Here is something on Gilmart and a few other Polish delis located away from the cluster on Milwaukee near Belmont.
Gilmart is a pretty good Polish grocery/deli on the southwest side. I wouldnt claim that its the best all around Polish market but theres something about the general atmosphere that appeals to me. Its crowded, noisy, and the people are somewhat rude; it just fits with my preconceptions of what a Polish market should be like. Its right by the Pulaski stop of the Orange Line and its really cheap, two other pluses.
They make their own sausages which are generally good not great (see later) but the prices are incredibly low. Theres some sort of smoked pork loin for $3.50 thats not bad. Theres also a fresh meat counter with limited selection but good prices. They carry Hevelius beer, my favorite of the Polish brews (I prefer the Classic, not the Kaper). Good bread selection from many local bakeries (I especially like the light rye with charnushka seeds on the crust from Forest View). The deli selections are variable. I like their shredded beet salad better than anyones (it has A LOT of horseradish). The pierogi are okay, not great (a bit thick and doughy but the sauerkraut-mushroom filling is good). I'm very fond of the two types of homemade sauerkraut that you serve yourself from the barrel. Last winter I made several batches of bigos using Gilmart ingredients, including fresh ribs and smoked sausage, and was very happy with it. They always seem to have parsley root and celery root that go really well in the bigos. Also cheap herring from the barrel.
Gilmart has their own eat-in buffet, definitely not in the same league as Old Warsaw, Tatra Inn, or some others. Just a steam table and a few formica booths crammed in next to the deli counter. It's certainly cheap enough ($4.99) but it really doesn't look very appealing.
Farther southwest on Archer is the huge Bobak superdeli that I dont like as much as Gilmart. First because of the general ambiance, like any modern supermarket right down to the Muzak. Second, many of their sausages and prepared deli items leave a lot to be desired. Third, the bread section is seriously deficient. They do have good selections in many areas and most prices are more than fair. Certainly worth a stop though. There are several small family-run Polish delis on this stretch of Archer that I keep meaning to explore.
There are dozens of good Polish delis in Chicago but the place for sausage I like best is a small store, Central Sausage. They have a very limited selection of packaged goods and bakery stuff but sausage is the name of the game here. I'd guess they have at least 30 types of sausage, all made on the premises. Some are very impressive to look at, such as multilayer jobs I never noticed anywhere else. I especially like the liver sausage (they have several kinds) and a thin, dry, smoked sausage. I wish I knew what it all was but just about everything I've tried has been excellent. Clearly in a different league from Gilmart or Bobak, though the prices are higher (still much lower than places like Paulina Market or Delicatessen Meyer). They have a price list on the wall (sausage names in Polish, of course) but since the sausages in the case aren't identified it doesn't help me very much. Great place.
Just a few blocks east on Belmont is Gene's, a big Polish deli/market. Can't miss it, just look for the big cow. All the usual stuff, just more of it than usual. Some of the prepared deli items are good (though I did have some atrocious plum pierogi, the worst ever). A large fresh meat counter too. Good sized liquor section with a few interesting things. Lots of vodka, of course, but they also have a half-dozen varieties of Moldavian dessert wines and some (sweet) Moldavian sparkling wines.
5050 S Archer Av (just west of Pulaski)
open until 10 (?)
Bobak Sausage Co
5275 S Archer Av (just east of Cicero Av)
open until 10 (?)
Central Homemade Sausage
3246 N Central Av
Mon-Thu 9-6, Fri 8-7, Sat 7-6
5328 W Belmont Av
Mon-Fri 9-8, Sat 8-8, Sun 9-3
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