dog-friendly restaurants tallinn

Balti Jaama Turg (Market): International Food Court, Tallinn

We have visited the Balti Jaama Turg (Market) in Tallinn a number of times over the last few years and have always had a great experience. This food court offers another option for great dog-friendly dining in Tallinn. The Balti Jaama Turg is on the other side of town to the Viru Food Court and the Original Sokos Hotel Viru, so we usually visit here when staying at the Hestia Hotel Ilmarine. While we have bought speciality groceries from the market and always go to the second-hand shop, this review focuses mainly on the food court

So far, we have always been here for lunch or to buy some take away food for our journey back to Finland. Each time, we were extremely pleased and surprised to find such great quality food and drinks in such a lovely environment. Therefore, we will try to provide some useful information for people looking for dog-friendly dining in Tallinn.

First, in terms of dog-friendliness, like with the Viru Food Court, we are not 100% sure of the dog policy, but (a) the second-hand shop we have been to have no problem with our dog, and (b) none of the staff or customers blinked an eye while were there. Thus, we are presuming that dogs are either officially allowed in, or at least nobody minds.

Second, some details about atmosphere and variety of food. As to atmosphere, unlike the modern Viru Food Court, Balti Jaama is in an older building, so in addition to the great food court, it also offers a lovely space to see people selling food, local crafts, and clothes. Next, we did not count how many food sellers there were, nor did we look at all the menus in detail, but it definitely has over 10 different vendors, each offering different world cuisines, with vegan and vegetarian options available. Finally, there is a common indoor seating area offering plenty of space for those with furry friends. 

Now the basics have been dealt with, I will move on to our food experience, which is still quite limited even though we have been a number of times. Therefore, there will not be a huge amount of detail, and it is not written in time-order. Nevertheless, as everything we have had has been great, even if you are not interested in the things we enjoyed, go try it out to see what else is on offer; a great option for dog-friendly dining in Tallinn.

First, on multiple occasions we have bought some delicious savoury pastries (Samsa and  Tšeburekid) from Samsa Family Bakers to eat on the ferry back home the next day. They have two locations within the market, one in the food court and one outside of it, and we have been to both. Just like the ones bought at their Viru Food Court location, these Usbeki snacks have always been delicious, We have had the chicken, lamb, and spinach varieties, all of which were fantastic. Also, at between €3 and €5.50 each, we feel they are good value for money, especially given the quality.  Our first experience with Samsa family Bakers here was a few years, when in addition to the pastries, we had their AMAZING and highly recommended Uzbek Pilaf with Lamb, and this UNESCO World Heritage listed dish is a must try! My only complaint was that on our last visit to the smaller shop in the food court (June 2023), the service was very unfriendly, but as it is take away, it did not cause any problems.

In addition to Samsa, on our last visit we shared a portion of Bao (2 pieces) from Baojaam and opted for the Pork Belly with kimchi, coriander, hoi sin sauce, and peanuts (€11). We have limited experience with Bao so cannot really confirm the quality in comparison to others. However, the bao bread/dough was light, well-cooked, and with the chewiness you expect, the pork belly was tender and flavoursome (but not as crispy as we like), and the other toppings went very well. We saw other customers eating the crispy chicken version (€9.90) and it looked very good. Given our experience, whether you are a Bao novice or expert, we think it is definitely worth a try.

Next, also on our last visit, we had some excellent (understatement) Dan-Dan Noodles from NUFACE at the far end of the food court/market. We opted for the medium portion of Dan-Dan with meat (€8), but they also do a large serving for €10 (which will be getting for sure next time as they were soooooo good). Dan-Dan noodles come in so many varieties and styles, it is difficult to say which version is most authentic, or to know if such a statement can even be made. Either way, these were delicious!!!! From the freshness of the dish, the fantastic chewy noodles, great flavours from the vast array of sauces and ingredients that went it (I was amazed and excited when watching the lady make them) to the spice level, everything was wonderful!! We went for the extra spicy level and were not disappointed as it had a good spice but not too much (but we do like spicy). Having lived and travelled in Asia for many years, these were as good as many noodles we have had in street markets and hawker stalls in places like Singapore, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Malaysia and Thailand. The only problem is that now my wife has had them, we may not be able to go anywhere else for lunch in Tallinn!!

Finally, again on our last visit, we bought a Spicy Chicken Curry Pie from Café Cape Town (Bobotie) to eat on the ferry on our way back home. Café Cape Town is not in the food court, but only a minutes’ walk away. It is in located the outer part of the market, near the original Samsa bakers, but given our experience, it is well worth finding!!! The owner was very friendly and the pie itself was absolutely delicious!! The pastry was wonderfully buttery and flaky, and the spicy chicken curry filling was not only substantial in amount, but was absolutely delicious! It contained large pieces of good quality chicken wrapped in a thick flavour-packed spicy curry sauce!! It was so good that if you took the filling out, it would stand alone as a great chicken curry! I cannot remember the price, but I think it was about €7. At the time, I remember thinking it was quite expensive, but after eating it and seeing the work and high quality ingredients that went into it, it is excellent value for money. At least for now, this is our new go-to for our Ferry snack (sorry Samasa).

To sum up, we cannot recommend the Balti Jaama food court highly enough if you are looking for a excellent dog-friendly dining in Tallinn. A casual place to try interesting and well-made foods at reasonable prices. On our next visit, I would like to say we will resist the urge to have the same dishes again, but I know for sure we will be having the Dan-Dan Noodles and the Spicy Chicken Curry Pie! No question.

Especially if you are staying at the Hotel Ilmarine, or find yourself up this end of town, it is a must in our opinion. But even if you are not, take a stroll through beautiful Tallin old town to get here. A truly great option for those with or without furry companions.

Number of Visits5 or 6
Last VisitJune 2023
Dog PolicyDogs seem welcome
Main Websites
Samsa Family Baker



Cafe Cape Town
Author: BTB