Ukrainian cuisine is hearty and rich, therefore it’s safe to assume that the various dishes that compose it are likely to be delicious. For example, vareniki (a stuffed dumpling) is simple but flavourful. The filling varies depending on the occasion, be it a day of fasting or a religious holiday, but the preparation has remained the same — the dumplings have traditionally been boiled. Even today, these dumplings are always an integral part of the holiday table and are usually on the menu of every restaurant that serves local cuisine.
If you have yet not tried Ukrainian cuisine, Teremok is an ideal spot for plunging into a traditional atmosphere and enjoying local food. The interior of the restaurant showcases the antique objects of 19th-century life and has a charming view over a pond. The first thing to order from the menu is the borscht and the vareniki, which is must-try when in Central Ukraine. Thinking of a dessert to finish off the meal? You can get sweet dumplings as a treat.
Kozachka is a place where you can get acquainted with the best flavours of traditional Ukrainian cuisine. The restaurant serves all the local specialities like deruny (potato pancakes), golubtsi (stuffed cabbage rolls), vareniki and borscht. But most importantly, at Kozachka you can try the main delicacy of the Poltava region. Halushka, galushka or as people say, ‘lazy’ vareniki, implies that the dumplings are offered as the main course, but the filling that is usually inside the vareniki is instead put on top of these plain dumplings – it is no less mouthwatering.
Komora is one of the secret cafés in Poltava and actually the originator of the regional dish halushka. It is a family-friendly venue that is known for the chef’s skillful interpretation of traditional dishes, the live performances of which you can observe in the open kitchen. There are plain options with different toppings, as well as sweet and savoury stuffings like foie gras or potatoes.
Despite the fact that Kiev is part of the north of Ukraine, as a capital it can boast restaurants with regional dishes that every tourist should try. At the Ukrainian chain called Puzata Hata, located in almost every district of Kiev, you can try cheap but proper vareniki. The most popular ones are with potatoes and cherries, but you can also ask for an unusual stuffing, such as liver, pumpkin or salmon. If you’re undecided, you can ask for a half portion and simply taste a particular dish.
Sho restaurant, according to the owners, is the largest restaurant offering Ukrainian cuisine. It has an original interior that is not very common for restaurants with traditional food. There is stylish cutlery and china, high ceilings and spacious dining rooms, but you can still get a sense of the local colour. Well-known dishes like borscht and salo (pork fat), are complemented with a modern interpretation of vareniki and served with greens. Moreover, at Sho you can find a range of genuinely Ukrainian drinks.
Pervak is not just a regular restaurant in the city centre. It is a venue with a stunning interior and its own unique atmosphere reminiscent of 19th-century Kiev. However, its highlights are a mix of extremely delicious dishes drawn from Ukrainian, Jewish and European cuisine. Among the signature ones are borscht with salo and pampushki (fritters), along with ten kinds of vareniki, from savoury fillings like cabbage or mushrooms to sweet cottage cheese or cherries.
Varenichnaya Katyusha is a large chain of cafés, designed in a Soviet style. It specializes in local homestyle cuisine, and in particular vareniki. The menu features over twenty different varieties of handmade dumplings. For instance, for breakfast or brunch, you can order sweet ones with cherries or strawberries and smetana (sour cream). Meanwhile, for lunch and dinner, Varenichnaya Katyusha serves savoury options with potatoes, cabbage or meat. In addition, you can order soups, salads, meat and fish to go with your dumplings.
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