Moving to Rhode Island was a great choice for my family. However, one of the things that I really miss about New York City is Veselka. It probably sounds familiar to you because it is quite famous and is mentioned in the TV show Gossip Girl.
‘Veselka’ means rainbow in Ukrainian. At the prices they charge, I do not doubt that there is a pot of gold on the other end of that card payment. But even a stingy person like myself makes the exception. Every time I visit I happily tell them to “shut up and take my money.”
Since 1954, Veselka has been serving up Ukrainian food from the same location in the heart of the East Village. Except now, they have two locations for you to chose from!
Veselka was opened by Wlodymyr Darmochwal, who passed away in 1974. It expanded in 1966 and took over a store front on East 9th Street. It extended its hours to 24/7 in 1990. Veselka then won 2nd Place in the National Restaurant menu awards for its creative design. It doubled in size at its current location in 1996 and has continued to grow ever since.
My favorite food on their menu is, of course, pierogi. My only complaint is the name because Ukrainians actually call them varenyky. Pierogi is the Polish version of a dumpling and varenyky are actually a little different. Despite the name, they are amazing and I couldn’t recommend them more.
For any vegans reading this, unfortunately, there are no vegan pierogi here. They have cheese-less vegetarian ones which I occasionally get, but the dough does contain egg and maybe dairy too. Ukrainians are very behind on the vegan wagon and this place is no exception. The only thing that is vegan on their menu is the meatless stuffed cabbage. However, I’m sure that their salads can be veganized by request.
Meat eaters will be happy to hear about their veal goulash, bacon pierogi and the meat plate. Almost all of their options include meat and cheese. I also guarantee that most of it is smothered in lard, because that is the Ukrainian way.
Cheese lovers will confuse Veselka with heaven. There is basically some form of dairy in literally everything. Enjoy the sour cream, blue cheese sauces and generous amounts of cheese anywhere they can stuff it. Now you understand why I broke my Ukrainian mother’s heart by going vegan.
Dessert and Drinks:
Finally, there is also scrumptious dessert. Veselka offers sweet fruit pierogi, a traditional Ukrainian pudding, and of course there are plenty of traditional American desserts as well.
If you prefer dessert in a liquid form, there’s also a lot to choose from. As a Ukrainian-Czech I always struggle between picking draft Obolon Lager from Lviv and Pilsner Urquel from Plzen. To make things harder, they have a New York beer on tap as well. If this isn’t enough, they have many options of bottled beer and wine.
They also offer seasonal drinks as well as plenty of non-alcoholic beverages. Veselka is the perfect place for a brunch, a date, a late night snack or a girls night out. They simply have something for everyone.
When I lived in NYC just a few months ago, there was only one Vesekla. Well now there are two!