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Milk Bar Restaurants

I discovered milk bar restaurants in Krakow, have been to a few there and in Warsaw and intend to expand my experience in Gdansk and Rzeszow.

I'm not a huge fan of all Polish foods but have developed an appreciation. Zurek and barley mushroom soups are my favorites. Milk bar restaurants

Posted by
4249 posts

Personally I think the food scene in Poland, particularly in Warsaw, has improved so much over the last few years that to eat in milk bars does a disservice to both yourself and the young, dynamic scene. My most recent trip to Warsaw had us eating some of the best food we've eaten throughout Europe (and we're a group of foodies who travel specifically to eat well).

Milk bars are a throwback to the days of the Iron Curtain and whilst they provide a sense of nostalgia most of the food is basic and not always good quality whilst the interiors are almost school canteen like. Sure they're cheap but in comparison to Western prices even the most expensive restaurants are far cheaper than their Western equivalent. You can eat very well in Poland very reasonably and it feels a shame not to support and enjoy the efforts of the, mainly young, entrepreneurs who are doing their best to create one of Europe's most exciting food destinations.

Posted by
242 posts

I enjoy all sorts of eating experiences, but like the MIlk Bar experience because they are unique. You can't paint them all with a broad brush. A number of them have been bought by younger Poles and they are referred to as "hipster milk bars" and receive very good reviews. We also eat at the mid-range restaurants, but still enjoy milk bars. The older folks might still feel the stigma of the communist era, but tourists and the younger folks aren't burdened by it. And, the previous poster is correct that milk bars go back to the late 1800's, although they are mostly remembered as post WWII inventions.

Posted by
4249 posts

I know that the origin of milk bars dates back further than the Iron Curtain days however it was during that period that they developed into the type of establishment that the stereotype conforms to. I also didn't intend to paint all milk bars with the same brush but despite the fact there are a number of 'hipster milk bars' this doesn't detract from the fact that the majority are as I described.

As is always the case where food is concerned it is all so subjective so whilst someone may find the food good at one place others may not agree. I can't say that I saw one milk bar on my recent trip to Warsaw that looked enticing but there were people eating in all of them, were they there because of the price, because the food was good or because of the convenience? Who knows.

Posted by
1864 posts

Donna, we are going to Poland this summer, can you recommend a few. JC also, can you recommend a few good restaurants. Would appreciate the help.

Posted by
4249 posts

Barbara, I typically refrain from providing restaurant recommendations because it's such a subjective issue, we all have different tastes and expectations and what one may consider good food another would disagree.

However, my last trip to Warsaw was with 6 other friends, we all consider ourselves foodies so based on the fact that we all enjoyed the food I feel that it is a fair representation of the quality. Two of the restaurants that we particularly enjoyed were MOMU (http://www.momu.pl/menu-2) which is close to the Old Town. We ate there for breakfast and enjoyed it so much, and were desperate to try the lunch menu, that we returned a couple of hours later. Fantastic restaurant serving mainly traditional Polish food with a modern touch and some innovative cooking.

Another favourite that we simply stumbled upon one evening was Kuźnia Smaku (http://kuzniasmaku.pl/EN/). This is a traditional 'old school' restaurant in the Hotel Mazowiecka. Excellent food, particularly the duck, and fantastic service. Whilst quite formal there is no dress code, we all rocked up in jeans and t-shirts and no-one batted an eyelid. In contrast there were other diners who had made more of an effort so if you want to you won't look out of place.

If you are beer lovers then a perfect place to visit would be PiwPaw on Foksal (http://www.piwpaw.pl) where you will find over 80 beers on tap and many more bottles. It's a large but busy pub popular with students and young people. Don't worry about trying to pronounce the beers, you can simply ask for a glass by the number of the tap, your only problem will be trying to decide what to go for!

Posted by
242 posts

Sorry to the readers of this topic. I wrote an article about milk bars that I thought would be very useful, but it was taken down because it is on my website. I don't sell anything on my website, and it is purely a helpful site with history and advice, but it against RS's policy to post it here. Again, sorry!

Posted by
1864 posts

JC! I looked at both of those restaurants and will check them out. Their menu looks inviting. We are more wine drinkers than beer but I can't pass up pizza and their menu looks extensive. Thank you.