Those Muskovites... you never know when they are being serious or wry!  Where else could you get away with naming one of the most popular restaurant/ bars in town after the exact same form of hypnotic communication thing that lulled a nation into Communist submission for decades?

Yes, friends, this is Propaganda, a joint we checked out our second night in town in between band rehearsals for Doug’s upcoming New Year’s Eve performance.  Propaganda is quite honestly the perfect name for this boxy bi-level establishment that doubles as a nighttime dancehall and daytime cafe (shrewdly dubbed “Day of Advocacy.”)  The decor is all slate grey cinderblock and wood, with Kremlin-red accents, and save for a few round tables in the middle of the floor, almost everything is set at right angles.  The look has an almost assembly line rigidity to it, and yet, the overall vibe is still oddly inviting.

Propaganda is famous for its relaxed, yet healthy menu that includes cuisine from almost every corner of the globe!  (This week’s “traditional specialties” include pork steak with grilled soup ovo and salad with tiger prawns, arugula and cherry tomatoes.  Sounds good enough to eat!)  DJs spin various types of music nightly and a full bar assists in moving things right along!

Propaganda influences the artsy hipsters of Moscow and beyond daily from 12:00 PM throughout dinner time and into the wee hours of the morning.  Check the website for current events.  Set of Drifters tip:  Bring your rubles as Propaganda is strictly “cash only.”

Propaganda - 7, Bolshoi Zlatoustinskiy Lane, (near Kitai-Gorod Metro station), Moscow, 011 (7) 495 624-5732

Chaikhona No. 1

Jet-lag be damned!  After being whisked in from the Moscow’sDomodedovo airport, our hosts Oleg and Sergei, and new friend Illona, took us to the Uzbekistanian restaurant Chaikhona No. 1, an otherworldly choice located within the city’s Gorky Park.  Although apparently a chain restaurant, you would never know as such thanks to Chaikhona No. 1’s extraordinary ambiance.

Upon arrival, we were somewhat shocked to find ourselves standing outside of a rudimentary pinewood log cabin with a large rotund teepee-style tent placed on its top.  Passing through the door was like falling into Alice’s rabbit hole.  Likened to a gigantic Siberian tent, the soothing interior is paneled with brightly colored tapestries, rugs, and plush pillows.  It somewhat reminded us of the opening “Tibet sequence” from Raiders Of The Lost Ark.

After only a few compulsory straight shots of vodka, we soon found ourselves warming up to this unusual surreal place called Moscow!  Naturally, the evocative restaurant offers more than just booze.  Tasty pickled vegetable appetizers segue easily into heartier salads, shashlyk kebabs, or the establishment’s speciality of plov, a meat and rice dish that is easily the Uzbek equivalent of comfort food!  And of course, no meal at Chaikona No. 1 is complete without some of their signature homemade bread.  Don’t miss it!

Chaikhona No. 1 is open daily from 2:00 PM until the last guest leaves, such as the case the night we visited!  After our sumptuous meal, and countless ounces of vodka, we bundled ourselves up and headed back into the the brisk reality of the Moscow night!  Set of Drifters tip:  Like to chill-out with a hookah?  Pungently spicy flavors are available here, but at an elevated cost!  Standard pipes will run you around 500 rubles (about $18 USD), while a note of absinthe costs upwards of 2,000 rubles (about $72 USD)!

Chaikhona No 1 - Hermitage Gardens inside Gorky park, near Chekhovskaya or Frunzenskaya Metro, Moscow, 011 (7) 495 971-6842 or 011 (7) 495 778-1756