NYC / Brighton Beach & Coney Island — request for recs

Last-minute request for recommended stops near Coney Island and Brighton Beach.

Gulluoglu is a definite, but this is last minute excursion so I haven’t done a lot of of my own research, unfortunately.

Calling @SteveR @DaveCook and other Brooklyn and Brooklyn-familiar folks for help! Thank you!

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I’ll give it a try, but realize that I haven’t been to any in awhile (I’ve been going to places on Coney Island Ave around Kings Hiway) so my recommendations for Brighton Beach may not be what you find presently. First of all, I remember Gulluoglu as being uneven so look carefully at the displays to see if things look fresh and/or carefully made. Well worth it when its good. Secondly, my fondest memory is of Kashkar Cafe. Its a Uyghur place & has been written up over the years. I might’ve first gone there with Dave over 20 years ago, but drop by periodically for my fix. Its all the way down 3 or 4 blocks to the left (away from Coney Island), across from the co-ops (a major Russian village actually) that they built to replace “Brighton Private”, my childhood beach getaway. Another place that’s been written up before, but that I like anyway, is Tone on Neptune Ave. Its Georgian & has very good khachapuri.

eta: while writing this, I hunted around for reviews and found that The Infatuation (which I always take with a large grain of salt) might’ve hit pay dirt with their Brighton Beach overview. So, here’s a link: https://www.theinfatuation.com/new-york/guides/best-restaurants-brighton-beach. I’m chuckling as I write this, as they have every place I’ve mentioned & even found a place or two that I never heard of and might try (Kaffeine231 - across the street from Gulluoglu I think). Also: Little Georgia on Brighton 6th was a good bakery last time I was there.

As for Coney Island, I know that some of the Russian places on the Boardwalk have been lauded by “foodie” types, but I haven’t had their experiences & generally avoid the upsell & touristy food (although there are always Russian patrons so, as my mother used to say, “go know”). But definitely hit Ruby’s if you’re in Coney Island proper (the amusement park area). Not what you’re looking for, but what a beer hall/slice of Brooklyn. Especially the indoors section.

Hope this was helpful. Dave probably knows more.

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Do stop by Tashkent Supermarket, 713 Brighton Beach Ave., for a dizzyingly broad display of hot and cold foods to take to the boardwalk, the beach, or back home.

Are you looking for an indoor spot to sit and eat as well?

And, of course, this came into my mailbox just now:

The New York Times

How to Spend a Day in Brighton Beach

Author Headshot\ 45x45 By Nikita Richardson

I like to say that New York City is famously a beach town. It certainly has more beach access than where I grew up — landlocked metro Atlanta; that you can get to most of these beaches by subway, bus, bike or ferry is even better.

You don’t need the help of someone who knows their way around the city’s 14 miles of public beaches to have a perfect day. But I recently enjoyed a tour from a dedicated guide around Brighton Beach, and I couldn’t wait to share it with you all.

Khachapuri to Go, a Grocery Fantasyland and Eastern European Classics

To start, there are many ways to get to Brighton Beach. My friend and guide Devra Ferst, a freelance writer and food writing teacher, prefers to bike down Ocean Parkway, which has a relatively shady bike path. I drove along the Belt Parkway, soaking in the incredible views of the New York Harbor and Gravesend Bay. Take the B (if it’s a weekday) or the Q train to the Brighton Beach stop, and it will spit you out just a few steps from the beach in the heart of the neighborhood, where a combination of street stalls and busy storefronts coexist underneath the deafening rumble of the subways overhead.

If you want to get straight to the sand with snacks and drinks, start your day atLittle Georgia, a tiny bakery with no seating that specializes in khachapuri and shawarma. That this bakery’s small interior is almost always crowded is a testament to the quality of the food. We ordered a potato and cheese khachapuri the size of a medium pizza — it even comes in a pizza box — and grabbed a couple of specialty drinks from the fridge, including a liter of Natakhtari, a Georgian lemonade brand.

If you have a little more time on your hands and really want to dive head first into what Brighton Beach has to offer, you owe it to yourself to walk into Tashkent Supermarket, on the corner of Brighton Beach Avenue and Coney Island Avenue. How to describe this Uzbek supermarket? The phrase “grocery fantasyland” comes to mind.

You’ve never seen a hot bar until you’ve seen this hot bar, overflowing with seemingly every kind of Eurasian food you can imagine: pelmeni, lyulya kebabs, shashlik, dolma, olives, chebureki, pickles and manti. There are dozens of massive cakes as thick as encyclopedias, filleted and fried fish, and small mountains of plov (Uzbek pilaf). Don’t forget the bins full of sweets from Eastern Europe.

You’ll have the urge to fill one plastic clamshell to brimming, but be mindful of the different prices or face the wrath of the cashiers.

But maybe you want to start out on the beach. Once you’ve tuckered yourself out in the sun and the surf, consider sitting down for a meal at Varenichnaya. (Bring cash!) The menu at this unassuming, family-owned restaurant, which recently moved to a new location at 504 Brighton Beach Avenue, is varied, but you can’t go wrong with the classics: pelmeni or vareniki. Devra insisted that we try the sour cherry vareniki, pillow-soft dumplings with bittersweet fruit inside, made all the better with a swipe through sour cream. As a bonus, I ordered the lamb kebabs, juicy and salty and crisp, a perfect complement to the vareniki.

We ate everything in the shade of a concrete pavilion at the end of Brighton Fourth Street. It’s a gathering spot for the neighborhood — older residents taking in the fresh air with the grandkids, groups of friends meeting up for a chat or a card game, people of every stripe imaginable — all of us content to take in a bona fide ocean view in a city that should be better known for its beaches.

Varenichnaya s our go to place, not big or fancy just good food. Also Cafe Kashkarfor Uihyar food.

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WOW - thank you all for the quick and helpful responses!

My young visitor and I made it to Coney Island, then Brighton Beach, but were absolutely FRIED in today’s heat so had little energy to do much other than some boardwalk eats for fortification as soon as we got there, a drink and snack at Gulluoglu (plus, ahem, a whole tray of pistachio durum straight from the freezer - to be divvied up among family and friends, obviously haha), and I couldn’t resist a stop into a little market as we walked back to the subway - I picked up frozen pelmeni (loose, by the lb) and he got some unusual candy).

I’m going to go back with a better plan based on all this information in a few weeks!

I’ll post a few pics from the market tomorrow.

Funny thing about Gulluoglu - it took me several tries to get the young guy at the counter to understand what I was looking for, and I know all the words for this particular treat… so I’m wondering if he was not Turkish but Eastern European of another variety. (I finally asked him to look in the freezer for what was NOT on display, lol.)

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Is Brighton Private the same as Brighton Beach Baths? We were members for years.

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Yes. Same place.

Thanks for reporting back. I’ll say that I love Cafe Kashkar, too, though I haven’t been there since before the pandemic.

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