Reccomendations for Brighton Beach Day Trip?
Since moving to Brooklyn I want to eat my way through every neighborhood. The food isn't nearly as good back home! I want to take the boyfriend this weekend to Brighton Beach, but I know nothing about it. I dont know anything about Russian food either. Is this like one of those places like Chinatown where nobody speaks English? Because I don't know how to speak Russian, but really want to eat! Aslo, is there actually a beach down there where you can swim? Is it clean? Can anyone make reccomendations on where I should go and what should I do?
Two great places to eat are Cafe Glechik, for Russian, and Cafe Kashkar, which is Uighur/Uzbek. Neither is right on the boardwalk, but a somewhat long walk from the heart of Brighton Beach. Kashkar is great for kebabs -- get the lamb rib or the liver or both -- and an incredible noodle dish called Geiro Lagman. The mante, a giant dumpling is also terrific.
Glechik has a huge menu, traditional Russian, and everything is incredible. The pelmeni, the Chicken tabak ... you cant go wrong with either.
re: Wet Towel
I second Kashkar. It's unfortunately the only Uighur restaurant in New York with the demise of the stall Eyili in Roosevelt Food Court (does anyone know where that man went or have a cell phone number? I would be interested in talking to him about potential catering and whether or not he's reopening. We hit it off when I was going over the Christmas holidays because I was tossing around some Uighur phrases and he ended up offering to be my Chinese visa inviter among other things. Also, the 4 dollar mountain of polo with salad deal was truly epic. Also easily the best polo in New York when it was being done.) Oh also, Kashkar is the only restaurant I know of in NY which has horse on the menu. And their samsa are REALLY good if you get them in the morning, but they get gradually worse as the day wears on. Unfortunately they're like three times the price of the guy at Eyili too.
Ok back to Brighton. I like Gastronom Arkadia for cheap Russian groceries. I used to go there after high school to get a massive container of pickles for something like 70 cents. Not sure if it's as cheap now though. You can easily do without speaking Russian, though you might have a few silly moments (ei. freshman year of highschool I had a bad tendency of standing on lines waiting while I was next meanwhile a woman at the counter will have said "next" in Russian about 3 times already.)
The language barrier is generally nothing major. In Cafe Glechik it might be just because the wait staff is literally Satan's own children who were set loose upon the world to reduce an otherwise good restaurant to the status of "worst service I have ever received even after being in China for 6 weeks." I actually walked into the kitchen to get one of my dishes and refill my glass of water the last time I went there. They treat non-Russian speakers TERRIBLY. This might just be my three experiences there, but I've heard similarly bad stories on here and by others.
I'm sure other great ideas will follow, but I like Cafe Glechik on Coney Island ave, just up the block from Brighton Beach ave. For starters try their shepherd's salad and an order or two of Pelmeni or vereniki (Poor spelling here, they are russian dumplings). I've liked all that I've tried there. They have an English menu and there is always someone there who speaks it as well.
Brighton Beach is itself just up the block. It's basically the east end of Coney Island beach and pretty clean and swimable. There are some nice cafes on the boardwalk for food as well and definitely people watching. Volya, is one, but I'm blanking on the other.
Hanging out at the cafes would be a fun afternoon enough for me, but if you get bored checking out the very interesting Brighton locals, you can take a stroll up to Coney Island and check out that crowd.
It's a great trip if it doesn't rain.
Different idea -- walk Brighton Beach Avenue (under the train) and stop along the way for street food. Dont worry about knowing too much, just choose things that look interesting. For the bulk of your food, stop in to M & I supermarket & buy lots of take out food. When you go in, you'll understand that this wont be hard to do... they're well equipped with utensils, etc. & they have a prepared hot food section in back (not my favorite), fish on the left side coming in the door, cold salads on the left side of the main room past the fish and the entranceway to the dessert room, a bread area in the middle, and a complete cold cuts/meats area on the right walking in. Take the food 2 blocks to the boardwalk and eat on a bench or out in the sand (if you brought blankets). From experience, if the weather is nice, this cant be beat.
If you're assertive enough to counter the Russian "hard sell" and dont want to do the above, then you might consider the Winter Garden or other cafes on the boardwalk. The food can be good if you are okay with strong willed and profit minded owners/waitstaff.
re: Steve R
I would second Steve's suggestion of getting take-out and eating on the beach. Def check out M & I just for the sheer abundance of goods, but personally i would get my picnic at Georgian Bread, up on Neptune. A kanchipouri and some of their delicious spreads (i like the green bean and the spinach ones) would make a great lunch.
Just tried to do the "link to a place" thing so you could have the address for Georgian Bread, but it doesn't seem to be working. But if you do a search of this board, the address will turn up. It's fun to watch the kanchipouri being cooked in their traditional ovens.
a small group of us went to Primorski's in Brighton and had the very inexpensive lunch special. We all enjoyed our meals especially the blintzes...
I liked "Taste of Russia" on Brighton Beach Ave. across from the library under the el. They have a large selection of prepared items for takeout. I bought a bag of stuff and ate it on the boardwalk. The service is brusque. The store is busy. The customers like to push and shove. Language isn't an issue. You can point to your choices (whatever looks good).. Price is per pound. The counter staff will act like they are doing you a favor by weighing small portions of numerous items. This is a good place for variety. The beach is the same as Coney Island, but further east. The beach is excellent for an urban location. Same for the water quality.