Undoubtedly Poland’s prime seaside resort of Sopot is a place more popular for tourists than locals. Of the famous Tri-City area – which also incorporates Gdynia and Gdańsk – Sopot is the smallest and also the most expensive. However, in summer months, the town’s many restaurants, bars, cafés and nightclubs are frequented by so many tourists, it can be difficult to actually spot a local Sopot resident. That’s when you need to delve into the local eateries and find out which restaurants the locals frequent to discover the best food this town has to offer.
There’s a huge difference between what might be a “local” restaurant and what is a “budget” restaurant, as many of Sopot’s locals enjoy their luxury too and are not afraid to spend extra to get that quality meal. However, Bar Trendy manages to stay both a locally popular venue and keep its prices low. It’s on Aleja Niepodległości, not far from the train station, and serves up great Polish dishes for good value, such as pierogi (Polish dumplings), nalesniki (pancakes), makarony (pasta), and zupa (soups).
Restauracja Bulaj is very well known locally and a little away from the main strip, Ulica Bohaterów Monte Cassino. The coolest thing about this swanky venue is that it continues to serve some peculiar and extraordinary dishes. Try the fish gołąbki (fish in a cabbage bag) or the unusual braised rabbit (rabbit braised in cream and thyme), which is served with pea puree, broccoli, and green beans.
Locals love a good craft beer with their meal and while Sopot boasts quite a few up and coming brewery-style bars, locals love to flock to Browar Lubrow for a tasty meal to accompany their sunset piwo (beer). Lubrow also has restaurants in nearby Gdańsk and Wejherowo. The Sopot venue is right on the main strip down by the pier, and has great local soups – rosół, barszcz, and mushroom. For main courses try the dorsz fish (cod) option, or the pork fillet. Wash it down with one of their crafted beers – the special “Trójmiejskie Piwniczne” (Three Cities Beer) or the “Szybka Kolej Miejska” (Fast City Train) comes especially recommended.
Bar Elita is a hidden gem and one the locals will be sure to tell you about if they are not concerned about giving away one of the town’s lesser known venues. Bar Elita is a Sopot institution and dates back to 1984, before Communism ended and before a tourist boom hit the streets of Sopot. Despite the venue’s longevity, it hasn’t seen too many dramatic changes down the years. For a preview of their tasty options, they have put their menu on the Bar Elita website. Locals normally opt for the pierogi ruskie (potato and cottage cheese-filled Polish dumplings) or the tasty tatar (which is raw beef and vegetables, eaten with bread).
Karczma Irena is a traditional-style restaurant acting as a throwback to the 1920s and 1930s. It’s part of a hotel that organises weddings and maintains a strong local and Polish atmosphere, while also being enjoyed by foreign visitors. The interior design is quite wonderful and the venue serves well prepared food from a very Polish menu, with good soups, salad, and pierogi all a standard.
If you end up in Karczma Polska Zagroda on your trip to Sopot, be sure to know you have uncovered a gem and also escaped the very touristic town centre. This gorgeous venue is in the south of Sopot, not far from the last train station in Gdańsk before you hit Sopot. Prices are high but you get what you pay for and this place is simply superb. For light meals, try the bigos (hearty Polish stew), sledz (herring) or tatar (raw beef). Or go one step further and treat yourself to the house specialities such as the gołąbki (cabbage and meat rolls) or the homemade pierogi (dumplings). Great beer is also served in what is a very picturesque venue.
Bar Bursztyn might be last on this list but it is the real budget option and the nearest that Sopot has to an actual Bar Mleczny. The venue is known for its meal deal and popular dish pieczone żeberka (cooked ribs), which generally costs less than 20 złotych (around US$5) even with a beer included. Bar Bursztyn’s budget menu also contains a good range of local pierogi dishes (Polish dumplings) from 13 złotych (US$3.50) and some tasty nalesniki (pancakes) from 9 złotych (US$2.50) and up. Another good reason to visit is that it is quite a walk away from Sopot’s main strip, so you get to see a more local part of town.