by Peter Burakowski, Communications Manager
for the Buffalo and Erie County Historical Society

One of my favorite parts of town is the Old First Ward, which is the area surrounding the winding Buffalo River. With its soaring grain elevators, old brick factories, and the smell of Cheerios wafting from the General Mills plant, it transports me to a time before my own – when Buffalo was a bustling transportation center and the eighth largest city in the country.

It’s here that you can also find my favorite bakery – Mazurek’s. While there are dozens of great bakeries around Buffalo, none has a hold of my heart quite like this place. Located on South Park Ave. near the corner of Hamburg St., this shop has been run by the Mazurek family since 1933, and today it’s in the masterful hands of Jack Mazurek and his wife, Carol.

What do 77 years of baking tradition equate to? Magic. Out of the bakery’s massive brick oven come flaky turnovers, rich pastries, and soft, crusty breads. The fruits of the deep fryer are no less impressive, as the doughnuts have a perfect balance of a chewy center and a hint of crunch on the outside.

While Mazurek’s does good business from its surrounding neighborhood, it also is somewhat of a culinary Mecca. Members of Western New York’s Polish, German, and Irish communities routinely make the pilgrimage from the suburbs to pick up authentic ethnic classics like kluski noodles, kuchen, and soda bread.

If there’s a holiday coming up, then it’s ‘go time’ for Mazurek’s. On Fat Tuesday, the day before Lent, Mazurek’s cranks out paczkis – a type of plump jelly-filled Polish doughnut – in epic quantities. As many as 140 dozen of these fried treats will go out the door as Western New Yorkers gorge themselves one last time before fasting. And if you get an itch for a rye bread during the Old First Ward’s colorful St. Patrick’s Day Parade, I hope you don’t mind waiting in line.

If the quality and the history aren’t enough to lure you to Mazurek’s, try the prices. On my last trip, I got four doughnuts, two hard rolls and a pastry heart for $4.60. Not bad, eh?

My family has known about Mazurek’s for three generations – my grandfather even used to work there as a child, scrubbing the floors – isn’t it time you checked them out? Mazurek’s Bakery is open Monday to Friday, 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., and Saturdays from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Find them at 543 South Park Ave. in Buffalo.

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