Hungry? Good to hear. Hungry for vibes? Even better. Krakow is a great place to taste Polish cuisine — from traditionally served dumplings or pork chops to modern versions of classic Polish dishes.
Krakow is famous for its nightlife, and it can sometimes have devastating consequences. A sour soup (żurek) which, like many other Polish soups, has the potential to conquer the taste buds of people all over the world, turns out to have truly magical power in such moments. This thick, nutritious soup based on rye sourdough, garlic and smoked sausage is occasionally served in a loaf of bread. Depending on the variant, the soup may contain a hard-boiled egg, a sausage or a potato. If the vision of a viscous soup does not have a comforting effect on your stomach, search Polish restaurants for cucumber soup, sauerkraut soup, broth or borscht.
The cheese-stuffed “pirogi” were enjoyed already by King Władysław Jagiełło. No wonder then that pierogi have their own festival in Krakow. It takes place in mid-August on the Small Market Square. We recommend disregarding all culinary innovations and following the king’s footsteps, to focus on the Russian style dumplings — ruskie pierogi (filled with cottage cheese, potatoes, onions), and dumplings with meat, or cabbage and mushrooms.
Local experts recommend a visit to Przystanek Pierogarnia (they already have few locations), Russian style dumplings in Gospoda na Woli (Krolowej Jadwigi 223) and Centralny milk bar in Nowa Huta (os. Centrum C 1). You can enjoy delicious dumplings not only in Polish restaurants. Visit the Ukrainian restaurant Hutorok (Czapskich 1), Georgian venue Tbilisuri (Meiselsa 5), or Russian Wiśniowy Sad (Grodzka 33), where in addition to classic flavours it is worth choosing delicate pelmeni with fish stuffing. There are good reasons why we recommend Ukrainian restaurants. Ukrainians currently account for almost 10% of Krakow’s population!
Polish cuisine is based on meat. Beef tartar enthusiasts should try it at Pod Baranem, where it is served just like it is served in Polish homes – to be seasoned individually. Those who choose Ed Red, famous for its ripened meat, or Karakter, will not be disappointed either.
Another classic is the pork chop. Our communities especially recommend the one in Cechowa (Jagiellońska 11), one of the few restaurants in the city centre, whose interior design and atmosphere reflect what Krakow’s gastronomy looked like until quite recently.
Gąska (Bolesława Limanowskiego 1)
Simple, home-made, served in a traditional way, fair and honest Polish cuisine. The food here is not overrated and is very similar to what you would get if you visited someone’s place for a traditional Sunday dinner. In addition to goose meat dishes for which this place is famous (such as pate, liver, salad, broth, pulled goose, or goose breast and legs), you will find here a pork knuckle, pork chops, dumplings and potato pancakes. Vegetarians can pick the latter or fried tree oyster mushrooms.
Pod Baranem (św. Gertrudy 21)
Pod Baranem specializes in meals typical for affluent, bourgeois Polish cuisine, although you can also find some international touches in the menu. It is one of the most vibrant, typically “Krakow-style” restaurants, which has gained a large number of regulars: from Nobel Prize winners to professors of Krakow universities.
The walls are densely filled with their photographs and paintings by, among others, Edward Dwurnik. At Pod Baranem you can enjoy traditional Polish tripe, sour soup or Krakow-style maczanka sandwich (slices of pork loin served on a roll and slathered in rich gravy) as well as beef tongues in horseradish sauce. The happiest people here will be those longing for homemade beef, mutton, lamb and venison dishes dipped in aromatic sauce (Wisława Szymborska was said to order stroganoff here). The offer for vegetarians is rather scarce: potato pancakes and crepes. Ask for a lunch set on weekdays.
Morskie Oko (pl. Szczepański 8)
Once you enter the Morskie Oko you will feel like you are in the capital of the Tatra Mountains. The interior decoration reflects images of a highlanders’ inn, and the menu itself looks like it was originally taken out of Krupowki Street in Zakopane. Our local experts ensure that all foreigners leave this place delighted and enthralled. The reason is the classics of traditional and modern cuisine of Podhale served at reasonable prices, such as moskole (pancakes from boiled potatoes and flour baked on a baking tray), sauerkraut soup, black pudding, highlander’s potato pancake, shashlik or selection of meat. Foreign guests will also surely enjoy the selection of traditional liqueurs: garden angelica liquor, blackthorn liquor, slivovitz and honey vodka.
Szara Gęś (Rynek Główny 17)
Szara Gęś is located in a tenement house at the Main Market Square. It is a well-managed, high-end restaurant and at the same time a sophisticated venue chosen most often for business meetings or special occasions. The local chef strives to showcase Polish cuisine in a modern way. The menu, however, includes not only dishes based on regional specialties (such as suska sechlońska, smoked Hungarian plum), but also products typical for this region of Europe. That is why the menu includes, among others, meals from Hungarian Mangalitsa pig. Our communities recommend here desserts and Polish wines!
Filipa 18 Food Wine Art (św. Filipa 18)
Filipa 18 cosy hotel restaurant is just another place where you can find out what Polish cuisine looks like in its contemporary shape. Marcin Sołtys, one of the most smiling chefs in Krakow, uses traditional products and state-of-the-art cooking techniques. Do not be surprised to see the chefs in full gear in the Stary Kleparz nearby the restaurant. Marcin does some of his shopping just there. The restaurant menu changes seasonally, but it is believed that the entrees beloved by the guests: herring, beef tartar and delicate nougat will stay there as long as the chef himself. To keep the regulars from getting bored, these dishes take on a slightly different shape in each menu.
Jadłodajnia U Stasi (Mikołajska 16)
The iconic u Stasi eatery, hidden in a courtyard at Mikołajska Street, has been feeding the residents of Krakow for 100 years. Everyone dines here: professors, artists, students, tourists, employees of local companies and the homeless. It’s a truly egalitarian place. At lunchtime it gets really busy here, so you just may have to smile heartily and sit next to other people dining here. This is where you’ll have a quick, tasty and inexpensive meal. What more can you ask for?