A Secret Password

Thursday, February 24, 2011

A visit to Lviv, Ukraine is not complete without dinner at a place called "Криївка" (or Kryjivka). The restaurant is in no way marked from the street. In fact, the front door is not on the sidewalk, but a ways into the building. Upon knocking on the front door, a peep hole opens and a deep voice asks who goes there. After we assured the man that it was just harmless Julia and Yuriy who love animals and children, he cracked the door and asked for a password. We appropriately replied, “Слава Україні!” (Praise to Ukraine). His response- “Героям слава!” (Praise to the heroes). He graciously opened the door for our entry and treated us to a shot of honey vodka. Again he tested us by saying “Слава Україні” and waited for our response of “Героям слава”. A bookcase full of books suddenly swiveled around and revealed a secret staircase. As we crept downstairs, we found ourselves in a huge, but cozy, cave-like restaurant, plastered with Ukrainian military memorabilia and buzzing with people.

Apparently Криївка was the actual hiding place for the Ukrainian Insurgent Army (a nationalist partisan army that formed during WWII, whose goal was an independent Ukraine) and has now been transformed into this clever restaurant in their memory. Halfway through dinner, the waiters and waitresses had a formal (and comedic) ceremony for “changing shifts”. They lined up in rows, saluted, and shouted things in great military fashion. From our dinner table, we could watch surveillance cameras that showed the entrance of the restaurant, which made it feel oh so very high-security.

We were told about this restaurant by friends back in Seattle and again by our tour guide, so it’s apparently no secret with visitors. Both sources told us the secret password for entrance.  Regardless, we still felt very undercover and too cool for our own good. On top of the fun atmosphere, our dinner was delicious—we started the meal with borsht served in classic metal bowls. For entrees, Yuriy had a steak with potatoes and I had vareniki with bacon and onions (one of my absolute favorite dishes!). For dessert we shared a heavenly baked apple. 

- Julia

P.S. We only had our baby point and shoot camera on hand and it was dark, so the photos aren't the best quality. Forgive us!


  1. ooo wow that's so cool ..☺☺☺

  2. Hey Julia and Yuriy, when do you want to come to France in our home ^^ ?

  3. Oh my goodness, I would feel so cool getting in there!

  4. hahah what a great story! i love that you need a secret password! so you and yuriy (i keep almost spelling his name jurij for some reason) both speak the language fluently?

  5. Vanessa- We were in France at the very beginning of our travels in September! I hope we can come again sometime.

    Camilla- Yes we both speak fluently (though our English is much better than our Ukrainian).

  6. How did you prepare to this travel regarding which places to go and also about each country's history/feasts? You seem so prepared and aware.
    When I was reading your posts about Budapest, I learned some small new things from you about my own city where I grew up! Strange feeling!
    When do you have time to read all these things? Do you spend a lot of time on internet or do you read travel guides? Do you go on guided tours as much as possible? Or just try to talk to people in the hotels?
    You are so inspiring with these detailed and interesting stories!

  7. What a true one of a kind places. It's great that they kept the true spirit alive. What's even better, is that the both of you were able to experience this place.

  8. This place makes me feel like it belongs in a mining town, haha.

  9. Did you go to Masons? It is on the second flour in the same building where Kryivka is. Very interesting place... First you get into poor apartment and then into fancy restaurant in Masonic style. I took some pictures if you missed it.

  10. yummmy food...........