A self-styled klubokawiarna (café-club hybrid), Kulturalna is a place of metamorphosis: by day, it’s a sleek place to relax, and by night it becomes one of the liveliest gig and exhibition venues in Warsaw. With what could easily be the coolest location in Poland’s capital, Kulturalna is based in the city’s tallest communist relic, the Palace of Culture and Science. One of the few Warsaw restaurants to offer a wide choice of vegetarian meals, Kulturalna cooks up appetizing pasta dishes and salads that celebrate world cuisine. The menu is seasonal, the ingredients locally sourced and the chefs fully support the ethic of slow food, ensuring that all meals are fresh and delicious. Make sure you stay for an after-hours concert.
Plac Defilad 1, 00-901, Warsaw, Poland, +48 22 656 62 81
An urgent rescue mission lies at Kafka’s heart: to save old books from an untimely death. While sipping their delicious coffee, guests are invited to pick out any books from the shelves that cover the café’s walls, and read them or buy them by the kilo. You might just be able to find some foreign titles! A pleasant spot for Sunday brunch (every week until 1pm), Kafka has a solid reputation for rich, aromatic coffees and well-priced, simple dishes. This hip, student café is one of the more authentic and unassuming places to hang out in Warsaw.
ul. Oboźna 3, 00-340 Warsaw, Poland, +48 22 826 08 22
What started out as a small, 20-seat pierogarnia (a restaurant serving Polish dumplings, or pierogi) has now become the national pierogi sensation. Zapiecek’s dumplings are considered the best in Poland: the light dough and variety of rich fillings cater to all palates. Especially worth recommending are the classic pierogi ruskie (Russian dumplings) with potatoes and cottage cheese, the mainstay of all Polish tables. The adventurous gourmet might be tempted by the dessert options on offer, such as pierogi with sweet cottage cheese or apple and raisin filling. Rustic and unpretentious, Zapiecek’s décor harks back to Polish folklore and instantly evokes a sense of homeliness and comfort, complemented by incredibly friendly service. The food is served in much the same vein: a classic Polish menu with a particular focus on pierogi makes Zapiecek the perfect place to sample traditional cuisine without any fuss.
al. Jerozolimskie 28, 00-024 Warsaw, Poland, +48 22 826 74 84
The Kameralna, as we now know it, is a reconstruction of a much older establishment, the so-called Kamera: once the heart of Warsaw’s Bohemian life, it used to be the meeting place for writers and artists from all over the city. Kameralna’s atmospheric lighting, as well as its original use of brass and wood elements, make it a haven for foodies and design fans alike. The menu is dominated by Polish delicacies, such as melt-in-the-mouth apple-stuffed duck or rich goulash served on top of a potato pancake. Don’t miss out on the classic shot of Polish vodka, best served ice-cold with pickles on the side.
ul. Foksal 11, 00-372 Warsaw, Poland, +48 22 692 43 68
Much more than just a diner, this trendy spot has become something of an institution. Prasowy has been around since 1954, so when it was forced to shut in 2011, a wave of protest followed and it reopened two years later with a renewed sense of mission. The meeting place for the neighborhood, it now holds cultural events as well as serving great food. In Poland it’s considered to be a ‘bar mleczny’, the milk bar’s distant relative. Prasowy, like all ‘bary mleczne’, offers its own take on fast food that’s cheap and nourishing; in the spirit of similar culinary spots that sprouted up across Poland in communist times. The menu changes daily, the meals are hearty and simple. At Prasowy, you get quality and quantity at very low prices. But make sure you get there early, as queues can get very long at peak times (no bookings possible).
ul. Marszałkowska 10/16, 00-590 Warsaw, Poland, +48 606 353 776
Housed in the New Orangery at the Warsaw Royal Bath Park, Belvedere is a modern-day oasis with spacious, greenhouse architecture, lush greenery, and peacocks strolling around its lawn. The kitchen professes a modern approach to Polish cuisine, where simple, traditional dishes are presented in unexpected ensembles. The gilt-headed bream with shrimp mousse and pumpkin puree, elderberry and cardamom, or the duck breast with black lentils, apple coulis, fried kumquat and passion fruit sauce are bound to tickle any epicure’s appetite. In the summer, Belvedere opens its Champagne Garden, where guests can enjoy champagne and elegant bites in the surroundings of the beautiful Royal Bath Park. Its tranquil atmosphere makes Belvedere the perfect place for a romantic dinner or quiet lunch.
ul. Agrykoli 1, 00-460 Warsaw, Poland, +48 22 55 86 700
Restauracja Polska Różana
Restauracja Polska Rozana is regarded by many critics and foodies as Warsaw’s finest dining establishment. This is all the more impressive since Polska Różana is so unpretentious: by serving top quality products created with refreshingly traditional, no-fuss Polish recipes, it proves the rule that less is more. The very simplicity of the hearty cuisine is the restaurant’s best, distinguishing feature: succulent tenderloin and luscious veal chops pave the way to culinary paradise by virtue of their own, natural flavor. Try the visually stunning, exquisitely juicy duck served with apples and cranberry sauce, a feast not to be missed. Biedermeier antiques, bouquets of freshly cut flowers and lace decorations complete Polska Różana’s understated elegance, an absolute must-visit culinary destination in Warsaw.
ul. Chocimska 7, 00-791 Warsaw, Poland, +48 22 848 12 25
Dazzling aesthetics are at the heart of Qchnia’s philosophy: each dish is presented as an ultra-modern feast for the eyes. But much more than that, the menu changes according to season and follows current culinary trends. Qchnia prides itself on serving not only beautiful, but nutritionally balanced meals. The salads are carefully composed explosions of flavor, and the soups frequently present original twists on classic favorites. Exhibitions, fashion shows and cultural events often take place here, as Qchnia Artystyczna’s coveted location right next to the Centre for Contemporary Arts makes it the meeting place for arts professionals. The summer terrace offers unmatched views of the surrounding park and lake, and is hailed by Qchnia’s staff as the most spectacular viewpoint in all of Europe.
ul. Jazdów 2, 00-467 Warsaw, Poland, +48 22 625 76 27
Wedel Pijalnia Czekolady
The Wedel Chocolate Lounges form a chain of cafes and chocolateries across Poland. The company’s long-standing tradition of crafting chocolate has made it a favorite among Poles. The lounge on Szpitalna Street is particularly worth visiting: the first Wedel chocolaterie, it opened in 1894 and has stayed in the same building ever since. Intricate stucco, mahogany furniture and crystal chandeliers render the pijalnia both stylish and inviting, and remind visitors of some of the finest times in Poland’s history. Opt for a luxuriously creamy dark or traditional hot chocolate and don’t be afraid of the ones with fruity spins. Cold Polish winters are certainly incomplete without a touch of Wedel’s magic.
ul. Szpitalna 8, 00-031 Warsaw, Poland, + 48 22 827 29 16
Located in the heart of Warsaw, U Kucharzy is owned by the star-chef Gessler family. A critically acclaimed culinary destination, it fuses haute cuisine with an intimate atmosphere and gastronomic wonders with convivial simplicity. Plain tables, exposed radiators and white wall tiles — U Kucharzy’s shabby chic décor provides a charming mismatch to the refinement of its cuisine. While waiting for your order, you can watch one of the master chefs prepare what is considered the best steak tartare in Warsaw right next to your table. Fantastically fresh meats sourced from a local farm are so succulent they melt in your mouth. For mains, try the duck or pick your favorite from the mouth-watering selection of game dishes. U Kucharzy is bound to impress even the most exacting of tastes.
Aleje Ujazdowskie 8, Warsaw, Poland, +48 22 826 79 36