For those who have family from Poland or other central European countries like Russia, the Ukraine, Slovakia or Lithuania, pierogies are often a mainstay of their family’s get-togethers. Also called varenyky these dumplings are a rustic country favorite in a lot of different cultures. While Asian dumplings are easier to find in San Diego, you can find European dumplings as well!
While you can find them in the frozen foods section of many grocery stores, there’s just something special about fresh, homemade pierogies. The exterior dough is a simple, unleavened recipe, which gets stuffed with a number of different fillings. Although savory pierogies are the more common form, you can also find sweet pierogies at some places.
Common fillings include potato, sauerkraut, cheese, onions, mushrooms, spinach and even ground meat or sausage. Many popular kinds include a mixture, such as onion and meat or potato and cheese. They are cooked in boiling water, although many people also pan-fry them in butter before serving them up, creating a lovely browned exterior. Savory pierogies are often topped with fried onions, bacon, sour cream or butter and salt.
Sweet pierogies are often filled with fruit, either one kind or a mixture. Some people even make sweet cream or merangue pierogies, but these are often only home recipes, made with love by a grandma. Some of the more popular fruits for sweet pierogies include strawberry, blueberry, raspberry, apple, cherry, plum or even prune. Some people also use jam or preserves to fill their pierogies.
Thankfully, even if you don’t have a loved one who cooks these up for holidays, there are plenty of places around San Diego where you can get your pierogi fix!
A Food Truck Well Worth the Search
Location: All over town
Hours: Varied, check their schedule
Unlike some food trucks, which just sort of show up places, Pierogi Truck is pretty good about updating their schedule on their website. That means you can find a time or date when their planned location will be close to where you’ll be and pick up some tasty, authentic Polish food, including their namesake pierogies.
The pierogies here are typically potato filled, but they also make them with ground meat and sauerkraut. These pierogies are made by hand, and it shows in the quality and texture of the finished product. They serve these lovely dumplings with a side of a garlic-infused sour cream sauce that will definitely have you coming back for more. They also make a vegan goulash in case you or someone you love doesn’t eat meat.
If you’re looking for something else beyond pierogies, you’re in luck! This truck also serves Hungarian Pancakes, which are Polish-style savory potato pancakes stuffed with ground pork goulash, mushrooms, onions and peppers, all topped with green onions. You can also enjoy stuffed cabbage, called golabki, filled with ground meat, rice or barley and served baked with a tomato sauce. If you’re looking for something a little simpler, you can enjoy authentic Polish sausages grilled and served on a bun with onions.
Find Polish Staples at the Hillcrest Farmers Market
Polish Pierogi Company
Location: Hillcrest Farmer’s Market at 3960 Normal Street (map)
Hours: Sunday from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.
There are a number of food booths at most of the local farmers markets. If you hit the right ones on the right days, you might just find Polish Pierogi Company. Offering homemade pierogies based on an authentic, old-world recipe, this pierogi stand has a tendency to sell out before the market closes. You can also find them at the North Park Farmers Market on Thursdays from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m., as well as the Little Italy Farmers Market on Saturdays from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m.
In addition to offering fresh pierogies to enjoy as a meal, they sell frozen pierogies by the dozen for you to take home and cook for yourself. Served fresh and hot, the Polish Pierogi Company will plate their homemade dumplings with caramelized onions, sour cream and chopped chives.
Served hot, you can buy four pierogies for $6 or six for $9. Frozen, these dumplings cost $13 for a dozen or $25 for two dozen. Thankfully, you can have your choice of several great fillings. Some of their more common offerings including potato and cheese, potato and cheese with jalapeno and bacon, potato with peppers, onion and kielbasa, potato with spinach, feta and ricotta cheeses, and sauerkraut with baby portabella mushrooms. Sometimes, they serve them stuffed with braised beef and pork.
Ukrainian and Russian Dishes Close by in La Mesa
The Village House Kalina
Location: 8302 Parkway Drive, La Mesa (map)
Hours: Monday-Friday: 11 a.m. to 10 p.m., Saturday and Sunday: Noon to 10 p.m.
If you want to enjoy the Ukraine interpretation of the pierogi, called varenyky, then plan a short trip to La Mesa! There, you will find The Village House Kalina. It’s a relatively small restaurant that shares a parking lot with the neighboring 7-11. The food, however, is incredible, and the portions are quite generous.
Their Ukranian Vaerniky (as they spell it) come with either potato and onion or potato and cheese filling. They toss the freshly cooked dumplings in butter and serve them with your choice of sour cream or yogurt sauce. This dish is an appetizer, intended for you to share with your companions before enjoying one of their main dishes.
They serve stuffed cabbage, fried pork chops served with potatoes, ground steak with blue cheese sauce and even the eternally popular chicken Kiev. Vegetarians will delight to see a meat-free stroganoff on the menu, although they also make this dish with either chicken or beef. You have the choice of stroganoff served over potatoes or noodles.
If you stop in on the weekends during the dinner hour, you can try their shashlik, which is skewered pork, chicken or beef served with vegetables and a side of delectable pomegranate sauce.
Infused Vodkas and Russian Cuisine in Golden Hill
Kafe Sobaka Restoran Pomegranate
Location: 2469 Broadway (map)
Hours: Sunday-Thursday: 4 p.m. to 10 p.m., Friday and Saturday: 4 p.m. to 11 p.m.
If you want to enjoy authentic Russian flavors but you don’t want to leave San Diego, Kafe Sobaka Restoran Pomegranate is the ideal solution! Although they are only open for dinner hours, there is much to enjoy in this eatery that serves Georgian, Russian and Californian dishes. There are many options for vegetarians and vegans.
Start your meal off with eggplant rolls, which are stuffed with a Georgian walnut pesto or perhaps kapusta, a fried cauliflower dish with spicy bread crumbs. They also serve up “Vareniki,” potato and cheese or potato and onion dumplings. “Khinkali,” a Caucaus dish featuring dumplings filled with beef and pork or mushrooms, is another dish you’ll find. They also serve Pelmeni Siberian meat dumplings and Manty, savory pumpkin dumplings based on a recipe from Central Asia.
Some of their main dishes include a vegetarian French dip sandwich, stuffed cabbage or peppers and savory pies with fillings like cheese or whatever their daily special may be. If you’re really hungry, order their popular beef stroganoff or perhaps the kuchmachi, a dish of fried chicken liver. Other options include lamb stew, cornish hens fried to order (allow at least 25 minutes for cooking) and shashlik skewers on the weekends, including Thursdays.