Stuffed with creamy potatoes, tangy sauerkraut or well-seasoned pork, piroshki are among my favorite — and least expensive — quick lunches.
For those new to piroshki, the pastries are Eastern European in origin and carry different names depending on their European address. One of the most regionally famous is the kind sold by Kaleenka Piroshky at the Washington State Fair.
They’re usually formed into the shape of a round bun, but also can be oval and puffy. Most versions in the area are savory, with the occasional sweet-filled bun.
The dough usually carries a waft of yeast and typically is fried although baked versions are available here, too.
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The best part is their affordability. They’re usually around $1.50 and one makes a satisfying lunch. Two is a feast.
Three local grocery stores sell them.
Kusher Bakery in Fife is the most recent to add piroshki. Kusher is a combination bakery and Eastern European grocery store and now my favorite place to pick up a cheap lunch.
Here’s a look at their new piroshki, plus the two other stores that sell the tasty buns.
Where: 7214 26th St. E., Fife
Info: 800-445-0655, bakery.kusherusa.com/en/
An industrial area in Fife is an unexpected home for a bakery and grocery store, but much about Kusher is unexpected. It produces old-world style Ukrainian bread using natural fermentation techniques, and it’s unlike any other bread bakery in the region.
The store also stocks a prolific selection of booze-filled European chocolates and a few aisles of Eastern European ingredients. It’s worth a field trip.
Head to the back left of the store to an area that flanks a long row of bread racks (be sure to pick up a loaf of arnaut rye). Find a tall heating unit stocked with serve-yourself fried piroshki. Serving tongs and paper bags are stored above.
My visit yielded five styles of piroshki and one chebureki (a meat turnover with a flaky crust).
The broadest of the piroshki buns, about six inches across, was filled with creamy, well-seasoned potatoes. A puffier version held a dense mound of salted cottage cheese that slipped between creamy and crumbly. Another half-moon-shaped bun held tangy cabbage spiked with carrots.
Another was filled with sweet apricot jam threaded with pieces of fruit and had a texture similar to a fruit-filled doughnut.
My favorites: Creamy potato-filled piroshki and the sweet apricot version.
Flavors: Fried potato, cottage cheese, cabbage, chicken, apricot. Also, chicken chebureki (with a flaky pastry crust).
Priced: $1.50 each.
Seating: None. Carry out only.
MARVEL FOOD & DELI
Where: 301 133rd St. S., Tacoma
Info: 253-537-1008 or marvelfoodanddeli.com
The area’s largest European grocery store also has an attached deli and bakery. The bakery case stocks baked piroshki buns. Look behind the counter for a list of fried piroshki that includes savory and sweet varieties.
Fried food avoiders will want to check out the bakery case for the springy baked buns.
Counter workers will take your piroshki order and either pluck them from the bakery case or fetch a fried bun.
My favorites: Mushroom and potato, with an earthy-tasting filling with heavy pepper spicing. For breakfast, you’ll find me eating the sausage-and-egg filled bun. Sour cherry was more sour than sweet, with a sticky filling tucked into a yeasty baked bun.
Flavors: Baked piroshki comes in chicken and potato, potato mushroom, sausage with egg and cheese, sauerkraut, blueberry and sour cherry. Deep-fried piroshki flavors include chicken and potato, potato and onion, sweet cream cheese and raisin, apricot. Also, find fried chicken belyashi and chebureki.
Seating: Yes, a cafe-sized seating area near the deli.
Also: Deli counter with by-the-pound cabbage rolls, hot foods and cold deli salads. Eat in or take out.
Where: 3612 Center St., Tacoma
This Eastern European grocery has a deli and bakery counter in the back. That’s where you’ll find the self-service pirsohki case with three or four (or more) filled buns. Tongs and paper bags are stored next to the piroshki case.
My favorite: Hands down, the bun filled with cabbage that carried the funk of a good sauerkraut. Piroski here carry a satisfying crunch on the exterior. Buns are fried until golden brown and sometimes also carry a nice oily sheen (fried-food haters, beware).
Flavors: Fried potato, cabbage, meat (other choices can vary). Also, meat-filled belashy ($1.99).
Priced: $1.49 to $1.79.
Also: Affiliated Little European Cafe is next door and has hot and cold Eastern European food, plus piroshki. Plenty of seating.