All too often, we get so caught up in our routines we overlook the hidden gems that surround us. It could be a remarkable sunrise or the scores of restaurants tucked into retail centers throughout Plano.
That’s why we, the City of Plano’s Shannah Hayley and Steve Stoler, set out on a mission to visit these hidden gems and share them with you. The rules behind where we decide to eat are fairly simple: Restaurants should be locally owned and relatively unknown. Beyond that, we let our appetites serve as our guide.
Steve opted for “Eastern European” for our first hidden gem adventure, so off we headed to For You, Taste of Poland. Located on the access road of Central Expressway just north of Park, it is a restaurant that you’ve probably driven past hundreds of times.
We were surprised to learn that For You, Taste of Poland has been open for 14 years in Plano. For nine years, it was located at Park and Alma before moving to its current location five years ago. Owned by Polish immigrants, it is a home-away-from home for Plano’s nearly 5,000 Polish residents. Everything is homemade.
Stepping inside we were transported to any number of fantastic family-owned shops we’ve visited around the world. On one side was a cheery restaurant, complete with polka dot tablecloths, bright red countertops and small groups of people chatting. A small market sits next to the register with stacked shelves of imported Polish foodstuffs. Tucked away in the back is a small deli counter.
It’s the sort of place that makes you feel welcome and at home.
The wait staff is super helpful. We explained it was our first time to try Polish food and we had no idea what to order. On her recommendation, we ordered the Taste of Poland sampler platter. It offered a bit of all of the restaurant’s most popular items.
When it arrived, we were taken aback by the sheer amount of food on display. Truly, we could have split the Taste of Poland between three people and left feeling very satisfied. But we were on a mission to try everything, so we dove in.
A single link of kielbasa (Polish sausage) was perfectly prepared: crispy skin on the outside, bursting with juicy flavor on the inside. The meat was very mild, a stark contrast to the smoked sausages that are common in Texas bbq country.
Convenient for sharing, the pierogi (similar to ravioli) came prepared two ways, either stuffed with potatoes or beef. The beef was very tender, like it had been cooked for some time to the point of falling apart. The potatoes had a very cheese-like texture, reminding us of ricotta. Both were very tasty.
Meat dumplings had nearly a quarter-inch thick doughy “skin” surrounding a pork meatball made with anise. The anise gave the pork a very slight, not overpowering, flavor of black licorice.
The potato dumplings fascinated us. On the outside, they looked like a sautéed potato chunk. On the inside, they were filled with tender mashed potatoes. Amazing and delicious!
A side of sauerkraut salad reminded us of coleslaw, with a slight tangy kick. Shannah thinks it would be the perfect side to pair with a platter of fried chicken for an unusual twist on a traditional summer picnic lunch.
Golbaki (stuffed cabbage roll) was by-far our favorite item on the platter. Both of us grew up with grandmothers who made stuffed cabbage rolls – one bite and we were transported back to our childhoods. Interestingly the golbaki came with a mushroom sauce. We’re both used to a tomato-based sauce on stuffed cabbage rolls. Our waitress explained that for the Taste of Poland platter only, golbaki is served with mushroom sauce. If you want a tomato sauce, either ask when you order the platter or order it as a stand-alone entrée.
The salad and golbaki were delicious with the placki ziemniaczane (potato pancakes). Again, both of our grandmothers made potato pancakes (latkes). Steve said that while Taste of Poland’s were good, they weren’t quite as good as his Bubbie Bessie’s. No surprise there. After all, it’s hard to replicate the magic of a grandmother’s love when cooking for strangers.
Our other favorite was bigos, a stew made with sauerkraut, meat, onions and dried mushrooms. The sauerkraut was very mild, though there was the signature slight tang that you would expect. The meat was finely diced and the stew’s sauce was very creamy. This is the perfect dish to have on a cold day when you’re feeling miserable and longing for comfort food.
Our only regret was that we didn’t have room for dessert. The menu boasts of blintzes with cheese, fruit and cheese pierogis, strudels, Polish poppy seed cake and Polish-style cheesecake (the latter is very intriguing!). We’re saving that for our next visit.
We browsed the market shelves as we waited to pay. We found a good selection of European meats and cheeses, along with European chocolates, candy, preserves and other foodstuffs – even multiple types of borscht. Shannah’s niece spent a summer in Europe, so she picked up a bar of her favorite hazelnut-filled chocolate as a stocking stuffer.
For You, Taste of Poland fits the bill as a “Hidden Gem” of Plano in every way. It’s an authentic European restaurant, with great food and friendly staff. Stop by and give them a try!
For You, Taste of Poland
2301 N. Central Expwy., Ste. 155, Plano, Texas 75075
972.423.2458 | foryoucafe.net
Tuesday–Saturday 11a.m.–9 p.m.
Sunday 12–5 p.m.
Shannah Hayley is the Director of Marketing and Community Engagement for the City of Plano and Steve Stoler is the Director of Media Relations. We hope you enjoy their monthly adventures as they eat their way through Collin County’s hidden gems.