Being Polish, I’m no stranger to questions about my home country’s local cuisine. People always ask me, “You’re from Poland, so what’s the food like over there?”. Well, I have good news for you – the food is great!
Yes, some of the dishes are very heavy, but they’re worth it. Although, that being said, no restaurant will ever be quite as good as my mum’s kitchen – who’s with me?
I was very excited to travel to Krakow recently. Since I moved away from Poland, I haven’t had many chances to eat Polish food, but Krakow soon changed that! There are so many excellent places to eat in this small but touristy city, and these are nine of my favourites. Why not try one of these top places to eat in Krakow next time you’re in the city?
1. New Square 1 – Kazimierz
New Square 1 is a modern restaurant with a great menu – it even has something to suit the fussiest of eaters! The food is full of flavour and very well presented, so you’ll enjoy every aspect of your meal. When I visited for brunch, the menu was just as extensive as you’d expect for dinner. You’ll even find the full English breakfast, unlike at many Polish restaurants. Make sure you try the strawberry beer – it’s delicious!
2. Pod Wawelem Kompania Kuflowa – near Wawel Castle
This is an old fashioned restaurant with amazing Polish food. The portions are very big and you also get some pickles and cabbage for free before your meal. I liked their food so much I visited twice and both times the dishes were delightful. We had pierogi*, kotlet schabowy*, placki po węgiersku* and golonka*. Make sure you ask for a table outside during the summer, so you can enjoy the castle views.
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*pierogi – Polish dumplings filled with meat, fruits, potatoes and white cheese or – my favourite – cabbage and mushrooms
*kotlet schabowy – thinly broken slices of pork loin, rolled in breadcrumbs
*placki po węgiersku – A mix of crunchy potato pancakes with goulash
*golonka – (ham hock or pork knuckle) – joint between the tibia/fibula and the metatarsals of the foot of a pig
3. Kuchnia u babci Maliny – Old Town
This traditional Polish restaurant is a winner on all fronts – the prices are great, the food is fantastic and the decor is unique. It’s self service, so you order your food at the bar and wait for your number before returning to collect it.
The staff speak brilliant English, so feel free to ask for recommendations as the menu is very big. We weren’t too original here – once again, we couldn’t resist ordering pierogies, goulash with potatoes, kotlet schabowy, Polish sausage and zurek* and oscypek*. You have to walk through the museum hall to find this restaurant, but it’s worth the effort!
*zurek – sour rye soup made of soured rye flour and meat.
*oscypek – smoked cheese made of salted sheep milk exclusively in the Tatra Mountains region of Poland.
4. Czarna Kaczka – Old Town
The food was really good here. It was pretty busy, but the servers managed to get us a table outside. That being said, it’s worth making a reservation if you can. Once seated for dinner, the atmosphere was very nice and the service polite and friendly.
One of the most famous dishes at this restaurant is duck in a cranberry sauce, which we tried and loved. In fact, if you translate the name of the restaurant, it’s called “black duck”. We also had bigos* served in a bread bowl, salmon, duck soup with meatballs, ribs and again, the traditional Polish breaded pork chop.
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*bigos – a traditional Polish dish of pickled and sweet cabbage, various kinds of meat, sausages, dried mushrooms and various spices
5. Browar Lubicz – near the Old Town
This beer restaurant in Krakow lets you enjoy Polish and regional cuisine washed down with a fresh, locally brewed beer. With a large dining area and event hall, this is a great place to visit with friends, family or larger groups. The staff are all very friendly and, just like most craft breweries, the food is cooked fresh on the premises and tastes great. We tried their botwinka*, pierogi and chicken wings.
*botwinka – served cold, soup prepared from young leaves and roots of beetroot with cream.
6. Milk Bar Tomasza – Old Town
Milk Bar is a type of fast food bar in Poland, serving homemade Polish dishes. The menu here focuses on cuisine that became popular in the interwar period and later in the post-war period. It’s a great option if you want delicious food without breaking the bank. Milk Bar Tomasza was the one I tried and it was a very pleasant surprise. The quality of the food felt as nice as in fancy restaurants!
7. Nova Resto Bar – Kazimierz
This is a modern restaurant located in a heart of the Jewish District. Boasting a large contemporary interior, dining room and bar, along with a large outdoor patio, it’s a fresh take on places to eat in Krakow. You’ll be grateful for the mist fans too – they come in handy during the summer heat waves!
This place offers a great break from the traditional Polish kitchen. You’ll find sumptuous seafood, hearty salads, and, of course, steak and chicken. We tucked into prawns, burgers, salad, golabki* and plaice fish and loved them all.
*golabki – cabbage roll made from cabbage leaves wrapped around minced pork or beef and rice
8. Boccanera – Old Town
This is an ultra modern Italian bistro that caters to the luxury crowd. Here, you’ll find a high end experience with unique dishes that you wouldn’t expect from a traditional Italian restaurant.
While the food is very good, the portion sizes are quite small and the costs are relatively high. We tasted the mussels, pasta and lasagna on our visit. You do get a very fancy small bread roll before eating, too.
In posher establishments like this, you might be wondering what the etiquette is for tips, or just how many courses you’ll need to fill up. Get the lowdown before you visit with this guide to eating out in Europe – no need to worry about making a foodie faux pas!
Zapiekanka is the most popular form of Polish fast food. Typically made up of a bread baguette cut in half and served with cheese and mushrooms, in some places you can get extra fillings like pepperoni, chicken or more vegetables.
The best places to eat in Krakow for fast food are in Plac Nowy in Kazimierz – coming from my perspective as a tourist. You can buy these baguettes virtually everywhere, though, so if any locals in Poland are reading, I’d love to hear your recommendations to try next time!
Poland might be my homeland, but Krakow isn’t the only place to steal my heart. From California to Cannes and Barcelona to Bermuda, these are the 10 places that are top of my visit list. How many do we share?