Where to Get: Paczki

Just in time for Mardi Gras, here are some of the best spots to pick up this traditional Polish pastry.

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The obvious flaw in donuts is the hole. No one wants to eat air, donut-makers, we want more donut. Thankfully, the Polish saw through this foolishness and replaced the hole with extra-rich dough and a jelly filling — and they called it paczki.

It’s a Wisconsin tradition to binge paczki until you burst on Fat Tuesday. So before you enter the solemn Lenten fast, here’s where you can grab yourself a couple gut-busting paczki.

1) National Bakery and Deli

Come Fat Tuesday, the lines are going to be out the door at this go-to paczki spot. Crowds flock to fulfill the Polish tradition with this quality array of multi-flavored paczki made with fresh-baked dough. Besides the Milwaukee location, they also have shops in Brookfield and Greendale, if you want to take your chances on which one will be least crowded.

3200 S. 16th St., Milwaukee; (414)672-1620 | 13820 W. Greenfield Ave. Brookfield; (262)827-4097 | 5637 Broad St., Greendale; (414)423-4620

2) Aggie’s Bakery

The true Mardi Gras professionals plan ahead — you’re ready weeks in advance for the onslaught of pastries and sinful overindulgence. And that’s why you called ahead to Aggie’s, pre-ordered their mix-and-match dozen paczki in all your favorite flavors, set your preferred pick-up time and walked right to the front of the line on Mardi Gras like the absolute boss you are.

7328 W. Greenfield Ave., West Allis; (414)482-1288

3) Cranky Al’s

Cranky Al’s — best known for Tide Pod Donuts — brings out the paczki come Mardi Gras. It’s not a usual menu item, but like many Milwaukee-area businesses, they know what the people want. For all their crankiness, these bakers make some high-quality donuts, and they bring that same skill to their yearly paczki output.
6901 W. North Ave., Wauwatosa; (414)258-5282

4) Grebe’s Bakery

Grebe’s brings the heat when it comes to paczki. They’ve even hosted build-your-own paczki contests, in which a paczki-eater designs their own flavor and other customers vote for their favorite. The winner is crafted and served on Mardi Gras. Such an honor once went to the “Muddy Hog,” a banana custard-filled paczki topped with chocolate, peanuts and bacon. It was only here for a short time, but it lives long in our hearts.
5132 W. Lincoln Ave., West Allis; (414)543-7001

5) Old World Deli

Back to the roots, to the old world paczki like babcia used to make. This deli is an ideal stop for a traditional paczki, but it’s also worth the visit for a dive into the full array of polish baked goods and deli meats. If you came for the paczki, why not stay for the kishka and the krusczyki?
7630 W. Grange Ave., Greendale; (414)855-0470

6) Sweet Perfections Bake Shoppe

How does one attempt to reach “sweet perfection,” you might ask? “Add alcohol” seems to be the answer. Sweet Perfections Bake Shoppe has six “booze-infused” flavors of paczki (e.g. “vodka shooter” and “rumchata crunch”) as well as other forays into the flavor wilderness, such as prune. By the way, you can save ten percent, if you pre-order before Paczki Day.
1501 Paramount Dr., Suite C., Waukesha; (262)446-2253

7) Holey Moley Coffee + Doughnuts

Like coffee? Like doughnuts? Of course you do, friend. Well, they also have paczki on Mardi Gras, so you are in luck. This Third Ward shop can hook you up with the goods, and you can roll on to fully fatten the Tuesday.
316 N. Milwaukee St., Milwaukee; (414)308-1616

8) Krieg’s Lakeside Bakery

In the location of the late great Canfora Bakery, the newly-opened Krieg’s still has paczki on the menu. If you’re in the Bay View area, hit up Krieg’s to fulfill that gnawing desire for traditional Polish desserts.
1100 E. Oklahoma Ave., Milwaukee; (414)486-7747



Archer is the managing editor at Milwaukee Magazine. Some say he is a great warrior and prophet, a man of boundless sight in a world gone blind, a denizen of truth and goodness, a beacon of hope shining bright in this dark world. Others say he smells like cheese.