Choosing a restaurant in Krakow can be a challenge. Poland, the land of pierogis, borscht, and oscypek, serves up traditional foods that are as delicious as they are difficult to pronounce. This article will get you past the quasi-hieroglyphic names so that you can eat at some of the best restaurants in Krakow while savoring the unique flavors of Polish cuisine.
>> Also read our guide on the top 10 Polish dishes that aren’t Pierogi!
Krakow is well known for its food, making it difficult to get a bad meal. The region’s climate is great for growing hearty vegetables, such as beets and potatoes, so don’t be surprised to find that meat and starch are the main components of most every meal. Who hasn’t heard of kielbasa, right? Well, rest assured, there are other famous meat-focused dishes to include: golabki (cabbage leaves stuffed with meat), kaczka pieczona z jablkami (roasted duck, often stuffed with berries and breading), and bigos (Poland’s national dish, it is a hearty stew that is usually served in a bread bowl.)
I traveled to Krakow for the first time with my vegetarian sister who wasn’t, as you might expect, too excited about the dishes described above. But it turned out that many traditional dishes are, in fact, vegetarian. For example: barszcz (a vegetarian version of borscht shich is a cold soup made with beets), pierogis (dumplings stuffed with various ingredients — potato and cheese is Poland’s specialty), and zurek (a sour rye soup) are typically meatless dishes. The trouble is, these dishes can be made using meat, so make sure to specify when you order.
Here are some of the best places to eat traditional Polish food in when in Krakow. They are ordered by price.
Key (price in euros for two people without drinks):
$ up to 30
Bary Wegetarianskie VEGA – $
All vegetarian with several vegan plates, this restaurant manages to make Poland’s quintessential dishes strictly vegetarian. Hands down the best restaurant in Krakow for vegetarian travelers.
ul. Sw. Gertrudy St 7
Apertif – $$
Located in the heart of the old town, this popular restaurant is usually bustling with a good mix of locals and travelers. Live music is often played on its doorstep during the summer. From the delicious soups – think bigos and fish stew – to the chicken liver with seasonal fruit compote, the menu is stellar across the board. If you happen to hit rhubarb season, try the rhubarb crème brulee.
ul. Sienna 9
Pod Baranem Restauracja– $$-$$$
This stand-out restaurant offers excellent service and a warm atmosphere. And the quality food makes it just plain silly to miss, especially if you like steak; many claim it is the best in the world (with five unique preparations, it ought to be). Most meat dishes are prepared with traditional Polish sides and sauces. The Krakow-style herring and traditional stuffed duck are other highlights. Antique furniture, fireplaces, and high standards make this place a great deal. Gluten free dishes are offered.
ul. w. Gertrudy 21
Wierzynek – $$$$
One of the best-known restaurants in Krakow, many of its tables look out on Main Market Square. Fine art, well-polished wood furniture, red carpets, and tall windows signify the finest of fine dining. A couple signature dishes include: Composition of Deer; Roe Deer and Quail in Pine Wood Sauce with Millet Groats Mousse; Broad Bean and Delicate Young Pork Cutlets with Traditional Polish Potato Pie; and Young Cabbage and White Sauce. A meal at this fine restaurant is certainly on the expensive side. If you want similar food at a lower cost, try the Wierzynek Grill, located in the same courtyard.
Market Square 15
Written by Mattie Bamman for EuropeUpClose.com