What to Eat in Poland
This is our must eat list for Krakow, and covers the basics of Polish cuisine. Most items are easy and cheap to buy at a grocery store and cook at home, but will taste much better from a recommended restaurant. And only buy Zapiekanki from the Plac Nowy in Kazimierz. Click a link to see a more detailed description and pictures!
Żurek: A sour soup, also known as White Barszcz, you will usually find slices of hard-boiled eggs and sausage in the soup.
Rosół: A chicken broth soup with noodles, sometimes vegetables, and parsley. Always eaten on Sundays as a first course.
Barszcz: Red-Beetroot soup. Famously Polish, served with white beans or stuffed dumplings. A must-have while in Poland.
Pierogi: The most famous of Polish food. This is a stuffed dumpling, with many options for the filling, usually topped with fried onions and sometimes sausage (unless it is filled with fruit). Ruskie will be filled with potato and cheese, Mięso will be filled with meat, and Owocowe is filled with fruit, but you will also find them filled with just cheese (ser), cabbage (kapusta), and sometimes spinach. The possibilities are endless.
Kotlet Schabowy: A pork chop that has been pounded thin, breaded, and fried, usually accompanied by boiled potatoes and coleslaw type salads.
Bigos: Cooked cabbage with sausage and spices, sort of like a stew, but thicker.
Gołąbki: Barley or rice mixed with vegetables and/or meat, wrapped in steamed cabbage, and topped with a tomato cream sauce.
Placki ziemniaczane: A potato pancake, can be served with a number of toppings including goulash; however, we recommend going with the classic Sour Cream or Kefir topping.
Zapiekanki: A quick snack, yet big enough to satisfy as a whole meal, Zapiekanka is a usual treat for Polish students after a long night of partying. Can be found all over town, but the best come from Plac Nowy in Kazimierz. Cheap, and essentially just a French bread pizza, minus the sauce, heavy on cheese and mushrooms (plus add your own toppings).
Obwarzanek: All throughout the city you will see blue carts selling these circular pretzels, they are famous to the area, first being baked in 1394, and even protected by the European Union now. I suggest the sesame seed flavor, but they also come in plain, salt, poppyseed, and cheese. They aren’t like hot German pretezels, and may seem dry to many, but Poles love them. My brother eats them everyday for breakfast (especialy because they are so cheap)
Pączki: Similar to a jelly-filled donut from the states, these donuts are made with tradition and elegance. If you’re in Poland on Fat Thursday, it’s mandatory you eat at least 8, but any other day you can just have one, well two. Best place to grab one in the tourist town is at Gorace Pączki on Sweska Street. Travel a little further, just a few minutes walking and grab one at the award-winning, Michalek at 6 Krupnicza Street.
What to Drink in Poland
Vodka Vodka and more Vodka! Poland is famous for its vodka, my favorite being Żubrówka, or as most foreigners know it, Bison Grass Vodka (some of the bottles sold even have a strand of grass in them). Drink it chilled as a shot, or go to one of the many “shot bars” I reccommend below to have it made into something a little more fun. You cannot come to Poland without having at least one “Mad Dog”, which is Zubrowka vodka, raspberry syrup, and a few shots of tobasco. But there are many other shots to try as well!
Poles drink a lot of beer. Really they only drink beer and vodka, and not much else. The beer here is good, easy to drink, and super-cheap. Try all the different brands of Polish beers from my favorite Zywiec, to Tyskie, Lech, Tatra, Zubr, Warka, Okocim, the list goes on and on.
Where To Go….
…..Just for Food
Milk Bars and Bar Mleczny: These are cheap eateries, in a cafeteria style, serving only traditional Polish food. They are aimed at locals, so don’t expect anyone to speak English; however, the ones near to the main square have menus in English. If all else fails, just point to what you want. There are a few of these located on Grodzka Street, but you will find them all over town.
Kuchnia U Babcia Maliny: Your Polish Grandmother’s Kitchen, this restaurant has all the classic Polish recipes, with a warm and inviting atmosphere.
…..For Dinner or Drinks or Both
C.K. Browar: A beer hall and brewery, with a wide variety of beers made on the premises, in a unique style (non-pastuerized, non-filtered).
Bunkier Cafe: Located along The Planty, serving “tank beer”, which is said to be the freshest beer possible, described as “a truly fresh beer, not pasteurized or micro-filtered. Immediately after production, it is transferred to a tanker that is transported on the same day. There is a special seven-layered bag to ensure the beer’s quality and consistent taste, beer is never in contact with air or carbon dioxide.”
Alchemia: A great place to go for a beer, coffee/tea, or food. Unique menu of international food, a little bit of everything, and great breakfasts like eggs benedict! Very well-known by locals and tourists, so expect a crowd.
Gospoda Koko: Our favorite place to go for food and beer! We love their Pierogi and Kotlet Schabowy! Open from 8am to 3am, you can always stop by for a very inexpensive meal and beer. Cheapest beer near the main square, only 5zł.
…..Just for Drinks (and maybe a snack)
Singer: Very similar to Alchemia in style, candle-lit antique Singer sewing tables, fireplaces, velvet wallpaper, dark, but cozy. Tends to be less crowded than Alchemia, does not serve food. Full bar and all non-alcoholic drinks available too.
Pijalnia Wódki i Piwa: Unique style inside, inspired by communism. Serving specialty Polish shots for only 4zł. Try the Wsciekly Pies or Mad Dog, which is vodka with raspberry syrup and hot sauce! All voska used is Zubrowka, and all the flavored vodkas are homemade infusions. Cheap beers, and food too. All traditional Polish bar snacks only 8zl!
Bania Luka: Another great shots bar with cheap eats. More selection food-wise, less selection shots wise. A cozier atmostphere than the communist-inspired suggestion above, but with the same pricing. However, I find the food at Pijalnia Wodki i Piwa to be better.
Pauza: A more modern bar, along the famous Floriańska Street. Popular with students. Beers around 10zł, due to location and atmosphere, but if you want something more modern and fancy this is the place to go.
…..Just for Coffee or Breakfast
Charlotte: A french-inspired cafe with amazing french specialties, including delicous breads and pastries, accompanied by coffee and espresso drinks. With four seating areas, each having a different feel, you can forget for a while that you are in a tourist saturated area of Krakow, and pretend you are in a sidewalk cafe in France. Order the Charlotte Breakfast, or Sniadanie Charlotte in Polish, and thank me later!
Massolit Cafe: A great place to stop for a coffee and a bagel with cream cheese (a rarity in Poland). Grab a book or magainze while you’re there. Massolit, has the largest selection of books in English I have ever found in Krakow, with the smell of an old library to make you really feel at home.
As always I am available at firstname.lastname@example.org feel free to drop me a line!