Discovering Danilovsky Market

From gourmet popcorn with pepper to Turkish coffee

By Federal Agency for Tourism

Confectionery (21st Century) by tm agencyFederal Agency for Tourism

Looking For the Freshest

Fuelled by the growing financial confidence among the fledgling middle class, a gastronomic revolution engulfed first Moscow, and then other Russian cities in the 2010s bringing in new food habits and approaches to food culture , including a demand for farm-to-table produce, a passion for at-home cooking and outdoor dining, and a growing street-food scene.  

Afisha Picnic, a major Moscow music festival, blazed a trail when it added a large street food court to its 2007 event. Other festivals followed suit.  

Danilovskiy Market Main Entrance (21st Century)Federal Agency for Tourism

In 2013, Gorky Park, one of Moscow's largest, hosted the Local Food Market which was all about street food, while St. Petersburg food lovers launched the O Da! Yeda! (Oh Yes! Food!) project, set to become one of Russia's largest gastronomic festivals.

These events testified to Russians' newly found interest in cheaper city food. Familiarised with this new way of dining, they were now eager to pick something new even if it meant queuing for it.

Danilovskiy Market (21st Century) by tm agencyFederal Agency for Tourism

Gaining experience at major festivals, independent eateries became a constant feature at food courts and markets. 

Moscow's Danilovsky Market was the first market of this new kind. 

Jewelry (21st Century) by tm agencyFederal Agency for Tourism

Late 13th century. Alexander Nevsky’s younger son Daniil built Moscow’s first monastery. Commerce flourished in the neighbourhood, and so it has to this day.

Vegetables (21st Century) by tm agencyFederal Agency for Tourism

How It Was

The present Danilovsky Market is a Soviet heritage. During his visit to the Soviet Union in 1959, the future US president Richard Nixon chose to see the market, by then already a local landmark that attracted many foreign visitors with an atmosphere of an old Russian fair.

Fruits and vegetables (21st Century) by tm agencyFederal Agency for Tourism

In the 1960s groceries would be sold in the open.

Danilovskiy Market dome (21st Century) by tm agencyFederal Agency for Tourism

The dome

A decade later, architects Felix Novikov and Gavriil Akulov produced a design with a dome whose lancet arches formed sails that reminded of the Druzhba Sports Hall design developed for the 1980 Moscow Olympics.

The giant yet elegant dome embodied modernist architecture solutions with complex elements and fresh massive shapes using metal, concrete, reinforced concrete, and glass.

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Market Receives a Facelift

The market received a new lease of life in 2015 with a facelift and a new mission that saw it selling groceries next to cooking food. 

Tatarstan gastronomy by RustourismFederal Agency for Tourism

The idea was jointly developed by Ginza Project, one of Russia’s largest restaurant holdings, and Stay Hungry that at the time was known for its food festivals.

Danilovskiy Market (21st Century) by tm agencyFederal Agency for Tourism

The renovation was completed in 2017. The attic was replaced with a mansarde roof, while the dome was rebuilt to original design with more light getting through the glass that used to be covered with wooden planks.  

The reorganised internal layout meant aquariums with fish and marine products were at the centre, fresh produce stalls radiating out and corners and ready-to-eat cafes encircling the floor. 

Food at Depot Market (21st Century) by tm agencyFederal Agency for Tourism

How It Is Now

The Danilovsky Market made food courts a concept of fashion which spawned them all over the city, and remains a point of attraction thanks to its many events as well as mouth-watering food projects.

Danilovskiy Market (21st Century) by tm agencyFederal Agency for Tourism

"A novel type market is not just for selling groceries. In the 21st century, it got more social functions creating a friendly environment in and around itself for residents to interact” — Olga Kukoba, Danilovsky Market Development Director.

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Danilovsky often holds events that range from lectures to film screenings and food festivals. Vinyl Market is one of the local projects offering popular DJ sets and rare records, while Lambada Market is a chance to try designer jewellery and clothing, dance and chat.

Honey shop (21st Century) by tm agencyFederal Agency for Tourism

Shops With History

The Danilovsky Market is home to entrepreneurs that customers come back to again and again. One of such shops with a history of its own is owned by Irina Lisnik. Drop by to buy a dozen quail, guineafowl or chicken eggs.

Lisnik spent her childhood helping her parents out at the store, and was put in charge when she turned 17. She is such a familiar face that when she went on maternity leave, the market’s management mulled an idea of having a cardboard likeness placed by the stall.

Fruits and vegetables (21st Century) by tm agencyFederal Agency for Tourism

Another veteran shopkeeper is Uncle Sasha. Sasha moved to Moscow from Moldova after the breakup of the Soviet Union, and it wasn’t long before he opened his own store at the Danilovsky Market selling fruits and vegetables.

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Sasha will always tell you which peaches and pomegranates are sweeter, because he values trust above all and will not lie to his customers.

He will also gladly share a recipe of jam with Armenian apricots, watermelon rind, and green tomatoes. Sasha is sincerely bemused why people have been making fewer preserves.

Watermelon (21st Century) by tm agencyFederal Agency for Tourism

Danilovsky’s Top Picks

The Danilovsky Market is known for its wide range of foods including Astrakhan caviar, one of Russia’s most exquisite delicacies, Turkish coffee served in cezve coffee pots, gourmet popcorn with pepper, caramel and other surprise flavours, cheese and milk direct from a local  farm, handmade pelmeni and chocolate, the latter with fruit jelly, nuts and even matcha tea.

Fruits (21st Century) by tm agencyFederal Agency for Tourism

There are over 40 shops with quality foods from honey and fresh crunchy bread to deli meat and exotic fruit.

Samsa (21st Century) by tm agencyFederal Agency for Tourism

Takeaway food is included in the menu as well. You can taste a proper flatbread cooked in a tandyr oven at the Uzbek cuisine Non corner, Dagestanskaya Lavka boasts real khinkali dumplings, Lyubov Pirogova is famous for its pies, and The Hummus – for its falafel with pickles. 

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Another destination is Chelovek I Parokhod claiming the freshest know-how in coffee making.  

Cooking (21st Century)Federal Agency for Tourism

One of the market’s most prominent cafes is Lepim I Varim that serves a rich variety of pelmeni that can be red, black, green and feature fillings such as meat, cheese or shrimp. This is a place to go watch contemporary pelmeni being made by hand. 

This is a place to go watch contemporary pelmeni being made by hand. 

Cooking (21st Century) by tm agencyFederal Agency for Tourism

Credits: Story

Сhief Сonsultant — Ekaterina Drozdova, restaurateur, gastronomic entrepreneur, food and social activist, Photo production — tm agency, Contributors — Proximity Russia, Denis Yershov, Aliona Ermakova

Credits: All media
The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
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