Perhaps you’ve been out late, touring the old Gothic churches and mystical medieval lanes of the UNESCO Old Town? Maybe you’ve had just a few too many vodkas and are in desperate need of something to mop up the glug? Whatever the case may be, check out these top spots for nocturnal bites in Krakow and you’ll be eating your way through the early hours in no time.
Pub, Restaurant, Polish, $$$
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Don’t expect any refinement in this down-to-earth joint on the very edge of the Old Town. Simple and folksy, its décor seems to stem straight from the days when Brezhnev et al. held sway in these parts. But there’s certainly nothing Soviet about the food, which is indelibly Polish. Pierogi (traditional Eastern European dumplings) are the top pick, and they’re served (often to inebriated folk fresh from the Krakow pub crawl) all night long!
Locals might run if you asked them out for a late night bite at Bania Luka, but visitors to Krakow tend to love a little dish or two to accompany their cherry vodka shots here. Okay, so the quality is hardly the Ritz, but there are no pretentions about the kitchen. After all, the place is best known as the prime partying spot in the Old Town; the steak tartares and spinach pancakes are just on the menu to balance out the booze.
The kitchen at much-loved Starka continues to churn out hearty Polish dishes and fresh salads, meat platters, and filling vegetarian camembert bakes until midnight, which makes it a fine place to drop in for a late night eat in the heart of Kazimierz district. The interior is cosy and lively, with dimly lit nooks and crannies in which to recline. Be warned though: the place takes on something of a livelier vibe over the weekends.
Pijalnia Wódki i Piwa is another of Krakow’s so-called 4/8 bars (places where beers cost 4 zloty [£1] and food plates cost 8 [£2]). This one’s been such a popular addition to the city that’s it’s now got three outlets across town (two in the Old Town and one in Kazimierz). Late at night, it’s primarily packed with international folk and locals after bargain tipples, while others will be munching on the gzik (boiled potatoes with cream cheese) and tartare dishes.
Now-legendary Moaburger cut its culinary teeth cooking up burgers for the late-night partiers fresh from Krakow’s bars – it is perfectly placed for that, right in the middle of the Old Town. Today, the Kiwi-inspired joint continues its nocturnal service, but has developed into a staple of the city’s food scene. The menu is all about quality meats and creative burger offerings, with the likes of the Surf’n’Turf (packed with tiger prawns) and harissa and lamb patties for that Middle Eastern twist.
Brits making their way to the Polish city of kings can rest assured that the tradition of the late-night curry certainly isn’t dead here. Leading the way in nocturnal masalas and the ubiquitous midnight vindaloo is India Masala, which sits on the edge of the lively Maly Rynek (Small Square), right in the heart of the Krakow Old Town. It’s got a menu packed with all the usual chicken and beef curries, along with plenty of paneer choices for the veggies. The kitchen typically serves until midnight.
This narrow burger kitchen on one of the main streets leading away from the Market Square (Krakow’s beating heart) is a great choice for late-night eats. Complete with a stripped-down interior, packed with bar stools and monochrome menu boards, it’s a simple eatery that specialises in classic American-style patties. You can augment your choice with spicy bacon tops and sides of chilli-cheese fries, or opt for one of the Mexican treats in the form of a quesadilla or taco.
The tiny little hole-in-the-wall of Endzior sits in the middle of plac Nowy, the central square of the Kazimierz district. It’s hailed as one of the top zapiekankistalls in the town, selling Krakow’s famous pizza breads for just 5 zloty (£1) a pop. The place stays open until at least 2am, and it’s often even better to head down late on account of the perpetual queues!
Sandwiched between the US Consulate and the French Foreign Office (hence the name), Ambasada Śledzia is one part lively weekend beer joint and one part bargain food haunt that keeps serving until the early hours. The menu is simple; packed with pasta bakes and small finger foods that go perfectly with a brew or two (or ten). The speciality is the pickled herring though, which comes topped with sour cream and herbs.
Okay, so while U Szwagra might look like just another kebab joint from the outside, the lengthy late-night queues at this hole-in-the-wall should indicate just how much Cracovian locals love it. The output is typically fast food, with chips and meat wraps taking centre stage. There’s also a selection of salads and veggie options, all of which are served up in seconds (providing there’s no wait!). There are now multiple locations of U Szwagra in the city – one on Karmelicka Street, one by the river and another in the Old Town.