There are so many reasons to be enamored with Pierogi Cafe. A hole-in-the-wall inside the Fantastic Indoor Swap Meet? It hardly gets more obscure than this Decatur/Oakey spot. Ethnic cuisine not readily available elsewhere in Vegas? Pierogis—filled dumplings, cooked in boiling water—might be ubiquitous in my hometown of Chicago, but fresh ones are rare finds here in the desert. Food that hearkens back to my youth? Those are the sweet cheese pierogis, which remind me of Sunday afternoons at the Warsaw Inn.
The modestly decorated space is comfortable and inviting, with a separate exterior entrance on weekdays, and the owners, inevitably working the counter and kitchen during your visit, are attentive and accommodating. Obviously, you must order the pierogis, options for which include hearty pork and caramelized onion and a flavorful spinach and feta. The sweet cheese is my favorite, stuffed with farmer’s cheese and hinting of vanilla, though the traditional potato and cheese are equally satisfying. Though single flavors are available in servings of six ($7) and 12 ($12), I suggest a mixed plate ($14), so you can try up to four different kinds at once. Choose fried over boiled, and be sure to gild the lily with bacon bits, caramelized onions and sour cream for 50 cents each. You won’t be disappointed.
Lest you think the menu is limited to pierogis alone, a variety of zapiekanka—open-faced sandwiches popular as street food in Poland—are also available, including a cheesy mushroom ($8.50) rife with onions. Another option is the very filling haluski ($6.50), buttery house-made egg noodles tossed with cabbage and polish sausage.
A couple of happy hour dishes hide off-menu, including an outrageously good chleb ze smalcem ($4.50). That’s bread with lard and pickles to you and me, with the pickles’ sourness offering a foil to the rich dish strewn with bacon bits and apple.
If you’re in economy mode, don’t visit on the weekend, when you have to pay the $1 swap meet admission charge to get to the restaurant. But trust me: Pierogi Cafe is worth the tariff.
Pierogi Cafe Fantastic Indoor Swap Meet, 1717 S. Decatur Blvd., 702-370-3493. Monday, Wednesday & Thursday, 11 a.m.-6 p.m.; Friday-Sunday, 10 a.m.-6 p.m.