Is it still possible to find secret and unknown bars in a city that is enjoying a tourist boom? Are there any really secret bars left on the streets of Warsaw’s Old Town? Delve deeper into the heart of the Old Town, and beyond the main sights by visiting these intriguing and lesser known hangouts for a taste of Warsaw’s less ventured night haunts.
Take the backstreet to the right hand side of the Warsaw Barbican Gate entrance and you’ll uncover this gem of a place. With over 15 craft beers on tap, Restauracja Maryensztadt Craft Beer & Food is a new bar that specialises in craft beer in a cosy and modern setting. The venue has an excellent range of locally crafted beers, all detailed on the wall on a blackboard-style menu. Beers range from hoppy ales to frothy stouts to sour beers. The food menu focuses on unusual dishes and quality over quantity. Elegant little plates are filled with fine vegetables and meat dishes including corned beef with carrots, potato and broccoli or the kapusta (black pudding) with spices and vegetables. The venue has indoor and outdoor seating as well as free Wi-Fi.
A secret bar that tells you it’s a secret bar? Yes, that’s right Ukryte – Hidden Bar and Bistro advertises the fact that it’s a secret and hidden bar. But this doesn’t make it any less exciting. Located down the poky side street on the right hand side of Szeroki Dunaj to the right when entering the gate at Warsaw Barbican. Once you get here, walk through the entrance (which is marked and obvious despite being hidden) and into the back bar and bistro. Inside, it’s a bar with dark walls, yet windows let light shine in. On the food menu, try the venison bullion soup or the pierogi Ruskie. Ukryte also has some quirky beer options, including the Sleeping Car Porter and the No Reason Ale.
So secret that it’s not even on Google Maps or Facebook, ‘Drink Bar’ even has a sign up saying ‘Drink Bar’ and is exactly as you would expect. It is a bar where you can drink either outside or inside, and it is accessed through a small entrance in an apartment block in the main square. You head to the main Old Town square near the famous mermaid and you look for the sign that reads ‘Old Town Apartments’ and ‘Drink Bar’. Under the Drink Bar sign, walk into the passage and take a left and you will find a bar serving beer and food. Expect Polish beer on tap, a mix of fellow travel enthusiasts who happened to find the bar and some good Polish cuisine including pierogi.
Shyly hidden away from the tourist crowds, yet within a minute’s walk of the Royal Castle, Zigmunt’s Column and Castle Square is Café Zamek. This place is opulent and regal and styled in a way you’d expect of a cafe that derives its name from the old abode of Poland’s one-time Kings. Café Zamek entices customers with a medley of candelabras and chandeliers, oil paintings and floral murals, not to mention a menu of refined Slavic treats, oodles of fantastic cakes and well-made coffees. Between the antique furniture pieces, patrons here can sit, enjoy a fresh brew, devour a slice of classic Polish cheesecake and soak in the old world vibes that abound.
Kamienne Schodki is a solid brunch choice that’s nestled deep in the heart of Warsaw’s Old Town, cosily sandwiched between two narrow alleyways and the bustling cobblestone stretches of the Market Square. It is here that you’ll uncover the charms of Kamienne Schodki, which translates into English as ‘Stone Stairs’. This place touts a menu of fish, dressed salads, Polish soups, hot drinks and all the ubiquitous Slavic beers you could hope for. Inside, the décor is simple and elegant to the hilt, with white-washed walls, candlelit alcoves and posh table dressings. The bar has wines and spirits and a choice of Polish and international beers on tap.
U Fukiera, a restaurant owned by chef Magdalena Gessler, is located in the Old Town’s market place, in a tenement house that was used for wine production in the 16th century. While it’s not completely ‘hidden’ or ‘secret’, as the entrance is on the main square, it does offer a pleasant surprise once you get inside. Today’s restaurant successfully draws on the rich history of its surroundings, and has hosted a number of famous personalities, such as the queens of Denmark and Spain, Claudia Schiffer, Roman Polanski and Naomi Campbell. The tasty menu includes cold and warm starters, salads, and main courses of Polish fish, crab, trout, salmon, herring, along with a variety of meats.
‘Przed i Po’ translates nicely into English as ‘Before and After’ and is another little bar lurking in the backstreets of Warsaw’s Old Town. The bar is just on the edge of the old city walls on Podwale, and not quite visible from inside the old city walls. Przed i Po has set 2pm to 2am opening times, making it a great late afternoon, evening and late-night venue. The bar serves up great cocktails and typical Polish shots. Also on the menu are beers on tap and in bottles and a selection of wines and spirits. There are some tasty Polish treats on the food menu including tatar (raw beef with mushroom, gherkin, egg, onion, bread and butter) and śliski śledź (herring in rapeseed oil with onion, bread and butter).