The historic capital of Poland, Warsaw, is one of the best places to try traditional Polish cuisine from all different regions of the country. Here we round up 10 of the best restaurants to visit in Warsaw if you want to sample the country’s most authentic dishes, including the infamous pierogi and bigos.
Rozana is an elegant old-style restaurant that specialises in Polish cuisine. It is located a few tram stops down from the centre of Warsaw: get out at Rakowiecka and walk to Chocimska Street. The place has an authentic vibe reinforced by its traditional dishes – mostly meat and potatoes with vegetables – and the little old piano set in the corner that is often played by a musician. Try their goose or duck as the Różana chefs really know their way around these more specialist meats. For a sweet treat, there’s a dessert platter with a great variety of cakes.
Portretowa is a great traditional Polish restaurant offering simple food and a cosy and friendly atmosphere. The space is quite small with only a few tables, yet this only works to create an intimate atmosphere, and the staff is very welcoming and ready to help. The menu is typical of the country, including dishes such as goulash, pierogi and lots of deliciously cooked meat options. Sample their roasted duck and apple pie dessert and you won’t be disappointed.
Opasły Tom Kręgliccy | Courtesy of Opasły Tom Kręgliccy
Opasły Tom Restaurant has become well-known throughout Warsaw for its selection of simple, homely dishes that present customers with authentic Polish cuisine. Courses such as rabbit in white wine sauce are carefully prepared and perfectly executed. The menu changes regularly, meaning the food is always new and exciting. With a range of desserts such as home-made sorbet, there is always something here to please.
U Kucharzy translates as ‘in the chef’s place; and is a charming, Michelin-starred restaurant located not far from the old town. The restaurant is located in a beautiful, 17th-century Warsaw Armory building and combines traditional Polish food with a pinch of French elegance. If you visit for the first time, try their lowly zrazy(braised beef) and pierogi (dumplings) with some apple pie enriched with fresh prunes as a dessert. The restaurant often hosts live music performances. It is advisable to book a table in advance, as it gets really busy.
Stary Dom translates into English as ‘old house’. It lives up to its name, too: it is a restaurant with a long culinary tradition and a homey feel. The old-fashioned interiors are filled with beautiful wooden furniture, lamps, candles, cloths, and paintings. The menu includes traditional Polish dishes, such as the broth with home made noodles, zurek soup made with mushrooms, and golonka (pork knuckle). Hearty main courses include the lamb shank with seasonal vegetables and a potato purée, and the oven-roasted duck with potato purée and red cabbage. Stary Dom also offers a special menu for children and a large variety of desserts such as pistachio and meringue cake.
Elegant, colourful and cosy, Polka makes customers feel like a guest in a friendly, old-fashioned Polish home. The restaurant belongs to Magdalena Gessler, a famous cook and journalist who led the Polish edition of the reality show Kitchen Nightmares and was a judge in MasterChef. Offering a wide variety of Polish dishes made from eco-friendly products either baked or roasted, Polka’s best plates include traditional pork chop coated in breadcrumbs and served with onion and mashed potatoes, black pudding with apple and potatoes, and a crispy duck in honey served with pan-fried beetroot or red cabbage.
Another excellent Polish restaurant in Warsaw is Dawne Smaki, which is arguably the most authentic and sophisticated Polish restaurant in the city. Here, you can get really traditional Polish cuisine, taking you in a step back in time. It is a swanky venue with real character and charm, evoking childhood memories for locals and introducing foreigners to the best of Polish cuisine and culture. Top-class chefs cook up dishes such as roast duck with apples, potato pancakes or cheesecake made with cottage cheese – all, of course, with a Polish twist. Evenings are a great time to visit as there is often live music, so be sure to book your table in advance. Dawne Smaki is located on Nowy Świat.
Known in English as ‘The Red Pig’, Oberza pod Czerwonym Wieprzem is situated in a preserved historical ‘Lipsk’ type pavilion. The building was given to the city of Warsaw at the end of the 1960s by the leader of the German Democratic Republic and as such the restaurant’s theme matches this history. It is a PRL themed bar in an area that used to be an important working class district where the first Polish communist/socialist movement was born. The name of the restaurant comes from the original Inn in the area that was frequented by the Red communist leaders, namely Lenin, Leonid Brezhnev, Fidel Castro and others. The interior of the restaurant is designed to reflect its history and show its famous guests with many photographs, portraits and flags on the walls. The restaurant’s menu offers mainly traditional Polish cuisine, but there are also many culinary hits from countries that can no longer be found on the map, including the USSR, Czechoslovakia, Yugoslavia and the GDR.
Another superb local venue with a historic feel about it is the Bar Mleczny Prasowy, which dates back to 1954 and has been serving up cheap and tasty Polish food ever since. Bar Mleczny Prasowy is located on the main Marszałkowska street in a grey building and serves up a delightful range of pierogi in a very typical ‘Milk Bar‘ atmosphere. Inside features a bigger interior than most Milk Bars as Bar Mleczny Prasowy needs to satisfy hordes of customers on weekdays, particularly during the 12-2 pm peak time. Enjoy one of the cheapest places in central Warsaw for pierogi from 6 złotych, soup from 3 złotych and kompot for 2 złotych.
Fret@Porter is located in the main square of Warsaw’s Nowe Miasto (New Town). The restaurant has attracted famous customers down the years, many of whom who have signed the wall. These days, it is a typical Polish restaurant with a succinct yet traditional menu containing some really special Polish gems, such as the oscypek (smoked mountain cheese) and the Pierogi Ruskie (homemade Polish dumplings sprinkled with crispy bacon and onion). They also serve up two delicious varieties of the Polish hot beer, grzane piwo.