Pierogi, at their most basic, are dumplings traditionally made of unleavened dough. The origins of this crescent-shaped dish hail from Central and Eastern Europe, but most especially from Poland. Here in Chicago, pierogi can be found in Polish bakeries and restaurants, as well as other neighborhood restaurants that like to put a special twist on their menu. What makes all these pierogi so wonderful? The fact that they’re made with so many different fillings and toppings! Start your pierogi tour with this list, and then work your way down these five too.
169 N. Well St.
Chicago, IL 60606
The name of this no-frills Loop restaurant says it all: this menu is full of different pierogi, no matter what you have a taste for, as well as a few other Polish specialties. Depending on the size of your appetite, you can get either six, nine or 12 pieces, and you can mix up the fillings however you see fit — whether you’re in the mood for meat, spinach, kraut, potatoes, mushrooms, and more. But they’re not done yet; despite the small size of the casual restaurant, they serve these pierogi with fried onion, sour cream and bacon. Want more on the side? You can get that, because you’ve come to pierogi heaven.
LOKaL Restaurant & Lounge
1904 W. North Ave.
Chicago, IL 60622
At first glance, LOKal doesn’t appear to be a place where you’d find a deliciously made pierogi. After all, they market themselves as featuring comfort food, complete with some creative cocktails, and they’ve got live music starting at 10 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday. But they also make one of the best pierogis in town, and that’s whether you get their vegetarian option, potato, or their meat. The meat can vary, but expect something fabulous as a filling, like duck confit, and that’s both during meal hours and late at night.
3145 N. Central Ave.
Chicago, IL 60634
This Cragin restaurant is Polish through and through, all the way down the name, Barbakan, which is the word for a round building that protects a town’s gate. It’s also family-run by Polish immigrants who know how to make an authentic and traditional Polish meal. Want more proof of this place’s authenticity? Steps inside, and chances are, you won’t hear much English spoken here. In addition to blintzes, as well as meat dishes (poultry, beef, pork and veal), they also have a select list of pierogi. Choose from small or large sizes, as well as a choice of filling: meat, sauerkraut, potato & cheese, as well as a sweet option, blueberry. No matter which combo you pick, you won’t be disappointed.
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Pierogi Street / Polak Eatery
1043 N. California Ave.
Chicago, IL 60622
Originally a food truck named Pierogi Wagon that overcame Chicago’s strict food truck rules and was named time and time again as one of the best eateries on wheels, this Polish-owned truck now has a brick & morter location in the Humboldt Park neighborhood. Polak Eatery was opened in September 2014, and it’s quickly become one of the best places for Polish dumplings. Pair those dumplings with a range of items — everything from goulash to hand-cut fries and poutine — and all come at super reasonable prices.
2101 W. Chicago Ave.
Chicago, IL 60622
For one of the oldest and most traditional of all Polish eateries, look no further than Kasia’s Deli in West Town. This authentic delicatessen has been named the best place for pierogi time and time again. As a deli, they offer plenty of different eats, including sandwiches and soups, and you can get your pierogi either from the deli or prepackaged (and save a bit more). Either way, the pierogi are easily their signature dish, no matter which flavors you get — even just the potato ones!
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Elizabeth SanFilippo is a freelance writer, who enjoys trying new foods from all over the world. But her favorite city for culinary treats will always be Chicago. When not blogging about food, she’s working part-time at a culinary vacation company, The International Kitchen, based in the Windy City, as well as repping Younique cosmetics and skincare products. Some of her writing can be found at Examiner.com.