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Cafe Polonia, South End or Sonny's, Dorchester?

Anyone have a preference? Any recommendations from either menu? Thanks.

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  1. Haven't been to Sonny's, but Cafe Polonia (which is in Andrew Square, South Boston, not the South End) is outstanding: authentic Polish food in big portions for short money, with very friendly service and good beers. Their potato pancakes get my nod for "best hash browns" in town. A couple of Hungarian touches, too, like really good goulash. Borscht is a light pink broth and delicate mushroom dumplings, almost like a wonton soup, not heavy at all like the Russian style. Great pierogies, stuffed cabbage, kielbasa/cabbage stew. Tremendous place.

    2 Replies
    1. re: MC Slim JB

      MC, you get me out of Somerville or off my own street in Dorchester and it's all just a big blur.

      1. re: Patricia

        The white spaces in my mental map of Boston are only slowly filling in, even after many years of living here. I would have guessed that Cafe Polonia is in Dorchester, and it's close, but in Southie; another Chowhound once corrected me on that, so I'm just passing on received wisdom. This board has pushed me to explore a lot of neighborhoods I'd never ventured to before, like Eastie, which is a Chow treasure trove.

    2. Ok, so two of my regular places. If you want pizza go to Sonny's or wait for a Tuesday when they have $2 pizzas. If you want hungarian goulash sandwiched between 2 potato pancakes then it has to be Cafe Polonia. If it's Keno and shrimp scampi, then it must be Sonny's; but if it's the goulash cooked in the clay pot with it's own bread bowl then Cafe Polonia. So, you see it's a tough choice. Cafe Polonia also has delicious coconut shrimp as an appetizer and their desserts are quite good as well. The wine choices are better at Cafe Polonia, but Sonny's has a full bar so I could go back and forth forever. It gets me thinking, I was at Sonny's on Tuesday, but I could go for shrimp, or.....

      1 Reply
      1. re: Pegmeister

        Very nice to have a choice between two places you like rather than two places you don't! Funny stuff Pegmeister.

      2. Boston's neighborhood borders are very odd. I still get confused about Victoria's Diner (Mass. Ave.) being in Roxbury, Cafe Polonia (Dorchester Ave.) being in Southie, and 224 Boston being in Dorchester, even though they are all in the same general neighborhood. I guess the three-way border is somewhere between them all (near Super 88?).

        I had considered going to Sonny's last night--heard some good things about it. I assume it's better than Gerard's, which is across the street? I've had one good meal and one bad meal at Gerard's, which is too bad because I like the feel of the place--very old fashioned, with the entrance being through a convenience store (much like Vinny's at Night).

        3 Replies
        1. re: hiddenboston

          Victoria's Diner (Mass. Ave.) being in Roxbury? Roxbury? I throught that Roxbury was on the other side of some great divide. LOL.

          1. re: Patricia

            "Roxbury" is technically the South End, FWIW. When I lived in the South End and would give my address w/zip code, it would come up as "Roxbury." So.....

            1. re: twentyoystahs

              Not so. Roxbury is not the South End. This can be cofirmed by a trip to Dudley Square.

              Whever you lived might have been referred to as the South End but may have actually been in Roxbury. In addition, sometimes your address/zip reflects the post office that serves your location -- for example, some addresses in Cleveland Circle have Brookline addresses though they are actually in Boston.

        2. Sonny's food is really bad. It is definitely NOT the type of place you go to for the food. Whoever is spreading good things about it has probably never eaten there or happenstance has lead them to the 2 or 3 pretty good things on the menu -- the turkey club being one of them. Burgers are ok. Pizza fair but only $2 on Tuesdays. All else at your own risk, esp. fish. Ask your server before ordering -- they are usually honest.

          I eat there a lot because I hang out with friends and neighbors for beers. Tonight, for example, is karaoke night and I will probably eat something there just so I don't get too drunk.

          I was there on Tuesday, too. Hee Hee, Pegmeister! Will you be singing tonight?

          Never been to Cafe Polonia.

          Gerard's (down Adams St. a few doors) scares me now because there is never a living soul in the place even at the height of the dinner rush. Years ago I would have said it's better than Sonny's but now I don't know.

          8 Replies
          1. re: C. Hamster

            No wonder I'll always get at 2/1 coupon from Gerard's.

            1. re: C. Hamster

              I'm at Sonny's about once a week, Jimmy is my favorite bartender and I think their pizza is great, especially the mushroom, onion and irish bacon. They have perfectly fried haddock and when Mike's in the kitchen he makes an incredible shrimp scampi. Of course, I'm generally there early when the focus is more on food. So it could be that the Karaoke crowd isn't getting the best cook. So, C. Hamster are you the person who always use to seranade Cathy? I did stay for Karaoke one night and quite enjoyed it, but I would never have the courage to get up there.

              As for Gerard's, well unfortunately, their food is really bad. I wish the owner, who is generally on the premises would actually taste some of his dishes before he put them on the menu. They would be much better off to try and master a few good dishes and streamline their menu. It's a great place to have a nice quiet glass of wine though

              1. re: Pegmeister

                You are there early if Jimmy is your barman. I love him too but now that he's on days I don't see him much. :-( I am usually there more than once a week thanks to slothfulness and routine with friends. I have a habitrail that ends there! All the bartenders are swell, but I am partial to Mike.

                The problem with Sonny's is that too much of their food is frozen food service quality stuff. Not enough fresh food. That and a general attitude problem.

                I think their pizza is just OK (used to be better). Plus they don't cook it correctly (I don't think they have a real pizza oven, so it's not really their fault). But you'd think they would catch on if all the regulars know to order it "well done" to avoid the white rubbery unmelted cheese you are served if you don't. IMO, their "fresh" fish is often not actually very fresh, especially on days other than Friday. If I am there on friday, I have gotten the broiled haddock which is ok. Too much of their seafood is frozen and the salmon cakes are made from canned.

                Last week they served beef stew (which is usually quite good) as a special. What I got was some real beef stew which was obviously days old combined with -- and I am serious -- copious amounts of canned beef vegetable soup with the 1/2 inch uniform pieces of carrot and grey beef. They didn't take it off the menu despite having pretty much every customer that ordered it send it back.

                I try not to sing unless my friends make me!! So I have not serenaded Kathy, though I did see her Tuesday!

                1. re: C. Hamster

                  It's funny, I do order my pizza well done, and I find that when Mike is making the pizza I like it the best. I also think they make some pretty decent soups. As for the fish, I've only had the fried haddock and I loved it. I guess I like Sonny's because it's a good neighborhood type of place. I also like to sit at the bar and play Keno! Kathy had come in just before I left on Tuesday so it was nice to say Hello. Oh, and I also like their onion rings!
                  On another note, have you tried CF Donovans on Savin Hill? It's one of my favorites in the area.

                  1. re: Pegmeister

                    well now Mike the chef is gone, and Jimmy is leaving soon too. My favorite bartender is Paul, but all the guys are great!!! 2 shift Mike makes the best bloody Mary's!!!

                    1. re: linmadin

                      The new chef (Rosy? I met him but forgot his name) is terrific and the food is already improved. He's easing into offering specials with heretofore unheard of (at Sonny's) ingredients like asparagus and techniques like spice rubs. Seems very into making the food better and more interesting, which is exactly what the place needs.

                      Mike made me a delicious Bloody on Sunday before the game.

                      I give Jimmy 6 months tops in Bloomington before he's back. I don't think the Midwest is the place for him.

                      1. re: C. Hamster

                        Hope you're right about Jimmy. I hate the thought of him not being at Sonny's. So have you tried the shrimp scampi yet? I had fried haddock the other day that was good.

                        1. re: Pegmeister

                          I confess that I have not had the shrimp scampi yet. I'm not the world's biggest shrimp person. But I vow to try it. Paul the bartender tells me that the shrimp and scallops are usually fresh while the fish, surprisingly, is not. Paul warns me off bad choices, so I have been reluctant to do the haddock, etc.

                          Perhaps the new guy will be better about freshness, too.

            2. I like CFD's! Their food is much better. Possibly because they are a restaurant with a bar and not a bar with a restaurant, like Sonny's.

              Do they still have trivia on Tuedays?

              Sonny's soups are pretty good, I will grant you that, but have become so boring. Chicken noodle, turkey rice, chicken supreme (who serves a sauce and calls it soup?). They used to make an excellent minestrone that I used to buy several extra servings of to take to work. But like many of their better offerings, is no longer made. Is Mike the cook that quit on night while Adam was away?