Hidden under a stairwell in Manhattan on 7th Street between 3rd and 2nd Avenue, nobody would blame you for walking right past Streecha Ukrainian Kitchen. That said, once you're aware of your mistake, run straight there and don't emerge until your stomach is warm with homemade varenyky and borscht soup.
This hidden gem of the Ukrainian Village is a fundraiser that has been serving the parish of St George Ukrainian Catholic Church—and any New Yorker lucky enough to be in the know—for years. In contrast to Veselka, another long-running Ukrainian restaurant that's far more upscale, what Streecha lacks in variety it makes up for in soul (and price).
In short, imagine having a Ukranian grandmother and going to her house for lunch.
The atmosphere is sparesly and simply decorated; some religious icons, some portraits, and a small poster of the kitchen staff. The background noise is a Ukrainian TV station that every once in a while plays 90s pop at a low volume and the chatter of regulars. The set-up is also extremely simple; plastic forks and knives, ordering at the counter, food brought to you on a plastic tray. It's a welcome, quiet escape from the craziness that awaits you the second you step back out into the Village.
The menu consists of stuffed cabbage, sausage with cabbage, borscht soup, varenyky, and a daily special. They also have fresh-baked pastries. The varenyky, coated in a buttery, delicious sauce and topped with grilled onions, will have your mouth watering and will fill you up surprisingly quickly. They're stuffed with cheese and potatoes, and come with sour cream.
The kicker? You can purchase pretty much the entire menu for about $20. In Manhattan. You're not hallucinating.
If the price and the pure flavor of the dishes don't draw you in, think about the fact that all the food is going toward a good cause, and is probably as authentic as you can get to homemade Ukrainian food outside of, well, Ukraine. Make sure to make a stop here on your next visit to the Big Apple. Wake up and smell the varenyky.
E.R. Pulgar© 2016
Wednesday-Friday, 11:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
Saturday-Sunday: 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
33 E. 7th Street (between 2nd and 3rd Avenues), New York, NY 10003