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Pierogis to Piernik

Getting the Polish Experience in Greenpoint

From sausage-packing delis to borscht-slinging restaurants, this rising neighborhood's roots are still showing

Greenpoint is riding high these days, buoyed by an artisanal ice cream shop (Van Leeuwen), a bar for barrel-aged beer (Torst), and lots of attention as the setting for Girls, but if you’ve never sampled the bounty of its old Polish bakeries, delis and restaurants, you’re only getting half the story—and likely paying double the price. Once a community of immigrant dockworkers, Greenpoint has kept much of its original character thanks in part to its limited public transportation options, as the G is the neighborhood’s only train line (it’s also the only train that doesn’t go into Manhattan). That drawback for commuters is a blessing for those who love a well-preserved ethnic enclave—and a straight-up bowl of borscht with dumplings, to boot. All in all, it’s really not so tough to reach, if you don’t mind the G, walking from the Bedford L stop or taking the East River Ferry. So hop right over and try a slice of Krakow in Brooklyn.


Murawski Pharmacy

Murawski Pharmacy

Murawski Pharmacy
Let the green cross outside be a beacon to this decidedly European drug store (operating a Western Union desk, too). Polish facial creams, magazines and greeting cards anchor the inventory, while a bulletin board by the entrance keeps customers in the know on everything from concerts and co-ops to auto repair and akupunktura. Who needs Craigslist? 94 Nassau Ave., 718-389-7600,

Cafe Riviera
Stocked with chocolate croissants and colorful macarons as well as Polish goodies such as babka (sweet bread) and piernik (gingerbread), this petite bakery and cafe is a serious neighborhood hub, with its regular old country clientele chatting it up at the tables and younger folks picking up their daily joe at the counter. Doling out smooth cappuccinos in glass mugs, it’s a staple with soul that beats out any coffee chain. 830 Manhattan Ave., 718-383-8450


Polski Meat Market

Polski Meat Market (Photo: Kamekame/Flickr)

Polski Meat Market
Butcher-counter items such as smoked kielbasa, black pepper sausage and baked bacon share top billing with handsome platters of prepared foods such as cheese blintzes, stuffed chicken legs and pork meatballs at this deli counter, which also has a refrigerated case in back for pints of bigos (meat and sauerkraut stew) and borscht. It’s mainly for takeout, but there’s one table inside if you can’t wait to chow down. 726 Manhattan Ave., 718-349-2884

Adam’s Delicatessen
Sweet and savory cravings can both be satisfied at this Nassau Street deli. The dessert case up front displays daily items such as chocolate-covered cheesecake (in an unusual pound cake shape), meringues and layer cakes filled with berries and cream. Further back is an array of Polish sausages (including a pâté-like variety) and smoked fish. Time to plan an elaborate brunch. 112 Nassau Ave., 718-894-3774


Krolewskie Jadlo

Krolewskie Jadlo

Krolewskie Jadlo (King’s Feast)
Armored knights standing sentry at the door tell you that you’re about to sup royally at this Polish fixture, decorated with tall dark wood booths, swords and paintings of 16th-century kings. Long group tables make it easy to share a major banquet, whether you go for family-style platters—like the $44 deal for four people, including pierogies, stuffed cabbage and blood sausage, among other meaty dishes—or game specialties such as stuffed quail and venison meatballs. The $10 weekday lunch special, offering a choice of soup, entree and dessert, also keeps bellies full on the cheap 694 Manhattan Ave., 718-383-8993,

Slodycze Wedel
A rare U.S. outlet for Poland’s 1851-founded Wedel chocolate company, this neat little corner shop is the place for fancy candy boxes and liqueur-filled chocolates as well as big sellers like the hazelnut bars and chocolate-coated cake bars by Wawel (one of the other brands it carries), plus other colorfully wrapped sweets. Those who geek out on super-dark varieties will find a 72-percenter to please. 772 Manhattan Ave., 718-349-3933




Fried cheese, pickle soup, goulash and potato pancakes—there’s plenty of hearty fare to go around at this relative newcomer (opened in 2007) on Greenpoint Avenue. Furnished in rustic style, with touches like wagon-wheel chandeliers and wooden picket fences, and tended by a staff in old-fashioned dress, it’s an easy destination for eating or drinking, with a variety of Polish suds on tap and by the bottle, plus a Thursday Żywiec beer special from 5pm to 9pm. 136 Greenpoint Ave., 718-349-1744,

Set in the old Polish National Home, this music venue with a vintage feel hosts a mix of punk (Black Flag, Social Distortion), Polish rock bands and DJ dance parties. Add in its bistro menu, and its slogan, “where pierogies meet punk,” makes perfect sense. Folks also pack the house for record fairs and other eclectic one-off events. 261 Driggs Ave., 718-387-0505,

Irene’s Pub
The stone-faced exterior, neon signs for Zywiec beer and notice on the window warning bathrooms are for customers only (in English and Polish) tell you that you’re in for a divey night at this corner bar on the Nassau G stop. Catering to a largely Polish clientele with its jukebox of American oldies and European tunes, it has a low-key vibe but gets infiltrated now and then by the younger, arty set, throwing birthday parties and such. 623 Manhattan Ave., no phone

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