8 stellar pierogi joints, from classic to iconoclastic

While the pierogi has a long history in Chicago, thanks in part to the city’s sizeable Polish-American population, and the inarguable appeal of dough stuffed with sweet and savory things, these little crescent-shaped dumplings are having a moment here right now. Traditionally filled with sauerkraut, meat, mushrooms, or potato and cheese, the city’s more adventurous doughmakers are cramming them with all sorts of savory and sweet fillers—from beef cheeks to champagne kraut to plums. Here are our picks for Chicago’s best pierogis, from classic to contemporary.

Pierogi Wagon took the message from the streets and became Pierogi Street
It all started in 2013 with a dream—and a little, yellow, pierogi-filled food truck, dubbed the Pierogi Wagon. Fast forward to 2015 and the newly named Pierogi Street, along with its craveable, chewy dumplings, has a permanent home in Humboldt Park. Try the luscious white Cheddar and potato, the nutty spinach and cheese, or the rich braised beef. But whatever yo go with, don’t forget to ask for “the works” on top—a delightful mix of spicy grilled onions, zingy kraut, sour cream, and crumbled bacon.

Bohemian House breaks new ground with eclectic and inventive twists on tradition
This funky-chic River North spot boasts fresh takes on Central European fare; likewise, their pierogis offer a refined spin on the classic. Filled with tender beef cheeks and topped with roasted carrots, dots of sour cream, and zingy pickled onion, they arrive in a pool of savory gravy on a vintage floral porcelain plate. It’s the perfect sweet-and-tangy, old-meets-new bite.

Staropolska is keeping it old-school
This inviting eatery serves up big portions of authentic (and affordable) Polish dishes in a rustic, almost medieval hunting lodge-style setting—complete with fireplace and animal pelts. The pierogis are mostly traditional and minimally garnished, with eight crowd-pleasing sweet and savory offerings, including potato and cheese, meat, cheddar, sauerkraut, spinach and Cheddar, sweet cheese, and fruit (either strawberry or blueberry).

Have your pierogi for a starter, dessert, or both at Smak-Tak
For hearty Polish fare in a spot that feels more like a ski lodge, the wood-beamed dining room of Smak-Tak is the perfect place to warm the soul on a chilly Chicago night. These fluffy, butter-bathed pierogi can start or end your meal. Mix and match from eight flavors: cheese and potato, sauerkraut and mushroom, cheese, meat, blueberry, plum, cherry, and strawberry.

Pierogi Heaven is a place on earth
Like the name suggests, this no-frills spot, with its 11 pierogi varieties, wants you to make a meal out of those chewy dumplings. These boiled dumplings can be mixed and matched in groups of three; among the savory favorites are of course the ubiquitous potato and cheese, and all are pushed over the top with bacon, sour cream, and fried onion. Finish with a sweet-tart mixed fruit for dessert. With two Loop locations, downtown workers can easily get their weekday pierogi fix.

Head to Kasia’s Deli for world famous dumplings
Since 1982, Kazimiera Bober (AKA Kasia) has been slinging traditional pierogi from her deli on Chicago Ave. These now-famous dumplings have been served everywhere from the Taste of Chicago to overseas United Airlines flights, and you can find all 13 varieties in the frozen aisle at many Chicagoland supermarkets. Don’t know where to start? The best-selling potato and cheese blends whipped Idaho potatoes and mild farmer’s cheese in a lightly browned dough wrapper. Other favorites include kraut and mushroom, sweet cheese, and the meat lovers’ favorite: beef.

Podhalanka asks, “are you sure you’re eating enough?”
If you’re hankering for some of grandma’s cooking—even if she isn’t Polish—come to this Noble Square mainstay for hearty, homey Polish fare. Start off right with a plate of simply seasoned potato and cheese, cabbage, or meat pierogi. The thick-skinned, chewy boiled dumplings are filled to near-bursting and come in eight to a plate, with sour cream and caramelized onion. Good luck finishing that stuffed cabbage entrée you ordered.

Seven Lions brings visionary pierogis into its mix of reimagined classics
Across from the Art Institute, Alpana Singh’s massive yet posh second restaurant serves twists on American classics—think fritto misto and porterhouse with fried onions. The lightly crisp Champagne kraut and potato pierogis, accompanied by a smear of sweet-tart apricot mostarda and a generous dollop of sour cream, make the perfect elevated old-school complement to a hulking pork chop.

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