No football season is complete without a tailgating special from Bobak’s! Cheer on your favorite team to the playoffs while indulging in a tailgating special. If not for you then for a friend or family member, after all ’tis the season!
Each special comes equipped with ten packages of sausage, two of each flavor palette, so there’s something for everyone to enjoy!
Hot & Spicy
Jalapeno & Cheddar
This Living Social deal is available for a limited time only, so don’t hesitate in buying yours today! Click here to buy the Living Social Deal then redeem online at www.bobak.com!Shipping and Tax are not included | Multiple offers cannot be combined | Valid online only at www.bobak.com. Find out more!
Our Famous Maxwell Street Polish Sausage Kit is now available through TastesofChicago.com.Find out more!
Join us for Oktober Fest @ Toyota Park! Well be serving up some deliciousness there…
Chicago Tribune: “An enthusiastic three firecrackers to #Bobak, …..” http://t.co/3VjqNqw #tasteofchicagoFind out more!
Guess what! We are @ the TASTE! See you there! Here is a little ABC 7 Intro
http://abclocal.go.com/wls/video?id=8200572&pid=8200370Find out more!
Saturday June 4th & Sunday June 5th
Sheffield and Addison (next to Wrigley Field)
June 4th & June 5th
Noon til 10 pm
Benefiting Prostate Cancer Foundation and
Lakeview Citizens Council
Come see us at the NRA show@ Booth 7321! May 22 – 25 @ McCormick Place in Chicago
Click on the following link for more information.Find out more!
We are “Official Hot Dog and Sausage of the Kane County Cougars”.
We will feature our hot dogs and sausages as well as a Live sausage race at all home games!
Bobaks is proud to be a sponsor & supplier to one Chicagos finest sports teams, the Chicago White Sox. Starting this 2010 season, Bobaks will be proudly serving their premium Sausages and Hot Dogs at US Cellular Field. The White Sox and Bobaks, a perfect match of two Southside institutions! Bobaks, who started in 1967, is honored to be a part of the historic fabric of Chicago and this opportunity adds another chapter in that book.
Bobaks, Chicagos Sausageologists!
Look for Bobak’s products at Soldier Field throughout the Chicago Bears 2009-2010 season.
We’re proud to announce our partnership with the Chicago Bears and the Soldier Field!
Bobak’s Hotdogs and Sausage being sold at all concession stands
Half-Time Sausage Race
and finally Tailgate grill parties!Find out more!
We’re at Toyota Park this season! Look for our delicious products at all of the concession stands and our dedicated grilling station!
Click the play button to watch the Bobak’s Race to the grill!
<iframe width=”420″ height=”315″ src=”http://www.youtube.com/embed/GEhxfplI8pw” frameborder=”0″ allowfullscreen></iframe>Find out more!
Come meet us at the Real Men Cook Fest!
Father’s Day Sunday, June 21, 2009 3pm – 6pm
Kennedy King College
63rd & Halsted
Don’t have a drop of Polish blood in your lineage? So what?! Bobak’s is a Chicago institution, and more than worth the trip to the Garfield Ridge neighborhood.Find out more!
We were featured in this article!
“A real stocking stuffer”
Bobak Sausage Co. offers a variety of smoked sausages ready to eat, from skinny links called kabanos ($1.69 per pound) to the standard-size smoked Polish sausage, kielbasa zwyczajna ($1.69 per pound) to the big salami-like Krakow sausages, kielbasa krakowska podsuszana ($2.69 per pound) at the shop, 5275 S. Archer Ave., 773-735-5334, and many supermarkets throughout the area. Information, bobak.com.Find out more!
Fueled by the city’s deeply seated tradition and ethnic heritage a handful of companies are succeeding in helping Chicago reclaim its perch atop the meat-processing industry hierarchy. Bobak’s is among the top of these successful new-generation manufacturers. Read more to find out why:
The Second City’s second generation of meat businesses succeeds in the footsteps of the mega-processors that roamed the Stockyards
In 1865, the Union Stock Yard and Transit Co. opened in Chicago, becoming a major industrial lifeline for Sandburg’s “City of Big Shoulders” for much of the next century. During those times, people looking for the premier meatpackers of the day simply had to travel southwest of downtown Chicago — to “Packingtown” — to find Armour, Swift, and others, centrally located in a sprawling complex of slaughterhouses, railroad yards and animal pens.
The Stockyards (as they were called) closed in 1970, as processors closed or moved to new locations. Today, as the development of neighboring communities such as Bridgeport and the South Loop pushes its way toward the remnants of the Stockyards, one might think the heyday of meat processing in Chicago is long gone.
Yet, fueled by the city’s deeply seated tradition and ethnic heritage, Chicago’s meat-processing industry continues to thrive, albeit a bit more under the radar. Although these processors are spread across the metropolitan area today, with some still tucked away in what’s left of the Stockyards — and although they are not, in most cases, the behemoth corporations that their forerunners were — these processors are making names for themselves and developing a successful, new generation of Chicago meat processors.
In the following pages, The National Provisioner highlights only a handful of these successful companies, each of which has carved out its niche in the meat-processing world and is building toward the future. Whether serving the high-end foodservice segment or ethnically specialized retail segment, each of these processors has a story to tell and a piece to contribute toward helping Chicago reclaim its perch atop the meat-processing industry hierarchy.
Q and A with Stan Bobak.
Q: Is Bobak’s located in its original location?
Stan Bobak: We started out primarily as a retailer with the open of a 1,000-square-foot deli on the North Side of the city — we lived on top on the second floor and made product in the back of the store. That evolved into having a few traditional Polish delis around the city, North and South sides, still making product in the back of the store. Then, in 1975, we bought a 3,000-square-foot building in the Stockyards which became the dedicated processing facility that was Illinois inspected. That was the beginning of our wholesaling along with retail. We were there until the late 1980s. We built this facility and moved here in 1989 — it was originally 14,000 square feet and now it’s two buildings combined at 120,000 square feet. We have a restaurant a retail store, and we have an import and distribution operation as well.
Q: What resources does the Chicagoland area provide that allow you to build your business?
Bobak: Chicago is geographically centrally located. We have a lot of diversity from a consumer base, as we certainly sell our products throughout the U.S. and export as well. No doubt, though, our core base is Chicagoland, and it is a diverse group of people — a melting pot in every sense of the word. Consumers here are more open to trying different products [because of that], and grocers around Chicago are very strong in that regard and very receptive to that diversity.
Q: How has the Internet/Web and the evolution of a global economy helped bring some of the smaller, regional processors in places like Chicago to a much greater audience? How does your business take advantage of this additional exposure, if at all?
Bobak: As it does for other industries, it has worked phenomenally for us. We promote our Web site on our packaging, cartons, product labels, etc. We offer reasons to go to our Web site with recipes and in the case of retail we have promotions on there and sales ads. From the manufacturing and wholesale side, we’re constantly changing recipes and giving people ideas for what to do with the products. It allows a relatively small, family-owned, Chicago-rooted company to play in a larger market.
Q: Do you believe that private or family-owned businesses can thrive and grow in the type of marketplace we have today, particularly in the meat business? What is the secret to success for growing into a large processor?
Bobak: Everyone knows you have to have quality and good customer service and the other key essentials, and that’s true for any company in any industry. But what’s very important is, it’s all about the brand. Everything we do has to, in some way, work toward enhancing and promoting our brand. Sausage products come and go; trends come and go; flavor profiles come and go; but brands are what stick in people’s heads. As generations move along, it allows companies like us to say we’ve been around and doing well for 40 years. I also feel very strongly that the diversity of our business helps the manufacturing. We all go through cycles, trends, up times and down times, no doubt. But being that Bobak’s also has retail, is importing and has a line of private-label imported products — pickles, mushrooms and other items — we’re expanding our offerings, but that goes a long way toward the longevity of the business. Maybe we go into a cycle where sausage is down, we can weather the storm because of the diversity of the other products we offer. The key is, they all carry the Bobak’s brand, and during all that we’re constantly promoting the brand regardless of the product.Find out more!
Come visit our NEW hot food section!
Hot Food Take Out(per pound) – $4.99
Hot Soup (16 OZ) – $1.99
Hotdogs – $2.00
Visitors of our company store often ask us, “Why do you guys call yourself a sausage company”? Our simple answer is “because we are what we are”. Right behind our company store is our state-of-the-art factory, where we make all of our tasty products. So when you come and visit us, you’re coming to “sausage heaven”! We make our products right here; and they’re available for purchase and sample, right in our own company store and Hot Foods Eatery. A visit to Bobak’s is a “See, Smell, Sample, Shop & Eat” experience.Find out more!
“In Studio — Eating like a king or queen in Chicago doesn’t have to cost you hundreds of dollars. In fact, there is a way you can dine in style for $20 dollars or less, Jan Jeffcoat tells you how…”
Source: My Fox ChicagoFind out more!
“The Foods of Chicago: A Delicious History” will be premiering the week after Thanksgiving on Channel 11.
Our store will be featured on the show!
“The foods of Polish Noblemen and rural Polish Highlanders. We learn the peasant origins of many popular Polish foods (pierogis, for example), and how Polish-Americans have developed eating traditions all their own.”Find out more!
Our company and its recipes are featured in this wonderful book!
“Since the 1830s millions of Poles, often overcoming oppression and hardship, have come to Chicago with a dream of freedom, a willingness to work and a love of country, both old and new. This new groundbreaking work, Polish Chicago: Our History – Our Recipes, recounts by vivid prose, rare photographs and poignant anecdote the amazing story of these indomitable people.
To many, food is nourishment. To Polish Americans, food is a cause for sharing, celebration and for honoring tradition. As such, Polish Chicago: Our History – Our Recipes turns a spotlight on 36 Polish American restaurants and families who opened up their kitchens to share time-tested, delectable Polish recipes.
Sponsored by The Polish Museum of America, and written by Joseph W. Zurawski, an expert on the Polish American experience for over 50 years, Polish Chicago: Our History – Our Recipes is a handsome, 240-page, hardbound volume containing 720 rare historical photographs and exquisite food photographs by nationally renowned photographer Katherine Bish.”Find out more!
City of Pork
by Dana Bowen
On Saturday mornings, you have to wait for what seems like an eternity to place your order at the deli counter in Bobak’s, a Polish supermarket out by Midway Airport, on Chicago’s Southwest Side. And when the woman behind the counter calls your number in Polish, you’d better know exactly what you’d like, lest she catch someone else’s eye and move on. During my first visit, I got passed over for a man with a handlebar mustache who asked for four samples of different sausages before requesting a mere pound of one. Then a young woman muscled forth, pointing to the chunk of smoked pork butt she wanted to take home. When I finally worked up the nerve, I carefully asked for boczek my�liwski, or hunter-style bacon. (I’d rehearsed the pronunciation—boh-CHECK mish-LIV-ski—a few dozen times in my head beforehand.) The worker surprised me by answering in crisp English, “Do you want that sliced or slab?”
I had come to Chicago to taste the many things the city’s famous Polish delis and butchers do with pork, and I was getting off to a good start. When I cooked it up later that afternoon, the bacon—double smoked and meaty, with ribbons of aromatic fat that melted on the tongue—was unlike anything I’d eaten. Returning to Bobak’s the next day, I gazed at dozens of varieties of kielbasa dangling from hooks behind the counter, some reddish with crinkled rinds, others in slender loops, and still others labeled with signs that indicated regional provenance (krakowska, poznanska, and so on). When I was a kid growing up on Long Island, in New York, my Polish grandfather never hinted that a world existed beyond the Hillshire Farm kielbasa we ate with Mrs. T’s pierogi. Years later, I got the occasional taste of better Polish sausage (made with natural casings, sparkling with spice, free of fillers) from New York City’s Polish delis and on visits to Poland, but it wasn’t until my sister moved to Chicago and I started pork shopping there that I fully realized what I’d been missing.
In Avondale, a neighborhood in northwestern Chicago that’s known by local Poles as Jackowo, and in other Polish enclaves, there are tiny delis, like Stanley Sausage Shop and Liquor on West Belmont Avenue, that make meats such as poledwica, a satiny, smoked pork loin. Along Milwaukee Avenue—a major artery, lined with Polish businesses, that extends diagonally across the city’s northern reaches—are scores of butchers and grocers, each with a particular specialty: at Staropolska, for example, it’s smoked ribs smothered with caramelized onions, from a recipe that the butcher Ludwig Jacek says he developed while learning the art of smoking meats in the Polish city of Opole. And on the fringes of Chicago and in the suburbs, where more than half of the state’s roughly 900,000 citizens of Polish ancestry (a majority of them first generation) live, you can find supermarkets connected to sausage factories where meaty stuffed cabbage rolls and peppery pork burgers are sold from behind steam table counters and where traditional Polish butchery—from headcheeses to pork ears—is the norm. Beholding all this and more, I marveled at the fact that the poet Carl Sandburg’s famous moniker for Chicago—”Hog Butcher for the World”—rings so enduringly true.
Stan Bobak, the 43-year-old owner of Bobak’s Sausage Company, knows how to woo a lover of the pig. “This is the good stuff,” he said, handing me a piece of kabanos, a crinkled, slender sausage that delivered a taste of pepper and caraway. Even though Bobak’s—which offers around a hundred varieties of meats and sausages—sells shrink-wrapped kielbasa for 99 cents a pound, it also makes sausage the old-fashioned way, allowing it to air-cure in unrefrigerated rooms. “There are rules in this country that prohibit this,” Stan told me, “but here in Chicago, everyone just looks the other way.”
We were walking through the maze of rooms where the sausage is made—one for seasoning and grinding various cuts of pork, another in which 20 or so men twist the sausages into links, and yet another containing the heart of the operation: the 15-foot-high smokers in which most of the meats from Bobak’s undergo their transformation. Bags of wood chips were arranged against the wall, as were stacks of oak logs, used for the slow, low-temperature smoking that yields intensely flavorful meat. This is what Bobak’s is famous for: the heavily smoked bacons and sausages that are typical of Poland’s southern highlands.
Talk with Stan Bobak long enough, and sooner or later the conversation rolls around to Zakopane, the town in the mountainous highland region near Poland’s Czech border where his father was born. Chicago’s Highlander community is a tight one, he told me, and has long relied on the social clubs and organizations that help new immigrants get situated and find jobs. When Stan’s father, Frank, came over in the 1960s, he found work, as many Poles did, in the city’s vast stockyards, where a majority of the country’s pork was processed or distributed at the time, and he moved the family to the nearby neighborhood known as Back of the Yards. At night, Frank would make small batches of sausage in his garage, setting the links and coils in a small brick smoker.
Eventually the family opened a deli in Jackowo, followed by several others around town. In 1975 the Bobaks bought their first plant and started wholesaling, and in 1989 they built the store and factory where we were standing now. The neighborhood, known as Garfield Ridge, has a large Highlander population. “In a way,” Stan said, “it felt like we were coming home.”
Stella, Stan’s wife—who was born near Zakopane and met Stan in a Highlander dance class when they were in their teens—told me that she rarely makes dishes that don’t include pork in one way or another, whether it’s the rib meat in �urek, a rye-flour soup, or the smoked pork shoulder in bigos, Poland’s ubiquitous sauerkraut stew, which is served in the restaurant attached to the Bobak’s store. “Our food is home style,” Stella said, “but if you want to try something upscale, go to Szalas, down the block.”
At that Archer Avenue restaurant, named for a traditional mountain chalet, I had a pork cutlet wrapped in bacon along with flatbreads slathered with lard and pork cracklings. I was in hog heaven.
To what delicious ends do Chicago’s Polish home cooks use these cured and smoked meats? “You should come to our ball and ask them!” said Jan Lorys, director of the city’s Polish Museum of America, located on Milwaukee Avenue, when I called to inquire about the culinary material in his archives. The museum’s annual black-tie event, held in a ballroom of the Chase Tower in the Loop, attracted more than 300 people. When I got there, Lorys, a tall, white-haired man, showed me around, introducing me to this person whose mother used to work in the stockyards and that person who was a fabulous cook. At one point, he sent me off to a corner to speak with a kindly wallflower of a historian named Joseph Zurawski, who mapped out a genealogical tree of the city’s prominent sausage families. “Slotkowski was the first famous one,” he said. That business, he added, started in 1918 and was bought by Leon’s Sausage, which recently became Sausages by Amy, known around the country for its antibiotic-free, all-natural meat. Then there’s Mikolajczyk, who sold to a butcher named Andy Kolasa, who in turn opened a flashy, new supermarket on the North Side called Andy’s Deli.
Zurawski and I also talked about Bobak’s, which experienced rapid growth in the late 1990s and expanded by opening glitzy suburban superstores. After Frank Bobak retired, about a decade ago, Stan, who managed the original location, and his brothers, who operated the suburban ones, became involved in a highly publicized family feud. Most of the suburban supermarkets have since closed. “It’s been hard on Polonia,” a Polish radio announcer, sitting next to me at the dinner table, said about the dispute’s effect on Chicago’s Polish community, often known collectively as Polonia. “But Bobak’s sausage is still very good.”
The next day, I set out to find a few of the establishments that people had recommended the night before. When I asked to speak with the butcher at the Krakus deli, far out on Milwaukee Avenue in the Jefferson Park neighborhood, Robert Bielowicz poked his head out of a doorway in back and waved me in. “It’s all about how you sort the meat,” he said a bit later, explaining that each sausage is a carefully calibrated composition of cuts chosen for taste, texture, and fat. Bielowicz, a third-generation butcher who still works with his father, a Krakow native, knows exactly how much sausage his regular customers will buy each week: usually about a thousand pounds. His prices are a little higher than those of the large sausage makers I visited, which he attributes to his being picky about his pork and the quality of his raw garlic and other ingredients. There’s far less variety in his simply appointed shop, but everything I tasted—the ham coated in garlic and herbs, the air-dried kabanos—had a pure, handcrafted character.
On the last day of my visit, I returned to Bobak’s for lunch. The 120-seat cafeteria-style restaurant adjacent to the supermarket was crowded with customers filling their plates at the hot buffet. There were mini aspics studded with herbs and ham, crêpes filled with shredded pork, and bacon-wrapped pork loin. Ah, the joys of lunch at a butcher shop, I thought.
I flagged down Stan. I was eager to tell him about a conversation I’d had the day before. A woman I’d met at the Polish Museum who worked for a Polish food distributor swore that the sausages you find in Chicago are superior in flavor to those you can find in many areas of Poland. Stan replied with typical, understated equanimity. “Here in Chicago,” he said, “Poles really cling to their heritage to keep it alive.”
As I was leaving, he told me to look for his sausage in Brooklyn, where I live and where he ships a few times a week. Even the air-cured stuff? I asked.
“No,” he said. “For that, you’ll have to come back to Chicago.”
First published in Saveur, Issue #105
As you can see, our website is going through exciting changes!
During the following days we will be updating the website with new content.
In the meanwhile please feel free to browse around, if you have any questions or comments please go to the “contact us” section.
Some of the upcoming features include:
– Ability to search for our products in other stores using an easy to use map driven interface.
– Ability to search our wholesale items.
– Ability to subscribe to our store ads.
– And much, much more!
Again, thank you for visiting!Find out more!
This local Chicago based program featured a 30 minute segment on Bobak’s, its unique business and how it has become a part of the fabric of Chicagoland and a must visit when in town.Find out more!
This popular national program featured Bobak Sausage and how we make and smoke our products.Find out more!
This show featured Bobak’s as a popular combination stop where you can food shop and dine all in one with Bobak’s specialty market and restaurant.Find out more!
This show featured a well written Book called “A Cook’s Guide to Chicago” by Marilyn Pocius. This book lists interesting food shopping experiences in Chicago and Bobak’s was a featured pick.Find out more!
Bobak’s notoriety even extends to the Vatican in Rome, Italy. In 1979, when the then newly appointed monarch to the Vatican, Pope John Paul II, visited Chicago for the first time. Having known the Bobak brand, Pope John Paul II specifically requested Bobak sausage, deli meats and bakery goods, while staying at the Cardinal’s residence in Chicago.Find out more!
The Financial Times
May 6, 2005
By: Jeremy Grant – Newswriter
The US city’s strong ties with Poland have a meaty complexion, say Jeremy Grant
Chicago, home to the largest Polish community outside Warsaw, has long had deep associations with Poland.
The za chlebem (“for bread”) movement of the mid 19th century kicked off the first of at least three waves of immigration to America’s third largest city, including a surge in the 1980s after the imposition of martial law in Poland in 1981.
In the last two years yet another wave been driven by Poles exploiting family connections in Chicago to gain better job prospects in the US.
But there is another, less obvious, link between Chicago and Poland.
When Frank Bobak, a Polish immigrant in Chicago, met Pope John Paul II at a private audience in the Vatican City in 1979, it was the start of an unusual relationship between Chicago and the late Polish pontiff.
And that link, as Frank’s son Stan likes to relate, was provided by the humble Polish sausage.
Frank Bobak had arrived in Chicago in the 1960s from Zakopane, a mountain resort in the far south of Poland, where he had been a shepherd and where the Pope liked to ski.
Mr Bobak’s day job in Chicago was packing meat in what was left of the city’s stockyards. But on the side, he made Polish sausages in the basement of his house for the relatives who wanted a taste of home.
He was also lucky enough to know one of the Polish priests who had worked with John Paul II before he became Pope, and was able to get an audience.
The visit made an impression on the Pope because when, a year later, John Paul II visited Chicago, he recognized the Bobak name on being told who was responsible for the sausages he was being fed at the home of Chicago’s cardinal.
The Pope and Bobak’s sausages has become part of a story telling ritual for Stan who, together with brothers Joe and John, now runs the Bobak Sausage Company.
From Frank’s basement, the business has expanded into an enterprise churning out 1m lbs of meat products a week, employing 500 people in four premises across Chicago.
Bobak’s makes a wide range of Polish sausages and other specialties such as golobki – rolled, stuffed cabbage. Yet, unlike many sausage makers in Poland, the company has tried to stick to the way sausages were made decades ago.
Stan Bobak, 40, says: “When someone made a sausage back home 30 years ago it was a very lean sausage. It’s been through a modernization such that people have found ways to throw in by products and more fat content – which we don’t do.
” Bobak’s smokes the sausages using real wood and wood chips, rather than the liquid smoking techniques that “modernizers” use, Mr Bobak says.
This insistence on authenticity has even attracted the attention of sausage makers in Poland.
Many of them have flown to Chicago to find out how Bobak’s manages to make sausages in a highly automated operation yet not abandon their traditional recipes.
“They were intrigued as to how you get this color and flavor,” says Mr Bobak.
Bobak’s is not the only Polish sausage maker in Chicago. As Mr Bobak puts it, there are “many small mom-and-pop delis” in the city and suburbs selling Polish products.
While the company “still very much caters towards the Polish community”, says Mr Bobak, the inclusion of restaurants in the company’s stores has helped draw non-Poles into the world of Polish food.
In 1997, Bobak’s introduced a Polish-American buffet style restaurant into its 14,000 square foot store on Archer Avenue, on Chicago’s south side.
“A lot of people may come and not be familiar with Polish foods in the store but if they have lunch it gives them an idea,” says Mr Bobak.
“Then they go right back and buy what otherwise they might not have looked at.”Find out more!
ABC 7 NEWS James Ward – “Bobak’s Family Restaurants” Feature of Chicago’s top 10 “Family Oriented” restaurants in Chicagoland.Find out more!
Time Out Chicago
May 26-June 2, 2005
Issue No. 13
There aren’t many ironclad rules for dining out, but “avoid buffets” and “don’t eat near the airport” are practically set in stone. Bobak’s a few blocks from Midway, is a notable exception to both. Famed for its sausage factory and its well-stocked Eastern European grocery, Bobak’s also features an incredibly rich, filling buffet. It’s not particularly vegetarian-friendly (any given day features at least a dozen pork dishes), but a fresh fruit bar, massive dessert table and some of the finest pierogi in the city make up for it. Offerings change daily, but certain items are always in high demand, particularly a near-perfect prime rib most Sundays. 5275 S Archer Ave between 51st and 52nd Sts (773-735-5334). El: Orange to Midway. Bus 47, 54B, 62, 62H. Lunch, dinner. Average buffet: $10.Find out more!
June 14, 2004
June 14, 2004 – EATCHICAGO.NET – “Chicago’s Polish Superstore.”
There are a variety of markets around the area that make you feel as if you are in another country. After walking around Bobak’s on Archer for a few minutes, I felt as though I were doing my shopping in Poland.
Bobak’s is a local sausage company that has been making sausages and deli meats in Chicago since the 60’s. They operate 2 grocery locations (with attached restaurants) that sell their own deli products, private-label groceries, among other items. They have two more locations planned for 2004. There are many Polish markets in Chicago, but Bobak’s is probably the largest and highest-profile among them.
You can buy Bobak’s products in many other small markets around the area, but sometimes it’s fun to see the whole operation for yourself. EatChicago recently stopped in on the Chicago Bobak’s location (Archer Ave. east of Cicero) for some kielbasa and other specialties. The deli counter is remarkable. Tons of sausages hang behind the counter that stretches three times the length of a Jewel deli counter. There are more varieties of sausage than you knew existed, with at least a dozen different kinds of kielbasa. Take a number, watch the display, and listen closely; I think the numbers were being called out in Polish.
We picked up some standard kielbasa, spicy pork jerky, and sliced pork roast before perusing the aisles. The rest of the store is full of polish baked goods, packaged meats, canned and jarred items, soups, produce, and liquor. We added some Bobak’s-brand marinated mushrooms, some imported Polish honey, and some frozen mushroom pierogies to our basket. The pierogies were made by Bobak’s and were absolutely delicious, if not a little heavy for summertime dining. In the back of the store I found giant, covered “serve-yourself” tubs of pickles, cabbage, and herring.
Munching on spicy pork jerky on the ride home and thinking about the endless chains of sausage, I thought about how lucky we are to live in a city like this. Our large immigrant population takes pride in their culinary heritage and our communities reap the benefit.
Support local ethnic markets. The price is right and the food is well worth it. Bobak’s is at 5275 S Archer Ave. in Chicago.Find out more!
“Within earshot of Midway Airport, Bobaks, a stadium-size Polish emporium, just might be Chicago’s sausage capital (5275 s Archer Avenue; 773-735-5334). Choose from a museum’s worth of varieties: garlicky kielbasa dill flecked veal sausage, gnarled smokey links along with rye bread, imported horseradish, and paczki (a plump jelly doughnut). Or hit the store’s home-style buffet, which could easily feed all of Krakow.”Find out more!
Chicago Tribune by Helen Anderson “Sausage and more, Supermarket stocks its inventory with Eastern European flavors.”Find out more!
This popular morning program featured a live feature of Bobak’s with that included live viewer question call-ins and answers provided by Bobak family members.Find out more!
ABC 7 NEWS – James Ward – “Chicago’s Top 10 Restaurants” James Ward, Chicago’s best known food critic and local television personality, featured Bobak’s restaurant and Grocery on a dedicated feature of the 10 o’clock news. This segment had an “air time” that was over 3 minutes dedicated to this feature.
For more than 30 years the market has offered classy, quality, tasty sausages and much more! And today at their new store more is more is more is more! It’s a family affair and here are sons Joe and Stan, whose new emporium houses a fantabulous meat market and general store with aisles of international imports and a grand produce section! An all you can eat go back and back overwhelmin’ of hot dishes; including my favorites, fresh kielbasas, savory barley sausage and super pork shishkabob. A mini mountain of prize desserts for those mega type appetites! The mile-long meat and sausage counter, Chicago’s Largest! A busy place, happy people slicing happy sausage! Bobak’s is a one stop shop and eat place, with tons of food to go. So, you can’t miss coming or going. Now it’s hard to give a formal rating to a place like Bobak’s unique specialty market with a restaurant. But, for what they do…very well and at prices they charge…Bobak deserves a very top bread rating for food and certainly for circuses.”Find out more!
Bobak’s, a Chicago tradition since 1967, is proud to be part of the Mayor’s Stanley Cup Wager!
Bobak’s will wage 100 Italian Sausages AND 100 Gourmet Chicken Burger Pucks (made special for this event) for every goal the Hawks score in the entire Stanley Cup series!
The Chicken pucks (they are actually shaped the size of a hockey puck) are all awesome flavors like; Portabella Mushroom and Fontina Cheese, Cranberry/Chipotle and Pepper Jack Cheese, Andouille with Black Bean/Roasted Corn and Monterey Jack Cheese.
Bobak’s is big in Chicago, but it’s just the tip of the iceberg
By Julianne Glatz
I’ve been in Chicago so often lately that I’ve left my travel satchel on our dining table. Reasons for the trips varied: music, theater, work, and even a day trip to O’Hare to collect my daughter’s cat, which had been flown in from New Zealand. In between there’ve been meals at wonderful restaurants — some old favorites, others new discoveries. Some of the best, as always, were small ethnic joints whose delicious food is as wonderful as their low prices.
All the trips were short and tightly scheduled, so there wasn’t time for leisurely shopping, but whenever I go to Chicago — or St. Louis or New York, for that matter — I usually have a food-shopping agenda: specialties I can’t find locally. I’d swung into the Super H Mart in Niles, a mind-boggling Korean megastore close to O’Hare, visited a Pastorale artisanal-cheese shop, and stopped by a wholesale fish market where retail customers pick out and bag their selections with plastic gloves, pay for them, and hand them to fishmongers who will debone and cut them if the buyer desires. Shoppers then scoop crushed ice from huge mounds into bags to keep their purchases fresh.
It wasn’t until my last trip, though, that I was able to get to Bobak’s, nicknamed by my family “the Polish Superstore.” It was a priority: My husband had been imploring me to bring home some of their fantastic Maxwell Street Polish sausage.
For years I’d driven past the Bobak’s billboard by the Cicero Avenue exit on I-55 but never been tempted. (Has there ever been a billboard depiction of meat that’s appealing?) After hearing about the Bobak Sausage Co. from several sources, though, I went and have been returning ever since. Bobak’s is located at 5275 Archer Ave., a stone’s throw from I-55 and Midway Airport. From the outside it looks like any other good-size American grocery. At first glance, the inside seems that way, too — shopping carts, checkout lanes with refrigerated beverages in front. Then the details hit: The newspapers are in Polish, as are the magazines and bulletin-board notices. Usually everyone is speaking Polish — the checkers, the customers, and the workers behind the deli counter. (It’s not intimidating, though; everyone also speaks English.)
Ah, the deli counter. Stretching nearly the length of the store, it offers a jaw-dropping selection, and almost everything is made on site. There are hundreds — and I mean hundreds — of items: several different kinds of bacon, including deeply smoky and flavorful hunter bacon; four or five varieties of wieners; multiple kinds and cuts of hams; and a truly bewildering assortment of cold cuts and sausages. There are barrels of pickles and sauerkraut, as well as refrigerated cases holding salads, soups, and other prepared dishes, plus shelves bearing condiments; pickled mushrooms, beets, and other vegetables; and breads and pastries.
Bobak’s opened in 1967. It’s been named the Best Deli by Chicago magazine and featured on the Best Of Food Network series. In 1998 a buffet restaurant was attached. I’ve never eaten in the restaurant, but I will eventually; it’s gotten excellent reviews in Time Out Chicago, and the ingredients come from next door, so it’s a sure bet that the food’s good.
Bobak’s has a large presence in Chicago, but it’s only the tip of the Polish iceberg. The Maxwell Street Polish sausage, one of Chicago’s signature foods, is a legacy of Poles’ part — both Jewish and Gentile — in establishing the legendary Maxwell Street Market.
The “Polish Corridor” had long been a route of invasion for Germany and Russia, as well as Austria, all of whom have taken over parts of Poland in their quest for supremacy. Beginning in the 1850s, Poles fleeing the resultant chaos migrated to Chicago in massive waves. By the 1930s, the Poles were the largest ethnic group in Chicago, and the city remains home to the largest concentration of Poles outside Poland. Though originally concentrated in neighborhoods, eventually they spread into the suburbs and around the city, as did other ethnic Chicagoans. The Chicago Polish community, known as Polonia, retains its strong identity, though. Anyone who Googles “Polish Chicago” will find multiple Web sites covering Polish history, current events, restaurants (one site lists 48), schools, businesses (including many smaller butcher/sausage shops), doctors, and even job candidates.
Here in Springfield, the Prairie State Polish Club was founded in 1986 by a group of Polish-Americans to celebrate their heritage and culture, says former president Anne Andrews. They’ve held events, published a cookbook, and made bus trips to Polish neighborhoods in Chicago. The group originally numbered about 100, though it’s smaller these days.
Anne Andrews is Polish by marriage. The British-born nurse met her husband, Boleslaw Wietcnty Andrezejewski, at a dance in Manchester, England, after the end of World War II. Andrezejewski, who changed his name to Edward Andrews after emigrating to the U.S. with his wife and infant son in 1954, was one of many Poles caught in the crossfire during the 1939 Nazi invasion of Poland. Son of a Polish father and a German mother, he was 15 at the time of the invasion. His wartime experience is dramatic: Arrested and sent to the Mauthausen concentration camp, he escaped with two officers, one Russian and one Polish, and eventually joined the Polish Free Army in Italy, fighting with them at the legendary Allied victory at Monte Cassino.
I’ve enjoyed Bobak’s Maxwell Street Polish sausage for a long time without thinking much about it, but I’ll savor my next one even more, remembering the history of Poles in Chicago and the courage of Ed Andrews.
Bobak’s will be featured on this show on November 27th, 2007 at 7:30PM and 10:00PM.