Remember that never-ending motivational book series moms were into in the ’90’s, Chicken Noodle Soup For The Soul? We’d like to submit licensing for a new series: Polish Home Cooking For The Soul. Maybe the title doesn’t roll off the tongue as well as the original, but if any publishers (or people in need of some serious soul-curing) are looking for conclusive evidence, we’ll direct you right to Polka Polish.
Situated in the Eastside neighborhood of Glassell Park, Polka Polish is the homiest home cooking you can find. The tiny strip mall restaurant has been around for decades and walking inside feels like walking into your great-grandmother’s house who definitely has money hiding under every mattress. There are scattered trinkets on the shelves, large pictures of people doing the polka, and a really impressive wood-carved eagle looking over the whole place. It’s as eccentric and weird, but entirely welcoming all at the same time.
As for the menu, it’s pretty straightforward - mainly dominated by meats you like (steak, pork loin, chicken, or sausage) that come with grilled vegetables and mashed potatoes that’ll speak to you on a spiritual level. But if you know one thing about traditional Polish cuisine, you know it starts and ends with the pierogi. And the little dumpling from the gods is delicious here. The move is the platter - six pierogis and you get to choose the fillings for each one. The best thing on the menu though ? That’s the bigos - a dense “hunter’s stew” mixed with beef, kielbasa, and a whole bunch of sauerkraut thrown in. We’re not the hunting types, but if this is kind of food they eat, we’ll see everybody at the campfire.
There’ll definitely come a point when you realize you’re pretty much eating the same five ingredients in different variations, followed immediately by a bigger realization that you don’t give a sh*t. Everything at Polka is so hearty and flavorful and the kind of food you can’t get often in LA, you simply don’t ever want it to end. This might not be a place you get in your car and drive across the city for, but if you’re in the area or just need some home cooking to rejuvenate your blackened soul, Polka is waiting with open arms. Your move, chicken noodle.
Six pierogis, all the flavor combinations you could want. For us, the traditional potato and cheese filling still takes the cake, but even the more modern options (like jalapeno) are still worth trying. And if you think six dumplings doesn’t sound like much food, just order it and see for yourself.
Aka the “hunter’s stew,” this guy is probably our favorite thing on the menu. Served on a plate, it’s also not a stew as much as it is a beautiful pile of meat cooked in sauerkraut. It’s simple, hearty, and an absolute must-order.
Polka has no shortage of meat and vegetable plates, but our move is always the kielbasa. It’s sweet, spicy, and cooked till it has that ideal crunch.
Yes, Polish food involves crepes, and yes, they’re wonderful. Filled with sour cherries and cheese, this is some much-needed sweetness at the end of a very hearty endeavor.