[Courtesy of Morgan Spizale]

Experiencing Eastern European Foods in NOLA

07:00 July 02, 2024
By: Amy Kirk Duvoisin

East Meets West

Finding a bowl of gumbo in New Orleans is as easy as finding a pothole, but finding a bowl of borscht becomes a quest.

If you are of Eastern European descent; have lived or traveled to Poland, Romania, or the Czech Republic; or hail from northern U.S. cities such as Chicago or Cleveland, where specialty markets or relatives provided regular servings of kielbasa and sauerkraut, you may have googled "East European Foods in New Orleans" and found few options.

Here is a compilation of the few, but tasty and thriving, places that grew from a need to fill a hole in the culinary community for both newcomers and natives.

[Illustration by Balabolka / Adobe Stock]


Eastern European Foods

3320 Williams Blvd., Kenner, (504) 466-1982, easteurofoods.com

According to Leon Abud of Eastern European Foods in Kenner, "We don't just sell food, we sell nostalgia and a piece of home."

"The majority of our customers are immigrants or have family who were immigrants from an Eastern European country. Many customers have also lived or traveled to one of those countries and want to find things they experienced," Abud said. The culinarily curious seek out his shop in search of new tastes and ingredients.

Eastern European Foods was founded by Leon's parents Inna and Salvador Abud in 2003. A snapshot of New Orleans immigration patterns in the 1980s, Inna came from the former Soviet Union, and Salvador immigrated from Honduras around the same time. They met while working at Schwegmann's.

Twenty-one years later, their son manages the shop, while also practicing his Russian with customers. "Most people from Eastern European countries speak or understand Russian, so I can communicate with most of them, and with the newer wave of Ukrainian immigrants, that's been especially helpful."

The Russian invasion of Ukraine has had ripple effects on supply. While prices and transportation of goods increased worldwide in recent years, getting certain items has proven more difficult. Still, they manage to carry a little bit of everything, from Moldovan cookies and Ukrainian jams to burek from Bosnia, Polish torciki, Romanian cozonac, and many other staples. Some specialty items they stock include Russian-style dumplings known as pelmeni and pierogi. Finding these items in a high-quality frozen form was a coup for the store, and his customers have been appreciative. "Kids come in asking for them, and parents are thrilled because they know how tedious they are to make." He should know, having made them with his grandmother Sofya, who enlisted the entire family in their creation.

Abud is often at the shop and full of enthusiasm, stories, and cooking tips. Plus, he loves to practice his language skills so be sure to ask for him the next time you stop in for sauerkraut or smoked sprats.


[Courtesy of Shipley Do-Nuts' Facebook]

Kolaches made an appearance in New Orleans about a decade ago, influenced by the large population of Czechs in central Texas. With so many New Orleanians traveling to and from Texas post-Katrina, it was only a matter of time before this tasty pastry made its way into the hearts and mouths of beignet loving New Orleanians.

Naturally, New Orleanians have made them their own, filling these Czech/Slovak pastries with everything from traditional fruit fillings to boudin, smoked sausage, and much more.

Kolaches can now be found almost anywhere donuts can. Here are a few spots known for their local versions:

Shipley Do-Nuts

2561 Metairie Rd., Metairie

(504) 264-7351, shipleydonuts.com

District Donuts Sliders Brew

Multiple Locations, districtdonuts.com


Central and Eastern European food traditions have strong Jewish roots. It's no surprise that when New Orleanians crave certain comfort foods, they gravitate towards Jewish delis, where they can find the likes of corned beef and pastrami, beef tongue, chopped liver, knish, and matzo ball soup.

Stein's Market and Deli

2207 Magazine St., (504) 527-0771, steinsdeli.com

Stein's Market & Deli [Morgan Spizale]

Stein's Market and Deli, opened in 2007 by Dan Stein, is a familiar spot for many New Orleanians, and that's clear from its often-full tables and people cheerfully waiting for orders. You can grab some to-go items if you don't have time to soak up the atmosphere and read their lively walls, including a dozen or two Davidovich bagels from New York City, on which they serve their breakfast sandwiches.

Kosher Cajun NY Deli & Grocery

3519 Severn Ave., Metairie, (504) 888-2010, koshercajun.com

[Courtesy of Kosher Cajun NY Deli & Grocery's Website]

Kosher Cajun is a grocery store, café, and deli that offers everything from corned beef, pastrami, tongue, salami, and chopped liver to whitefish, knishes, and rugelach. Founded 35 years ago by Joel Brown, it was created to serve a niche market when there were no kosher restaurants in the city. It is now as much a lunch destination for all craving chopped liver, latkes, egg salad, or kosher po-boys as it is a home away from home for the kosher community.


The Green Room Kukhnya (Closed as of May 2024)

Formerly at 1300 Saint Bernard Ave., greenroomnola.com

Green Room owner Matt Ribachonek moved to New Orleans in 1998 for college and began "making and selling pierogies for drinking money." After stints in Minneapolis and Chicago, he returned to NOLA, where his friend opened the Siberia Bar, a perfect spot for serving his cabbage rolls, borscht, and other tasty Slavic-themed treats to late-night customers. In 2019, he moved to a brick and mortar nearby, naming it The Green Room in homage to the space he inhabited at Sibera.

Sadly, The Green Room closed in May 2024.

"Basically, I lived my dream and want to move on," Matt Ribachonek said. "It has been a labor of love, and I feel fulfilled but also exhausted. I just want to say thanks to all the wonderful customers through the years who have given us so much love and support. And I also hope a new Eastern European restaurant opens soon!"

For entrepreneurial types with a taste for Slavic food, the city is your oyster. We look forward to seeing who cooks up cabbage rolls or serves up Ukrainian stew next.

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