A trip to “Little Odessa” – Brighton Beach, Brooklyn // Маленькая Одесса – Брайтон Бич, Бруклин

Brighton Beach subway stationBrighton beach Brooklyn

A few weekends ago Ben and I took the Q train down to Brooklyn, and after a little more than an hour, we arrived in the little neighborhood of Brighton Beach, which is like a miniature version of Russia. It’s nicknamed “Little Odessa” after the Ukrainian city on the Black Sea, and it’s the home to the largest Russian-speaking population in the U.S.

Brighton beach seagullsBrighton BeachBrighton beach Brooklyn housesBrighton Beach New YorkLublyou: Brighton Beach, BrooklynEmbroidered shirt

I couldn’t exactly pin down my overall impression of our trip to Brighton Beach. I felt like I wanted to share these photos and tell everyone how much fun it was going down there, but at the same time I was afraid I would be mistaken for one of “those” immigrants who simply can’t resist the magnetic draw of familiar culture … it wasn’t exactly the joy of “being at home” that I experienced.  Without my family there, it couldn’t really feel like home.

It took me a couple of weeks to discover my real feelings – nostalgia for a specific time in the past!  Brighton Beach reminds me of my childhood in the 90s, especially summers at the Black Sea. This shouldn’t really be a surprise, the neighborhood is mainly populated by people who escaped from the Soviet Union back in those days, but they took along many familiar details with them to New York.

Tatiana restaurant Brighton BeachTatiana Brighton Beach Brooklyn

As we got off the subway, Ben and I decided that the beach itself would be our main destination and walked out onto the bright, sunny, autumn boardwalk surrounded by the sounds of crashing waves, screaming seagulls, busy restaurants and loud conversations in Russian from the locals on the benches along the walkway facing the beach.

We were getting hungry, and the hostess from the beachfront Tatiana Restaurant successfully caught us walking by, handing us menus and offering us a table inside the plastic covered porch overlooking the boardwalk.  The menu was very scattered, and featured everything from sushi, to grilled meat, to festive cakes. We were spending a “Russian” day, so we opted for “mors” (a berry drink,) “pelmeni” (meat dumplings) and my favorite farmers’ cheese cakes with raisins “syrniki”.

Everyone at the tables around us was ordering vodka, which I found pretty amusing. I often hear the stereotype about Russians drinking vodka, and people ask me if it’s my favorite drink. The truth is, I’m not a big vodka drinker at all and constant vodka is very far from reality back at home, but the legend is alive and blooming in Brighton Beach oceanside restaurants, even in the early afternoon.

Syrniki Brighton BeachPelmeni Brighton Beach

Overall, Tatiana was quite pricey for a simple meal, (and they pretty much forgot about us after they set us and took the order, then they brought us the wrong meals… then forgot about us again!), but I still really enjoyed this lunch for the nostalgia feeling, the gorgeous sunny beach view and the amusement of the conversations being held around us.

I’ll be back soon with “Brighton Beach: Part 2” about what we found after we left the boardwalk and went shopping along Brighton Beach avenue, which is full of cyrillic signs, fur coats, very tasty pirozhki and other Russian groceries!



Пару недель назад мы с Беном решили съездить в Брайтон Бич на берегу Атлантического океана. Этот район Нью-Йорка получил известность с середины 1970-х годов, как место проживания эмигрантов из СССР, в основном евреев из Украины и России. После развала СССР в 90-х в Брайтон Бич стали селиться выходцы из бывших республик.

Поездка на метро заняла чуть больше часа, и мы оказались на южном побережье с ароматами пирожков, шумом волн, криками чаек и занятными русскими речами. Я даже отправила сама себе смс с некоторыми отрывками разговоров вокруг нашего столика в ресторане Татьяна во время обеда:

– Да посидим чуть-чуть и возьмём ещё водки.
– На здоровье!
– Ну давай с клубничным вареньем блинчики.
– Всё, я пошёл за водкой и за компотом.
– При чём тут Газманов? И Алсу с Басковым?
– Дайте-ка мне щи кислые со шпинатом и салатик.
– Лысый пришёл? – Давно уже, он с двенадцати!

Во время нашей прогулки по набережной меня не покидало чувство, что вот-вот издалека до нас донесётся “Горячая кукуруза! Горячая кукуруза!”, или “Сладкая вата! Солёные огурцы!”, а мимо с брызгами и криками пронесётся очередной отдыхающий на надувном банане. Слишком уж сильно сходство этого пляжа со знакомыми с детства Коблево, Лазаревким, Ялтой и Сочи.

И ведь не зря же Брайтон Бич называют “Маленькой Одессой” – нужно будет обязательно сюда вернуться летом, вдруг и правда на пляже будут продавать жаренные семечки в кулёчках из газет и варёную кукурузу с солью? Я возьму парочку.