A Guide to Living and Dining in Ukraine

Ukraine is a large Eastern European country with an incredibly diverse culture and cuisine. In fact, many Ukrainian dishes encapsulate generations worth of traditions founded by hard-working people. While meat and garlic dominate the savory side of Ukrainian cuisine, there are plenty of options for vegetarians as well. Cabbage and pickles are also popular ingredients in this hearty cuisine.

Among the most famous Ukrainian foods, borscht is a simple soup composed of saute veggies and fermenting beet juice. It’s often served alongside savory yeast buns known as pampushki. Another savory favorite is holubtsi, a cabbage and pork stew cooked with bay leaves, garlic, carrots, onions, black pepper, and other seasonings. It’s commonly enjoyed with a side of bread and may include the addition of meat or fish as well.

In the world of sweets, try out koliva, which is a classic dish made from cook wheat kernels flavored with syrup, sugar, sesame seeds, walnuts, raisins, anise, or almonds. It’s usually topped with powdered sugar and is a traditional meal for funerals, memorials, Lent, Slava (Christmas in the Orthodox religion), and Easter.

Lviv is the largest city in western Ukraine and one of the country’s main cultural centers. The city is famed for its coffee, chocolate, and beer – in particular, the drink known as Lviv syrnyk. This dessert is similar to a cheesecake and contains eggs, cottage cheese, butter, and milk. It’s traditionally eaten on Easter morning and its shape resembles the Tomb of Christ.

The most popular alcoholic beverage in Ukraine is vodka, which comes in a variety of flavors and is commonly served neat or chilled. Horilka is another popular spirit, and it can be made with a variety of infusions like fruit, herbs, or spices. Home-made moonshine, samohon, is also enjoyed and is available in many different variations.

For those who enjoy a refreshing brew, there are many notable Ukrainian beer brands to choose from. Obolon Lager is a popular choice and provides grassy hops and light bitterness. If you’re looking for something with more of a kick, try a Bohemian Style Pilsner or a craft brew such as Umanpivo Mukona or Robert Doms Belgyisky. There are also a number of breweries in the US that specialize in Ukrainian beer styles, including 42 North Brewing Company, Platform Brewing Co., and Lakefront Brewery. These breweries allow you to experience Ukrainian beer in its home environment while supporting local businesses as well.