Locals may know the city but sometimes there are moments in its life that foreigners notice better.
For example, a curious piece about one popular sight in Minsk was published by an international travel site Roads & Kingdoms.
The author Sabra Ayres, an American journalist, calls it the only place that’s more popular than the restroom at McDonald’s (and that one if often, often very crowded!).
Here’s a hint: it’s popular to meet post-work and has a communist-era interior.
Still no ideas?
Ok, it’s the cafe on the first floor of grocery store called Centralnaya, or Central!
Despite having “no bouncer and no bartender”, the place is often packed with all sorts of people: students, artists, workers, tourists and odd marginals.
Why is that? Well, it might be because there’s no pretension and also because of the unique interior.
Sabra goes on explaining:
“The long hallway is lined with individual kiosks, where attendants in bland uniforms sell bottles of beer or cognac shots for about $1. At least one of the kiosks has local draft beer. Chandeliers dangle from the ceiling and socialist murals on the wall depict Belarusian collective farm workers stoically pulling in their harvest.”
She met a guy who name is Kontar – the mayor of Centralnaya, a title he was given a few years ago when Foursquare was a popular social media sport in Minsk.
He and his group of friends explained why they return to this cafe, instead of one of Minsk’s more hyped-up venues.
“There’s chandeliers! Is that not luxury?” he said, pointing up to the ceiling, where the glass chandelier glimmers. “The thing is, you can show up here without any prior arrangements and always run into someone you know. It’s convenient, hassle free.”
The history of Centralnaya started in 1950s as a grocery store, which still works on the second floor although now it’s a modern supermarket.
The cafe appeared here after a renovation in 1977.
“Today, the nostalgic drinking hall is frequently a pre-gaming spot for some of Minsk’s young IT crowd. They gather here for a few hours before hitting the bigger clubs and bars. The software designers drink imported beer and rub elbows with pensioners drinking vodka out of plastic cups,” the journalist wrote.
The only drawback of the cafe as pointed out by its frequenter is the absence of a restroom. So they have to relocate for the one at a McDonald’s nearby. Making it the second most crowded spot in town! ?
If you wish to explore more of the city, check out the 10 things to do in Minsk like a local.