Polish picks - dinner tomorrow
I'd like to get in some good Polish food before leaving Chicago. Is there a good place downtown -- I'm staying at the W Lakeshore Hotel, but am willing to travel for the right place. Oh, and I'm a solo diner, not that I care sitting by myself.
Thanks for your help!
Most of your Polish eating establishments are on the Southwest Side (Archer Ave.) and Northwest Side (Milwaukee Ave./Belmont).
My vote would be to go early and take the (s-l-o-w) 62 Archer bus on State St and head to Szala's at Archer and Kilbourn. Bobak's Sausage is about a block west on Archer. Don't be put off by the place's appearance -- it used to be a rib place back in the day.
Full disclosure -- this ain't the tourist side of town. It's safe but not, shall we say, picturesque.
The Red Apple (Polish buffet) is a pretty sure bet on the Northwest Side. Take the 56 bus on Washington (in the Loop) -- just make sure you are back on the bus by 9:30, or you will have to hoof it to the Blue Line or take a cab. Paul zakopane Harnas Restaurant is also supposed to be good (haven't eaten there).
Those other places are quite some distance from downtown. You'll need to allow over an hour to get there by public transportation; if you take a cab, it will cost more than your dinner. Save yourself the trouble and go to Podhalanka, which is ten minutes by el from the Loop, or about the same by cab from the W Lakeshore. Besides, Podhalanka's as good as any of them. :)
For both location and quality I'd go to Podhalanka, too. Try the white borscht and the pierogis (meat stews and other meat dishes I don't find to be particularly memorable).
Note that ambience is fifties-diner: so as a solo diner, if you want, you can eat at the counter, but not necesssary, since there are usually available tables for dinner. Be sure to call if you intend to go later in the evening to ensure that they'll be open.
By the way, if you're free for the night and want to take a look at some interesting Chicago storefront theatre, the Chopin Theatre, which hosts independent local companies, is practically next door:
There is no Polish food in the immediate downtown area, but you don't have to go far. The best known and most highly regarded Polish restaurant in Chicago is in the residential neighborhood called West Town, about three miles from your hotel:
1549 W. Division St.
Chicago, IL 60622
You can hop a cab or, if you're taking the CTA, you can take the Blue Line to the Division stop and it's right there. www.transitchicago.com
If you're interested in the Polish Museum of America, it's just a few blocks south of Podhalanka on Milwaukee Avenue. www.polishmuseumofamerica.org
And about a mile from Podhalanka, you can get some pierogi to take home, from Kasia's Deli. www.kasiasdeli.com