Nov 12, 2019

A commoner dines at Peaches and Pears Restaurant, Chicago

If you’re looking for perfect Polish grandma food in Chicago and you don’t happen to know an actual Polish grandma who lives there, I can give you three reasons why Peaches and Pears Restaurant on Archer Avenue may be your next best option. 

First, when a restaurant boldly claims to have the best homemade soups in Chicago on a sign directly over its entrance, how can you not be intrigued enough to find out for yourself?

Second, the setting … Peaches and Pears definitely has that clean, friendly family diner vibe. It looks kind of like a Perkins but with a much more interesting menu and infinitely better food (at least to my senses … your taste buds may say otherwise).  Plus, it’s always a good sign to see two police officer on their dinner break at a locally run restaurant.  You know they know where to find a really satisfying meal.

Third, when I was discussing where to find authentic Polish food in Chicago with my friend Rich Miller of Capitol Fax fame, without hesitation he told me to go to Peaches and Pears Restaurant.  I took that recommendation to heart. 

When you come to Peaches and Pears for the first time, the biggest challenge you’ll probably have is simply figuring out what to order.  Most family restaurants have a pretty diverse selection of entrees, salads, sandwiches and so on to appeal to all palates.  Peaches and Pears cranks the diversity volume up to 11.

Breakfast is obviously a big deal here, with entire sections of the menu devoted to pancakes, waffles, crepes and French toast.  And that’s just the carb-heavy part of the breakfast menu.  In the mood for an omelet, breakfast skillet or croissant sandwich?  The choices are seemingly endless. 

Unfortunately, breakfast was not an option given my work/travel schedule.  But thankfully, the dinner options at Peaches and Pears are almost as varied.  They offer plenty of different burgers, wraps, paninis and classic sandwiches like the Reuben and Monte Cristo.  Your standard variety of steak, chop and seafood entrees are on the menu, too.  One section of the menu is devoted entirely to Italian fare if that’s what you’re in the mood to have.  And then there’s what I came for – the “Taste of Poland” section.     

So, I went in thinking I wasn’t that hungry, and the stuffed cabbage rolls seemed like the right size entrée, but they were running a stuffed pepper dinner special that sounded even better.  Indecisiveness gets the better of me every time. 

I ordered a cup of soup to start the meal.  It made perfect sense.  After all, why order a salad at a place that stakes its reputation on its homemade soups?  They had several daily specials, but I could not resist the tomato, rosemary and orzo soup.  And boy, did it hit the mark!  Huge bits of orzo swimming happily in a savory tomatoey broth alongside a wide assortment of Italian-blend mixed vegetables.  The complementary bread and crackers were a nice touch.  The rolls were wonderfully chewy with a lightly crisp exterior. 

You know they're serious when it comes served with a knife sticking out of it.  
The size of the stuffed pepper was enormous, easily encasing a half pound of … well … stuff. 

Meat sweats were inevitable ... 
The tomato gravy was the perfect topping for both the pepper and the scoop of mashed potatoes it came with.  The potatoes were also the real deal … I nodded approvingly every time I found an imperfect lump in the pile. 

Perhaps the unhealthiest yet most delicious part of the meal was the veggie side I ordered – a cucumber salad, served in a decadently rich but smooth sour cream and dill sauce.  Somewhere there is a proud Polish grandma knowing her recipe is being used here.    

In fact, everything I tried at Peaches and Pears Restaurant tasted like it was cooked with care and served from the heart.  I walked away with my craving for Eastern European comfort food fully quenched.  In a city known for its Polish pride, this local gem made an impression on me.    

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