i only add places to the “cafes/restaurants/etc. i love” section if it is an absolute love. and i think now after the third visit, we can finally at polonia polish restaurant in hamtramck, michigan to the list.
i first visited polonia in 2011 on my very first visit to michigan to meet alex’s family. one can be a little nervous when they’re about to meet their boyfriend’s parents for the first time, but right after picking us up at the airport, they took us to polonia. all discomfort dissipated.
polonia is located in a special place: hamtramck, michigan, a suburb of detroit. it used to be a old polish settlement (it’s definitely got some eastern european feelings to it) but now most of the poles have left and it’s now home to one of the largest bangladeshi populations in the country, as well as a sizeable population of middle-easterners and african-americans. the town is what you’d expect of today’s detroit suburbs: a bit depleted and obviously working class. you see women wearing a hijab everywhere you go, all of the houses are in the typical turn-of-the-century detroit style: two story, porches on the front, held up by columns. it’s a fascinating place. you’ll also find loads of storefronts with arabic writing and campaign signs featuring candidates for city council with an “al-” beginning their surname.
besides these things that make it unique, one needs to visit hamtramck for the holdover remnants of polish culture. polish sausage shops and goods stores still abound on yemans street, and polonia will serve you the most authentic polish food you’ll find with polish speaking waitresses.
mmmm, bubbly zywiec hit the spot big time.
right down the street, visit the polish art center, a FABULOUS polish goods store. whether its pottery, punny t-shirts, or actual grocery items straight from poland, a polskaphile will feel right at home here. authentic e. wedel chocolate bars (below) only skim the surface of what you’ll find.
now i can’t think about flying to detroit without a visit to hamtramck and polonia. (let’s hope that day doesn’t come- major let-down)