On finding Vegetarian food in Uzbekistan – I should be so lucky

On finding Vegetarian food in Uzbekistan – I should be so lucky

Can you find Vegetarian food in Uzbekistan in easily? I would say it is one of the harder countries for me, but then, I have never been to South America or elsewhere Central Asia. So, the answer is, Vegetarian food in Uzbekistan in relatively easily to come by, and it should not deter you from visiting if you are vegetarian or vegan.

Last year I visited Uzbekistan for the second time. Since my three fellow travellers backed out for health reasons /  fear of being shot down by Russian rockets, it was just me and my tiny wheelie case… changing the itinerary around and now visiting not just some Silk Road Classics, but also the Fergana Valley and some, well, lesser known destinations mostly to do with Arts and Crafts. And seeing out Vegetarian food in Uzbekistan.

My Itinerary

I have been to Uzbekistan twice – first, in 2019 when flying via Russia was easy and feasible. I flew to Samarkand and visited Samarkand and Bukhara with two high-speed train rides between the cities. . I only had four full days in Uzbekistan so limited myself to the touristic highlights.

On my second trip of two weeks, I followed a pretty standard itinerary. Arriving in Tashkent, I spent a day in Tashkent and took a night train to Khiva. After two days in Khiva, another night train to Samarkand. I omitted Bukhara this time because I had seen everything I had wanted to see on my first trip. By skipping Bukhara, I was able to visit the fabled Urgut Market on a Sunday. Then I took a high speed train to Tashkent but spent all day trying to get to the Fergana Valley by share taxi – I learned it’s a lot more comfortable by train but those trains don’t run very frequently. Anyway – I spent about five days in Fergana Valley visiting Fergana, Rishton, Marghilon and its famous Kumtepe Bazaar  Rishton, then returned to Tashkent for another day.

Types of cuisine available in Uzbekistan

Uzbek Cuisine, unfortunately for us non meat eaters, is very meat laden and meat is the principal snack, lunch and dinner. From spring to autumn into early winter, fresh seasonal fruit and vegetable, supplemented by all sorts of nuts, are also available.

Tashkent, being the capital city, has the widest range of types of cuisine. Of course, Uzbek cuisine is everywhere, from simple cafes to huge outdoor restaurants. In central Tashkent, near Mirobod Bazaar, you will find more international cuisine, mostly Georgian and Korean, due to the number of residents of Georgian or Korean origin there.

Vegetarian food in Uzbekistan
Vegetable shashlik always goes – sometimes good, sometimes lacklustre
Vegetarian food in Uzbekistan
Let’s not forget some of the worlds best bread – available everywhere

Where to find Vegetarian food in Uzbekistan by destination

Here are a few recommendations of restaurants where I are and/or that are known to cater to vegetarians.  Generally speaking, touristic restaurants usually have a few vegetarian dishes. All recommended restaurants can be found in the map below. The map also contains some restaurants I visited but would not necessarily recommend ( see comment son map) and some place for fabric shopping (different blog post)


Generally speaking, the city with the broadest food offerings of Vegetarian food in Uzbekistan. Fast food and shashlik are almost anywhere, finding vegetarian food can be tricky. Places like the area around Shota Rustaveli ko’chasi and Mirobod ko’chasi are probably most promising.

Chorsu Bazaar

This is great for self caterers as it has a plethora of fruit, vegetables, nuts and pickles. I did not see any formal restaurants, let alone vegetarian ones, but snack stalls serve great inexpensive foods like somsa between the flower market and the Uzbek Souvenir stalls. The cheapest somsa should be safe as they are usually filled with vegetables (ovoshchi) and/or potatoes (kartoshki)

Pickles galore at Tashkent’s Chorsu Bazaar
Pistachios, almonds, walnuts are all homegrown


One of many Korean restaurants of Tashkent, you may be able to avoid the meat, with fish it gets trickier, but there are at least a few vegetarian options. it may no tlook much from the outside, but inside it’s super clean and welcoming. Many kimchi and rice variations and pickles.

Where I stayed in Tashkent

I picked the Sapiens Hotel in that area between Rustaveli and Mirobod ko’chasi, and thankfully, I didn’t have to walk a mile for food like in the first hotel I stayed in (which was very nice  but not that well located). It’s very modern and minimalist to the point of spartan but comfortable and friendly. Another bonus point: a cute cat that adopted the hotel and has become an official resident.


I would say Xiva was perhaps (and surprisingly!) the easiest place to find vegetarian food, not least because it’s touristy. The old walled city (Ichan Qa’la) is compact and walkable.

Khiva Moon

I would say this is my favourite restaurant in Xiva. It is outside the city walls – and was next to my hotel – so I went there first. Smaller groups  full of cosplaying youngish tourists also visit and it does fill up, but the atmosphere remains pleasant and the owners are friendly and will make everything possible to seat you, especially if you are solo or a couple. I had one of the best aubergine dishes I ever tasted and some pleasant Shivit Oshi. I also noticed they are very strong on fresh juices – my watermelon juice was really great.

Some of the best grilled aubergine salad, Khiva Moon

Terrassa Cafe and Restaurant

Very well known and in most guide books, this multi-level restaurant in an enviable position near the Ark is a great tourist option: comfortable multilingual staff, serves alcohol, very friendly. If you can, try to get a table on the terrace which offers stupendous sunset views.

During the day, you can get your Western Style cappuccino and caffe latte and Western desserts here before it turns into a bone fide restaurant in the afternoon. From warm and cold salads to pumpkin manti and vegetable shashlik, the menu is Uzbek with a touch of international and there is no shortage of vegetarian options. I also really took notice of how welcoming the staff was towards solo travellers. As the evening goes on, you will get some life music (love it or not) but no extra charge. The prices for such a fancy venue are not high, and this makes a nice exception in Khiva’s somewhat overpriced “cafe culture”.

Decent and dependable veggie shashlik at Terrassa

Restaurant Xiva Kafe Milliy taomlar

Here’s a bit of a wild card in a pleasant area of Xiva outside the tourist circuit. Xiva can be touristy, and prices can rise  disproportionately especially anywhere with a view or nice seating.

This local restaurant is very pleasant and green with a few parks and two or three hotels nearby. The menu is shashlik in 50 permutations, but some decent vegetarian options too like kimchi and laghman. Although – if you are a strict vegetarian or vegan it might not be the place for you, because I do think some of the dishes may contain broth – not sure, but cannot rule it out either. Also. it is better not to visit the bathroom here but this goes for many  places in Uzbekistan.

Kimchi like I never seen before – but tasted good, and no meat!

Where I stayed in Xiva

I stayed at the Silk Road Caravan Sarai just outside the Ichon Qa’la, an actual ancient carvanserai with a superb little courtyard and pleasant, clean if somewhat dark rooms. This being a historical building, not much can be done about the rooms, which are actually all old cells, which have a small window into the courtyard, and offer great protection from the heat. Very neat, with a nod to traditional Uzbek style rather than modern interior which can veer on the over-the-top. I highly recommend. Only the breakfast really wasn’t good.


When I visited Bukhara back in 2019, the tourist season had not yet started,. Apart from the advantages (nice temperate weather, no crowds) it also meant many restaurants and hotels were still closed. And although I did wander out a bit to the Samanid Mausoleum, I did not see a great deal of restaurants or cafes outside the old town,  and I visited some not so great places, too – no tby choice but because nothing else was open.


Minzifa is a lovely big restaurant a few steps away from Lyabi Hauz, with  a pleasant outdoor terrasse which does get booked up by groups. With a cuisine that’s Uzbek with a fair few Russian and Western dishes in, any one should find something there. Spicing is definitely more for the Western palate, but it’s a nice option for an easy meal, with vegetarian dishes clearly marked.

Where I stayed in Bukhara

I stayed at the Boutique Hotel Minzifa which, as I understand has the same ownership as the restaurant. It’s a hotel in an old madrassah, and extremely beautiful, with some original features, and some imaginative tasteful traditional decor. From what I understand, they have now also renovated the neighbouring building and opened it as Minzifa Caravansarai, with somewhat simpler, toned down rooms.  The rates vary between 40 Euro and 80 Euro which, for such a classy hotel, are extremely reasonable. Anyway, Bukhara is the place to splash out on a boutique hotel in a historic property.

Minzifa Boutique hotel
I don’t have a good Buxoro food picture, so let me sneak a picture of my Minzifa room in here


For a huge city like Samarkand, I really struggled to find decent vegetarian food. Whereas in Bukhara and Xiva there are restaurants catering to tourists left, right and centre, Samarkand has yet to catch up. Thankfully, the Sivob Bazaar is next to Bibi Khanym Mosque and the fresh produce offerings are great from spring through to autumn.

Bibi Khanym Tea House

Incredibly touristy looking and right next to Bibi Khanym Mosque – can this be good? This was my first ever meal in Uzbekistan, and it was so nice that I returned there quite a few times. The seating, in a courtyard garden, is very pleasant, the staff speaks English, there are some Western dishes that are vegetarian and I also ate my way through their excellent salads, accompanied by fried potatoes. One of my favourite restaurants in SAmarkand and, as you can see, the only one I can recommend.

Uzbekistan, Samarkand, food
Salad selection in March at Bibi Khanym – it get much bigger in summer!

Again, having the use of a kitchen, I did eat a good amount of market kimchi, salad and fresh fruit after visiting a couple restaurants that just weren’t good.

Where I stayed in Samarkand

Samarkand must be the place where I stayed the most nights and I made it to three different guesthouses.

My first stay in Uzbekistan back in 2019 was at the Hotel Rahmon, just round the corner from Registan. It was in a traditional family home, a large building around a courtyard, super friendly resident owners who always welcome you in the huge kitchen/ sitting room. One of the laces where they take the welcome tea very serious. The rooms are older, the beds rock-hard, bathrooms small, and yes, rooms are spartan but very clean. Once I got used to the beds, I could not fault it. They also showed me some of their “new” rooms so it might be possible to see different rooms before setting on one. I wrote a detailed review here.

Then I wanted to stay in a different area and chose Antica Family Guesthouse. Basically a upmarket family-run residence. Again, very clean, one of the best breakfasts I was ever served in Uzbekistan, and again, a nice garden for guests to use. I paid about three tomes what I paid at Rahmon for a slight notch up in comfort. Again, nothing to fault, and perhaps a good option if you want to be the first or last at Gur Emir Mausoelum. I wrote a detailed review here.

Last not least, on my last trip, I picked the Old Radio Hostel, a new hostel that was opened just before the pandemic. I was so intrigued by the location – basically in the backyard of the Registan.


This was the destination where I really struggled to find vegetarian food in restaurants. So, I only have one recommendation for a restaurant. Since I was lucky to stay in places with a guest kitchen, I just went to the market, bought seasonal fruit and vegetables and ate a lot of fruit and salad, Very healthy, and a welcome break from the rather heavy carb-laden Uzbek cuisine.

What the Fergana Valley lacks in vegetarian-friendly restaurants, it cerstinly compensates with fresh produce and some of the best bread.

Vegetarian food in Uzbekistan
Autumn market selection, Marghilon
More pickled salads ready to eat at Marghilon Central Market
Probably the best regional bread is in Fergana Valley

Beer House (Fergana)

After eating a pretty decent osh (meat- free as in: meat removed before serving) I was sceptical when my new friends took us to the beer garden of Fergana, one of a few places in the valley where they would serve alcohol. I was resigned to an evening of strange beer and pretzels, when, at my request, one of my mates entered a conversation with the BBQ master at the entrance of the beer garden, and to my great surprise, the pulled out marinated potatoes and vegetables out of the fridge. And what can I say: not only was the beer very nice, those marinated potato and vegetable shashlik was outstanding.

Excuse the blur, but here’s the best meal I had in Uzbekistan. Simple and satisfying

Where I stayed in Fergana Valley

Two great backpacker-friendly places: Sakura Guesthouse in Fergana and the Evergreen Guest House in  Marghilon. Both were nice, clean, very reasonably priced, had a kitchen for self catering which I found quite important as a vegetarian in meat eating surroundings. The Evergreen has a slight edge for its superb gardens and more generously sized rooms and for including breakfast in its room rate, with vegetraian and vegan option if you let them know before the host starts cooking.  Sakura has no outside space but a nice enough cafe – but no vegetarian food-  by the entrance

Typical dishes that can be vegetarian/veganized

As menus in smaller restaurants are usually in Uzbek, it’s worth looking out for a few dishes that can easily be made vegetarian. Tourist restaurants usually have multilingual menus, at least in Russian and English.

Shivit Oshi

Let’s start with a specialty of Khiva, the bright-green vegetarian dill noodle dish called Shivit Oshi. They are almost exclusive to Khiva and are quite similar to the German Spaetzle, usually made fresh. They are topped with potato and vegetable mix and often served with a side of sour cream. They are per se a vegetarian dish, so usually Uzbek restaurants like to top them with meat  – just ask to leave the meat topping out.

Shivit Oshi at Khiva Moon, Xiva


These are pulled wheat noodles, usually served in a stew-like soup. Often made with meat broth, vegetarian versions are available. The broth is chili-spicy, often with dill and some vegetables, but the pulled noodles are the star here. A great filling and warming dish.


The best vegan food I had in Uzbekistan was shashlik. In general, any restaurant you visit that is not just a Osh-cooking tea house, should serve shashlik, and if you as nicely, they may be able to whip up a skewer of veggies with onions and potatoes. Since everything is grilled on charcoal, a simple seasoning makes this a vert satisfying vegan meal. From a very mediocre shashlik to an exceptional meal, I had everything good, bad and in between.

Osh / Plov

The Uzbek word for this filling ubiquitous rice dish is Osh, which can be confused with the Kyrgyz city of the same name, and its Russian name, Plov is still commonly used. Plov is a dish slow-cooked with meat and sometimes lard, and is almost never fully vegetarian unless you eat it in a tourist restaurant more aware of vegetarian customers. If you are okay with the Plov being cooked in meat juices, you can just ask for a serving without meat and pretty much any tiny cafe will be happy enough to oblige.

Osh in a Rishton basement restaurant


These filled dough pockets are boiled or fried and popular over a wide geographical area from Bosnia (Klepe)  to Korea (Mandu). Traditionally, the dough is a yufka or pierogi made from flour, water and salt, but it is always worth double checking that it doesn’t contain milk or egg.

Vegetarian fillings in Uzbekistan are typically potato and pumpkin.

Pumpkin manti at Bibi Khanym Tea House, Samarkand


Another dough-based delicacy, often sold as as snack in the street. The vegetarian filling are traditionally potato, pumpkin, sometimes mushroom and seasonal vegetables. Unlike manti, their puff pastry dough is vegetarian not vegan as it contains clarified butter and sometimes eggs.

My first day in Tashkent and I found these. Incredibly cheap and tasty


A salad in an Uzbek restaurant is almost always vegan and a side dish. From lightly pickled white cabbage, red cabbage, carrots, salad greens, to tomatoes and peppers, there is almost no limit to what goes in a salad when it’s in season.

Achichuk is a salad from tomatoes and onions with a bit of chili pepper, cilantro or basil and dressed with oil. Shakarp is very similar with tomatoes and onions. Around Persian New Year, you may come across Nowruz Salad which is made on the occasion, containing radish and lettuce but also eggs.

Beware of “Tashkent Salad” which has radish as a base but comes with mayonnaise and often mutton of beef mixed in. Also “Russian Salad” or Olivier Salad named after its creator, is heavy on mayonnaise and often cubed meat.

Salad of warm vegetables at Terrassa, Xiva

Georgian dishes

I think Georgian cuisine if one of the most vegetarian-friendly cuisines in the world. There is some significant use of cheese and eggs so not everything is suitable to vegans.

Look out for Phkali (walnut and greens appetizer), Nigvziani Badrijani (grilled aubergine rolls), Ajapsandali (vegetable stew), Lobio (kidney bean strew), Georgian salad and potato wedges (yes, the ones in Georgia are particularly good!)  for vegan dishes.

Khinkali (dumplings) with vegetables or mushrooms, Khachapuri (egg bread), Lobinani, Phklovani and Mkhlovana (pies)

vegetarian food in Uzbekistan
A Georgian delight of Nigvziani Badrijani and Georgian salad

The Small Print on Vegetarian food in Uzbekistan

I visited Uzbekistan in March 2019 and then again in October 2022 on my own dime. Right now I struggle with the appropriate spelling of place names a bit, so while I try to use their Uzbek names, the English and sometimes even German spelling comes through. I understand that “international” spelling may bring this post up in searches better, so for now, I will keep using some anglicised spelling like “Uzbekistan” rather than the Uzbek ” Oʻzbekiston”. Names and spellings  may change over time ( see: “Türkiye Cumhuriyeti“) and I do my best to keep track but it is not always possible, and last not least this remains an English-speaking blog so English it is in most cases.

All restaurants I visited and I have only included recommended restaurants in this post on Vegetarian food in Uzbekistan.

I stayed in all hotels recommended here some of which I booked directly, some using Booking.com. This post contains affiliate links to Booking.com, meaning that if you use these links, I may earn a small commission at no extra expense to you.

Map of recommended restaurants for Vegetarian food in Uzbekistan

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36 thoughts on “On finding Vegetarian food in Uzbekistan – I should be so lucky”

  • I absolutely love this post! I’m not a vegetarian but vegetables are a favorite food & it always feels daunting trying to find options like these while traveling! Thank you for sharing in such great detail!

    • Hi Amanda, thank you for your nice comment! For all the great fresh produce Uzbekistan has, very little seems to make it into its cuisine, which is a shame! If you travel in spring, summer or autumn, you will find no shortage of vegetables, and if it comes to the worst, you can always purchase super fresh veggies in markets and get some place with access to a kitchen so supplement the shashlik and plov. Again, the restaurant recommendations also offer meat AND vegetables, so you will find a good choice of dishes to try.

  • I am vegetarian so I was rolling as I read about the food choices and look at the photos – especially the dumplings.

    • Hi Terri, Central Asia is not one of those naturally vegetarian-friendly countries. I was told horror stories about mutton in everything before I left, so I hope more vegetarian info on the net can encourage vegetarians to visit!

  • I can appreciate the struggles to find good food that you can eat. Uzbekistan looks challenging to find vegetarian meals. Thanks for highlighting these great finds.

    • Hi Sonia, yes, it can be a bit challenging especially when you travel in winter or early spring. It’s not a naturally vegetarian friendly country. I hope it helps any travellers in a vegetarian or vegan diet to find good eating options.

    • Hi Anukrati, the manti is a fairly common food idem and I looked up the momo and I think they are similar to Manti/Khinkhali/ravioli, made from noodle dough with a filling then steamed, boiled or fried. I really liked them, especially when mushroom and herb filling was available, but they can be a bit stodgy to eat every day. However… usually, at least one veg filling would be available.

  • Uzbekistan is very high on my list of travel destinations and I am also vegetarian. This post has been very informative and really good to know about dietary options. I do love the look of the breads

    • Hi Bejal, thank you! The breads are some of the best I tasted. I am saying that as a home bread baker and a German who has access to come pretty decent bread… especially the Samarkand non breads are outstanding. I hope you like Uzbekistan! I loved it, would go back in an instant

  • Wow. Everything looks delicious. I’m not vegetarian but all of this would be enough for me. I have Uzbekistan on my 2024 wish list. Going to save this for then. Thanks so much.

  • This was honestly super helpful. I’ve always heard it’s hard traveling as a vegetarian in Central Asia, it’s really nice to know that it’s possible! And they all look so delicious, can’t wait to try them when I go to Uzbekistan!

    • Hi Emi, thank you for your comment! Yes, possible not always easy, that’s why I wrote this post. I hope you can go to Uzbekistan soon, one of my favourite destinations in recent years.

  • I like your sense of humour that you didn’t have a picture of the food so put in a photo of your room! But it sounds like you had a good time and enjoyed the food of Uzbekistan.

    • Hi Sharyn, thank you for your comment! Yeah, I probably would have found a picture of a bread or a meal from Bukhara, or just used another random food picture. After all, the Tashkent or Marghilon pickles probably wouldn’t care less. But then, how would I manage to put that palatial room in there? I might mull it over and put a picutre of acutal food in tehre if it looks out of place.

  • Wow the food looks delicious! So clean and healthy too! I don’t know much about Uzbekistan but this post peaked my interest!

    • Hi Jenn, thank you for your comment! I wouldn’t say Uzbekistan is a good country to visit for the food, but the Silk Road historical sites are incredible!

    • Thank you for your comment! The veggies are great because they are all seasonal and you will find loads of great side dishes in more tourist restaurants, in local restaurant the main food is meat.

  • I’d love to visit Uzbekistan! I wouldn’t have considered how tricky it might be to locate vegetarian dishes. All of the food looks so delicious! Thanks for sharing these tips and recommendations!

    • Hi Hannah, yes I struggled a bit last time, in spring 2019 when the tpurist season hadn’t started in full, many restaurants were still shut and there were fewer fresh vegetables available. It’s one of a few countries where I had to look around a bit to find vegetarian food, and my friend who visited years before me said “there is only mutton and bread there, and the food sucks”

  • I’ve always wanted to visit Uzbekistan! Looks like there is a lot of delicious food to try. Thanks for sharing all your recommendations and personal thoughts.

    • Hi Kelly, Uzbekistan really is a great country to visit – so nice I’ve been twice…

  • You are very brave heading off by yourself after your travelling companions backed out. Well done you! Uzbekistan sounds really interesting and I would love to go. I am not vegetarian but I do try to restrict the amount of meat I eat and I do love vegetarian food. I think, like you, if local restaurants do not meet dietary requirements, it is often easier to buy the raw ingredients and put together a simple meal, if the residence has the facility to do this. I love wandering round markets anyway and it looks like you found plenty. Smiled at your comment about the toilets in Uzbekistan! Sometimes, when travelling, we just have to hold our breath and go for it!

    • Hi Jane, it helped that I had been to the country before and honestly, I am done trying to persuade reluctant travel companions. I knew from the previous trip the country is safe and friendly, so I went. Very little stops me travelling. Been vegetarian for so many years, I just can’t do meat. Apart from that, I think everything in moderation is good

    • Probably some of the best bread in the world. I bake, and I have not managed to recreate it. Its baked in a clay oven at really high heat, I think

    • Hi Gabby, big plans! All three are amazing in their own way – Georgia is probably the most diverse one and most one reminiscent of Central European culture but I couldn’t decide on a favourite. All these countries are great!

    • Hi Elaine, thank you for your comment! And that excludes the salads and fruit platters I cobbled together in hostel kitchens that weren’t photoworthy 🙂

    • Hi Dionne, it took a bit of effort to find, as Uzbekistan is the Land of the Mutton

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