Jagodinka offers sweet, savory Serbian treats on North Side

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Hungry Hound: Jagodinka Bakery & Cafe (WLS)

Chicago has dozens of ethnic bakeries, usually tucked away in neighborhoods.

However, a fantastic Serbian bakery called Jagodinka is hiding in plain sight in the 5800-block of North Lincoln Avenue, where one might be expecting to find something Korean.

With a name like Jagodinka, any Serbian ex-pat would expect to see some strawberries on the menu at this bakery and cafe on the city's Northwest Side.

"I was born and raised in Jagodina which is a small town in Serbia and it means 'Strawberry town'" said owner Sonya Starcevic.

So no surprise, there are lots of layer cakes, many with the namesake.

"It's a walnut cake with vanilla cream and fresh strawberries and a whipped cream goes on the top, so it's one of the simple, but very fresh and tasty cakes that we made for our family for many, many years," she said. "Walnut is important because every house in Serbia has a walnut tree in their front yard, so it's used in many, many cookies."

There are plenty of sweets here - including cream puffs, macarons and bon bons - but the savory items are just as impressive. Multi-layered phyllo dough-based pies, stuffed with all manner of meat and cheese.

"Gjbanica is one of our traditional pies; they can be with cheese and egg, they can be with Angus beef and also spinach and feta we make," said Starcevic.

Sandwiches are hefty, and many are spread with ajvar, the Eastern European condiment of choice, made from red peppers. Even the bread is homemade.

"It's a whole wheat and barley flour and we sell that as a loaf and also bread rolls," she said.

Soups change almost daily, but call ahead, and make sure they have the chicken soup with knedleach - one of the best in its class, anywhere.

"Knedleach, that's a specialty, that's a little secret. But we have that traditionally in our family for many, many years," she said.

Now when you come to Jagodinka, you're going to be tempted by all of the sweets of course, but I say go for the savories, including this feta and egg pie. And if you want to have a traditional Serbian breakfast, not only do you have the pie, but you have a little bit of yogurt to go along with it.
EXTRA COURSE: Jagodinka's owner talks about a cheese pie that is popular at the bakery
Jagodinka Bakery & Cafe
5868 N. Lincoln Ave., Chicago
(872) 208-5900

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