By Camille Izlar
Maybe it’s a result of living next to Kasia’s Deli, but I keep thinking a Polish meal is the perfect remedy for mid-winter depression. I asked my Polish roommate, Urzsula, where her top-rated places to eat were. After driving out to the suburbs, almost running out of gas and finding the Ferajna restaurant closing at 9 p.m., it was too much to take. However, as I left the restaurant in despair, I saw Steve’s face smiling out from a picture on the wall. Since he’s pretty much been to every place of note in the region, I thought our readers might appreciate a roundup of his favorite Polish places over the years.
For a well-rounded meal: Ferajna
Steve’s sources also recommended Ferajna as authentic and heart-warming. From his story for ABC 7, he had the beet-filled borscht, accompanied by a croquette stuffed with meat. He also enjoyed the sauerkraut smothered with caramelized onions and thinly-pounded veal.
For Pierogi and Goulash: Smak Tak
Everything is homemade at Smak Tak in Norwood Park. According to Steve’s story, the goulash is a sight to behold: baked for more than four hours with pork, onion, mushroom and peppers in a tomato sauce, then stuffed into a pancake and topped with sour cream and crispy salad on the side.
For a popular polish stew: Retro Cafe
Steve recommends Retro Cafe for this hearty Polish dish, called bigos. Like all good Polish meals, it begins with kielbasa (smoked sausage); add onions, pork shoulder and sizable portions of cabbage and tomato sauce, it’s served hot with a massive amount of peasant bread. Perfect for warming up a winter evening.
For a meal beyond the standard fare: U Gazdy
Steve suggests a trip out to Wood Dale for a truly phenomenal experience. He thoroughly enjoyed “a Fred Flintstone-sized pork shank slow-roasted for hours, served over a bed of sauerkraut, then topped with an onion sauce that’s amplified by Polish beer and honey.” That’s all I needed. Suburbia anyone? Who’s driving?
Other great sources for authentic Polish eats:
5214 S. Archer Ave.
735 Gostlin St., Hammond, IN