Fat Tuesday, Mardi Gras in French, conjures up different meanings depending on where you’re from and how you were brought up. Cities all over the world such as Sydney, Salvador, Prague and Venice celebrate Mardi Gras with festivals, raucous debauchery, parades, and so much more. In the states, the city with the biggest celebration of course starts with New Orleans, Louisiana. Over 1.2 million visitors came to take part during its Mardi Gras festivities last year. Other notable celebrations include Mobile, Gulf Shores, St. Louis and San Diego.
In Chicago, we indulge in paczkis. Lots and lots of paczkis. Fat Tuesday is known as the last day to overindulge before Lent begins on Ash Wednesday and it is synonymous with Paczki Day. If you plan to get your gluttony on, what better way to do that then start your day with Polish donuts! Pronounced poonch-key, these Polish pastries are deep-fried dough filled with custard, fruit or nothing at all.
It doesn’t matter if you are Polish or not, the tradition has spread far and wide in the Chicago area. Hundreds of people will line up hours before their work day begins to pick up boxes of coveted Paczkis. Lip-smacking and sticky fingers is an epidemic in Chicago for the day.
Classic flavors such as strawberry, custard, and blueberry are always safe, but some bakeries get creative with flavors including Nutella, cookie monster, lemon and caramel bacon. Delicious!
Where to find Paczki’s in Chicago
Most bakeries will have paczkis on Fat Tuesday and a few days before, but here are a few well-reviewed places:
Delightful Pastries, 131 N. Clinton Street, 1710 N. Wells Street, or 5927 W. Lawrence Avenue
Oak Mill Bakery, 5753 W. Belmont Avenue, 5747 S. Harlem Avenue, 2204 W. North Avenue
Kristoffer’s Cafe and Bakery, 1733 S. Halsted Street
Dinkel’s Bakery, 3329 N. Lincoln Avenue
Firecakes Donuts, 68 W. Hubbard Street and 2453 N. Clark Street
Weber’s Bakery, 7055 W. Archer Avenue
How do you celebrate Fat Tuesday? Ever try a paczki?
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