It's Worth Getting Sloppy For This Grilled Cheese Taco
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At this Logan Square establishment you can get all the pierogies you could ever want and anything else Polish.
At Smak Tak, a Polish kitchen in Jefferson Park, you get the feeling you’re in a cabin basement in the Polski hinterlands. In a good way. With only five tables and all wood plank everything, this restaurant excels in specialties like potato pancakes, pierogis, and breaded and broiled meats. Let’s be real, you’ll take full advantage of Smak Tak’s BYOB policy because, well, it’s pretty dark in there, and what else is there to do in your middle-of-nowhere village anyway?
“As good as Mom’s and better than the rest,” reads the slogan for this Polish-Lithuanian diner. The atmosphere is pretty old-folksy (note the prices for funeral lunches posted helpfully by the cash register), but it's well worth overlooking for the best and largest menu of Polish foods on the south side. Be sure to try the crispy roast duck and the many soups, from borsch to czarnina to tripe.
This place can only be described as hipster-coffeehouse-Polish. It's a brick and mortar version of the Pierogi Wagon and has awesome handmade pierogi in flavors you haven’t seen before, served with bacon, onions and applesauce, and sour cream. The place also serves a type of open-faced sandwiches called zapiekanka (including a veggie option), baked goods, and nicely unique assortment of bottled sodas.
A great stop for Polish food aficionados and first-timers alike: stuffed cabbage, kielbasa, and, of course, their own signature pierogis -- they have 16 kinds, everything from a standard potato & cheese to blueberry or plum. Although Kasia's pierogis can be found in grocery stores nationwide, nothing compares to the freshness and quality one has with these fresh from the deli. In addition to pierogis, Kasia's has a great variety of sandwiches and soups.
Before you write this place off for being located out past O'Hare know this: the meal starts with crusty bread and smalec—basically, spreadable lard studded with bits of bacon. You get the full, beyond-hearty-to-heart-threatening Polish highlander experience, and then can eat salad for the rest of the week.
This is one Polish restaurant that doesn't pine for the nostalgia of traditional Polish food, and we all know that people in Poland are eating cheeseburgers and Turkish doner kebabs like everyone else in Europe. This is one place that welcomes the 21st century reality, and the doner plate is a real mindbender, grilled chicken and French fries under red cabbage, topped with something like tzatziki and something else like Thousand Island. Sure, it's a total mess, but so are other late night eats, and it’s got all the elements to be the next great one on our list.
As far as we’re concerned, this is the best (and most interesting) Polish deli in the city. It's a very European-feeling modern grocery with excellent, dirt cheap selection in every area, from prepared foods to breads and baked goods. But the sausage shop is the real ringer, with more than two dozen kinds of house-made sausage hanging on the wall. And, it's all made the old-fashioned way from midwest farms, often Amish, that raise their meat naturally.
Authentic Polish cuisine and specialties like rye bread and sausages, Kurowski's Butcher Shop is the place to go for delicious treats.
Although located on the very edge of the city, this bakery does the best and widest range of baked goods like ucierane (kind of like a big muffin), jabłecznik z kruszonką (apple crumble), babka orkiszowa (spelt flour cake) and housemade rye bread. It also has a great deli that uses organic products, and they also smoke their sausages and fish in-house.
The name pretty much says it all. This Jefferson Park dessert-stop can satisfy any sweet tooth with their donuts, cakes, cookies, brownies and more.
The plexiglass trophy cases of meats that line the counter are like an artwork by Damien Hirst, but there is also an excellent array of prepared foods for your takeout Polish feast needs at this small yet top quality grocery and deli. Or if you really want to take that feast up a bunch of notches, they’ll roast you a whole pig.
Modest, very friendly bakery and grocery with excellent sweet pastries, including paczki, danishes, cream puffs, and giant loaves of babka studded like panettone with dried fruit (but eggier).
These baked goods are served in Polish groceries all over town, but it's worth taking a trip to the south side for a freshly baked batch of Polish and Lithuanian treats like bacon buns (also chicken buns... for the brave to try), sweet coffee cakes with a little hint of cardamom, and babkas topped with big puddles of jam.