While Washington, DC doesn’t rank high on the list of cities with a strong Polish immigrant population and influence (à la Cleveland or Pittsburgh), we are nevertheless fortunate enough to be home to a deli and grocery dedicated completely to the culinary whims of the area’s thousands of Poles and Eastern Europeans.
Nestled on the top floor of a strip mall in Rockville, the Kielbasa Factory is small yet offers a comprehensive selection of grocery items and ingredients, frozen and prepared foods (most made in New York, though some in-house), and deli meats and cheeses. This family-owned store has only been open since late 2007, is the only Polish deli in the area, and as far as I can tell one of only two places in DC and its surroundings where you can get Polish food (the other being the restaurant Domku in Petworth).
Of course, the main attraction to the Kielbasa Factory is the kielbasa, and the store features many different varieties of these sausages. Jars of pickles, preserved fish, and canned fruits and vegetables line the walls, along with Polish coffees, candies, wine, and other products that I’m sure must be a delight to find around here.
I took home with me a package of potato and cabbage pierogis, fresh sauerkraut, a couple of Żywiec beers, and Polish chocolate, and cooked up an excellent and hearty meal (though wish I had a “babcia” to make the real deal for me!)
I was disappointed that all of the Polish baked goods had sold out by the time I was there on a Sunday afternoon. Apparently paczki (filled donuts) and other homemade pastries are delivered on Fridays from New York City, and are usually sold out by the end of the weekend. So, my advice: go early on Saturday morning if you’re looking for baked sweet treats! (Meanwhile, watch this great clip about the paczki-making process and how a local Polish bakery in Detroit has become a staple in the community).
Also interesting about the Kielbasa Factory is that it has a shipping and parcel service to make sending packages to Poland and other Eastern European countries easier. In addition, there are a number of Polish newspapers and magazines for sale. It’s clear that the Kielbasa Factory is not just a place to get good food, but is an important part of Rockville and DC’s Polish community.
To get there: 1073 Rockville Pike, Rockville, Maryland. 240-453-9090. Hours: Monday-Thursday 11am – 7pm, Friday 11am – 8pm, Saturday 10am – 6pm, and Sunday 11:30am – 3:30pm. About 1.5 miles walking from the Rockville Metro station. A handful of buses run up and down Rockville Pike to both Rockville and White Flint Metro stops.