Most are pleasantly surprised by the food here in Poland, and even more surprised by the prices. We have a whole list of must-eats here, but if you want to make a whole day of it, we have created The Royal Snack Route, highlighting the best Polish street-eats, which just happens to follow along the traditional Royal Route for part of the way, so you’ll be eating like a king! Follow the route forwards or backwards (we’ll be starting just off the Main Market Square). Either way you can finish with some traditional Polish bar snacks, at one of our favorite shots bars, and have a mandatory Mad Dog Shot! (With a location on both Szewska Street and Plac Nowy it is can even be visited at the start and the finish of this self-guided tour! But we’ll be placing it at the end of this tour.)
Want to take this self-guided tour with you? Here is a Printable Version!
1. Hot Donuts at Gorące Pączki (25 Ulica Szewska)
Poland is known for its donuts, and on Fat Thursday you will see Poles carrying dozens upon dozens of their beloved pączki around; some waiting hours to grab one of the best in the city. Any other day of the year it’s easy to grab a donut without waiting, and we suggest stopping at Gorące Pączki, literally Hot Donuts, on Szewska Street. Just find the neon sign. Filled with jams, puddings, or marmalades, you’ll have a large selection of choices. The most traditional is the one filled with Rose Jam, but you can’t go wrong here no matter what you choose. The donuts are always fresh, and if you’re lucky you’ll catch them at frying time, during peak season every 30 minutes or so. Price: 3zl
Moving along Ulica Szewska onto the Main Square, you may want to walk around a bit to work off that donut. Feel free to explore St. Mary’s Bascillica, The Cloth Hall, the Town Tower, and just the general atmosphere of Europe’s largest medieval square! And if you’re there near the top of the hour, enjoy the sounds of the Hejnal trumpeter. On your walk around the square, you will find our next snack, the famous obwarzanek. (Note: if you are lucky enough to be in Krakow when a market is occurring, especially a holiday market, look on the Main Square for grilled Oscypek Cheese too! More on that here.)
2. The Krakow Bagel at any Obwarzanek Cart (on the Main Square)
The obwarzanek, or as some call it, the Krakow Pretzel, has been around for over 600 years, and is now recognized and protected by the European Union. It’s similar to a bagel, but also sort of like a pretzel, and comes covered in anything from poppy or sesame seeds to salt or cheese. It’s part of every Krakowians regular diet, eaten most often by students because of its cheap price, and has become a sort of unofficial symbol to the city. Price: 1.50zl
Feel free to take a detour down Ulica Florianska if you want to take a peek at the Barbican or St. Florian’s Gate, but if you’re ready to move on, head to Grodzka Street where we’ll grab another carb-heavy snack (notice a pattern?)
3.Potato Pancakes at Placki Ziemniaczane (7 Ulica Grodzka)
[Note: This spot is currently closed. But don’t worry there is a Milk Bar (Bar Mleczny) just across the street that slo serves potato pancakes, so if you’re set on keeping this snack on your route, just pop over there instead!]
We’re now at one of my favorite Polish snacks, especially in winter, the potato pancake. You’ll notice the high-top tables outside this little walk-up stand, but it also has seating and a bathroom inside. For a quick stop, just order directly from the outside counter and watch your potato pancake sizzle to a golden brown in front of you, or head inside to the counter there to order. Although the potato pancake is delicious on its own, adding a topping only makes it better. Personally, we enjoy the sour cream, but kefir, goulash, and more are available. The sour cream and kefir come in a cup, and what you get is big enough to split, so if you’re ordering more than one, only order one with topping. Price: 3-5zl each
Now you’ve got a bit of walking to do, and I suggest taking a break from eating! So follow Grodzka Street all the way down to Wawel Castle, and explore a bit. When you feel like you’ve worked up an appetite, keep going past the castle to the Plac Nowy in Kazimierz, and head for the Gazebo in the middle of the square. Specifically stall number 4.
4. Zapiekanka at Endzior (Plac Nowy 4)
You’ll see signs for zapiekanka all over town, but we would be doing you a disservice to tell you to just grab one anywhere. No matter what, you should only eat a zapiekanka from a vendor on Plac Nowy, and our favorite stall is Endzior. The other places across town offer a less-impressive version of this famous Polish snack, so the lines and the price here are well worth the trip. Similar to what one might think of as a French bread pizza, zapiekanki from Plac Nowy are a true art form. You’ll find menus with tons of add-ons, but the most traditional recipe is bread, cheese, and mushrooms . In fact this is the base for all zapiekanki and cannot be removed! Add on what you want, and enjoy! Price: 7-12zl
We think it’s time for a rest now, and definitely time for a drink! Whether you have followed this route forwards or backwards, if you look just over your shoulder you’ll see a bar called Pijalnia Wódki i Piwa, go ahead in and we’ll show you around, it’s hard to miss- just look for the windows that say 4zl or 1 Euro shots and the crowd of people!
5. Bar Snacks and Drinks at Pijalnia Wódki i Piwa (7 Plac Nowy or 20 Szewska Street)
All the drinks here are 4zl/1Euro, you can pay in either currency, and food is 8zl/2Euro. You can read more about this type of bar here if you want, but just know that the atmosphere of bright lights and communist newspaper clippings is done on purpose, and half the fun. Grab a menu, and you will find a long list of Polish bar snacks, like the Beef Tartar, but if raw meat isn’t your thing, then grab the Smalec or some Gzik. And although this route has been mostly about food, you can’t go to a Polish shots bar without having a shot. So please order a Mad Dog (Wściekły Pies) for us, and don’t hesitate to complete the whole list of shots there! The vodka is all Zubrowka or Soplica, which is a must-try in Poland, and the infusions are mostly homemade, so don’t let the cheap prices fool you, the food and drinks here are really good.
If you complete the Royal Snack Route, we want to hear from you! Comment below or reach us on any social media site with comments or suggestions. Or feel free to email us at firstname.lastname@example.org