Kramarczuk’s is a Minneapolis institution. They’ve been around for more than half a century—more than 60 years in fact. It was established by a Ukrainian couple but is essentially a pan-Eastern European market and deli. To quote my friend George from a recent conversation about Kramarczuk’s, “they are ecumenical in their Eastern Europeanness: everything east of the Rhine qualifies”. They’re located on Hennepin and I find it hard to not stop in for a sausage when I go up to Surdyk’s spring and summer booze sales (they’re a hop, skip and jump away). I don’t always remember to take pictures though and so this report covers two meals, one eaten last summer, and one eaten this past Friday. Very different weather on the two visits but it’s always the same warm season inside Kramarczuk’s.
The business is made up of two connected parts. If you’re walking up from their small, adjoining parking lot you might enter through the store. Here you will find available a range of breads and pastries and cheese and, above all, sausage. All are made in-house. I have often pondered launching a campaign of eating every one of their sausages but I’ve never gotten around to doing it. If you know their products well and would recommend any particular sausages, please write in below. Ditto if you would recommend any of their cakes and pastries.
Next to the shop is the restaurant. It basically works like a cafeteria. You pick up a tray and as you make your way down you figure out what you want. When you get to the end you pay, grab silverware and your drink (they serve beer as well) and find a table. There are booths in the room where you get the food and more booths and tables in the larger dining room that abuts it. There is no service at the table—you bus your own plates and silverware when you’re done. It’s a casual place and it’s the kind of place where you will see a wide cross-section of Twin Citizens at lunch—though I must note that I’m usually one of very few people of colour in there (but that’s also true of pretty much every high-end Twin Cities restaurant).
I’m pretty set in what I eat there: whatever the sausage special is, a side of sauerkraut and either pierogis or a cup of borscht. I’m probably missing out on some of their other good stuff. On this most recent visit a guy at the table next to mine was eating their Ukrainian meatballs and I was acutely aware that I had made some bad life choices. I will address that on my next visit. Please also let me know if there are other things I should be making a point to try.
Launch the slideshow for a look at the place and things eaten on these two visits. Scroll down to see what’s coming next.
Oh yes, prices are very reasonable. If you live in the Twin Cities area and like hearty Eastern European food—and especially if you like sausage—there is no excuse for not visiting Kramarczuk’s at least a couple of times a year. In the winter, in particular, their soups and sausage are very comforting indeed. On the other hand, if you are a vegetarian this might not be the best place for you.
Up next in food: a roadside green market and then a Kashmiri meal from my recent Delhi trip. The next Twin Cities food report will probably be Ethiopian from St. Paul. And, of course, plenty of whisky in between.