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Feb 17, 2003 11:46 PM

Great rye bread in Chicago?

  • m

I was looking for good dark rye bread today at Jewel, not as hopeless as it sounds because they do carry Baltic Bakery, which makes a fat black-crusted, dark brown loaf which is as chewy and bitter as coffee grounds, it's wonderful. But I was looking for an alternative, not as many points on the Lovibond scale, and all they had were some soft mass-produced breads. Does anyone know of a locally produced rye bread of comparable authenticity and seriousness to Baltic Bakery's? In a city of so many Poles, Germans and Slavs, I must believe it's out there.

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  1. There are what seem to be an ever increasing number of Eastern European bakeries in Chicago lately...try a big Polish grocery like Wally's (one near Belmont & Milwaukee and another on Irving near Naragansett) or just take a little walk on Milwaukee near Belmont or Pulaski....

    3 Replies
    1. re: Giovanna

      I would (and do) go far out of my way to buy seeded rye bread at the Tel Aviv Bakery, 2944 W Devon (764-8877). If you get there, also pick up some of the rolls with onion and poppyseed filling that the Tel Aviv calls French rolls.

      1. re: Giovanna

        I would (and do) go far out of my way to buy seeded rye bread at the Tel Aviv Bakery, 2944 W Devon (764-8877). If you get there, also pick up some of the rolls with onion and poppyseed filling that the Tel Aviv calls French rolls.

        1. re: Giovanna

          I second the vote for a trip to Wally's. They sell both from in-house bakery departments and outside vendors. I'm not sure what their bread slection entails, but I'm sure you will have interesting finds in this place.

          I think Family Fruit Market at Pulaski and Irving Park carries a more complete line from the Baltic Bakery, you might give them a try.


        2. I always have felt fortunate to have the Baltic Bakery’s breads so widely available. They are generally very good and very fairly priced, usually not much over a dollar a pound. I think they generally do a better job with the heavier, darker breads. I don’t know how many varieties they make but I have enjoyed (from dark to light) Pumpernickel (brick), Russian, Bociu Duoncu (sprouted rye, a really good loaf), Bohemian, Lithuanian, Zakopane, and Polish. Have you tried all these rye breads? They also make quite a few sweet breads, like cheese, raisin, banana, and carrot (mostly good, not great).

          It might be lighter than what you’re looking for but probably my favorite light rye bread is made by Forest View Bakery. The address is listed as 6454 N Milwaukee but I have to admit I’ve never been to the source, only picked it up at Polish markets. I’m sure there are plenty of markets with good bread selections but I’ve always been impressed with Gilmart’s (5050 S Archer), at least if you get there early. The light rye sprinkled with charnushka seeds is the one to get. If it’s fresh, the crust is crisp, the inside is very light and tender, and the seeds add a nice extra flavor. I’m not a big butter user but this bread cries out to be slathered with fresh, sweet butter.

          6 Replies
          1. re: Rene G

            It sounds like I'm going to have to actually go to Baltic Bakery, because all I've ever seen-- this was true back when Paulina carried them and seems to be true at Jewel now-- are the pumpernickel (which I really do love, I send people home with a loaf when they visit) and two light ryes (I think called Polish and Lithuanian), plus one or more of the sweet breads.

            I will check out all the other things mentioned here, too-- the non-Indian part of Devon really cries out for more exploration, doesn't it?

            1. re: Mike G
              Vital Information

              You are right that as you continue west on Devon past the Indio-Paki places, there are some cool places. They are, however, well within the same domain as the S. Asian places. Often, when we have a Sunday buffet, we walk off the excess with a stroll down Devon.

              Some cool places all between say Rockwall and Mozart:

              The two big vegetable and multi-ethic markets: Ted's and S. Water

              The Russian deli's

              The Georgan bakery with the oven in the floor (e-mail Ultimo/Gwiv for some fanfare about this place)

              The Turkish and Assyrian grocery stores

              The kosher bakeries such as Gittel's or the "kosher-style" Levinson's. Do no go to these places for extravagant pastries. Instead, go for the rolls, breads, mandelbrot (Jewish biscotti) and wierdly hollow kichel.

              Robert's is a Jewish fish shop but it is not even close to say Russ and Daughters in New York. See recent thread on deli's and Jewish food.

              Speaking of Deli's, with the demise of the Bagel, there is not really anything like that left in the West Rogers Park neighborhood.

              We really should do a chow-day on Devon. Hopefully some others (DK?) can give a few more places in this very, very hot area. Note, all the Jewish places will be closed on Saturday and Sunday used to be THE day to shop Devon.


              1. re: Vital Information

                I am so glad you mentioned the South Water Market produce store on Devon, I think maybe not as well-known as it deserves. I love this store although it makes me feel culturally stupid since it sells so many things that I don't recognize. They must have twenty kinds of peppers, for example. You can count on them to have fresh mint when you want to make tabbouleh, and Indian beans and little baby eggplants and Japanese radishes. They're maybe broader with vegetables than fruit and don't carry the fruits I routinely see in Mexican markets around town. South Water Market also carries about forty kinds of bread. They have a small Indian department but for that you'd do better to go up the street to Patel's for a really good selection. I find it impossible to food-shop on Devon and not come away in a good mood. What a street.

                1. re: N Tocus

                  N Tocus wrote:
                  "I find it impossible to food-shop on Devon and not come away in a good mood. What a street."

                  N Tocus,

                  Now that's a true blue Chowhound statement if ever I heard one. {Smile}


            2. re: Rene G

              I am also partial to Baltic's Latvian Rye, it is a little on the sweet side, but it makes the best dressing.

              1. re: Rene G

                There's also the Polish rye carried by T.I. Comes in great dense wedges. Don't know where they get it, but one ought to be able to get to the source. It's light (color not weight), very dense and chewy. With strong mustard and some good westphalian ham....mmmm.

              2. Mike,

                I am partial to the pumpernickel from Kaufman's on Dempster in Skokie. Possibly not as bitter as you would like, but if you order the pumpernickel with caramelized onions on top, it is a heck of a good bread.

                Kaufmans is known for it's bagels as well as rye bread, but I am not overly fond of the bagels, with the exception of the corn rye. They also make a very good seeded Jewish style rye with or without caramelized onions on the top.

                Kaufman's has a deli, connected by a archway, with quite serviceable corned beef, lox and pastrami.


                Kaufman's Bagel & Delicatessen
                4905 Dempster St
                Skokie, IL 60077

                1 Reply
                1. re: G Wiv

                  Of course, the irony of all this is that I went to Kaufman's yesterday, thinking it had sit down, it didn't so I bought some corned beef (as well as some bagels which I agree are not that great), and only hours later did I think, gee, this (reputedly) great corned beef I bought, sure would be nice to have some serious dark rye bread for it....

                2. One of the best light rye breads is at Weber's. I don't know if they have dark, but you can call.

                  WEBER'S BAKERY
                  7055 W ARCHER AVE
                  CHICAGO, IL

                  Another possibility is Vesecky's, the last Bohemian bakery left in Berwyn.

                  VESECKY'S BAKERY
                  6634 CERMAK RD
                  BERWYN, IL

                  1. Never saw a reference to Racine Bakery yet. Try their Lituanian rye bread. Better than Baltic IMHO. Hard to find on the N. Side, but call the bakery on 6216 West Archer Avenue on the SW side and ask. Or stop there and get some of those heart healthy bacon buns, too. Also stop at the Polish grocery on 55th and Harlem just down the street - Frank and Pat's I think.

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: bobg
                      Marnie Rundiks

                      I have been trying to contact the Baltic Bakery located at 4627 So. Hermitage Avenue, Chicaco (773-523-1510). I usually order the "Latvian Brick" since it similar to my grandmother's homemade bread. They won't answer their phone. Does anyone have any information or another suggestion. I am pining for some good Latvian bread in Denver. Thanks!

                      1. re: Marnie Rundiks

                        The Baltic Bakery located at 4627 S Hermitage Avenue in Chicago does not ship their breads to residential customers anymore. I live in Kansas. I have been getting the Lithuanian Rye from them for about 10 years but as of this year they told me on the phone that they do not ship anymore. I sure enjoyed the Rye bread as I grew up with it in a Lithuanian community in Waukegan years ago. I can't seem to find any stor that handles it. Can anyone help me on this? Thanks (Aciu)