It wouldn’t be Fat Tuesday without a paczki (pronounced "poonch-key" or "punch-key"), the eggy, yeasty and round Polish pastry. In Poland, Paczki Day is traditionally Fat Thursday, the Thursday before Fat Tuesday, and this year that falls on February 23. But lots of bakeries are offering them through Fat Tuesday (February 28) and beyond. Here’s where to find everything from traditional fillings to boozy paczki.
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Where to find paczki
This Fat Thursday or Fat Tuesday, it’s worth taking a ride out to this snug, old-school spot for its seriously tasty take on paczki. Choose from 12 varieties, like blueberry, poppy and cheese. If you want a taste without committing to a full-sized paczki, four popular flavors (raspberry, custard, apricot and rosehip) will also be available in miniature versions.
In the days leading up to Fat Tuesday, this bastion of Polish deli fare, imported sweets and Eastern European breads enriched with sprouted grains and other good-for-you ingredients is expanding its year-round paczki lineup with some decidedly non-traditional offerings. Look for quirky flavors like chocolate chili, caramel bacon and chocolate mint.
The Evanston bakery is known for its paczki-eating contest, held February 25, but you don’t have to participate to indulge in the Polish treat. Paczki flavors include prune, apricot, cheese, raspberry, custard and apple. More elaborate paczki include fresh banana cream, praline chocolate mousse and fresh strawberry with whipped cream. New flavors for 2017 include lemon curd and German chocolate.
With six locations (two in the city and four spread around the Chicagoland area) there’s bound to be a branch of this European-style bakery–founded by a Polish expat–nearby when Paczki Day rolls around. Paczki flavors for 2017 include classics like powidla (prune) and advocaat (an eggnog-like liqueur), as well as modern spins like salted caramel and coffee bean.
Indulge your paczki cravings from February 23 to 28 at Dinkel’s, where you’ll find 13 varieties. Try cheese, chocolate, custard with caramel fudge, and fresh strawberry. Need incentive to plan ahead? This Fat Tuesday, the Lakeview favorite is introducing an express pickup line for prepaid paczki orders.
Come Fat Tuesday, lines stretch down the block and paczkis fly off the shelves at this South Side institution, so call ahead to place your order. Or skip the chaos altogether: The full Paczki Day menu is available now, so get a jump on your celebrations. You can get the custard, strawberry and raspberry jelly anytime, so try the other varieties, including cherry, peach and pineapple, made just for the holiday.