A beach day in Little Odessa: The year 2020 may feel cruelly long, but that hasn’t stopped summer, as it always does, from flying by. The beaches are sure to be crowded the next few weeks, while we city dwellers soak up as much sun as we can, as if somehow we can store the vitamin D for the uncertain winter that lies ahead. Brighton Beach, however, never gets as much attention as trendier strips of coast, like Rockaway, Coney Island and Jones. The commute is easy, albeit a bit long depending on where you start your journey. Just get on the Q or B train and ride, and ride.
No need to schlep snacks, as Brighton Beach, also known as Little Odessa for its heavily former Soviet population, is a culinary haven. Pop into Tashkent Supermarket, just off the subway, its namesake Uzbekistan’s capital, and select from the endless array of premade salads (and samosas and khachapuri and desserts and …), which make for the perfect beach picnic.
Let’s be honest, New York City doesn’t boast world-class swimming beaches. What Brighton can offer you instead is the feeling of being transported abroad. Russian is the language of choice, and you’ll often find that signage is in Cyrillic. Stroll the boardwalk and relish in the excellent people watching. Sit down for a meal before heading home; your options are endless. Tatiana’s on the boardwalk is iconic, gaudy, endearingly ’90s and the place to see and be seen. For something a bit more out of the way, there is Kashkar Cafe, an Uzbeki-Uighur restaurant specializing in hand-pulled lagman noodles with a liberal BYOB policy.