The owls are not what they seem. What restaurants in Riga write in menus, on signs etc. is quite often not to be taken literally, but to be seen more as exercises in creative interpretation. As a guide for people who are new to the city, I've put together a little phrase book.

(Please note: this article contains sarcasm...

...but not nearly as much as you'd think.)

We accept Visa/MasterCard = We accept only cash.

Card reader out of order = Happy Tax Evasion Day!

Darba laiks* = Our opening hours are only rough approximations. We might change them without warning, reason or apology. We might even be closed completely, because we woke up to awesome weather and decided to hang at the beach instead. Hey, coming here is an adventure, isn't it fun?

Contact us = You're welcome to write, but we have no obligation to read, much less reply to, your message.

Take-away = Despite the fact that we save time and money by not having to wait on your table, clean up after you, do the washing-up etc. (which should really entitle you to a discounted price), you will instead have to pay extra for the Styrofoam box so you can carry the food home.

Opening soon = Will not open anytime soon, if ever.

Suggestions? Send us an email! = ”Don't email us. We are on Foursquare, you can write something there.” (actual reply from a restaurant)

Vegetarian = May contain traces, or chunks, of meat.

www = wwwhat?

Tehnisku iemeslu dēļ, restorāns ir slēgts uz nenoteiktu laiku** = We have gone bankrupt.

Ļoti ass*** = Ass my ass.

Atvainojiet, sakarā ar rekonstrukciju esam slēgti**** = We have gone bankrupt.

Mērce***** = Ketchup or mayonnaise.

Additives = Side orders.

Šodien restorāns ir slēgts****** = We have gone bankrupt. And not just today. This sign will be here tomorrow too.

* opening hours
** for technical reasons, the restaurant is closed indefinitely
*** very spicy
**** sorry, we are closed due to reconstruction
***** sauce
****** the restaurant is closed today