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In Ukraine we know for sure: the way to a guest’s heart is through his or her stomach! It’s all about Ukrainian cuisine.

Especially if our gastronomic specialties are accompanied by our distinguished wine selection. And they definitely are! 

No good vacation is possible without a good meal. No country exploration is possible without a trip through its cuisine highlights! 

Ukrainian cuisine is known for its delicious tastes, traditional cooking technologies and generous ways to serve guests. It is an important part of the country’s culture and lifestyle. Yonderbound’s global ranking put Ukraine among the 20 best countries in the world for food. 

Nowadays, Ukraine keeps its economic leadership as a guarantor of food security in the world. Ukraine exports a significant share of agriculture products, including crops, corn, sunflower oil, cereals, soya, meat, among others. Learn more about Ukraine’s cultural relations with other nations, as reflected in its cuisine, from a book about culinary diplomacy published by the Ukrainian Institute and Їzhakultura.

Family meals and cooking at home are traditions which continue to thrive in Ukraine. Many families still use traditional food processing technologies on an everyday basis, such as fermenting, pickling and smoking. Visit the closest farmers’ market for pickles, dried and smoked meats and fruits, home-made cottage cheeses and local herbal teas.

You can get a very different culinary experience in different regions. Go to Central Ukraine, famous for its Chornozem — black soil, to try cereal-based food Varenyky and Galushky. In the mountainous and forested parts of Western Ukraine, you’ll find dishes made from mushrooms, berries and bryndza which is a local cheese made of sheep milk. In the South, buy watermelons or tomatoes straight from the fields on the way to the seaside. When visiting locals, take a chance to participate in cooking with the hosts to get to know their family recipes.

In the big cities — Kyiv, Lviv, Odesa — the restaurant and bar culture is booming. The food there is a part of the experience and local spirit. Be ready to say Taras Shevchenko’s motto “Borites’ — poborete” (Fight to win) before entering Ostannya Barykada in Kyiv.

Yaroslav Artyukh, one of the few Ukrainian chefs featured in the Michelin guide, works in Kanapa, reinterpreting traditional recipes in his own unique fusion style.

Visiting Kryivka in Lviv, remember to use the greeting “Slava Ukraini! Heroiam slava!” Odesa offers its special regional food influenced mostly by its seaside location — try it in Savva Libkin’s restaurants.   

Stuck for what to choose from such a long menu? Start with the basics! 

Be sure to learn our small dictionary for foodies by heart so as not to lose any precious eating time  after getting to the restaurant:

Borscht, which is included on the list of Ukraine’s intangible heritage, has a centuries-old history and more than 70 recipes exist. Borscht is usually served with garlic fritters called pampushky. The key ingredients of this hearty and rich Ukrainian soup are meat, beetroot and a variety of vegetables from beans to cabbage, although there are also meat-free and non- beetroot borscht options. So how do you know it is borscht, and not just any soup? The borscht formula is in the balance of the sour and sweet taste, and every Ukrainian family has its own secret on how to achieve that harmony! You should definitely try borscht, cooked in a wood fired oven in Ievgen Klopotenko`s restaurant 100 rokiv tomu vpered

Borsch. Traditional Ukrainian beet soup
Photo: klopotenko.com

Chicken Kyiv is a fresh chicken filet fried with a piece of butter. The dish has brought fame to Ukraine as it continues to be  served in fashionable restaurants across London, New York and other cities of the world. 

Chicken Kyiv with mashed potato
Photo: Elster, Shutterstock

Varenyky is made of dough, but the filling depends on one’s imagination. Stewed cabbage, minced meat or giblets, mushrooms, cottage cheese (sweet or sour), cherries, currants or potatoes are the most typical fillings. Don’t forget to put a generous serving of smetana (sour cream) on your plate! 

Varenyky served with caramelized salted onion in bowl on wooden table – traditional Ukrainian food
Photo: Bukhta Yurii, Shutterstock

Banosh  is served in all the restaurants across the Carpathians. It is made of corn grits and served with fried pork fat, mushrooms and bryndza cheese, and is traditionally cooked over a fire in order to get it well smoked.

Banosh, a traditional Ukrainian corn grain dish with fat and sheep cheese
Photo: mongione, Shutterstock

Special beverages of Ukrainian cuisine are uzvar, mead, kvas, zbyten, and compote. Uzvar is a healthy and refreshing beverage that is made of dried fruits. The  most popular ingredients are dried apples, pears and apricots, prunes, raisins and honey.

Ukrainian diversity and the pluralism of its nationalities are vividly reflected in its cuisine. The Crimean Tatar cuisine has its peculiarities due to the geography of Crimea. The locals’ diet is mostly meat and dairy products as well as fruits and vegetables. To taste true Crimean Tatar cuisine, try chibereki (чіберек) which has a crunchy crust and a juicy meat stuffing. It’s one of the most popular dishes and is served both as a daily meal and also on holidays. Khatykh (кхатикх), a traditional sour-milk drink, matches perfectly with chibereki. 

Should you be in Kyiv, visit the Crimean Tatar restaurant “Musafir”.

Enjoy Ukrainian cuisine at more restaurants in Kyiv, Lviv and Odesa.

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