Around the World in Houston: Discover Russia

Photo courtesy of Russian Festival Houston

With a labyrinth of cultures represented in every nook and cranny of town, Houston is one of the most ethnically diverse cities in America. To celebrate this world-class melting pot, we’ll be exploring a new region of the globe through a Houston lens each week, from annual festivals and museums to restaurants and cultural experiences. Join the journey with our Around the World in Houston series.

From language meetups, folk music festivals, and art bazaars to nightclub experiences and restaurants rocking pirozhki, pelmeni, and blini, experience Russia without leaving the Houston city limits.

Annual Festivals & Cultural Events

  • Russian Festival This festival offers Russian music in diverse genres, from authentic singing and folk to rock and electric, plus Russian dancing, merry games, and artistic handicraft from Russia. The 2018 event will be held on March 4 at Last Concert Cafe.

Museums & Cultural Organizations

  • “Our Texas” Russian Cultural Center Located between West University and the Museum District, Russian Cultural Center “Our Texas” is a nonprofit dedicated to bringing diverse Russian cultural events to Texas. Events range from summer bazaars, song festivals, and musical evenings to art exhibits and Russian holiday celebrations.
  • United Russian American Association This nonprofit organization promotes Russian cultural awareness and broadens the cultural and social ties of the 70,000+ Russian speaking citizens in the Houston community through art, education, cultural, and philanthropic activities. Funded solely through donations, grants, and membership fees, some of its activities include puppet theater, balls and disco nights, cookouts, movie nights, special topic presentations, folk dance performances, discussion groups, festivals, and art exhibitions. See the full calendar online.

Russian Food & Drink

Restaurants & Bars

  • Nyam Nyam Cafe Hit this café to find traditional Russian pirozhki, small pies made sweet or savory, with fillings like cherry, apple, raspberry, and cheese or salmon, lamb, cabbage, and mushroom. Enjoy the treats alongside coffees, desserts, and eats like borscht and kebabs.
  • Russian BearNow with a new location, this Russian restaurant and bar nightclub offers everything from chebureki, cabbage rolls, and boiled Russian ravioli to a nightclub experience.
  • Sinbad Café & Grill Though it’s known as a Middle Eastern café and hookah bar, you’ll also find a selection of Russian specialties like borscht, okroshka, Russian salad, pelmeni and vareniki dumplings, and chebureki meat pie on the menu.
  • Wholly Crepe Russian Bistro Located in Tomball and the brainchild of Russian native and chef Emiliya Hendrix, Wholly Crepe specializes in homemade Russian fare and Siberian blini (crepes). Dig into dishes like beef stroganoff, galubsy (cabbage rolls), vereniki (Russian pierogi), and pelmeni (ravioli), plus blini with fillings from whipped cream and berry puree to butter and lemon juice.
  • Kenny & Ziggy’s You’ll find way more than just colossal corned beef sandwiches at this fan-favorite deli (with locations in the Galleria and West U); you’ll also find Eastern European and Russian fare like borscht, pickled herring, blintzes, stuffed cabbage, knish, beef stroganoff, and chocolate babka.

Grocery Shops & Bakeries

  • Golden Grain This Russian food emporium carries a host of delicacies from Russia and across Europe. Not only is it an absolute destination for caviar, but you can also pick up freshly baked cakes, pastries and breads, imported cheeses and deli meats, hard-to-find Russian wines, beers, and teas, and prepared foods like pelmeni, chicken kiev, olivier salad, stuffed cabbage, and blintzes filled with meats, cheeses, and sour cherries.
  • Russian General Store Over on Hillcroft, this general store is your one-stop-shop for Russian goods, from fresh pastries, smoked fish, caviar and farmers cheese to nesting dolls, gourmet candies and snacks, and imported beers and wines.

Language Classes, Education Centers, Groups & Meet-Ups

  • Language Classes at Russian Cultural CenterWith both a Russian School for Kids and Russian for Adults, the Russian Cultural Center offers the opportunity to learn from native speakers.
  • Russian Houston This Facebook group connects Russian language speakers in the Houston area.
  • U.S.-Russia Chamber of CommerceEstablished in 2009 in Houston, this nonprofit organization promotes trade and investment between the U.S. and Russia. Look out for networking events, seminars, speaker series and more.
  • The Houston Area Russian Meetup Open to Russian speakers, expats, students, and travelers, this meetup group offers speakers a way to socialize and have fun while networking, sharing ideas, and communicating.
  • The Houston Russian Language Meetup Group All ages and Russian language levels are welcome to join this meetup, where members have fun practicing, learning new phrases and sentences, and gaining a deeper understanding of the language.

Other Notables

  • Our Texas Newspaper This Russian language newspaper serves Houston, Dallas, San Antonio, and Austin.
  • Houston Ballet The Houston ballet company puts on annual performances of renowned Russian ballet The Nutcracker, along with classic and contemporary programming and dance academies.
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Brooke Viggiano is a food and lifestyle writer residing in Houston. When she's not contributing to publications like 365 Things to Do in Houston, Thrillist Houston and the Houston Press, she's on the hunt for the coolest happenings in the city. You can follow her musings on Twitter @BrookeViggiano .