LAWRENCEVILLE, Ga. — Country: Poland

Dish: Paczki

Location: Lawrenceville

Stop: #21

Doughnut lovers, take note. There’s a spin on the favorite treat waiting for you in Lawrenceville, and it’s a pastry that’s been beloved for generations.

“They started to serve [paczki] at castles for Polish aristocrats,” Jacek Mroczka, owner of Grand Polish Bakery said. “They were creations of Polish pastry chefs in the 19th century.”

Fast forward to present day, paczki pack a punch of sweetness for customers interested in the doughy delights filled with a custard or fruity filling. It’s easy to grasp why paczki also serve as a traditional treat for Fat Tuesday in the U.S.

Such sweet reward requires hours of effort behind the bakery’s counter, according to Mroczka.

“With the ring, it completes the presentation. They say they always smile to you with the ring, so it’s a beauty,” he said.

The payoff? Happy customers.

“They take them to work to their colleagues, and everybody who tries them is like, ‘Oh my God! I want more!’” Mroczka said.

“How does this dish represent Poland?”

“If you go to Poland, everybody knows this stuff,” Mroczka said. “Like doughnuts for American people? That’s what Polish people do with paczki. They have to have them.”

“How does this dish represent Atlanta?”

According to Mroczka, paczki are a particular favorite of transplants now living in Atlanta. 

"Especially for people who used to live in Chicago, New York, Milwaukee, up north, for the past 50 years it’s been a big tradition in those states," Mroczka said. “There aren’t that many Polish cafes and bakeries around the South,” adding he suspects the bakery might be the only Polish option nearby.  

“I think we’re the only Polish store in the whole Georgia state,” Mroczka said. “People are happy. When people are happy, we are happy, so that’s what it’s all about.”