When it comes to eating well, it’s all in trial and error, and I have to give a special shout out to Lauren for giving me a chance to take a hearty appetite around Warsaw and document my findings! I took a taste test of her Madrid Tapas & Taverns Guide, and I wasn’t disappointed—it’s a must-read for anyone planning on visiting the Spanish capital!
It’s a no-brainer—I love to eat. Whenever I get the opportunity to eat or do something else, it always comes up food. When you mix this with travel, you’ve got an incredible combination that doesn’t just give your taste buds a delight, but it gives you insight to a person’s culture, their heritage and all the things that make them tick. Just take one look at a croissant, and ask yourself, could it have been made by anyone other than the French?
And when it comes to Poland, well let’s just say it’s not my first time getting to take a taste of the beautiful country that mixes so many different traditions into its culture and food. So grab your napkins and your shovels—I mean forks—because it’s time to get hungry.
OLD TOWN WARSAW
Polish food is very much like traditional Central and Eastern European fare: lots of pork, potatoes and a fair share of duck. When it comes to getting the good stuff in Warsaw, I suggest heading for the old parts of town because not only do you get a great meal, you get to enjoy the traditional architecture and settings, which makes it all the more real, authentic and, in my mind, a little bit tastier.
Places to try:
Polka is essentially Poland’s Julia Child except without the height and accent, and her reign as chef and celebrated food journalist has made her a local treasure, as well as her breaded pork chops and pan-fried red cabbage. Head here if you want to get a taste of duck made right, and keep your eyes peeled for traveling celebrity chefs and an excellent seasonal menu—both are why this restaurant gets 5 stars in my book.
Pasieka is where to head if you’re a huge fan of the barley. Traditional treats at Pasieka are served up for sure, but it’s the brews that keep everyone coming back for more. The honey-based alcohol drinks are some of the oldest (and tastiest) traditions in Poland. The prices here are very pocket friendly, and their best mead, Półtorak Jadwiga, serves up great whether you’re eating roast duck or zander fish.
Przy Zamku is by the castle (hence it’s location-deriving name, which in Polish literally means by the castle), making it one of the best places to grab a bite after you’ve done a bit of old timey exploring. I really enjoy their unique take on food: it’s all hunting cuisine! From wild boar stew to the animal busts adorning the wall, if you want to eat like a king of old, this is certainly the way to do it.
COFFEE & LUNCHTIME EATS
Europe has a leg up on the coffee trade; in my opinion, the entire continent can brew up beans much better than most of the world. And they do it so well that they feel like they can serve it up at a premium (have you noticed it’s more expensive than gas?), but I never feel like it’s a bad investment. Good atmosphere, best taste and delectable cafe fare—what more could a foodie hope for?
Places to try:
Cafe Prozna is part of the recently renovated Prozna Street area. Other than being a great place for a brew, it is also hipster central! With two floors, a cozy atmosphere and really great coffee, it’s more than just a place to kick up your feet after a long day. It’s also a hotspot for local musicians to tear it up once the sun goes down, so if you’re a fan of jams, this stop should definitely make it on your list.
Kawiarnia Kafka is an intimate spot that can get busy quick, but it lives up to its author name. While you’re enjoying a delicious cup of coffee, you can overlook the park, exchange books, and chat with literary locals. Friendly with students and families, this is the place to grab a break from the hustle and bustle and get a much-welcomed smile in the process—their customer service is out of this world!
Caffee Galeria Sztuki combines coffee, restaurant and art gallery all in one, which may be my favorite trio combination in the world. And trust me, this little Warsaw hotspot does it so well, you can’t miss it. Found on Zabkowska, just steps away from other great spots to try like Mucha Nie Siada and W Oparach Absurdu, this cafe is the place to enjoy a sandwich and a good cappuccino. From the roughed up hardwood floors to the kitchen table chairs, this place feels like home, except it’s better than any coffee I’ve ever had in my own kitchen!
You might be wondering how this is related to food. I consider good cocktails to be a foodie experience, and no night out is complete without a bite on the way home, so in the end, it all comes back to taste levels, right?
Places to try:
Solec 44 is the place to go if you’re into experimental cuisine and equally daring, adventurous neighborhoods. From soup made of garlic, lemons and apples, to traditional Wiesswurst or chocolate mousse, this spot is perfect for grabbing great late-night food and drinks before heading out to explore the nearby streets of Sowia, Radna, Browarna and Lipowa.
Cuda na Kiju and Zamieszanie are two bars who label themselves as multi-tap watering holes and local late night hangouts. And while their brews are awesome and unique, you can also grab killer mixed drinks at both, while reveling in the converted Communist Party HQ space. Plus, there’s pizza—what could be better than that?
I’m also a huge fan of the app GOING—it’s got a heartbeat on what’s up and coming in the city and bases its recommendations for you on where your current location is (just make sure you don’t get stopped by geoblocking). Not only is it full of local social activities and cultural events, it also tells you how to get there, arrange for tickets so you don’t have to wait in a queue, and connect with friends who are also thinking about heading out.
I’m all about the whole experience, the climbing of the tall towers and getting to the bottom of the deepest caverns. But when it’s time to be adventuring on the middle road, my favorite spots are tucked away from the fanfare, sipping a refreshing brew and tucking in. So when in Warsaw, I suggest the same to you in order to make your trip an experience to remember.
Have you visited Warsaw before? What are some Polish dishes you enjoy? I’d love to know in the comments below.
About the Author: Jess Signet is an avid traveler and enjoys writing about her adventures—and
all the food in between. Having visited places all over the globe, getting out to see the world is both her love and addiction. She does not want to be cured. You can find more of Jess’s work on her blog or on Twitter.