Polish Food and Historic Art in the Windy City
By: Tasha Fabela-Jonas
When we think of Chicago, one of the first things that come to mind is the Polish community and their tasty food! We wanted some good homemade pierogi and we found some at Smak Tak (Polish for “Delicious-Yes!”), a cozy restaurant off the beaten path on the north side of Chicago at 5961 N. Elston Ave. If you’ve ever been to Poland, you will feel right at home here and we bet you’ll hear Polish-speaking diners sitting right next to you.
Pierogies are an old-school Polish dish and Smak Tak, which opened in 2002, has their own family recipe. If you can’t decide between cheese and potato, sauerkraut and mushrooms, sweet cheese, meat (pork and beef), blueberry, plum, cherry or strawberry, try them all or mix them the way you like it.
What makes this place even better is that it’s BYOB and the food is cooked to order. Yep, you can bring your own alcohol to enjoy with your pierogies. If that’s not your thing, they have Polish Tymbark juices and Nałęczowianka sparkling water you can pair with fresh potato pancakes.
After you’ve slept off your cabbage rolls, start moving and head downtown to Millennium Park to see the famous “Cloud Gate,” or as some refer to it as “The Bean,” (Because it looks like a bean). The iconic stainless steel sculpture was created by artist Anish Kapoor as part of a design competition in 2006 and sits right above an ice skating rink. Close inspection will show that there are no visible seams on the shiney surface, but we noticed lots of handprints on the 33 by 66 by 42 foot sculpture weighing in at 110 short tons. Don’t worry, the entire sculpture is cleaned twice a year with 40 gallons of liquid detergent. You’ll have plenty of time to visit “The Bean” as it is expected to survive for 1,000 years.
Once the sun has set and you can’t see your reflection anymore, go see “Lucent,” another dazzling sculpture in Chicago. Imagine looking up at 3,115 handmade glass orbs, the number representing the visible stars in the Northern Hemisphere. The piece was created by Wolfgang Buttress with the help of astrophysicist Dr. Daniel Bayliss. This hypnotising work of art can be found at Chicago’s John Hancock building on the ground floor, shining bright with the help of fiber-optic cables at 13 feet in diameter complete with a mirrored ceiling above and a reflecting pool below.
Don’t head home without getting yourself a bag of Garrett Popcorn, a tasty treat made locally in Chicago since 1949. Lines get ridiculous, so be prepared to wait for this mouth watering treat. Try the Garrett Mix, a blend of their famous CaramelCrisp and CheeseCorn recipes. You should probably purchase a large amount of this popcorn, as we think you’ll run out fast.