So what that it’s summer in Chicago and it feels like a 100+ degrees and all you want to do is dip your toes in that awesome narrow pool in Millennium Park? You should still indulge in the richest, most delicious Polish food you can lay your sweaty fingers on, right? Right.

Podhalanka feels like your Polish best friend’s grandma’s house, or at least I imagine it that way. You really have no control over anything that’s happening (food wise), but it’s still comforting and incredible. You sit down and get handed some juice you’re told is made in-house. You have no other information about said juice, but you drink it and it tastes like beets so you definitely don’t complain.

You nervously let the grandma (really, the waiter but work with me here) that you’re a vegetarian and that no, you won’t be having the special sausage they are grilling just for you. “That’s okay,” they say and bring you a beautiful plate of warm pierogies filled with cheese & potatoes and cabbage. Mmmmm, swoon.

Your belly is so full, you’re feeling warm and just when you couldn’t think about eating any more appears a plate of cheese blintzes. You can’t say no. How could you possibly decline the people who have been feeding you with love and tons of pierogies? You just can’t. You don’t want to be “that friend” who shows up to a family dinner and doesn’t finish their plate!

The good thing is that you don’t have to try too hard to finish you plate at Podhalanka. You might be crazy full, but that’s okay because that extra potato pancake will be worth the belt-popping sensation. Besides, it’s hot out and you need some sustenance to brave the day… or maybe you’ll just take a nap.

What’s you Chicago must-eat, friends?