The first time I set my foot in Gauja was in 2008. I was 16, had just moved to Riga from a tiny village and didn’t know the city so well. My classmate at the time invited us to go there for some hot fruit tea served in massive glass jars and to play board games. Quickly it became my ultimate favorite spot. At that time it was on Terbatas street in a tiny but cozy retro Soviet-style apartment/living room with groups of locals visiting Gauja daily, many of them being related to art and culture scene, some passionate chess players and occasional nostalgia seekers.
Because it became so popular over the years, Gauja started to struggle to seat all of the loyal customers. A few years ago, it re-opened just around the corner – on Stabu street, in a 19th-century wooden building, keeping some of the authentic vibe and attributes exposed – 60s & 70s Soviet furniture, books and magazines, the avant-garde music playlist, local underground label records & a great selection of local beverages for affordable prices and board games.
If before the move the menu only offered toasted sandwiches, then now there’s a lunch offer every day and a wide selection of delicious home-made local dishes including one of the most traditional: potato pancakes and herring with cottage cheese.
Gauja also accommodates a cute little yard that’s concentrated around chestnut trees. It might happen that you are lucky to pop in one of the live concerts or DJ’s playing on the weekends.