Fat Tuesday, Mardi Gras, Paczki Day… whatever you call it, next Tuesday is the time to indulge.
Whether you grew up eating paczkis from your local polish bakery, search for the baby in a king cake every year, or generally feed your sweet tooth the day before Ash Wednesday, you probably participated in some version of Fat Tuesday. The holiday falls on Feb 25 this year and Chicagoans are already gearing for a big desert.
While the holiday originated in Poland, Chicagoans have lovingly embraced Paczki Day, where hundreds line up to enjoy paczki pastries the day before lent. Paczkis are doughnut-like pastries overstuffed with different flavors of filling. While paczkis are traditionally eaten on Fat Thursday in Poland, Chicago bakeries usually sell them the day before Ash Wednesday (and sometimes even during Lent. Skandaliczny!) Last year, Bridgeport Bakery sold over 25,000 paczkis on Fat Tuesday. You can find paczkis at just about every bakery in Chicago on Fat Tuesday, but here are a few places to start:
Bridgeport Bakery (2907 S Archer Ave.) has already started taking paczki orders (which they also sell year-round) and offer 17 different flavors to celebrate with.
Delightful Pastries also sells paczkis year-round and is asking all customers to put in their order by Feb 21 in order to handle the demand. They offer an assortment of paczki in both regular and gourmet flavors.
Dinkel’s Bakery (3329 N Lincoln Ave) will take paczki pre-orders until noon Feb 24. They have 12 different flavors and are only available in four-packs per flavor or a dozen with one of each flavor.
Kolatek’s Bakery & Deli (2445 N. Harlem Ave) sells a variety of both traditional and adventurous flavors like rum raisin, caramel bacon, and hot chili chocolate. The Polish and European market is now accepting paczki orders by phone (773-637-3772), through its Facebook page, and at the counter.
Estelle’s (2013 W North Ave.) will offer complimentary paczkis to all guests on Feb 25 starting at 5 p.m. You can also celebrate Mardi Gras with $5 VooDoo shots.
This French tradition is a vibrant celebration of life and joy during Carnival, observed the day before Catholics traditionally begin the ritual fast of Lent. People dress up in costumes, play games, wear masks, throw beads in the air, and dance to lively music. While the US’s biggest Mardi Gras celebration is in New Orleans, Chicago has a number of fun events, too.
SideDoor (100 E. Ontario St.) will celebrate New Orleans style with pan-seared scallops with creole sauce and andouille sausage, cheese grits, a side of delicious gumbo.
aliveOne (2683 N Halsted St.) will offer $8 “Marie Laveau” (Captain Morgan, Cointreau, lime juice, orange bitters, pineapple, soda) and $4 Abita Purple Haze cocktails.
Easy Bar (1944 W Division St. )will be giving away complimentary King Cakes from 8 p.m. – 10 p.m. as well as $2 and $3 New Belgium Beers. Guests who find a baby in their cake will win New Belgium swag!
Remedy (1910 N Milwaukee Ave.) will have a half-priced Happy Hour 4 p.m. – 7 p.m. as well as $2 and $3 select beers, and starting at 10 p.m. King Cake, snack table, and candy. Find the baby in your King Cake and win a mystery prize!
Graystone Tavern (3441 N Sheffield Ave.) will celebrate with drink specials such as $20 42-ounce Hurricane Bowl and Mardi Gras Grenade Bowl. Guests can also enjoy New Orleans-style food specials including a Shrimp Po Boy with cajun fries ($14), Catfish Po Boy with cajun fries ($14), and Gumbo ($8 bowl; $4 cup).
Feature image @goldiesdonuts