Bigos in a Bread Bowl at Little Poland

[Photographs: Robyn Lee]

Your average Little Poland customer likely is a blue hair, and the restaurant's worn wood interior bears some aesthetic similarity to a retirement home dining room.

But poke around the menu and you'll see that this decades-old Polish joint isn't just serving geriatric food. Their Bigos, for instance, is impressive, well worth an order at the counter.

Bigos is a meatatarian's vegetable stew of sauerkraut braised with several cuts of meat. At Little Poland it's fork-tender pork shoulder, fatty kielbasa, and some bacon for good measure. Somewhere between refreshingly pickled and over-the-top porky, it's the kind of hearty food you'd do well to eat more of now.

Little Poland's bigos is best set apart by its delicacy—the mild sauerkraut doesn't overwhelm the meat, as can happen with too vinegary of a braising liquid—but its defining feature may be its service vessel. You can order the bigos with mushroom gravy and sticky, gnocchi-like potato dumplings (halusky) for $9.50, but an extra 50 cents gets you the stew in a bread bowl instead, the perfect thing to soak up all those braised cabbage juices (and bacon fat).

No, the dish may not look like much, but looks are rarely a priority with Eastern European food. Here the beauty's more than crust-deep.