photo courtesy of lucian.uchicago.edu

Polish Food in Chicago


I hope you had a fantastic Fourth of July! We celebrated by flying out to Chicago, Illinois to celebrate with various members of our two families. It was a wonderful trip and I absolutely love the Midwest! Well, except the mosquitoes…but that’s another story. 😉

If you’ve read my blog for awhile, you may remember a couple of the quick stories I shared about my Dad’s family in Chicago, specifically from the Polish neighborhood.
• I bet you never acquired food in this very unconventional way(!)
• this one will make you shake your head when you find out what my silly Polish relatives did

Before this adventure, I’d only been in Chicago twice: once in 4th grade for a funeral (lots of food!), and once in my 20’s for my cousin’s wedding (again, lots of food!). Each time, I got to taste the wonders of Polish food, and how very homey the flavors are. Therefore, upon arrival in the city, I realized the need to keep up with the tradition 😉 So, like most people these days, I did many searches on Yelp (which I highly suggest to everyone), and after reading many reviews, decided to try a restaurant called “Staropolska“.

Want to taste great Polish food in Chicago? Try Staropolska, located at 3030 N Milwaukee Avenue.
Want to taste great Polish food in Chicago? Try Staropolska, located at 3030 N Milwaukee Avenue.

We decided to go there for a midweek lunch, and we got there just after they opened. Because of that, we were the first customers of the day, so I was able to snap a few photos inside so you could see how cute it is.

Here's the bar in the front of the house. It's homey, and very welcoming.
The front of the house.

In the main dining area, we sat near a large fresco mural painted on the wall. As we looked around at the decor, it felt as though we had traveled to Europe.

I love the look of the restaurant! Here's the very back of the room with a cozy fireplace.
I love the look of the restaurant! Here’s the very back of the room with a cozy fireplace.
The dining room was so very welcoming!
The dining room was so very welcoming!

I wish I had remembered to take a picture of our waitress because she was absolutely adorable and had a delightful Polish accent. She welcomed us graciously and helped us with a few pronunciations. 😉
At least we knew to tell her “dziękuję” or “thank you” afterward. (I only can remember a handful of the Polish words I used to speak with my Busia (grandma) when I was a toddler.)

The menu was fun to look through, and I’m really glad there were translations. There was a nice selection of appetizers, entrees, soups, desserts, and beverages.

Here's just one page from the menu
Here’s just one page from the menu

First to arrive was the appetizer. If you’ve been into any restaurant in the past five years, no doubt you’ve tasted bacon wrapped dates. However, Staropolska has a Polish spin on this one with their Bacon Wrapped Plums. Because the plums are previously dehydrated, they are (say it with me…) prunes! And those sweet prunes are delicious! I also will note that these were the tightest wrapped appetizers I’ve ever had. They were little bundles of true happiness.

For appetizers, we had the Sliwka Zawijana w Boczku (Plums Rolled In Bacon)
For appetizers, we had the Sliwka Zawijana w Boczku (Plums Rolled In Bacon)

Next up is Kenny’s dish, called the Polish Plate. He wanted to sample a lot of items, since he isn’t familiar with the cuisine. He loved it all, especially the Polish Sausage. I sampled little bites too, and  they were all so tasty. Talk about comfort food!

Ken ordered the Polish Plate which included both potato/cheese and meat Pierogis, Gołąbki (stuffed cabbage), Sausage, Placki (Potato Pancake), Pasztecik (meat-filled hand pie), and Sauerkraut
Ken ordered the Polish Plate which included both potato/cheese and meat Pierogis, Gołąbki (stuffed cabbage), Sausage, Placki (Potato Pancake), Pasztecik (meat-filled hand pie), and Sauerkraut

Now let’s talk about my lunch.

Going in, I knew exactly what I wanted: a big plate of Pierogi. This is what I wish I could eat every week. Think of them like a boiled handmade ravioli with a thicker dough, which is generously filled with (in my case) either finely minced and seasoned pork (no fat, just meat), or mashed potato with cheese. Oh, and did I mention they’re tossed in butter?! There’s just enough for the flavor without any greasiness. The plate has a side dollop of sour cream, to use as a dip, and I went through at least half of it. They also offer to add bacon to it as well. As much as I love bacon, I wanted a taste from memories past, so I stuck to the basics. And it worked. Oh, if only I could have another plate of this right now! (Or if only I could fly out my friend Jen so she could make me some… apparently she’s a Pierogi Boss)

I had a perfect plate of Pierogi. Half were Z mięsem (or with meat - pork, to be exact), and half were Ruskie (potato and cheese). They were topped with butter, sour cream, and a sprig of fresh dill. Perfection!
I had a perfect plate of Pierogi. Half were Z mięsem (or with meat – pork, to be exact), and half were Ruskie (potato and cheese). They were topped with butter, sour cream, and a sprig of fresh dill. Perfection!

Cody had a plate with three crepes on it, separately filled with apple and cheese. Again, there was buttery goodness, and also a nice sprinkling of powdered sugar to add to his happiness 🙂

Cody ordered the Nalesniki Z Serem Lub Jablkiem (Crepes with cheese and apple).
Cody ordered the Nalesniki Z Serem Lub Jablkiem (Crepes with cheese and apple).

As we were savoring our food, I was looking around, taking in the sights, and I noticed that the TV at the bar was set on a satellite station from Poland. Check out the closed captioning!

Check out the words. Hey Vanna, can I buy a vowel?
Check out the words. Hey Vanna, can I buy a vowel?

I only wish my Dad could have traveled with us and been here – he would have gotten a kick out of hanging out in his old stomping grounds!

All in all, this meal was one I’d suggest and recommend to anyone who wants to try a little taste of Old Poland, or “Staropolska“.

question of the weekWhat type of ethnic food do you recall from your growing up years?
I’d love to hear about it!

Anything after this logo is nothing but advertising!
PS: Anything after this logo is nothing but advertising!
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5 thoughts on “Polish Food in Chicago

  1. Looks amazing! I’ll have the polish plate: pierogi’s, stuffed cabbage, and potato pancakes are a traditional dish for our family. How I miss my grandparents! There is a polish restaurant in SM we Love warsawa. Have to try it.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. There is a polish church carnival in our neighborhood each year. While I don’t like the traffic and “hustle and bustle”, I do LOVE the food. I grew up eating a lot of Polish food as my father worked with a few Polish tradesmen. Didn’t like it then, but love it now.

    My favorite ethnic food growing up was pizza… lol

    Like

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