Pierogis Are Replacing Late Night Pizza Parlors in the East Village

The scene is rather peculiar on Sunday night as the clock nears one a.m at Veselka; a man in a coat with a briefcase exits with both hands filled with potato pancakes, followed by two ridiculously inebriated lovers who fumble and trip on the front doorsteps, while a mother reads a book to her child amidst the chaos.

Since as early as 1954, the classic immigrant family-run Ukrainian restaurant, Veselka, has been at the heart of the East Village, its pierogis or Ukrainian style dumplings a beloved treat among New Yorkers.



But more importantly, Veselka does not run on time. Open for 24 hours, seven days a week since the late 1980’s, Veselka has transformed into one of the East Village’s nocturnal delights. Lines longer than those of classic New York pizza joints that extend outside of the restaurant are a frequent sighting.


East Village local Benjamin Hoak said that his cravings for Veselka's hearty dishes strangely kick in during late nighttime. 


“I told myself I’d come here for lunch, but I somehow always end up here past midnight,” said Hoak, 28. “It’s never too late for a cup of hot pierogis though. Soul food doesn’t follow the clock.”


The city that never sleeps is replete with endless selections of bustling eateries after hours, but more and more seem to make their way to Veselka, especially for its best selling pierogi assortment that includes potato, cheese, meat, spinach and cream cheese, and on.




Justin Pederson and his friend Ariana Chow-Smith said that they have officially designated a day in the week for late night Veselka dinners.


“It’s a weekly tradition, and since we live in the area, it works perfectly,” said Pederson, 20. “We sat at the bar tonight eating Ukrainian meatballs and potato pancakes, and we enjoyed ourselves so much. Next to us we only have a fast food taco house and a McDonald’s, so whenever we have late night cravings, we’ll head over to Veselka.”  


Chow-Smith said that more than anything, she seeks comfort at Veselka.


“Everything about Veselka is very traditional,” said Chow-Smith, 20.  “The way I heard about it was even through the old-fashioned word of mouth. Whenever I eat here at night, I forget what time it is because I just sit down in the warmth of the diner, immersed in comfort foods and carefree conversations. It fills me up.”



Pierogi images from Yelp.com