waiter comes to you. They just want you to enjoy a longer time with your family or friends without disruption.
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