Kraków is well-known for its touristic charms the world over. But with such an obvious international flavour dominating the Old Town streets these days, the more authentic and genuine Polish restaurants can prove trickier to locate. This tidy list compiles the best Polish cuisine Kraków has to offer.
No list of top Polish food spots in Kraków should neglect one of Poland’s most famous eating experiences – a meal at a “Bar Mleczny” (Milk Bar). Here in the Old Town of Kraków, amid the hustle and bustle, you can find the extremely well-priced Milkbar Tomasza. From the outside it looks quite basic, and that’s the beauty of it. Once inside, delicious fresh Polish food is served in style, or at least in the style to which every Milk Bar should aspire. The other incredible point to note about Tomasza is that it is a mere five-minute walk to the heart of Kraków – Cloth Hall and the Rynek (main square).
Just one glance at the exposed brick vaults and candle-topped tables of Trzy Rybki should be enough to signal that this refined little restaurant on Szczepanski Street is all about style and quality. A recommendation of the Michelin Guide, the kitchen here serves up creative Polish dishes in the ilk of tempura oysters and liquorice-infused venison. That’s all bolstered by one truly excellent wine list that’s got its own offering of quality Moët Champagne for good measure – no wonder it’s joined to the exclusive Stary Hotel! This is one of the finest little secrets in all of Kraków.
The kitchen at the much-loved Starka continues to churn out hearty Polish dishes and fresh salads, meat platters, and filling vegetarian camembert bakes until midnight. This 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. A well-stocked bar also ensures that there will be no shortage of local craft beers, wines from around the world and ice cold bottles of Polish vodka to extend the party just a little longer.
A rustic design and traditional Polish theme make Sąsiedzi one extraordinary restaurant. The brick interior and the wooden furniture covered with handmade tablecloths bring out the earthy, simple customs of the Polish country, while the menu is abundant in meat dishes. For vegetarians, there is a great porcini mushroom soup served in a bread bowl; for meat-eaters, there are tasty duck, chicken, goose, and veal options. The only real downside is that it doesn’t usually open until noon, and come dinner time, there can be long queues.
After recent expansions (due, no doubt, to the booming demand), it can seem as though the subterranean dining rooms of Gospoda Koko are never going to end. Don’t worry though, they do, and eventually you’ll discover the tiny little bar where it’s possible to order from the makeshift paper menu. Expect filling, hearty Eastern European dishes, often of the meat and veg variety, but also interspersed with the occasional Polish dumpling and boiling broth. The best part is surely the price tag, though: super cheap!
Taking the form of a hearty Polish country kitchen, Kogel Mogel touts perhaps the finest Slavic cuisine in the entire city. The menu is packed with goose legs and guinea fowl, aged tenderloins and bubbling broths, while a few ubiquitous regional staples also make an appearance: zurek soup; pierogi dumplings; blood-red barszcz. Meanwhile, the atmosphere is a tad romantic, with just a small al fresco space for couples that’s open in the summertime.
U Babci Maliny is as cosy and authentic as it can get for delicious Polish food on the streets of Kraków. This quaint little piece of heaven sits opposite the city’s main theatre and is like a journey back in time. The name itself conjures up some magic, as U Babci Maliny translates as ‘raspberry grandmother’, which is backed up by the feeling you could be in a grandma’s Polish kitchen once you sniff the sweet culinary scents upon entering. A range of spicy, hearty, tasty Eastern European treats are in store for you here – all cooked in Polish style. From potato pancakes (placki ziemniaczane) to meat dumplings (pierogi z miesem) to beetroot soup (barszcz czerwony), there is something to satisfy cravings in every genre of Polish cuisine through the generations. In the wintertime, U Babci Maliny also serves up a very zesty hot beer (grzane piwo) or wine (grzane wino).
Chłopskie Jadło is a traditional chain of Polish restaurants that are present in most of the big cities in Poland. If you are in need of a great helping of well-cooked and decently-priced Polish food, head to one of their venues. One of the best located of the Chłopskie Jadło restaurants in Kraków is the Grodzka Street venue, just a few minutes’ walk from the main Old Town Square. The menu is traditionally Polish – on the house speciality list, try the Podsmażana biała kiełbasa 140g, podawana z cebulką duszoną w piwie z miodem (white sausage with mushroom in beer and honey sauce) or the gołąbki z wieprzowiny i ryżu (cabbage rolls with pork and rice). All the usual range of Polish food also graces the lengthy menu, which contains typical dishes such as pierogi (dumplings), placki ziemniaczane (potato pancakes) and the grillowana karkówka wieprzowa (grilled beef shoulder clod). The bar serves up a range of Polish beers, wines and vodkas, as well as international brands. It’s a romantic and traditional setting, too, and the servers are multilingual.