You enter Kramarczuk’s through the retail shop, which also acts as the neighborhood butcher, baker, and importer of Slavic goods. You’re immediately greeted with the mouthwatering aromas of steaming cabbage rolls and sausages. We don’t know how anyone could possibly shop responsibly at Kramarczuk’s until they’d first sated themselves the at cafeteria.
The long steam table snakes around the large building, holding various cabinets of cured meats, dumplings and breads. Chaffing dishes hold aromatic sauces and simmering sauerkraut. After you fill your tray with food and pay the cashier, make sure to visit the pickle and mustard bar that is tucked away behind the soda machine. We don’t notice it at first, and it contains an array of spicy delights that will enhance your sausage plates.
The combination plate is set up for first timers like us, who aren’t yet sure what their favorite house specialty will be. Too bad it presents us with more questions than answers. Could the meaty, tender cabbage rolls possibly have tasted better with the tomato sauce than the earthy mushroom gravy? With sausages this good, does it really make sense to brother with anything else? Then again, how could we possibly skip the tender oversized pierogi? All calculated, we will have to order this Ukrainian sampler again, for further investigation.
The Polish Kielbasa that we select for the combo is plump, juicy and has a persistent, but balanced smoke. It’s probably the single best bite of food on the plate — among fierce competition. We have to try the Ukrainian Garlic Sausage too, so we get that on a bun with a warm pork-laced sauerkraut. The texture is slightly coarser and a tad juicier, but the profile and smoke are similar to the house Polish incarnation. The garlic is just noticeable. In addition to these two gigantic pink signature sausages, Kramarczuk’s offers a rotating selection of daily specials pulled from the dozens of options that are available at the butcher shop. If you bring them game from your hunting weekend in the Northern Lakes, the butcher will process it into a custom sausage for you. Moose kielbasa anyone?
Ordering a sausage on a bun is a smart move. The huge sausages have an irresistible snap, the buns are baked in-house, and the trimmings are as good as they get. However, we might brood with jealousy at those with pierogis and cabbage rolls on their plate.
The beer hall atmosphere and salty, tangy food may tempt you into returning to the food line for a refill of brew. They offer a thoughtful selection of local lager and Czech or Polish imports, mostly served in “tall boy” cans. The food, paired with the atmosphere and a fresh Pilsner makes for one of the truest Slavic beer hall experiences found stateside.