New York City is home to the largest Ukrainian population in the country, and the East Village has long been the heart of that community. After the recent attacks against Ukraine, many New Yorkers are left wondering how they can aid their neighbors and the Ukrainian community. If you are seeking ways to do so, there’s no better place to look than the East Village.
Veselka, at 144 2nd Avenue, has been feeding New Yorkers and visitors alike since 1954. Veselka was a 2010 Village Award winner! Known for some of the best pierogis and borscht you can find in the city, (or anywhere, excluding perhaps a Ukrainian grandmother’s table!) this East Village staple is the perfect place to enjoy some soul-warming Ukrainian comfort food. In support of Ukraine, the restaurant has turned their famous Black & White cookies into the colors of Ukraine (blue & yellow) now available for purchase. They are additionally donating 100% of sales of their delicious borscht to Ukrainian causes.
Veselka will also take donations of the following much-needed items that they will send to Ukraine All items below are needed for Ukraine relief efforts. Please drop off donations at the East 9th Street entrance. Donate what you can and Veselka will handle the rest:
Yellow heavy-duty tape, AA/AAA batteries, headlamps, sterile saline wipes/antibacterial wipes, band-aids/gauze for wounds, elastic bandages and regular bandages, occlusive dressing for wounds, Betadine, quick meals, energy bars, water purification tablets, small canned foods that can be easily opened, individually packed nuts or cookies, new cotton socks, new men’s underwear and t-shirts, new men’s heavy-duty gloves, baby diapers, baby formula. (Disclosure: Veselka is owned by Tom Birchard, a Village Preservation Trustee.)
The Ukrainian Museum
No reservations are needed to explore the beautiful galleries at the Ukrainian Museum located at 222 East 6th Street. It was founded in 1976 by the Ukrainian National Women’s League of America, and remains the country’s “largest museum in the U.S. committed to acquiring, preserving, exhibiting, and interpreting articles of artistic or historic significance to the rich cultural heritage of Ukrainians.”
The museum is known for its folk art, fine arts, and artifacts detailing Ukrainian immigration to the U.S. Among the museum’s folk art are ritual clothing, Ukrainian Easter eggs, metalwork, and traditional ceramics. Paintings and sculptures on display were created by some of Ukraine’s most accomplished artists, including Nikifor, Vasyl Hryhorovych Krychevsky, and Alexander Archipenko. Photographs, flyers, and letters detail the long journeys of thousands of Ukrainians to the U.S. through Ellis Island. The museum has compiled a list of American-based organizations accepting donations.
Sitting at a table at Streecha really does feel like you are sitting at Grandmother’s table. From homemade pierogis and loaded poppy seed rolls to pork goulash, you can’t go wrong when you dine at Streecha at 33 East 7th Street. As a bonus, each week they host ‘making varenyky’ days where volunteers can stop by the restaurant and learn to make their notorious “varenyky” (similar to pierogis except varenyky is the Ukrainian term for the filled dumpling). Keep watch on their Instagram or TikTok to see when you can volunteer next.
Ukrainian East Village Restaurant (a.k.a Ukrainian National Home)
Serving homestyle dishes native to Eastern Europe since 1963, you can find Ukrainian East Village Restaurant at 140 2nd Avenue, just down the block from Veselka. Their Ukrainian Combo Platter with stuffed cabbage, mixed pierogi, kovbasa (sausage), and sauerkraut or kasha is amazing! And so are their homemade blintzes.
Ukrainian East Village Restaurant is located in the back of the Ukrainian National Home at 140-142 Second Avenue in the East Village. The building, which dates back to 1830, has hosted the Stuyvesant Casino as well as a YMCA location when the area was known as Little Germany, or Kleindeutschland. The film Taras Shevchenko, named for a 19th-century Ukrainian nationalist, featured a performance at the building by the band New Order. The roof and much of the facade were destroyed in a 1984 fire.
Ukrainian East Village Restaurant is a very traditional Ukrainian place with decor including Ukrainian paintings, plates, and clothing. Dishes include herring in wine sauce, fruit blintzes, halusky dumplings with sauerkraut, and chicken Kiev. The restaurant is helping boost a fundraiser to send humanitarian aid to Ukraine via Facebook. They are also serving Ukrainian borscht to honor heroes in Ukraine.
This artisan shop at 89 East 2nd Street in the East Village hopes to provide “a true glimpse of Eastern European culture and heritage in the form of various folk art, books, jewelry, woodwork, sculptures, paintings, antiques, traditional garb such as hand-embroidered shirts/blouses, table cloths, scarves, and much more.” The shop is open Tuesday & Thursday from 12-6 p.m. and Saturday from 12 p.m. to 4 p.m., but they say that you can also call ahead and they will try to schedule a time to come accommodate shoppers on off-days.
You can also easily shop for items on their website, with an impressive collection of antique collectibles.
St. George Ukrainian Catholic Church
St. George Ukrainian Catholic Church is a Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church in the East Village. It is located right off Taras Shevchenko Place, across from McSorley’s Old Ale House at 16 East 7th Street. St. Brigid’s Roman Catholic Church nearby was the first to have a Ukrainian language liturgy. St. George’s was founded over 100 years ago, occupying the Bowery Village Church, which earlier served the German immigrant community. The current building features an onion dome and was built in 1976 to 1978 with influences from Ukrainian Byzantine architecture. Principal artist with the Metropolitan Opera, Andrij Dobriansky, served as the church’s liturgical cantor for over 30 years.
Today, the church has set up a shrine on its steps, featuring flowers, candles, and personal notes. Passersby can leave a note or stop by to pay respect to those who have lost their lives.
KGB Bar is a Soviet-era-themed East Village bar at 85 East 4th Street. The building had previously been the site of Palm Casino, a speakeasy controlled by Lucky Luciano. Ukrainian Socialists met at the spot from 1948 to 1988 behind double-locked doors to avoid suspicion, calling it the Ukrainian Labor Home. The Ukrainian-American League would later control the basement. KGB Bar took over the space in 1993 and has become a literary institution, attracting leading authors and publishers to read and talk about their latest works.
KGB Bar has been rated among the top 10 dive bars in New York City for its cheap drinks and free admission. The bar hosts poetry nights, small concerts in its Red Room, and reading series. The bar has recently swapped its Russian alcohol for Ukrainian brands, selling the Ukrainian beer Obolon and swapping Russian vodka with Khor, Shevkoff, and Ukrainian Heritage. The bar will also host readings and music events to provide resources for Ukrainian aid.
East Village Meat Market (J. Baczynsky)
East Village Meat Market, also named for J. Baczynsky, is a butcher store founded in 1970 and a 2016 Village Award winner! It is one of the last remaining Ukrainian butcher shops in New York. Julian Baczynsky opened the shop as part of a lifelong dream to own a business. The shop features items like St. Louis ribs, Krakow kielbasa, kishka, kabanos (thin Polish sausages), and bochok (smoked pork belly). The shop also sells pierogis, blintzes, and mustard, staples of Ukrainian cuisine.
East Village Meat Market has been accepting donations on its website through Razom for Ukraine. It also posts frequently on Facebook in support of Ukraine, alongside many other East Village institutions.
Bonus: B&H Dairy!
Although B&H Dairy is currently owned by the amazing Ola and Fawzy Abdelwahed, a Polish and Egyptian (respectively) husband and wife team, the restaurant continues the long-standing tradition of serving up food in the Eastern European tradition, including those of the Ukraine. B&H was also a Village Award winner in 2017. The tiny diner at 127 2nd Avenue offers tons of dishes common in Ukraine and Eastern Europe such as pierogis, borscht and blintzes. Go visit. You will be glad you did.
You can find out more about the Civic Institutions of Little Ukraine in the East Village here.
You can also check out our East Village Building Blocks tour of Little Ukraine here.