Serious Eats: Chicago
Deep Fried Chicago: Visit Bridgeport Bakery for All Your Fat Tuesday Paczki Needs
Located in the shadow of the Stevenson on a quiet strip of Archer Avenue, Bridgeport Bakery is a quietly unassuming spot providing the area with just what its name promises—no more, no less. There are coffee cakes, cookies, and various Danish to be had, but the big pull is the wide selection of Doughnuts (pretty much $0.75 across the board) on offer. There's no Twitter feed that notifies the public when the place runs out, though it apparently does almost daily. And save for a few modern takes on the recently hip pastry, the offerings here are as by the book as you'd imagine from a place over 30 years young.
Being that this is a Polish/Lithuanian bakery, the ones to seek out are the Paczki ("poonch-key," phonetically). There are always around four types on offer, though on the eve of Fat Tuesday next week, the staff will arrive at midnight to crank out varieties in upwards of the teens. This one pictured is Raspberry-Filled, though there are equally tasty rich chocolate iced Boston Creams and lily-white Custard-Filled Powdered Sugars. If paczki are this good all over Chicago, I think I may finally understand what all the fuss is about.
Some of the other varieties, though, are less successful. The doughnut batter itself, be it cake or yeast ("raised," is what they say here) lacks its own sweetness. As a result, doughnut satisfaction largely rests on how well the topping compensates for this. The Vanilla Raised Sprinkle looks gorgeous, but it is obscured by the hefty, almost savory, yeast base.
Same goes for the Bacon Maple ($0.90), which I mention because everyone has been on the edges of their seats since the cover photo. This topping combo is almost always better in theory than practice (does anyone know where to find a great one?), and the one here is no exception.
Much better is the Vanilla Pretzel, which is named for its shape, not flavor. The best parts are the twisted sections, which are thin enough that the glaze to dough ratio is just right.
Come to think of it, the helixy Sugar Twist is great, too: the crunchy, sprinkled sugar eases deep between the tender and soft coils, ensuring each bite is sweet and comforting. And paired with a hot coffee, I'd feel confident to make my way out into the the blustery cold Chicago winter. I bet if you asked the owners, that's exactly what they're intending—no more, no less.
2907 S Archer Avenue Chicago, IL 60608 (map)