Apr 28, 2023 - Food and Drink

D.C.'s first full-service Ukrainian restaurant is now open

Ukrainian borscht at Ruta restaurant in Washington D.C. Photograph courtesy of Ruta

Ukrainian borscht at Ruta on Capitol Hill. Photograph courtesy of Ruta

Ruta, D.C.’s first full-service Ukrainian restaurant, is now open on Capitol Hill.

Why it matters: D.C.’s international cuisine game is horilka-level strong, so Ukrainian restaurants have been noticeably lacking.

Zoom in: Ukrainian food, which shares flavors and traditions with Eastern European neighbors, is loved for dishes such as varenyky dumplings and holubtsi (stuffed cabbage) — all served in the bright dining room and patio near Eastern Market (327 7th St. SE).

Big borscht energy: Chef Dima Martseniuk — nicknamed “The Ambassador of Borscht” by his fellow chefs — spent over a decade perfecting the hearty beet soup while leading New York’s East Village darling, Veselka.

  • At Ruta, he simmers Ukraine’s national dish — ahem, not Russia’s — with short ribs or just vegetables.

🍜 Also on the table: Classics including Chicken Kyiv, beef stroganoff, and potato pancakes, plus fun mashups (hello, Ukrainian ramen).

👶 For kids: A lil’ pierogis menu with treats like cheesy Ukrainian pasta bake.

Zoom out: Since the Russian invasion last year, Ukrainian restaurants have been popping up from San Antonio to Manhattan, buoyed by an influx of displaced Ukrainians looking for a taste of home, and local support.

  • Cue the queue at Ukrainian bakery D Light Café in Adams Morgan, where lines have wrapped around the block.

What they're saying: “We hope to be a part of restaurant diplomacy,” says Anna Volynets, a spokesperson for Ruta, which is named after a mythical Ukrainian flower. “We want to be a place where you can learn about Ukrainian culture and food, and see how beautiful it is.”

What’s next: Ruta is dinner-only, but will expand hours for brunch soon — plus live music and events with Ukraine House.

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