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Coordinates: 40°43′44.32″N 73°59′13.55″W / 40.7289778°N 73.9870972°W / 40.7289778; -73.9870972
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Restaurant information
Owner(s)Tom Birchard, Jason Birchard
Food typeUkrainian, Eastern European, American comfort
Dress codeCasual
Street address144 Second Avenue
CityNew York City
StateNew York
Postal/ZIP Code10003
CountryUnited States
ReservationsNot taken
Other locationsVeselka Essex and Veselka Grand Central
Other informationFamily owned and operated

Veselka is a Ukrainian restaurant at 144 Second Avenue in the East Village neighborhood of Manhattan in New York City.[1] It was established in 1954 by Wolodymyr Darmochwal (Ukrainian: Володимир Дармохвал) and his wife, Olha Darmochwal (Ukrainian: Ольга Дармохвал), post–World War II Ukrainian refugees.[2] Veselka is one of the last of many Slavic restaurants that once proliferated in the neighborhood.[3] A cookbook, published in October 2009 by St. Martin's Press, highlights more than 120 of the restaurant's Eastern European recipes.[4]

Veselka had three other New York City locations, two of which are now closed. A sister restaurant, Veselka Essex, operated at Essex Crossing from 2019 to 2024. Another restaurant, on East 1st Street and Bowery, opened in November 2011 and closed in 2013. A third location opened in October 2023 at Grand Central Terminal.


In 1954, the Darmochwals purchased a candy shop and newsstand at Second Avenue and East 9th Street in New York City in an effort to help the Ukrainian Youth Association purchase the building that housed its headquarters. Wolodymyr Darmochwal gave this venture the moniker "Veselka" – the Ukrainian word for rainbow. In 1960, Darmochwal combined the candy store and newsstand with an adjacent luncheonette.

In the following years, as the East Village became known as the Haight-Ashbury of the east coast,[5] Veselka became a social center for a cross-section of the community that included old-world tradition and new-world counterculture.

Veselka was nearly forced to close in the mid-1970s, when the construction of the Second Avenue Subway (later canceled) resulted in street closures along the adjacent section of Second Avenue.[6] By the time the New York City fiscal crisis hit in the 1970s, Veselka was a fixture in the neighborhood. It was able to expand during the economic recovery of the 1980s, at which time the row of phone booths at the rear of the restaurant came to be used as informal office space for East Village performance artists.[7]

Veselka produces 3,000 pierogis by hand every day[8] and uses 500 pounds of beets[9] to make 5,000 gallons of borscht every week.[10] The restaurant has attracted notable patrons including musician Ryan Adams,[11] artist Sally Davies, director Bart Freundlich,[12] performance artist Penny Arcade,[13] comedian Jon Stewart and actors Julianne Moore, Chris Noth, Parker Posey, Justin Long and Debra Messing (who considers Veselka her "late-night mainstay" and her "absolute favorite place").[11][12][14][15][16][17]

Veselka remains a family-run business: as of 2020, it is owned by Darmochwal's son-in-law, Tom Birchard, who began working at Veselka in 1967, and run by the founder's grandson, Jason Birchard. The founders' son, Mykola Darmochwal, maintains a role as consultant.

Veselka continues to support the needs of neighborhood residents and Eastern European immigrants: in 1994, its kitchen staff included four doctors, three from Ukraine and one from Poland, who had recently arrived in the United States.[18] After the 2022 Russian invasion of Ukraine, Veselka's daily patronage more than doubled, from 600–700 to 1,500, as many visitors wanted to express support for Ukrainians. The restaurant was also used to coordinate donations of supplies for Ukrainian refugees.[19][20] Veselka halted 24/7 operations in the early 2020s due to the COVID-19 pandemic and then due to a labor shortage.[21] In 2024, the restaurant announced that it would resume 24-hour operation on weekends starting that July.[22]

Media appearances[edit]

In the 1980s, Veselka began receiving reviews and awards that spread its reputation beyond its immediate neighborhood. That reputation was further cemented when the restaurant was used as a location for the films Trust the Man (2006), Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist (2008), Trainwreck (2015), Ocean's 8 (2018) and Billions (2018)[23][24][25][26][27] and memorialized in the songs "Veselka Diner" by Doctor Rokit[28] and "Veselka" by Greta Gertler, which was National Public Radio's "Song of the Day" on January 24, 2008.[29] Veselka is also featured in City of Fallen Angels, the fourth book in Cassandra Clare's The Mortal Instruments series. Anthony Bourdain filmed an interview with publicist Danny Fields at Veselka that appeared in the final episode of Parts Unknown on CNN in 2018.[30]

In 2024, a documentary entitled "Veselka: The Rainbow on the Corner at the Center of the World" directed by Michael Fiore and narrated by Dave Duchovny, had its world premiere at the Santa Barbara International Film Festival.[31][32]

Reviews and awards[edit]

Reviews of Veselka in traditional press highlight its comfort food menu and describe the restaurant as a destination for late-night diners.[33][34][35] After a renovation in 1995, The New York Times reassured regulars that the restaurant had not changed its menu.[36] Representative awards include:

  • "True Taste of New York Award" from the New York City Hospitality Alliance in 2019[37]
  • "Age Smart Employer Awards" from Columbia University's Columbia Aging Center at the Mailman School of Public Health, 2017[38]
  • "Best Comfort Food" from AOL CITY GUIDE in 2005.
  • "Best Late Night Dining Award" from Time Out Magazine in 1996 and 2003.
  • "Best Salad Under $10” from New York Press, 2001
  • "Best East Village Diner" from New York Press, 1998 and 2000
  • "Best Ukrainian Diner" from New York Press, 1999
  • "Best Borscht In The City" from New York Magazine, 1997
  • "Best Mushroom Barley Soup" from New York Press, 1990

Other locations[edit]

Little Veselka[edit]

Little Veselka, located in First Park, was a concession of the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation. It was operated by Veselka and offered a limited menu – primarily sandwiches named for famous Ukrainians and select others, including; Andy Warhol (the Andy Warhola), Leon Trotsky, Rinat Akhmetov, Milla Jovovich and Leonid Stadnik.[39] It closed in 2011.

Veselka Bowery[edit]

Veselka Bowery, located on East 1st Street and Bowery, was announced in February 2010[6][40] and opened in November 2011.[41][42] Veselka Bowery offered a more "upscale" version of the Ukrainian comfort food that remains a staple of the menu of the original Veselka.[43] It also offered an expansive drink menu and a selection of dozens of Eastern European vodkas.[43][44] Veselka Bowery closed in April 2013.[45]

Veselka Essex[edit]

Opened in 2019, Veselka Essex is located in The Market Line, which hosts a group of grocery stores and restaurants in commercial and residential development in the Lower East Side named Essex Crossing.[46][47] In January 2024, the Essex Crossing location closed.[48]

Veselka Grand Central[edit]

In October 2023, Veselka opened in the Grand Central Terminal Dining Concourse.[49][50]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Veselka | Manhattan | Restaurant Menus and Reviews. Zagat. Retrieved January 28, 2013.
  2. ^ "Cheap Ass Food.com". Cheap Ass Food.com. January 22, 2011. Archived from the original on July 8, 2011. Retrieved May 5, 2011.
  3. ^ "Veselka". Serious Eats. Retrieved May 5, 2011.
  4. ^ "The Veselka Cookbook: Recipes and Stories from the..." Chapters Indigo. October 27, 2009. Retrieved May 5, 2011.
  5. ^ "University Press, University of Minnesota". Upress.umn.edu. Archived from the original on May 14, 2011. Retrieved May 5, 2011.
  6. ^ a b Moskin, Julia (February 24, 2010). "Works Begins on Veselka II". Diner’s Journal Blog. Retrieved April 20, 2022.
  7. ^ Danford, Birchard 2009, p. 82.
  8. ^ Danford, Birchard 2009, p. 47.
  9. ^ Danford, Birchard 2009, p. 10.
  10. ^ Danford, Birchard 2009, p. 12.
  11. ^ a b "Gawker Stalker".
  12. ^ a b "The Blizzard of Odd: More Stars!".
  13. ^ Moskin, Julia (January 5, 2010). "The Restaurant Veselka Is a Beacon for Ukrainian Immigrants". The New York Times. Retrieved January 6, 2009.
  14. ^ Gail Saltz, M.D. "iVillage". ivillage.com. Archived from the original on April 24, 2008. Retrieved May 5, 2011.
  15. ^ Widdicombe, Ben (September 13, 2007). "Fashion Week makes Carmen Electra camera-shy". Daily News. New York. Archived from the original on November 1, 2007.
  16. ^ Seal, Mark. "Debra Messing's New York". Americanwaymag.com. Archived from the original on June 18, 2009. Retrieved May 5, 2011.
  17. ^ "My Favorite Things". Daily News. New York. May 10, 2001. Retrieved February 28, 2024.
  18. ^ Kannapell, Andrea (January 26, 1997). "Pizza Job Sustained a Dream". The New York Times.
  19. ^ Orlow, Emma (March 30, 2022). "At Veselka, a Hub for Supporting Ukraine, Staffers are Reportedly Working Longer Hours". Eater NY. Retrieved April 20, 2022.
  20. ^ Sauer, Megan (March 28, 2022). "This 30-year-old helps run New York's most popular Ukrainian restaurant: 'There is a line standing out' from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m." CNBC. Retrieved April 20, 2022.
  21. ^ Fortney, Luke (June 16, 2022). "Veselka Reportedly Can't Find Enough Workers to Reopen 24/7". Eater NY. Retrieved March 6, 2024.
  22. ^ Rahmanan, Anna (March 5, 2024). "Veselka will soon be open 24/7 again!". Time Out New York. Retrieved March 6, 2024.
  23. ^ Tuder, Stefanie (March 26, 2018). "'Billions' Is Back and Still Spotlighting NYC's Hottest Restaurants". Eater New York. Retrieved April 1, 2019.
  24. ^ Maurer, Daniel (October 6, 2008). "Pierogi Placement". Nymag.com. Retrieved May 5, 2011.
  25. ^ Baker, Lucy (October 6, 2008). "Serious Eats New York". Newyork.seriouseats.com. Retrieved May 5, 2011.
  26. ^ "Trainwreck Film Locations". otsoNY.com. Retrieved February 26, 2017.
  27. ^ Burton, Monica (December 19, 2017). "Iconic NYC Diner Makes Cameo in 'Ocean's 8' Trailer". eater.com. Retrieved June 11, 2018.
  28. ^ "Discogs". Discogs. Retrieved May 5, 2011.
  29. ^ Blaustein, Claire (January 24, 2008). "A Small Slice of Life, and Perhaps Pie". NPR. Retrieved August 15, 2023.
  30. ^ Yakas, Ben (November 12, 2018). "Anthony Bourdain Takes A Tour Of The Lower East Side In Final 'Parts Unknown'". Gothamist. Archived from the original on April 11, 2019. Retrieved April 11, 2019.
  31. ^ Pratt, Sean. "2024 Program Announcement | SBIFF". Retrieved February 15, 2024.
  32. ^ Rahmanan, Anna (January 31, 2024). "A new documentary about Ukrainian restaurant Veselka is premiering next month". Time Out New York. Retrieved February 15, 2024.
  33. ^ "Veselka – East Village – New York Magazine Restaurant Guide".
  34. ^ New York City Food Guy
  35. ^ "Veselka – E. Village – Details and Reader Reviews". The New York Times. Archived from the original on October 5, 2012. Retrieved May 27, 2010.
  36. ^ "New Yorkers & Co". The New York Times. October 27, 1996. Retrieved May 27, 2010.
  37. ^ "New York City Hospitality Alliance Announces Honorees". FSR Magazine. March 6, 2019. Retrieved April 11, 2019.
  38. ^ Eisenberg, Richard (January 18, 2018). "How Age-Smart Employers See The Value Of Older Workers". Forbes. Retrieved April 11, 2019.
  39. ^ Danford, Birchard 2009, p. 184.
  40. ^ Dobkin, Kelly (February 24, 2010). "Veselka on the Bowery Begins Construction". Eater NY. Retrieved April 20, 2022.
  41. ^ Kludt, Amanda (November 4, 2011). "Veselka's Bowery Location Opens to the Public Tonight". Eater NY. Retrieved April 20, 2022.
  42. ^ Johnston, Garth (November 4, 2011). "Veselka Brings The Borscht Back To The Bowery Tonight". Gothamist. Retrieved April 20, 2022.
  43. ^ a b Maurer, Daniel (August 17, 2011). "Prepare For Borscht Martinis: Veselka's Bowery Location May Open Next Month". The New York Times. Retrieved May 15, 2012.
  44. ^ Johnston, Garth (November 4, 2011). "Veselka Brings The Borscht Back To The Bowery Tonight". Gothamist. Archived from the original on November 7, 2017. Retrieved May 15, 2012.
  45. ^ Tishgart, Sierra (April 29, 2013). "Veselka Bowery Closes". Grub Street. Retrieved April 20, 2022.
  46. ^ Dai, Serena (November 21, 2019). "Everything to Know About the Market Line, LES's Big Food Destination Opening Friday". Eater NY. Retrieved April 20, 2022.
  47. ^ Kimmelman, Michael (November 7, 2019). "Essex Crossing Is the Anti-Hudson Yards". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved April 20, 2022.
  48. ^ McCart, Melissa (January 31, 2024). "Veselka Has Closed in the Market Line". Eater NY. Retrieved February 15, 2024.
  49. ^ Fortney, Luke (October 2, 2023). "Popular Ukrainian Diner Veselka Opens a New Manhattan Location". Eater NY. Retrieved November 3, 2023.
  50. ^ "Veselka". Grand Central Terminal. Retrieved November 3, 2023.


  • Danford, Natalie; Tom Birchard (2009). The Veselka Cookbook: Recipes and Stories from the Landmark Restaurant in New York's East Village. New York: Thomas Dunne Books. ISBN 0-312-38568-4.

External links[edit]

40°43′44.32″N 73°59′13.55″W / 40.7289778°N 73.9870972°W / 40.7289778; -73.9870972