Krakow: What to Eat and Where to Eat It
Eating out in Krakow is so affordable that you MUST sample all the amazing food! Gluten intolerant people beware - more than half of my recommendations involve dough.
Some of the best treats can be enjoyed on the go, which is excellent for travelers who may not have the time or desire to sit down to a full meal three times a day. We prefer eating when the mood strikes us, so a culture that relies less on formal table reservations and more on strategically placed walk-up windows was right up our alley.
Our Favorite Food Items
Paczki! We had at least one every morning. The best were from Gorace Paczki (always fresh and still warm) and second best was this place (I don't even know the proper name). I'm spoiled forever and I don't think I'll be able to eat a Stateside paczki again. The traditional recipe includes vodka, which I didn't know, and the traditional filling is rose. Though I'm a fan of the chocolate. We also tried custard, white chocolate, rose & chocolate combo, and raspberry.
Pierogis! Must order them with the sauteed onion. People online rave about Przystanek Pierogarnia and their low prices. It's a cute hole in the wall with only 6 stools, but the pierogis were served to us straight up boiled. I'm used to a crispier fried version, and I didn't know how to ask for that in Polish. Still delicious. My favorites came from Milkbar Tomasza and they tasted exactly like my grandparents'. Connor tried some at C. K. Brower and those were also delicious though pricier. C. K. Brower is a really cool cellar bar serving Austro-Hungarian Beer (whatever that is) that they brew onsite. You can order a big pipe of beer to share with your table.
Lody! The Polish are apparently obsessed with ice cream. STORY OF MY LIFE. There are lody shops everywhere. At the most inopportune time I noticed a huge line for lody snaking down the street. If you go to Krakow, look for the vendor in the square off plac Nowy street. I am so sad I didn't get to wait in that line.
Obwarzanek Krakowski! The Krakow Pretzel is protected by the European Commission and has a geographical indication. BASICALLY you can't get them anywhere else and they're cheap. Great snack. Buy them from the bright blue carts in the main square. Unlike every other city with a main square, Krakow offers the most affordable product (in the case of pretzels) where tourists naturally congregate.
Zapiekanka! Open-faced pizza sandwich. Great for sharing! The standard comes with mushrooms and is delicious. The square off place Nowy has multiple zapiekanki vendors and is a great spot for a late night snack.
Kielbasa. Sausage! Again, plac Nowy has a vendor, but you can also find kielbasa in normal restaurants and in milk bars. We had a great sausage and pierogi takeout lunch from Placki Ziemniaczane on Grodzka Street. There's also a legendary sausage truck south of the old town that only opens to serve the late night party crowd.
Kefir and Sauerkraut not for everyone, but there was an entire aisle at the grocery store devoted to Kefir. I can't find this stuff in England so I enjoyed it in Poland.
Great Restaurants, Cafes, and Pubs
One cafe you must try in Krakow for breakfast, lunch, or a pre-dinner glass of wine is Cafe Charlotte. I think it may actually be French, but their pastries are fab, coffee divine, and they serve "The Charlotte Breakfast:" a bowl of bread/croissants with a bottomless jar of homemade jam or chocolate. There are about 10 jars to choose from, you pick one, and go to town slathering it all over your gluten basket. I picked the chocolate. It was heavenly. Sandwiches also looked fresh and yummy.
Another great cafe is Bunkier, set in the park. The walls are transparent so you sort of feel like you're sitting outside. Breakfast was great - egg on a croissant for me and a sausage sandwich on an obwarzanek for Connor. My "coffee" was heavenly: ice cream, espresso, whipped cream. I think they called it the Krakow Coffee. Bunkier also serves tank beer that I think they brew on site. It's an unpasteurized version that they say is the freshest of the fresh.
I already mentioned C. K. Brower for pierogis, but we had a full dinner here and everything was phenomenal. Onion soup, fries with garlic dip, potato pancakes with stew, and a plate of pierogis. The atmosphere is casual and all the staff spoke English.
Alchemia in the Kazimierz neighborhood was an interesting find. It's a pub/club; chill during the day and then packed in the evenings. It's a bit of a bohemian/artsy club atmosphere. It's sepia-toned inside with multiple rooms (like a house, not a bopping modern club) with old art, antiquey furniture, and dripping candles everywhere.
Courtesy of Connor, check out Omerta in Kazimierz for craft beer.
A highly rated vegetarian option is Glonojad. We didn't go, but reviews are fabulous!
Dig in and treat yo' self!!