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Fat Tuesday: the last day to indulge in richer, heartier foods before the fasting of Lent begins. Or, for some, it’s an excuse to throw your diet out the window and eat whatever you want only to then give up “the bad things” for 40 days and nights(ish) – no judgment. New Orleans is known for their Mardi Gras celebration: masks, drinking, parades, music, drinking, parties, drinking…you get the point. In Chicago – and other areas with large Polish communities – Fat Tuesday is also referred to as Pączki Day.

Pączki (pronounced PONCH-key) are a traditional Polish pastry that originated as a way to use up stores of lard, sugar and eggs before Lent began. Let the records show that pączki day in Poland is actually traditionally celebrated on the Thursday before Lent begins; but that can be our little secret, I won’t tell anyone if you wait to indulge on Tuesday. I’m Polish and pretty proud of my roots – I’ve also enjoyed a pączki or two in my day – so I feel it’s only right that I give you all a list of the best places to get some of your own for Tłusty Czwartek (Fat Tuesday in Polish).


Oak Mill Bakery

By far one of the most popular Polish bakeries in the city, Oak Mill starts taking orders for pączki in January. Ordering ahead is pretty much your best bet for getting what you want, if you’re walk-in expect to wait in long lines (at all of their locations).


8012 N Milwaukee Ave Niles, IL 60714 – 5753 W Belmont Ave Chicago, IL 60634 – 5747 S Harlem Ave Chicago, IL 60638 – 4747 N Harlem Ave Harwood Heights, IL 60706 – 2314 E Rand Rd Arlington Heights, IL 60004 – 2204 W North Ave Chicago, IL 60647

Delightful Pastries

With over 10 years of experience and a loyal customer-base, Delightful Pastries has been cranking out delicious European pastries to the delight of every sweet tooth in the city. They take a fun spin on their pączki – they make some of them with liquor! Liquored up flavors include vodka/vanilla bean, Patron Cocoa XO/chocolate custard and orange liqueur/passion fruit jelly.


131 N Clinton Ave Chicago, IL 60601 (at the French Market) – 1710 N Wells St Chicago, IL 60614


Jarosch Bakery

Definitely one of my favorite European bakeries in the suburbs, Jarosch’s pastries are amazing and their pączki do not disappoint. Be smart and call or fax in your orders early because come Pączki Day, the line will be out the door.


35 Arlington Heights Rd Elk Grove Village, IL 60007

Central Continental Bakery

Central Continental takes a fun spin on pączki with flavors like Black Forest, Caramel Turtle, Island Piña Colada, Italian Cannoli and dozens more. Don’t worry, traditionalists, they still have all of the “normal” pączki flavors too.


101 S Main St Mt. Propsect, IL 60656

Whether you celebrated Pączki Day on Thursday or you’re looking forward to celebrating on Tuesday, I hope the above options give you plenty to drool about over the next couple of days and that you find yourself some delicious pączki to indulge in.


Alex Chwastek

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