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South Side Eats: Racine Bakery and Deli

By Chuck Sudo in Food on Jul 30, 2007 3:30PM

2007_07_racine_prime.jpgIt takes a strong constitution to negotiate Archer Avenue on a bicycle; some stretches between California and Cicero require a rider to put the fear of death out of his head. But it's worth the trip west, young man, for the literal smörgåsbord of Polish restaurants, meat markets, and European delicatessens you'll come across. One that we're ashamed to have never visited until this weekend is Racine Bakery. This Garfield Ridge institution has been in business since 1984, eighteen of them in its current location at 6216 S. Archer. For émigrés from Germany, Poland, Lithuania, and other areas of central and eastern Europe, a visit to Racine Bakery can ease the transition to their new lives in America by giving them a taste of home.

2007_07_racine_lunch.jpgRacine Bakery prepares and sells a cornucopia of breads, cakes, cookies, tarts, danishes, and pies, all baked fresh. Their deli is also teeming with a wide selection of meats, cheeses, homemade soups, entrees, and other delicacies like kugelis, saltiena, potato pancakes, pierogis, dumplings, even caviar. You can also grab a bite to eat while you shop, as evidenced by this wonderful spread we ate on our visit. At the top left in the photo is a pint of mushroom soup ($1.25), a bowl of beef stroganoff with a couple slices of seven grain bread ($5.25), and two Polish krokiety filled with mushrooms, onions, ground beef and chicken breast ($2.50). Paired with a large bottle of Gerolsteiner mineral water, this entire meal cost us only $11 and gave us the fuel necessary for the ride home. A small counter area in the front of the store allows customers to rest their feet for a few moments while browsing the shelves teeming with European jams, jellies, juices, broths, and spreads. Racine Bakery also makes sandwiches to order, at an average cost of $4-7, depending on the number of ingredients. They also make party trays for folks planning large gatherings, and deliver.

We were so impressed with what we found at Racine Bakery that we uploaded a set of photos of Racine Bakery's offerings on the Chicagoist Photos Flickr stream, so you can get an idea of just how deep their inventory runs.

Racine Bakery is open 6 a.m. - 7 p.m. Monday to Friday, 6 a.m. - 6 p.m. Saturday, and 6 a.m. - 2 p.m. Sunday. You can contact them via their website, or by calling 773-581-8500, or faxing an order to them at 773-581-2258.