New York is known as America’s melting pot, but when it comes to finding Central and Eastern European restaurants, I find that my favorite places keep disappearing. With neighborhoods like Little Ukraine in the East Village and Little Poland in Greenpoint shrinking, it does make me appreciate the places that remain. Where can one go to feed their cultural curiosity or nostalgia for home? If you look to get a taste of authentic cuisines from countries like Austria and Ukraine, look for mainstays. Enjoy plum and cheese filled blintzes at Little Poland’s counter, a diner-style Polish restaurant where I am instantly transported to my grandmother’s kitchen, or venture to the legendary Veselka, where borscht and pierogies fill you with warmth and satisfaction. Even as neighborhoods change, there are a few holdouts, and here are my top favorites.

To experience an elevated take on Austrian cuisine, go for a modern fare at Wallsé. Wallsé has become a West Village mainstay, serving Austrian classics with a creative twist for more than twenty years now. The contemporary style restaurant will wow you with beautiful art, seasonal dishes, and the best Austrian wine list in the city. Spring in Austria means it is white asparagus season, and Wallsé is among the few that have it on the menu. Besides serving the classics, like spaetzle and schnitzel, Wallsé also offers seafood items, like oysters topped with yellowfin tuna and caviar, and brunch favorites, like eggs florentine. When at an Austrian restaurant, do as Austrians do, and finish your meal with apple strudel. Come here with someone who appreciates excellent wine, art and a properly made schnitzel. Walk it all off by exploring the history streets of Greenwich Village afterwards.

Wallsé, 344 W 11th St (NE corner Washington St), West Village

For Vienna-inspired atmosphere and authentic apfelstrudel, I head uptown to Cafe Sabarsky. The Austrian style cafe is located right on the Museum Mile, inside the Neue Galerie. As far as museum cafes go, this is the best one. It is also the only place in New York that reminds me of Viennese cafes. Make sure to make a reservation, as this Austrian spot stays busy.

If you come for breakfast, you can order the traditional Bavarian Sausage with Warm Pretzel, and Wiener Mélange. The Wiener Mélange is simply espresso with steamed milk and foam. For lunch and dinner you will want to try their version of the Wiener Schnitzel with Potato-Cucumber Salad and Lingonberries. After all, you did come here for the authentic Austrian cuisine. Dessert is a must! Order the Sacher-torte, Austria’s famous three layer chocolate cake invented in Vienna. Come here with a fellow art lover because there is a lot to see and experience.

Café Sabarsky, 1048 5th Ave (betw 85th / 86th St), Upper East Side

To a seasoned New Yorker, Veselka needs no introduction. Founded by Ukrainian refugees, Volodymyr and Olha Darmochwal in 1954, Veselka (meaning rainbow) has withstood the test of time. The renowned restaurant evolved from a small newsstand to a 24/7 diner-style restaurant that delivers as far as Hawaii and Alaska. The owners of the restaurant “on the corner at the center of the world” have seen it all. From serving 1950s refugees, to 70’s punks, to today, Veselka has remained to be a place where Eastern European comfort food reigns supreme. In fact, Veselka is so legendary they now have their own documentary, voiced by David Duchovny. While the documentary focuses on the history of the restaurant and its employees, it does touch on the subject of war. The owners of Veselka, Tom Birchard and his son Jason, have been pillars of the East Village Ukrainian community, helping with donations to the war effort.

When you visit, make sure to order their handmade pierogies and the Ukrainian borscht. Everything is made on the premises. Eating here means being a part of New York history.

Veselka, 144 2nd Ave (betw 9thSt  / St Marks Pl), East Village

Greenpoint is no longer the Polish community it used to be, but they do have the only Polish restaurant that landed on the Michelin Guide list. The owners of Pierozek, Alexandra and Radek Kucharski, hit refresh on old Greenpoint by opening a modern Polish restaurant using old traditions. In order to make truly authentic recipes, the couple consulted with a restaurant in Poland. The Pierozek menu highlights a variety of classics, but pierogi are the main staple here. Everything is handmade, using ingredients flown in from Europe. From savory to sweet, the fluffy pierogi get served on pretty plates, and with caramelized onions and garlic dill sour cream sauce on the side. The pierogi truly are excellent and fill you with joy!

For anyone looking to get adventurous try the Paulie Gee Pierogi. It is filled with cured soppressata salami, tomato sauce, fresh mozzarella, pecorino romano and is drizzled with Mike’s Hot Honey—honoring the local famous pizza parlor. This creative recipe certainly pays homage to the city. While the real focus here is on their handmade pierogi, this gem can serve up an excellent cocktail. I recommend trying the blackcurrant or plum vodka, and enjoy it on their outdoor patio. Come with someone who enjoys exploring New York neighborhoods and international cuisines.

Pierozek, 592 Manhattan Ave (betw Nassau / Driggs Ave), Greenpoint

For a taste of Romanian food, make your way to the Lower East Side and find yourself at Oti. Opened by chef Elyas Popa, Oti presents a creative and modern take on Romanian cuisine. The cozy restaurant offers a tapas-style menu, paired with a rotating list of Eastern European wines. As described on the restaurant’s website, all the dishes are inspired by the chef’s mother (Oti) and her handwritten cookbook. This is one of the most unique menus in the city, and all the dishes are meant to complement each other with spicy, savory, refreshing and salty flavors. You will want to order the picked grapes, which are beautifully presented with flowers, and the creamy house mamaliga (Romanian polenta.) This is one of those gems you tell your friends about.

For even more Romanian food, I recommend experiencing the institution that is Sammy’s Roumanian. To New Yorkers the Romanian-Jewish restaurant needs no introduction. The owners announced on their instagram that the restaurant reopens in June, and I look forward to the debauchery.

Oti, 40 Clinton St (betw Stanton / Rivington St), Lower East Side

For authentic Slovak and Czech food, head to Astoria, and visit Koliba. Koliba, meaning cottage, certainly has the look of a far away destination. Slovakia is known for their cottage-style restaurants in the mountains. After all, it is where their best cheese, brynza, comes from. The reason this cheese is so important is because it goes into the national dish, Halusky, and Koliba is the only place where you can find it. New York used to have a handful of other Slovak restaurants, unfortunately most have closed. I still have fond memories of Korzo and Korzo Haus in the East Village and Brooklyn.

To satisfy your cultural curiosity make sure to order Halusky (creamy potato spaetzle with cheese and bacon), Langos (fried bread), Koprova Omaca (beef with a cream dill sauce), and the garlic soup. Recommending other dishes would mean you have to come for another visit. Slovak food is flavorful but extremely filling. Come here with someone who is well-traveled and curious about Slovakia.

Koliba, 3111 23rd Ave (betw 31st / 33rd St), Astoria

Entering Mari Vana feels like a familiar visit to grandma’s house, if your grandma enjoyed serving flavored vodka shots. My Slovak grandmother certainly did. For those seeking Russian cuisine and a good time, Mari Vana is the place to go.

Mari Vanna is named after a hospitable grandmother from a fairytale. The restaurant is located in the Flatiron District, and has been around for fifteen years, with past locations in DC and LA. I typically find myself here on a cold New York day, discovering vodkas and ordering warm comfort foods. As far as what to order, I highly recommend the cured herring, cherry vareniki, zucchini pancakes and chicken kotletki. From the lace doilies, to the chandeliers, this place is eye-catching, and eating here is a cultural experience. Do not let the cozy interior fool you. Parties here are known to be legendary.

Mari Vanna, 41 E 20th St (betw Broadway / Park Ave S), Flatiron District