Brighton Beach: A Guide to the Best Russian Food in NYC

Brighton Beach Food

When I lived in New York, I was always looking for new neighborhoods to explore. Before I had a remote workplace in Williamsburg, I was the type to wander from coffee shop to coffee shop, staking out the best and staying for hours on end. 

An Initial Search for Cafes

Finding the best coffee shops in New York are a diamond in the ruff. I was constantly searching for that magic combination: consistent wifi, copious amounts of outlets, comfortable seating, clean bathrooms, good food as well as coffee available, and large enough spaces and low enough foot traffic to not be a bother.

There are no good cafes in Manhattan to work out of. Well, there are two in Hell’s Kitchen but no more until you pass 125th street. As for the boroughs, each neighborhood reflects the profile of the average person who might live there. Bushwick had plenty but they’re all uncomfortable, overcrowded, and expensive. Park Slope has some of the smallest and are more ready to trick you with a condescending frown and “no wifi, sorry!” after a purchase. Red Hook has mostly quiet bakeries, BedStuy into Crown Heights with the best and most relaxed settings, and Ditmas Park with fantastic eats but with fewer outlets. Except, of course, for the standout Cafe Madeline.

I’d planned out a trip to Brighton Beach, finding three potential cafes to work from. I was lured by the idea of trying a more relaxed vibing Russian food compared to Mari Vanna. In the end, I came away with the least expensive and most interesting grocery shopping experience I’d had in New York (and yes, that includes Flushing, Jamacia, and Forest Hills) and a full stomach *but* a far less productive workday, succumbing to Starbucks wifi as a last-ditch resort. Brighton Beach became one of my favorite neighborhoods to bring friends / to recommend and remains so to this day.

The Must Eats in Brighton Beach

When I rave about Russian food, people tend to go cross-eyed. It may not have a reputation but all that means is that it’s time to explore it. “Russian food” is a blanket term (like most cuisine, no?) but what I’m really talking about here is a food identity that stretches the entirety of the old Soviet Union. It encompasses pelmeni and borscht (naturally) but also Manti, a traditionally East Turkish and South Caucasus delicacy.

You can find Uzbekistan’s national dish, plov, in most restaurants in Brighton Beach, and Mtsvadi and kharcho soup as warming dishes that will brighten the eyes of anyone wishing to remember their treks through Georgia. So this “Russian food” covers an area two and a half times that of the United States. It’s diverse, it’s delicious, and it’s worth the journey to this distant neighborhood! So without further ado, here’s your food guide to the famous (and in many ways, notorious) Russian enclave, Brighton Beach.

Cafe Eurasia, Brighton Beach

Cafe Eurasia 

My number one. The Creme de la Creme! Cafe Eurasia is my regular spot. It may not look like much on the outside… or even on the inside but the food here is to die for. If you’re coming in on a weekend, the four or five tables may be taken by Russian families drinking heavily and looking to have a fantastic row. So come early or be ready to try again in an hour or so.

One of my favorite thing about most of these little restaurants (including Cafe Eurasia) are the Russian music videos jamming out of a TV in the corner. Enjoy.

Must haves:

Manti – one steamed and one fried. Figure out how you like them the best. This is my very favorite! They’re basically *huge* dumplings with minced meat, herbs, and sour cream.

Russian Carrot Salad – a great side to split with the table. The carrot salad is incredibly garlicky & addictive!

Borscht – Another must-have. If you’re flying solo, get this and the manti and you’ll be so full. I’ve never enjoyed borscht before and have been hesitant to order another since after one failed attempt. The borscht comes with sour cream on the side that you can apply to the soup as needed.

Fried Potatoes With Garlic & Mushrooms – Okay, I didn’t order this one, someone else at the table did. But it was a surprisingly amazing choice. These wedge fries are out of this world.

Tone Cafe Brighton Beach


Tone-Cafe specializes in Georgian food and baked goods. It was, of course, the pictures of that oh-so photogenic adjaruli khachapuri that brought me to this restaurant but there is so much on this menu worth trying!

Adjaruli Khachapuri – A delicious, rich bread boat filled with cheese and decorated with a sunny side up egg on top.

Georgian Soup Dumplings (Khinkali)- I just love soup dumplings. These are slightly larger than your usual soup dumpling, served piping hot.

The Pkhali Trio – This appetizer comes with one spinach, one green bean, and one eggplant mixes with ground walnuts, spices, and pomegranate seeds. It is eaten with warm bread and is absolutely delicious! Get some sour cherry juice or Georgian wine to go along with it!

Cafe At Your Mother-in-Law

Cafe At Your Mother-in-Law

Finding this place if you’re on the lookout for its name is a challenge. That’s because this restaurant’s name is written in Cyrillic characters and roughly translated to its English name. It has a bright orange awning and if you have your maps on, an easy find. This is your go-to spot if you’re in the mood for noodles.

Lagman Noodles – Pulled noodles served with meat and vegetable stir fry.

Eggplant Salad – Delicious and on the healthier side of my general Brighton Beach recommendations, this wonderful and the eggplant is soft but not mushy.

Kuksu Soup – This soup dish is served cold and tastes healthy! The portions are large so you can drink it for another day. Kuksu soup is popular in both Korea and in Uzbekistan. You’ll see Russian / Korean in many of the restaurant descriptions on Yelp or Uzbek / Korean because many Korean people were moved to Uzbekistan by Stalin in the 1930s, a topic I will explore in another post on another day.

Q-Tips for Your Trip to Brighton Beach:

  • Sunny day? Choose takeout for the less messy dishes and head to the boardwalk.
  • A great last lunch spot if you’re headed out of JFK on an evening flight.
  • The grocery stores here are *amazing.* Scoop some frozen pelmeni to make at home and ogle at the vast amounts of sour cream and butter products. The hot food takeaway is actually amazing and super cheap seeing as it’s one of the most expensive things in the grocery store elsewhere. You can grab some cheap, quick, manti to go – the pumpkin-filled ones are great, and some stand-out cucumber salad.
  • Catch an evening show at Tatiana’s. I’ve never been but it’s famous for its dinner shows.
  • Take a walk outside of the hectic main street that’s sheltered by the clamoring Q train. Walk on out to Sheep’s Bay and around the residential neighborhoods to get a feel for this side of Queens.