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Photo by: Kadi-Liis Koppel

Kalamaja’s hidden cafés

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By Jae Jensen  •  29.04.2019

Kalamaja has become one of Tallinn’s hippest neighbourhoods, largely thanks to the popular Telliskivi Creative City, Balti Jaam Market, Noblessner seafront quarter and Seaplane Harbour. While plenty of people visit these places, few venture into the heart of Kalamaja – the narrow residential streets lined with colourful, wooden houses. 

One quirk of the area’s distinctive houses are the so-called ‘half basement’ levels which sit partly below ground, partly above. These hidey-holes are home to Kalamaja’s cosiest and surprisingly light-filled cafés. When strolling by on street level, they often go unnoticed, except by those who know where to look. 

Indulgent pastries: Levier Cakery

Vana-Kalamaja 21 (Google Maps)

Set just off the sidewalk and down a few steps on quiet Vana-Kalamaja Street is Levier Cakery. The modern yet glamorous café’s windows look out over the old-meets-new patchwork of architecture that is Kalamaja. All kinds of delectable meringues, tarts and salty snacks periodically emerge from the on-site kitchen, but macaroons in every colour of the rainbow really steal the show. Along with a familiar selection of flavours are strawberry-rhubarb, lime-basil, blackcurrant and even chocolate-kama (a traditional Estonian grain mix). 

Healthy smoothies: ÖKUT Kalamaja Smuutid

Vabriku 39 (Google Maps)

From the spinach-filled smoothies to the bamboo straws and flourishing house plants, ÖKUT Kalamaja Smuutid is green in every sense of the word. Nestled on the corner of Vabriku and Salme Streets, you wouldn’t know this café is there unless you happened to notice the fresh pineapples sitting in the window. As their name suggests, they specialise in smoothies and fresh pressed juices, though you can also order coffee drinks and paninis. The interior is whimsical and eclectic with plenty of seating.  

Seattle-style sophistication: T35 Bakery & Specialty Coffee

Tööstuse 35 (Google Maps)

What makes T35 Bakery & Specialty Coffee inspired by the Pacific Northwest? The laidback jazz music, order-at-the-counter service, fresh coffee and selection of handmade croissants and pastries might remind you of a certain world-famous Seattle coffee chain *ahem Starbucks*, but T35 is definitely a much cooler version with a Scandinavian vibe. Their specialty are late morning breakfasts, which range from full American to their specialty – the Dutch Baby – a sweet, fluffy pancake. Nestled on the corner of Tööstuse and Salme Streets, this is a great place to watch local residents pass by. 

‘Fitness’ cakes: Oivaline Tervislik Tort

Tööstuse 47b (Google Maps)

Unlike the first three cafés, Oivaline Tervislik Tort isn’t situated in an old wooden house but rather on the ground floor of a trendy loft residence on Tööstuse Street. Entering Oivaline is like stepping into an indoor garden party. With plants in every direction and a colourful children’s play area, there is truly something for every taste here. Their cakes are high in protein (thanks to the delicious cheese curd they’re made from) and for the most part free from gluten, lactose and added sugar. They even have a selection of mouth-watering raw, vegan cake bars. It’s also a great brunch spot, serving toasts with mountains of fresh salad, poached eggs, salmon and bacon on top. 


If you want to experience the locals’ Kalamaja, step off the beaten path and keep your eyes peeled for cafés that are inconspicuous from the outside but full of hidden treasures on the inside.

Read more about the area: