Officially the only worthwhile fake February holiday (sorry, Plum Pudding Day), National Paczki Day -- Chicago's most Polish donut-y celebration on record -- goes down this February 17th, which means it's just about time to stock up. Here are the eight best places to do that in Chicago, and when.
Note: Some of these are traditional and some of them aren’t, but all of them are deep-fried and packed with sugar and lard. And really, that's all that matters, isn't it?
Old Town, Jefferson Park, French Market
Available: Through Feb 18th
You can buy Delightful’s basic paczkis year-round, but between Feb 2nd and Feb 18th it's rolling out a series of six specialty gourmet options, including Jameson whiskey chocolate, PB & J, and passion fruit jelly.
Available: Feb 12th-17th
This North Side favorite for all things sweet, frosting-coated, and jelly-filled is breaking out the big guns with 14 (!) paczki options for Mardi Gras. Get your fill of everything from plum-injected to fresh-strawberry-stuffed, and pick up a house-baked King’s Cake while you’re at it. Pro tip: click here to place your order in advance.
Available: Feb 17th
Available only on Feb 17th, DMK’s heart-stopping Mardi Gras Burger balances two 2.5oz, grass-fed beef patties spiked with Cajun spices and topped with Swiss cheese, Creole ketchup, peppery arugula, red onion, and mustard -- all served on a paczki bun (wuuuuuuut??).
Available: Feb 16th-17th
Typically known for its artistic, fondant-covered cakes shaped like everything from sushi rolls to burgers to The Incredible Hulk, this Division St staple has been satisfying Chicago’s collective sweet tooth for the better part of a century. This year, Chef Peter Rios is baking up seven delicious types of paczki, including vanilla bean custard, raspberry rose, and blueberry lemon. Get them on Feb 16th and 17th only.
Available: Feb 10th-Feb 17th
This North Shore bakery takes its paczki so seriously that it plays host to an annual paczki-eating contest (held on Valentine’s Day this year) benefitting Phil’s Friends, a non-profit for cancer support, in addition to its already off-the-chart sales around National Paczki Day. Indulge in six regular flavors like prune, apricot, and custard, as well as three specialty varieties like praline chocolate mousse, starting today.
Available: Feb 12th-17th
Weber’s will offer twelve different kinds of paczki for Paczki Day and yes, Paczki Weekend (2/12-2/15). Varieties range from the classic and jelly-filled to the creative, like a poppyseed number topped with white fondant and apple-cinnamon confection dusted in cinnamon and sugar. All paczki are sold in units of four (one kind only per unit), so plan your purchases accordingly.
Available: Feb 14th-17th
Also in on the paczki-burger game is Rockit Chef Amanda Downing, whose version involves a flavorful ground duck and pork patty, tart cherry salsa (a play on traditional jelly filling), crispy shallots, and obviously, a paczki bun (wuuuuuuuuut???? Part 2) coated in a subtly sweet rum- and orange-zest icing. Get yours with a side of Old Bay fries Feb 14th-17th.
Available: Feb 12th-17th
This old-school bakery takes a break from cardamom cakes and other Swedish delights to bust out more than a dozen flavors of paczki this year. Expect to find the usual suspects, as well as pineapple and cherry cheese with fudge renditions.
Kailley Lindman is a contributing writer for Thrillist Chicago, as well as a food blogger, bacon enthusiast, and devout user of the Oxford comma. Follow her at @KailleysKitchen.
1. Delightful Pastries5927 W Lawrence Ave, Chicago
2. Dinkel's Bakery3329 N Lincoln Ave, Chicago
3. DMK Burger Bar2954 N Sheffield, Chicago
4. Alliance Bakery1736 W Division St, Chicago
5. Bennison's Bakery1000 Davis St, Evanston
6. Weber's Bakery7055 W Archer Ave, Chicago
7. Rockit Burger Bar3700 N Clark St, Chicago
8. Swedish Bakery5348 N Clark St, Chicago
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.
Dinkel's is serving up some insanely delicious baked goods, but be sure to hone in on their donuts and specialized cakes.
A collab between industry vets David Morton and Michael Kornick, DMK (get it?) is a 75-seat storefront neighborhood bar outfitted with reclaimed Wisconsin barn boards and exposed original brick that's turning out gourmet grass-fed beef burgers.
Alliance Bakery in Wicker Park's got fine European and American pastries and a full espresso bar.
Located in Evanston, Bennison's has delicious donuts, cupcakes (try the red velvet), and a slew of other baked goods for you to treat yourself with.
Located in Garfield Ridge, Weber’s Bakery is one of the oldest family-owned bakeries in Chicago. Though there are plenty of bakeries in Chicago alone, Business Insider named this one the best in all of Illinois. It offers seasonal treats, high-quality wedding cakes, weekly specials, and signature items like Polish kolacky and raisin hoska.
This is the only time you'll hear "Come see what's between our buns," and not be freaked out. Rockit Burger Bar offers some badass burgers, including gems like the huevos rancheros burger and a chicken breast patty aptly named "The Motherclucker." If you're craycray and burgers aren't your thing, flatbreads and small bites are also served.
Swedish Bakery is an Andersonville institution specializing in Scandinavian-style baked goods. With nearly a century of baking under its belt, the storefront produces pastries, petit fours, coffeecakes, cookies, wedding cakes, and more for the sweets seekers of Chicago. While they cover their ground in offering all things dessert, their Swedish specialty pastries -- including marzipan cakes, almond tarts, and Tosca tortes -- are the spirit behind the bakery.