Cultural Enclaves: Little Odessa

Tracksuits and gold chains, fur coats, freshly made pirozhki and ads for vodka in cyrillic. This is Russia or, even better, America’s version of Russia.

Photographed by Emma Hovel

Of the endless list of ethnic enclaves New York City has to offer, Brighton Beach (aka Little Odessa or Little Russia) is perhaps the most interesting. Named after the famous port in the Black Sea, it has been home to immigrants from the former Soviet Union, especially Jewish ones, for decades. Here Russian is the official language. Come to eat meat pies, stock up on smoked fish and sausages and enjoy the breeze from the ocean.

The numerous delis, bars and restaurants are bustling with locals that don’t seem to notice strangers. Outside, the hordes of retirees mix with kids that play in the streets. Always lively, but still somehow melancholic in that Eastern European way. Little Odessa probably doesn’t have much to do with its Ukrainian big sister, but it definitely transports you out of New York for a while.

Find the original version of this story in Issue 7, including our list of recommendations in the neighborhood.

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