• Mike Sula
  • Pierogi with the works, Polak Eatery

One way to call attention to your small neighborhood restaurant is to give it a name that could be perceived as an ethnic slur. It’s even better if you’re a member of said ethnicity, and can cover yourself with the old, “It’s ok. I’m _______. I can say that.” Polish-born Damian Warzecha more or less presented that to DNAinfo when he opened Polak Eatery in Humboldt Park, serving, so far, a small menu of pierogi, eggs, and sausage for breakfast and lunch. “Polak” is something Poles call each other all the time, he explained. (“Occasionally,” my Polish sources say.)

Warzecha and wife Jessica Whitney had no need to resort to such measures when they raised more than $15,000 on Kickstarter to launch the Pierogi Wagon food truck last April.

But you gotta do what you gotta do, I guess. This little stretch of California is still relatively sleepy, despite the presence of the California Clipper and Rootstock (though it won’t be for long with at least two new restaurants on the way, including another Brendan Sodikoff project).

When I stopped early one morning last week things were slow. And that’s just not right, because the pierogi are worth some attention. Plump dumplings, boiled and finished in butter in the saute pan so they go golden brown and slightly crispy. Most of the savory varieties are winners, like spinach and cheese, which is among the lightest of the four, and cheddar and potato, which is dense and respectably sharp. I only have a hangup with the braised beef, which is emulsified to the point of mealiness. The dessert cheese pierogi, drizzled with strawberry sauce are another lighter option, if the idea of downing dumplings for breakfast drags you down.

  • Mike Sula
  • Sweet cheese pierogi, Polak Eatery

The dough on these pierogi is a bit tough and stretchy, and they make for some sloppy eating, particularly if you opt for the works—and I recommend you do—when it comes to toppings. Peppery grilled onions, sauerkraut, sour cream, and bacon make a splendid mess.

It’s a great value: two eggs, two pierogi, and half a griddled kielbasa with mustard for $6, or a buck per pierogi. There’s coffee and pastries, and they’re adding dinner service starting today with something called pierogi poutine with brisket, with potato pancakes, cucumber salad, and coleslaw.

Polak Eatery, 1043 N. California, 312-675-8385