Walk inside the Brighton Bazaar and you’ll immediately be transported from Brooklyn to the markets of Eastern Europe. You’ll be confronted with the bright palette of neon-green tarragon soda and purple borscht, the aroma of freshly baked Lithuanian rye bread, and the sound of staff and customers conversing in Russian.
The store serves Brighton Beach, a neighborhood with a thriving community of immigrants from post-Soviet states. As such, the bazaar’s aisles are packed with traditional and hard-to-find treats from the likes of Russia, Georgia, Ukraine, and even Uzbekistan. Several shelves offer an impressively wide selection of kvass, a fizzy, lightly alcoholic drink. Hot and cold bars feature mains and sides such as herring under a fur coat—a hearty layered combo of potatoes, herring, beets, and mayo—and the tangy Soviet-Korean carrot salad morkovcha.
For those willing to search for them, unique regional goods lurk among the more classic offerings: Peek beyond the strawberry jams, for instance, to find jars of pine cone preserves, a medicinal syrup from Georgia and Siberia that actually include softened (non-poisonous) baby pinecones. Or stroll into the dairy aisle and look for the butter bearing the words Волого́дское ма́сло. That’s Vologda butter, a creamy, nutty spread so beloved, it even has its own museum.
Those wanting something sweet should wander to the extensive baked goods section. Behind glass are rows of Russian Napoleon cake and kartoshka, a cognac-flavored chocolate treat shaped to resemble a potato. There’s even a full display devoted to Tula pryanik, intricately stamped cookies from the Russian city of Tula. (The treats originated in the 17th century when local gunsmiths used their design know-how to fashion wooden presses for cookies.)
Visitors should buy a picnic’s worth of treats, then take them to enjoy on the boardwalk, just a few blocks away.
Know Before You Go
Most of the signs are in Cyrillic, so you can always ask if you're not sure about the item.