Poland’s capital, Warsaw embraces an up-and-coming pub scene to the point where, every week, there are new gems to be discovered. Shot bars, bars that don’t even look like bars and cocktail bars are the name of the game in the free drinking Polish capital. Work your way through the most unusual, absurd yet welcome list of themed bars in Warsaw, all of these representing their own personalised niche.
For something a bit out of the ordinary, head to Tramwaj 107. This is a bar with a tram theme. Warsaw has always been a city with consistent and well-functioning trams (in Polish tramwaj), and this bar celebrates that fact. It has different ‘lines’ on its menu based on what food or drink you are ordering. It has an outer area and an actual old tram at the front. There is good Polish pierogi and vodka served here, and you can watch sporting events on their televisions. Its location next to Świętokrzyska Metro Station also makes it an extremely handy meeting place or late-night drinking den.
The British Bulldog is so British it even has three-pin plug sockets. No kidding. Boasting staff who are trained to speak great English, live British football on the screens and a fake London phone box, this is more than a slice of London in the Polish capital. The interior décor contains portraits of David Beckham and newspapers from vintage England. What’s more is the range of drinks – London Pride, Guinness and the whiskies of Scotland ensure this place is the nearest you will get to being in the UK while Poland saunters on outside its doors.
The “Red Pig” is a quirky PRL-themed pub. PRL stands for the Polska Rzeczpospolita Ludowa, which is what the country was called during Communist times. The menu offers two options – the cheaper one is “for the proletariat” and the dearer option “for dignitaries and the bourgeoisie”. That said, it is a very famous bar and restaurant that has been visited by countless celebrities, and it is one of the rare PRL pubs in Warsaw, the country’s capital city. If you check the endless array of photos on the walls, you will see which famous people visited this place. The food menu is vast, quirky and excellent. The interior is red with lots of memories of a bygone era. The beer garden out the front permits smoking and has a vintage Polish car from the 1980s, a Black Volga, notorious for being the car associated with the KGB and abductions during Communist rule.
If you mention the words “Zakład Mięsny” to Polish people, they will tell you “Oh, it’s a butcher shop”, which is exactly what the term means. But this bar mirrors only part of the real meaning of its name, and is housed in what is an old-school Polish building in the city’s up-and-coming Praga neighbourhood. What you get when you enter the corner door of Zakład Mięsny is a surprisingly quirky venue that pumps out contemporary Poland more than most places in the city. The place has an actual butcher’s counter at the rear, accompanied by 12 beers on tap (always changing), a peculiar seating arrangement where you can eat and drink in your choice of a dentist’s chair, a high stool, a builder’s bench or a cosy sofa. The bar also has daily promotions, which include Tatar (raw beef with egg and vegetables), vodka promos and pizza. This is more than its title of “Butcher’s Shop” suggests and is yet more proof of the trendy revival in Praga. It feels like another world here. As a bonus, the bar has fast Wi-Fi, friendly staff and, of course, no television.
The name of this place plays down the quirkiness of Restauracja FUDU which is a bar inside an aeroplane. Yes an actual aeroplane! As far as themed bars go, this is up there with the best in vibrant Warsaw. This really is an old aeroplane converted into a bar and restaurant. But don’t arrive expecting a disco or loads of rowdy locals necking vodka shots. It’s quite flamboyant inside, and great for those wanting a date when it feels like they are travelling but still on the ground. But get in quick if you want to be on the actual plane, as the bar has a more normal restaurant beside it, where your feet will be firmly on the ground.
Still the leader in the country’s fine range of Irish pubs, Pub Irlandzki set the standard and continues to live up to its moniker, which locally is often “the Irish Pub in Warsaw” or “the first Irish Pub in Poland”. Yet it sits shyly on the edge of Warsaw’s Old Town. With its basic Irish décor and traditional booths, it’s like stepping into a quaint part of Belfast. Indeed as well as Murphy’s and Guinness on tap, Belfast Ale is sold here (though it’s made in Poland). Get chatting to the regulars who are a lively mix of Irish and British expatriates combined with Polish businessmen popping in for their little taste of Ireland. There are live sports on TV, and the bar has live Irish music from time to time. St. Patrick’s Day is a complete Irish-fest here.
In terms of world-class shot bars that intertwine music with film, with good old Polish hospitality, this one is Warsaw’s finest. Pulp Fiction Bar takes us back to a cracking 1994 film while serving up a range of outrageous shots, with Polish vodka at the core of the venue’s magnetism. It’s a cosy, yet tiny, yet central spot, which acts as a superb stopover. Be prepared to walk inside sober, have a few shots, and leave having made new friends and potentially not remembering the last shot you had. It’s more real than fiction, but it’s one fine bar…