Smak-Tak Restaurant, Polish Answer To The Winter Blues

'Tis the season for this classic's hearty Polish food

Shaved carrot, beet, and cucumber-sour cream salads aside, Smak-Tak's most iconic Polish dishes are made for winter weather.

The 15-year-old Jefferson Park restaurant has the winning (and dangerous) combination of rich food, herculean servings and low prices that makes it impossible to leave understuffed.

Go on a blustery day–and with a robust appetite–for golden potato pancakes with applesauce and sour cream ($8), and lightly sour, salty, dill-spiked cucumber soup ($4), which tastes like a Polish grandmother's soothing restorative.

Fluffy sauerkraut-mushroom or potato-onion pierogi ($9 for 12), served on a butter-lacquered plate, are a meal in themselves, and alone worth the trip.

But save room for the gargantuan Hungarian pancake, with lusty, paprika-rich veal stew folded in a thick potato pancake that's pan-fried until its edges are crisp and brown ($13). Festooned with sour cream and nearly football-size, it's easily big enough for two. Or try a breaded pork cutlet topped with sautéed mushrooms and crowned with a fried egg, with spheres of buttery, dill-topped potatoes on the side ($12).

For our next visit, we'll be calling ahead to preorder the off-menu whole roasted duck with apricot-prune stuffing ($27)–and bringing a gaggle of friends to share.

Smak-Tak, 5961 N. Elston Ave.; 773-763-1123 or