At this rate, it is only a matter of time, albeit a lot of time, before New York has a 7-Eleven on every other block the way suburbia does. New Yorkers love their 24-hour corner delis and bodegas, but the corporate juggernaut that is 7-Eleven may make them a thing of the past. Apparently, nothing can compete with the allure of the mighty Slurpee.

One 24-hour food establishment that needn’t worry is Belarus II on the border between Coney Island and Brighton Beach. Three blocks inland from the boardwalk, Belarus II is a specialty grocery store that stays open all the time. They’ll give you attitude the way only disgruntled Belarussian food service night workers can if you come by in the middle of the night, but don’t be alarmed. If you brave the hard stares and avoid asking any stupid questions, you can still stock up on fresh-made potato pancakes from the prepared food section and delicious chocolate cookies imported from Minsk at any hour.


I go for the pickles. Yes, the deli around the corner sells Boar’s Head out of a jar, and 7-Eleven even has quarts of Claussen for sale. But down on Neptune Avenue, pickles don’t come in glass containers, they come in five gallon plastic buckets. At Belarus II, they sell full sour, half sour, and new pickled cucumbers at prices that make it difficult to break the $1 mark. My favorites are the new pickles because they are the crunchiest. An overload of dill along with sliced celery floating amongst the mustard seeds and coriander in the brine give them the most distinct aroma and zest. And when I’m in the mood for something that can’t be found at the 7-Eleven in any form, I grab a couple of pickled Golden Delicious apples from Belarus II.


Belarus II is a 24-hour store like none other in New York. And 7-Eleven certainly has nothing on it aside from Slurpees. Just like they do in your hometown's convenience store, the neighborhood kids congregate out front of Belarus II to smoke cigarettes, loiter, and be cool.


Belarus II, 495-497 Neptune Avenue, Brooklyn, 718-373-5595