8. Gastronom Arkadia
1079 Brighton Beach Ave.; 718-934-7709.
Many markets have copious buffets, but this has the tastiest food, for about $3.99 a pound. Try the smoky split- pea soup, juicy minced-meat lyulya kebab, plump golden fish cakes, and the vegetable-stuffed pickled eggplant.
9. Food Heaven
239 Brighton Beach Ave.; 718-743-4700.
The neighborhood’s answer to Dean & DeLuca: There are handsome gift jars of exotic fruit compotes from Azerbaijan, rounds of smoked suluguni cheese (a kind of Georgian mozzarella), and snow-white slabs of salo—the Ukrainian answer to lardo di Colonnata. The upstairs café attracts matronly types with fancy teas (such as Kusmi) and fanciful méringue tortes shipped in from the mother country.
10. Brighton Bazaar
1007 Brighton Beach Ave.; 718-769-1700.
Most large delis here excel in something particular; this one, which also includes a well-curated fresh-produce section, is the best source of cold- and hot-smoked fish, whether salmon, chubs, whitefish, or the Ur-Slavic sturgeon.
282 Brighton Beach Ave.; 718-891-3111.
This 28-year-old stalwart churns out consistently professional Georgian-Russian-Ukrainian-Jewish fare (don’t miss the skewered lamb riblets, $13.50, or blini, which they call a “Russian crêpe,” frosted with salmon caviar, $9.50). At night, the scene turns into a Felliniesque bar mitzvah—think burly Russian guys dancing to “Hava Nagila” with faux-Chanel-clad peroxide blondes.
12. M & I International Food
249 Brighton Beach Ave.; 718-615-1011.
Mineral water from the Republic of Georgia, Polish porcini mushrooms, acres of smoked meats and fish—it’s all here, somewhere, at this two-story food emporium. The prepared cold-food section has excellent eggplant appetizers (from $4.99 per pound), and the slender kabanosy sausages from the cold-cuts counter are great on the grill.
3086 Brighton 2nd St.; 718-332-9797.
Take a dumpling tour of the former U.S.S.R. at this small spot, named for the signature Ukrainian noodle pouches, vareniki. The flat, slippery specimens are filled with anything from potatoes ($6.50) to pot cheese ($6.95); other good choices include the round, hand-shaped Siberian veal or chicken pelmeni ($6.50), and the fat steamed Uzbek lamb manti ($8.50).