HOME > Chowhound > Manhattan >


Veselka Ukrainian Diner

Having breasfast/brunch with my son, the actor, Sunday, Nov 18, before his matinee that afternoon. I found Veselka in a guidebook, as it is close to the theater. Any reports good or bad about this place for a peaceful morning meal?

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. It's good for what it is. Open 24/7. Solid food, dependent upon what you order. I like the breakfast food and their burger. But in my experience it's popular with young folks, and gets a bit of a line for brunch on weekends. At least the 2nd Ave location does. If you are crunched for time, and want somewhere really quiet and not crowded, maybe it's not the best place to go. Maybe try the Bowery location, as it is larger?

    1. Cafe Orlin has a better quality breakfast and a block from Veselka, Vesekja has decent pirogies. The coffee is pretty bad. But like Kathryn says, it is good for what it is. a 24/7 diner. Ukrainian Home a few yards down has a good reasonable lunch.

      1 Reply
      1. re: foodwhisperer

        Second Orlin or their sister restaurant Cafe Mogador.

      2. i should stand up for veselka...veselka is love. just a solid east village diner. i usually get american standard food...sandwiches, milkshakes, fries. service can be a bit crazed when its crowded but ive been going since i was in high school.

        the bowery one is surprisingly great too. same food but a completely different atmosphere. a great option if you are nearby or looking for a more quiet breakfast or lunch.

        1. Go to Stage Restaurant, instead. The food is better, and it's just as old-school. Warning, though: It's bar stools at a counter only. So if you don't like that, consider any of the other places people are recommending.

          1 Reply
          1. re: Pan

            I had some good pea soup at Stage today. The pirogies were as good as Veselka, I didn't like the extra charge for sour cream though. It si surely old school and the service better than Veselka.
            It has similarity in look and feel as B&H, but of course B&H is only Dairy,

          2. Veselka is not much more than a late night diner. I wouldn't be surprised if your son has been there a few times himself. I like some of their sandwiches and pierogi, but I can't really recommend their breakfast food. If you are looking for eggs and pancakes, try Cafe Orlin as recommended above. Virage isn't bad either.

            4 Replies
            1. re: JungMann

              I recently had a mediocre breakfast at Veselka that consisted of a tasteless omelet and greasy, leaden potato pancakes. East Village Ukrainian Restaurant (mentioned above as "Ukrainian Home") would be a good place to get a stick-to-your-ribs lunch.

              1. re: JungMann

                I haven't been to Virage in years but always found it mediocre and characterless. I mean, it's not actively bad like a lot of the food at Veselka, but there's much better to be had in the neighborhood.

                1. re: Pan

                  It doesn't sound like the OP is looking for anything fancy. Virage isn't the first place I'd go with a group of friends in the neighborhood, but it's fine for a consensus breakfast.

                  1. re: JungMann

                    Why do you think I'm suggesting anyplace fancy? I recommended Stage Restaurant, which is the least fancy place in the neighborhood. Fanciness is completely irrelevant to my comments in this thread, and not something I care much about, in general. By the way, Orlin is fine, though I always used to prefer Cafe Mogador until I got one too many rotten (literally) salads from them.

              2. I see you're looking for a peaceful morning meal which you'll be hard pressed to find at Cafe Orlin or Veselka (I prefer the food at Orlin but the lines at brunch can be very long). I haven't been for brunch but the Bowery locale of Veselka seems much calmer. Virage has a pretty decent brunch and there usually isn't a wait.

                1. We really like Veselka for a late night (2AM) meal and breakfast. Keep it simple and get the Eastern European specialties and you won't be disappointed.
                  It's also got an ambience that is pure Manhattan. One of my people watching favorites.

                  1. Veselka can be great or it can be mediocre but it depends on what you order. They have a surprisingly superior burger compared to most diners, and they're better than average for other classic diner items (I really liked their tuna melt). But there are some items that really shine and those tend to be the Ukrainian/Slavic items (I'm Ukrainian and my Baba worked at Veselka back in the day). I have not found better hot or cold borscht and they either stole this recipe from my grandmother or my grandmother stole the recipe from them (although Stage does serve up a decent bowl, too). The hot borscht is very hearty and has a lot of smoked pork in it (cooked down so it's very soft)- as it should in my opinion. Their cold borscht (served during the summer) is very different from the hot, but just as good. If it's in season get their Christmas borscht (it has delicious mushroom dumplings in it). Their matzo ball soup is better than 2nd avenue deli's. I'm crazy about their meat stuffed cabbage with porcini mushroom sauce (don't get the tomato sauce), and get a side of beets- that is a must. Their Ukranian meatballs are usually pretty good, but last time I got them they were a teeny bit dry.

                    The only thing I'll say they're overrated for is the varenyky (pierogies). I don't like the way Veselka makes them: they're dry, bland and I hate the whole "onions and butter on the side" crap. Stage and the Ukranian National Home restaurant make better pierogies. I'm not crazy about Veselka's mushroom barley soup either. Their kutya is actually right-on but very heavy on the poppy-seeds (not a dessert dish for beginners).

                    I hope that helps get you started, even though my recommendations aren't really breakfast items.

                    1. Back rom my NYC bkfst with the actor. And I appreciate everyone's help with advice for a quiet Sunday morning vilsit. I chose Veselka in the Bowery. Here's my take.
                      Pro: Walked right in, no wait (10AM). Floor to ceiling glass, lots of light. Agreeable menu, I had an open face Reuben, my wife went with a blintz with fruit on top. Waitress was pleasant, attentive, prices not outrageous.
                      Con: Music playing over the speaker system was too loud, interfered with visit. Our table was near a side door and every time someone opened it we were subjected to a cold breeze. Food was noting to write home about, just OK, and for my purpose, that was fine.
                      Menu: Blintz, breakfast pierogies (lox/cream cheese, bacon/egg/potato). Fried egg sandwich $9, Reuben $14. Black truffle egg salad $13. Meat/veggie/fish board $12-18. Burgers, Soups (potato/leek, borscht, mushroom barley, matzoh ball).
                      All in all, it suited my purpose of a relaxed visit for brunch, and I'd keep it in mind if again in the area. Thanks again, all.

                      5 Replies
                      1. re: baron1

                        I just want to confirm this is the same place I know, not some new branch: The place you went to is on 2nd Av., correct? Not on the Bowery, yes?

                        1. re: Pan

                          There are two Veselka's now, looks like baron1 went to the newer one.


                          1. re: kathryn

                            I went to the one at 9 E 1st St., just off the Bowery and E. Houston, which I believe is the "newer one". B.

                          2. re: Pan

                            The newer one is way more refined than the 2nd ave location. They went through a chef shuffle and it is not as good as it was when it first opened.

                            1. re: Shirang

                              Two friends and I had drinks and dinner at Veselka Bowery earlier this week. Because I was quite charmed by the place, overall, I am going to provide some ideas about how to improve it, in case someone from Veselka Bowery stops by the Manhattan Board. What's right: the room. So attractive and airy, what with the big windows and the ample room between tables. Also, the service, and the prices. Everyone from the hostesses to the bartender to the servers to the kitchen person who gifted us some dessert pierogi, was genuinely (as far as I could determine) friendly and did their job well. And the potato leek soup, which was awesome, probably because it was 85% cream and whipped to a froth. Wow. That, along with the challah & herb butter, would make a lovely light meal for an extremely reasonable $7.

                              What could be better: the mixed drinks. Don't wreck a perfectly good beet cocktail by throwing sickeningly sweet applejack brandy into it. Were you lucky enough to try the Bloody Beet at the sadly defunct White Slab Palace? Now that was a beet cocktail. And lobster pierogi are a great idea, but they should be closer to lobster dumplings and further from lobster ravioli, i.e. the lobster should not be forced to share so much of its dough wrapper with some unidentifiable mush that tastes like wet bread crumbs.

                              If anyone's had the fish board, I'd like to hear about it, 'cause that's what I would get on a future visit.

                        2. On a recent trip to Veselka I noticed some changes for the better.

                          Soups were larger in portion for the same price.

                          Pirogies were heftier pillows, closer to B&H's in shape.

                          Coffee was fine.

                          Most of the food looked the same, but with the new location, they're definitely changing some things.