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  • Podhalanka [Polish]

    Post #1 - May 26th, 2005, 8:00 am
    Post #1 - May 26th, 2005, 8:00 am Post #1 - May 26th, 2005, 8:00 am
    Image

    Our favorite Polish restaurant in east Ukrainian Village neighborhood is the often over looked Podhalanka on Division just east of Ashland. My husband and I have been frequenting Podhalanka for well over a decade now and the food has always been wonderfully hearty and flavorful. Their soups are huge and can be a meal in themselves but of course we usually opt for the dinners which include a bowl of soup, a plate of three different salads (lettuce, cabbage and beat), entree, bread and free compote to drink all for under $10 (the last time we were there). Don’t let the looks of outside scare you away. This little place has great food and the decor of my great-grandmother’s kitchen from the linoleum on the floor to the pull-down light fixture on the ceiling. They are usually open until 8pm, so come early for dinner - or better yet, stop in for lunch.

    Podhalanka
    1549 W Division
    Chicago
    773-486-6655

    Rachel
  • Post #2 - May 26th, 2005, 9:02 am
    Post #2 - May 26th, 2005, 9:02 am Post #2 - May 26th, 2005, 9:02 am
    I haven't gotten around to seconding or thirding or whatever all of the various great nominations so far, but I promise to start.

    Here's at least one extensive link to a Podhalanka thread, the first stop on the Mil-walk-a-thon:

    http://www.lthforum.com/bb/viewtopic.php?t=2666

    Nice pick, Rachel, and welcome to LTH Forum.
  • Post #3 - May 26th, 2005, 9:17 am
    Post #3 - May 26th, 2005, 9:17 am Post #3 - May 26th, 2005, 9:17 am
    While the VI family tends to mostly frequent Zascianek 'cause it is closer (and we will always love Halina's), I think Podhalanka is exactly the kinda place deserving of a GNR. Thanks for taking the time!

    Rob
  • Post #4 - May 26th, 2005, 12:33 pm
    Post #4 - May 26th, 2005, 12:33 pm Post #4 - May 26th, 2005, 12:33 pm
    Aaron Deacon wrote:I haven't gotten around to seconding or thirding or whatever all of the various great nominations so far, but I promise to start.

    Here's at least one extensive link to a Podhalanka thread, the first stop on the Mil-walk-a-thon:

    http://www.lthforum.com/bb/viewtopic.php?t=2666

    Nice pick, Rachel, and welcome to LTH Forum.


    Thanks for the welcome, glad to be here.

    The white borscht soup is one of our favorites at Podhalanka.
  • Post #5 - June 8th, 2005, 7:58 am
    Post #5 - June 8th, 2005, 7:58 am Post #5 - June 8th, 2005, 7:58 am
    Rachel,

    Please let me add my voice to the chorus of Podhalanka, what a well thought out choice for a LTHForum.com Great neighborhood restaurant nomination. I second, or is it 4th, the nomination.

    Welcome to LTHForum.

    Enjoy,
    Gary
    Sauce on the side, always, implied, axiomatic..........never a doubt, BBQ sauce without.

    Low & Slow
  • Post #6 - March 31st, 2007, 1:19 pm
    Post #6 - March 31st, 2007, 1:19 pm Post #6 - March 31st, 2007, 1:19 pm
    Just a mention I saw of Podhalanka in "the news".

    Chicagoist did an interview with Jan Lorys, Director of the Polish Museum of America. I print the relevant exerpt here.

    C: What restaurants near the museum have good Polish food?

    JL: There’s only a small one, Podhalanka. They have a very good soup menu with about three or four soups that are very, very hearty, and pierogi, and a full a la carte menu.


    I can't vouch for it personally, but that seems a good source for a recommendation.
  • Post #7 - March 31st, 2007, 4:11 pm
    Post #7 - March 31st, 2007, 4:11 pm Post #7 - March 31st, 2007, 4:11 pm
    Here's an example of a GNR that has had no mention in close to two years. Doesn't anyone think it should be renewed? I'd take the thunderous silence as a no, but maybe it's a yes things are as good as ever. How are we to decide? I haven't been there myself, but I'd love to hear about other people's recent experience.
    Steve Z.

    “Only the pure in heart can make a good soup.”
    ― Ludwig van Beethoven
  • Post #8 - March 31st, 2007, 4:30 pm
    Post #8 - March 31st, 2007, 4:30 pm Post #8 - March 31st, 2007, 4:30 pm
    stevez wrote:Here's an example of a GNR that has had no mention in close to two years. Doesn't anyone think it should be renewed? I'd take the thunderous silence as a no, but maybe it's a yes things are as good as ever. How are we to decide? I haven't been there myself, but I'd love to hear about other people's recent experience.


    Silence? Hardly.

    Podhalanka remains a special place in my book, a true one-of-a-kind with great food and a shoe-in for renewal.

    Best,
    Michael
  • Post #9 - March 31st, 2007, 7:22 pm
    Post #9 - March 31st, 2007, 7:22 pm Post #9 - March 31st, 2007, 7:22 pm
    eatchicago wrote:
    stevez wrote:Here's an example of a GNR that has had no mention in close to two years. Doesn't anyone think it should be renewed? I'd take the thunderous silence as a no, but maybe it's a yes things are as good as ever. How are we to decide? I haven't been there myself, but I'd love to hear about other people's recent experience.


    Silence? Hardly.

    Podhalanka remains a special place in my book, a true one-of-a-kind with great food and a shoe-in for renewal.

    Best,
    Michael


    Thanks. I was hoping someone would say that!
    Steve Z.

    “Only the pure in heart can make a good soup.”
    ― Ludwig van Beethoven
  • Post #10 - February 17th, 2009, 1:02 pm
    Post #10 - February 17th, 2009, 1:02 pm Post #10 - February 17th, 2009, 1:02 pm
    This restaurant is currently up for GNR renewal. Please post your comments below.

    Thanks,

    =R=
    for the GNRs
    That don't impress me much --Shania Twain

    Another beer before happy hour to put me in the mood for drinkin', uh huh huh, oh, forget thinkin' --Beaver Nelson

    I find it a matter of note that in New York or Terre Haute, school cookies always seem to be oatmeal --Mr. French
  • Post #11 - February 21st, 2009, 5:35 pm
    Post #11 - February 21st, 2009, 5:35 pm Post #11 - February 21st, 2009, 5:35 pm
    Just had an outstanding lunch at Podhalanka the other day -- boiled beef with horseradish sauce (and the "comes with" salad, pickled stuff, sour borscht and Polish daytime drama). One of the last bastions on a stretch of Division that was Polish mainstreet USA. I will be very sad when Podhalanka joins the Busy Bee, Andy's, and others in the big Polish cafe in the sky. I'm doing what I can to stave that off.
  • Post #12 - February 22nd, 2009, 9:07 am
    Post #12 - February 22nd, 2009, 9:07 am Post #12 - February 22nd, 2009, 9:07 am
    LTH,

    Big fan of Podhalanka's White Borscht, bride is equally enamored with stuffed cabbage. Love the homey low key atmosphere and incredibly low prices on appetite satisfying favorites.

    Tak for GNR Renewal.

    Enjoy,
    Gary
    Sauce on the side, always, implied, axiomatic..........never a doubt, BBQ sauce without.

    Low & Slow
  • Post #13 - February 28th, 2009, 10:17 pm
    Post #13 - February 28th, 2009, 10:17 pm Post #13 - February 28th, 2009, 10:17 pm
    Had dinner at Podhalanka tonight, actually. As many have noted, the white borscht is absolutely delicious, with a nice balance of sour flavors, dill, and chunks of kielbasa. The potato pancakes are better than the ones my dad used to make, and are thicker and more flavorful than those I've had at most other Polish restaurants. Add in that it's a rare little neighborhood place left in the Wicker Park area, and I think it's exactly the kind of restaurant that should stay on the list.
  • Post #14 - March 1st, 2009, 8:58 am
    Post #14 - March 1st, 2009, 8:58 am Post #14 - March 1st, 2009, 8:58 am
    More on Podhalanka here and here.
  • Post #15 - March 9th, 2009, 6:17 pm
    Post #15 - March 9th, 2009, 6:17 pm Post #15 - March 9th, 2009, 6:17 pm
    LTHForum,

    Just posted about a wonderful lunch in the main Podhalanka thread. Please indulge me a brief repetition, their potato pancakes are, as Ann Fisher has said, the best in town. Crisp exterior, moist full potato flavor interior, subtle hint of onion, served with classic, and possibly house made, apple sauce and sour cream.

    I strongly support GNR renewal for Podhalanka.

    Enjoy,
    Gary
    Sauce on the side, always, implied, axiomatic..........never a doubt, BBQ sauce without.

    Low & Slow
  • Post #16 - March 10th, 2009, 2:07 pm
    Post #16 - March 10th, 2009, 2:07 pm Post #16 - March 10th, 2009, 2:07 pm
    Another one that meets the criteria so well. Yes, yes, yes.
    "In pursuit of joys untasted"
    from Giuseppe Verdi's La Traviata
  • Post #17 - March 10th, 2009, 6:27 pm
    Post #17 - March 10th, 2009, 6:27 pm Post #17 - March 10th, 2009, 6:27 pm
    I'll throw my voice in the ring for renewal as well. I recently had a great lunch at Podhalanka. Click the Potato Pancakes to read more.

    Image
    Steve Z.

    “Only the pure in heart can make a good soup.”
    ― Ludwig van Beethoven
  • Post #18 - September 19th, 2011, 4:59 am
    Post #18 - September 19th, 2011, 4:59 am Post #18 - September 19th, 2011, 4:59 am
    This place is up for renewal of its GNR. Please post your comments here until 10/10/11.
    Steve Z.

    “Only the pure in heart can make a good soup.”
    ― Ludwig van Beethoven
  • Post #19 - October 2nd, 2011, 5:44 pm
    Post #19 - October 2nd, 2011, 5:44 pm Post #19 - October 2nd, 2011, 5:44 pm
    My one and only meal here in the past 2 years was excellent. I loved it. But it was an arranged dinner, at which pre-ordered bigos was served. The bigos and almost eveything else we had that night was outstanding, too and I'm still thinking about some of those dishes. On the basis of that single experience (since the previous renewal), I support renewal this time around.

    =R=
    That don't impress me much --Shania Twain

    Another beer before happy hour to put me in the mood for drinkin', uh huh huh, oh, forget thinkin' --Beaver Nelson

    I find it a matter of note that in New York or Terre Haute, school cookies always seem to be oatmeal --Mr. French
  • Post #20 - October 2nd, 2011, 8:31 pm
    Post #20 - October 2nd, 2011, 8:31 pm Post #20 - October 2nd, 2011, 8:31 pm
    A few months ago my one year old and I had a memorable lunch at Podhalanka. We were served by a gentleman who I now believe is the matriarch's newphew, and he was a big part of what made the experience special. He played hide and seek with the little one and taught her some fun Polish drinkng songs. Pierogi were good and homemade mushroom soup was great. A big yes from me on renewal.
    ...defended from strong temptations to social ambition by a still stronger taste for tripe and onions." Screwtape in The Screwtape Letters by CS Lewis

    Fuckerberg on Food
  • Post #21 - October 3rd, 2011, 9:20 am
    Post #21 - October 3rd, 2011, 9:20 am Post #21 - October 3rd, 2011, 9:20 am
    This is the epitome of a ma and pa restaurant. You actually eat in what was once the living room. Homey and delicious no frills immigrant fare, Helena is a gem. Even w/an over zealous nephew taking liberties, it remains in solid rotation for me, albeit more so in winter when i pre order off menu bigos. Yes on renewal.
    "In pursuit of joys untasted"
    from Giuseppe Verdi's La Traviata
  • Post #22 - October 3rd, 2011, 7:51 pm
    Post #22 - October 3rd, 2011, 7:51 pm Post #22 - October 3rd, 2011, 7:51 pm
    Jazzfood wrote:This is the epitome of a ma and pa restaurant. You actually eat in what was once the living room. Homey and delicious no frills immigrant fare, Helena is a gem. Even w/an over zealous nephew taking liberties, it remains in solid rotation for me, albeit more so in winter when i pre order off menu bigos. Yes on renewal.


    I recently posted about said liberties, a slight hiccup (no matter how offensive) in a long lasting love affair that predates my zealousness for seeking the truest of dining experiences. This place is the real deal. It will always comfort me to know that I can walk down to the corner and find such warm respite from the harshness of the urban everyday outside.
  • Post #23 - October 4th, 2011, 10:32 am
    Post #23 - October 4th, 2011, 10:32 am Post #23 - October 4th, 2011, 10:32 am
    Our whole family loves this place. Helena is amazing as are her stews. She has seen our girls grow up and we are disappointed when she is not there when we visit. We are not big fans of the red juice (what is that stuff?) they serve and try to let them know we do not want it. The nephew(?) charged us for it even though we did not order it or drink it. Helena never puts the stuff on our bill. We love it because it is open on Sunday mornings and we can get nonbreakfast items. For Polish soups, stews and pirogies-this is a great place.
    What disease did cured ham actually have?
  • Post #24 - June 23rd, 2013, 10:53 am
    Post #24 - June 23rd, 2013, 10:53 am Post #24 - June 23rd, 2013, 10:53 am
    I know that there has been a fair share of transgressive experiences at Podhalanka in the recent past– I should know, I posted the first account of an incident with "the guy", that server with up-selling schemes to sucker gullible noobs (and to our annoyance, even regulars too). This said, in my recent experiences "the guy" has mellowed out and the kitchen consistently turns out some of my favorite dishes in the neighborhood, including my favorite soup in the city, their zurek.

    I am not alone in recent positive experiences either:

    turkob wrote:Well, I decided to give them another shot tonight, and I have to say they really knocked it out of park. I was with a large group so we were able to order a wide variety of items. Everything was superb and reminded me why I used to love this restaurant so much. My wife and I split an order of the kapusniak and the white borscht. Both were rich and hearty, perfect on a cold and rainy night. The pierogies were doughy and plump as usual, and they continue to serve my favorite potato pancake in the city. The cabbage rolls were fluffy and flavorful, even the chicken cutlets were well fried and crispy. I've always enjoyed my meals at Podhalanka, and this one really made me feel like I don't go nearly enough.


    Most importantly to me, though, is the preserved-in-amber vibe of the place that harkens back to a bygone era of the old Polish Triangle, before Division Street became over run with stroller boutiques and overly flat-screened bro-bars. This quote is the perfect testament to why its important to patronize and champion old school places like this before they are gentrified away:

    JimInLoganSquare wrote:I recently had a great lunch at Podhalanka after a long time without visiting. I took a business associate who'd never been, and he loved it, as well. We were served by "the guy," and while he did suggest soup, it wasn't a hard sell, and we would have ordered soup anyway (why would you not order soup at Podhalanka?). He also politely enough suggested we use the liquid seasoning on the table in the soup, which we did and appreciated. Given the rapid changes going on in this area (e.g., the new apartment high-rise being built on Division and Ashland and changes all up and down Milwaukee), I hope Podhalanka doesn't get gentrified out of existence like Busy Bee did, but I plan to take advantage of it more than I have in the past while I still can.
  • Post #25 - September 4th, 2013, 9:47 am
    Post #25 - September 4th, 2013, 9:47 am Post #25 - September 4th, 2013, 9:47 am
    I couldn't agree with Jefe more.

    I am a huge fan of Podhalanka and really urge those who have had bad experiences there to give it another chance. I have had many wonderful meals there over the years and I think it's exactly the kind of place I would have never known about if not for LTH. The quality of the food and Helen's hospitality remain as great today as they were when I first visited. Definitely a GNR in my book.
  • Post #26 - September 4th, 2013, 10:26 am
    Post #26 - September 4th, 2013, 10:26 am Post #26 - September 4th, 2013, 10:26 am
    I agree and want to emphasize what I think is the special good that LTH can do in helping to preserve and support humble, ethnic, pre-gentrification neighborhood anchors such as Podhalanka. Before LTH, places like Podhalanka were more likely to wither and die as neighborhoods changed and rents increased. It does my heart good to see flannel shirted, mustachioed, ironic-neon-sunglasses wearing hipsters at the bar here. As Polish Broadway disappears (I really muss Andy's, still), it would be nice to recognize Podhalanka's cultural as well as culinary contributions. If you don't buy that, just narrowly considering the pierogi, zurek, and boiled beef with horseradish, the place is a GNR.
  • Post #27 - September 4th, 2013, 4:24 pm
    Post #27 - September 4th, 2013, 4:24 pm Post #27 - September 4th, 2013, 4:24 pm
    JeffB wrote:I agree and want to emphasize what I think is the special good that LTH can do in helping to preserve and support humble, ethnic, pre-gentrification neighborhood anchors such as Podhalanka..


    I agree so much with this sentiment. I've spent my whole life in Chicago and watched as places like the Busy Bee were lost when a new generation didn't want to carry on the tradition and the food went out of style.

    Podhalanka experienced some changes as "the guy" was bought in to keep the restaurant going, but I've been back 2 or 3 times this year and he has mellowed. I usually go with an older friend who was born in Bridgeport and grew up eating at the much missed Healthy Food. He loves Podhalanka not only for the home cooking, but because its one of the last of the old time places left.

    History would not be enough to keep this place a GNR if the food were no good, but thankfully it's as tasty as ever. Yes to renewing its GNR status.
    For what we choose is what we are. He should not miss this second opportunity to re-create himself with food. Jim Crace "The Devil's Larder"
  • Post #28 - September 20th, 2013, 10:18 pm
    Post #28 - September 20th, 2013, 10:18 pm Post #28 - September 20th, 2013, 10:18 pm
    Just in case it is not apparent from my prior post, I support the renewal of Podhalanka's GNR.
    JiLS

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