Mar 7, 2023 - Food and Drink

Ukrainian restaurant expanding in San Antonio

Spread of Ukrainian food from European Dumplings Cafe.

It's hard to pick a favorite from the European Dumplings Cafe menu. Photo: Madalyn Mendoza/Axios

On March 18, European Dumplings Cafe, a Ukrainian business, will move from a food truck to a brick-and-mortar location in Castle Hills.

Why it matters: Local options for Ukrainian food are slim, and the restaurant provides a sense of home for refugees who have fled the war while introducing others to the country's culture and cuisine.

What they did: After moving here from Portland, Ore., in 2021, Olga Veretelnik says Simon Gutierrez, her husband, encouraged her to open a food truck on the Far West Side. The business is celebrating its first anniversary this month.

Details: Veretelnik cooks everything using organic proteins and a lot of grapeseed oil, she says.

  • The menu includes chicken, lamb, beef or potato dumplings with garlic or sour cream, potato-stuffed pierogies, borscht, chicken skewers and a fresh berry drink called kompot.
  • Veretelnik says the restaurant at 2211 N.W. Military Highway will replace the food truck and will serve an expanded menu with breakfast options.

Yes, but: Veretelnik says getting San Antonio to catch onto Ukrainian food has been a process that's progressed "little by little." Laika, a Ukrainian-owned cheesecake shop in Alamo Heights, made headlines at the start of the war by hosting fundraisers to support troops, but a dedicated Ukrainian menu is hard to find.

  • The restaurants helped Veretelnik connect with a larger Ukrainian community in San Antonio, she says.
  • Organizations sometimes bring refugees to her truck for a taste of home.
  • "They're my people, of course I'll feed them," she says.

Zoom out: Even as Veretelnik is excited about opening her restaurant, she worries about her family and Bakhmut, her hometown. President Volodymyr Zelensky previously called the city, which Russia may be close to capturing, "one of the bloodiest places on the frontline."

  • Veretelnik says some of her family members, including her mom, have moved to San Antonio, but most remain in Europe and had to abandon their homes in Bakhmut.

💭 Madalyn's thought bubble: Borscht, which Veretelnik makes with chicken instead of beets, the chicken skewers and dumplings are must-tries. Cheers to more diversity in San Antonio's food scene!

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