If you only go to one place for dinner in Lviv, Ukraine it should be Kryivka. Here, you get not only food but an entire World War II Insurgence Army experience. But first, you have to find it…
Lviv is the prettiest European city that you’ve never heard of. Located in western Ukraine near its border with Poland, Lviv’s strikingly lovely Austro-Hungarian old town with cobblestone streets and green-domed churches is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Kryivka’s website lists the location simply as “somewhere in Market Square,” which is part of its appeal. To find it, keep your eye out for a wooden door with a cutout that can be opened. During high season, you’ll find it easily by the queue of people waiting to get in.
Lucky for us we were with our JayWay Travel local Ukrainian guide who knew just where to find the “secret” door. She proceeded to rap loudly on the entrance, which was immediately jerked open by a stern man in a Ukrainian Insurgence Army uniform from World War II.
“Slava Ukraini!” (Glory to Ukraine!) he barked. We shouted back the password, “Heroyam Slava!” (Glory to its heroes), which was the secret system of identification used by partisans of the Ukrainian Insurgent Army, which waged guerrilla warfare against the Nazis. Because we knew the password, the gruff guard granted us entrance into the antechamber.
Inside the vestibule, he inspected us further, and I was asked “Moskal?” (Russian spy). Perhaps it was the blond hair? “Ni, ni!” I said, insisting that I was not. He pushed a shot of honey vodka towards my lips so of course, I drank it. It was surprisingly delicious! He grunted and opened a faux bookcase, revealing a set of crude steps leading down into a labyrinth of underground tunnels.
We emerged into a set of cavernous rooms meticulously outfitted to look like partisan bunkers. Walls were littered with old newspaper clippings about the war, vintage posters, and portraits of army leaders; worn-out military uniforms hung from pegs and antiquated rifles were stacked in a corner – all waiting for patrons to pick up or try on. The photo ops were endless. My favorite was in the courtyard which had an antique motorcycle and sidecar that I sat in with a friend while other friends popped their heads through cutouts in the background as they tried to “shoot” us down. Great fun and those photos are some of my favorites from my trip to Ukraine!
During your visit to Kryivka, if you hear a loud siren, don’t be alarmed. No need to leave your table. It just means they have found a Russian spy.
Read the rest of Kryivka in The Yums
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