In 1914, the newly opened Dodge Main plant sparked a wave of Polish migration to Hamtramck. Over a century later, the plant is gone and the city is no longer home to a majority Polish population but the customs and culture that those immigrants brought with them are still felt. From its street names to its diners and bars, Hamtramck still feels like the beating heart of Metro Detroit’s massive Polish population. Perhaps no day better represents the Polish community’s impact on the region than the annual Paczki Day.
Detroit is filled with signature foods but only one of those foods gets its own unofficial holiday: the paczki. Every year on Fat Tuesday, Detroiters celebrate the yeast based, jelly filled ball of dough. The dish originally served as a sort of pre-Lent decadent treat, chowing down on a paczki in preparation for the 40 days of restraint that would follow. But the paczki has outgrown its early use and has become a treat for Detroiters of all backgrounds.
For the first time in half a decade, Paczki Day falls in March. While its difficult to predict Detroit’s weather, I am hopeful that 2019’s celebration will be warmer than those in years past. So if you’re planning on standing in line for a paczki here are my recommendations for you.
Your day has to begin with the signature dish. One of my favorite spots to grab a paczki is the New Palace Bakery located at 9833 Joseph Campau in Hamtramck. New Palace has a full selection of flavors and is an authentic way to celebrate this Detroit holiday. Another local favorite is the New Martha Washington Bakery located in Hamtramck at 10335 Joseph Campau. If the normal paczki won’t work for you then I suggest that you check out the vegan options that are being served at Nosh Pit Detroit locatd at 2995 Yemans St. in Hamtramck.
Although the paczki is king, what would a Fat Tuesday celebration be without a few cocktails? After you fill your belly with a paczki head over to the legendary Small’s Bar located at 10339 Conant St. Small’s will be dishing out their famous Paczki Bombs and Polish food options beginning at 10 am.
If you want music to go along with your paczki, then te Polish Muslims will have you covered. The band will be playing at the Ant Hall at 10:30 am before moving to Whiskey in a Jar at 2:30. Other bars thoughout town will also be hosting bands that will help to provide the soundtrack for the 2019 edidtion of Paczki Day.
If all this talk of sweets and booze has you feeling guilty, don’t worry. You can get a head start and burn some calories by participating in the annual Paczki Run. This year’s event will happen on March 2. You can get your tickets at tour-de-troit.org.