Now it's possible to purchase your Polish paczki at a potpourri of places (see what I did there?) but how do the paczki stack up against each other from bakery to bakery? Here's my unofficial review of Toledo-area paczki - just in time for you to run out and get yours before they're all gone!
Zavotski's (West Toledo, Sylvania Ave.) - with a name like Zavotski's, you would expect the paczki to be perfect however, I found them to be a bit dry and flavorless. The filling (I had apple and blueberry) was tasty but the overall paczki was too similar to a normal jelly doughnut instead of being a rich, somewhat chewy-ish pastry that it is supposed to be. Then again, Zavotski's is not a bakery (it's a meat market) so I guess I should have known better.
Polish Village (Lagrange St.) - I have not purchased from the Polish Village (at the time, sold at the Ohio Theater) for a number of years. Mostly due to the fact that the one year I trekked there and waited in a long line, I was barely impressed with the paczki and decided to save myself the time and trouble in the future. The paczki, as I recall, were quite small and somewhat dry but on the upside, they were offering paczki covered in granulated sugar as well as the more commonly found powdered sugar coating and I prefer the granulated sugar (they're less messy). Many swear by the paczki through the Polish Village so they might be just what you're looking for but not for me. See an article from Toledo News Now here.
Brieschke's Bakery (Sylvania, Main St.) - On a personal recommendation, I purchased paczki from Brieschke's last year and found them to be a little better than most. They were much more of the dense pastry that I expected and the fillings were tasty. However, the choices of fillings were limited (although that may have been due to the time of day when I stopped). I would definitely consider Brieschke's a good option for paczki.
Grocery stores - It doesn't really matter which grocery store I list here, I have yet to find a really good paczki at any of the local grocery stores. I'm not even sure any of the stores bake these fresh in-house so I would skip making this purchase here. Unless the grocery store you're shopping at is....
Sautter's Market (Sylvania, Main St.) - This is my usual go-to paczki location. It's convenient for me and Chef Juan and bakery crew whip up some of the finest paczki in the area. My one complaint? A little bit too much filling. I want to taste the pastry, not just filling. Although my kids think I'm crazy, citing the filling as the best part. Sautter's offers a large variety of filling options too so there is sure to be something for everyone. I highly recommend paczkis from Sautter's.
Bakery Unlimited (West Toledo, Secor Rd.) - Finally, a shout out to Bakery Unlimited where I purchased my paczki this year. These rival the paczki at Sautter's and may be just a teensy bit better, especially as I don't find them to be over-filled. The dough is rich and dense and has that chewy factor that makes for a great paczki that doesn't try to imitate a jelly doughnut. Plus also too, Bakery Unlimited is close to where I work so it was the perfect place to stop and pick up a dozen yesterday for breakfast today. Another thumbs up goes to Bakery Unlimited.
There are plenty of other option for paczki purchasing today (as well as tomorrow and the next few days, I'm sure) and I may not have even discovered the best place yet (if you have a place to suggest, I'm all ears!) but hopefully, this little run down will get you running in the right direction this Fat Tuesday. Enjoy!!