Wandering Wednesdays: Starting Off with Polish Cooking at New Wave Cafe

My main goal of the summer was to explore a part of the city that I had never even been to before. I’ve been South, West, East, semi North, and even to Manayunk. But  I know nothing about the very Northeast, a really interesting part of the city. So for the next few Wednesdays, I am checking out different lunch spots up and over yonder, starting with the New Wave Cafe in Port Richmond.

The New Wave Cafe purports to be a restaurant, bar, and disco, basically all the things you could ever want it to be. Inside the slightly dark space there is a bar and  a few tables,  space art on the walls, and a dance floor, you know, for the disco-ing.

The Cafe is a family owned Polish establishment and the menu reflects that in all the best ways. I really really love Polish food, and the picking are slim to none around Center City (fancy hipster peirogies don’t count), so I was psyched to get that home cooking.

The first thing I had wasn’t actually Polish. They call it the Hungarian potato pancake and it is basically a potato pancake sandwich; 2 potato pancakes with meat and veggie gravy in between. These would have been more great with a little more salt and if they had been a little less burnt.

Borsht is on the menu, of course, but New Wave makes 2 of them. The red borsht was classic, with slivers of beets and sprinkles of dill.  The white borsht was not really borsht-like at all. The Polish name for this soup is “zurek” and its enjoyable sourdough flavor comes from rye flour. I had to look that up. There was no need to look up where that smoke flavor came from though, the soup had tons of little kielbasa pieces. Plus they threw in some hard boiled egg. I really enjoyed both, it would be hard to pick a favorite, but since they are only a few dollars each, I don’t have to choose.

The Polish staples continued with the crackly skinned fried kielbasa, covered in onions and served with rye bread and spicy mustard. I will try not to think about the fact that this already unhealthy sausage is deep fried for my enjoyment. I will instead think about how good it tasted. If I hadn’t been full already, I probably would have been upset that there wasn’t another sausage to an order.

My venture into uncharted territories was a great success, where are your favorite places that are a little harder to get to?

THE + (What somebody who likes this place would say)

  • I love classic borsht
  • I want to try a Polish beer with my lunch
  • Fried sausage is my kind of evil

THE – (What somebody who doesn’t like this place would say)

  • I need more salt in my potato pancakes
  • I need more than one sausage per order
  • Getting there by public transportation is tricky

New Wave Cafe, 2620 E Allegheny Ave (@ Mercer St), 215-634-3224



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