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Poland trip--misc. questions

We are very excited to be going to Poland soon. I really appreciate the help I've received from many including Christina, CWSocial, Carlos, Acraven. Although Poland has been on the wish list for some time, this trip was planned very last minute when I discovered a heck of a deal on airfare. We think we have a pretty good handle on what we are doing and just have a few questions I'm hoping we can get some help on.

I've read a few places that Poland is known for roast duck. My husband adores duck and we've had it quite a few times in France and hoping to find a place in Poland that serves it.

I could use some recommendations for restaurants in Krakow's Kazimierz neighborhood.

We (well, one of us, anyway) would love some recommendations for brands of beer, craft breweries and beer gardens. Preferably places that also have good food. Extra credit for a place with more traditional music.

Is there any place to try Polish wine? We will be in Krakow, Wroclaw, Torun, Poznan, Gdansk and Warsaw.

Besides pierogi, sour soup, sausages, gingerbread, donuts, what are some favorite traditional foods we should look for?


Posted by
1947 posts

There are 2 restaurants near the main Krakow square that serve some Polish dishes: Miód Malina and Marmolada (has sour soup in a bread bowl) are both moderately priced. I'm sure I found both in a Rick Steves book, though the Poland snapshot wasn't out at the time. I wasn't able to find either of their menus online - I hope they're still open!

The higher end restaurant called Pod Baranem - about a 3 minute walk from Wawel Castle - serves beautifully prepared and presented dishes and has "Duck breast in apple cinnamon sauce" on their current menu for 44 zł (less than $12.)

ETA: I see the Rick Steves Eastern Europe book in one of my Krakow photos. I guess that's where I found the restaurants. (Wow, I carried that entire book around with me to 4 countries! Probably because it was a library book, which I couldn't break into segments like I do now.)

Posted by
1947 posts

Looking back at my Wroclaw photos, I had a small bottle of Polish "Wisnia Bursztynowy" cherry cider at Pierogarnia with my pierogi (and kept the bottle as a souvenir.) I am not normally a beer (or cider) drinker, so I can't really recommend it other than to suggest trying the cherry cider as a fun alternative.

ETA: my meal at Pierogarnia (3 baked pierogi and the bottle of cherry cider) cost me $10, so the cider can't have cost much.

Posted by
1947 posts

At the end of one of my tours in Wroclaw, I asked my tour guide where to go for lunch - and then invited him to join me, which he did!

We went to the small and casual Wroclawska Gastropub (offering local beers and ciders) and the guide said they had the best sour soup. (It was very good!)

I also see that they have baked duck legs ("duck leg, silesian dumplings, rosemary demi glace sauce, red cabbage salad") on their menu for 39 zł (about $10.25.)

Posted by
6721 posts

The wine industry is nascent (comparatively) but I think it had potential to develop if climate over time becomes hospitable to winemaking. Personally, I would stick to what Poland is really good at making - vodka, homemade brandies/ liquors, cider and beer.... although it may be worth trying to see what promise the country holds for wines (there are some cool, established players already). Here are some resources:

I would definitely try out the Wedel chocolate cafes and Polish desserts. My grandma made the best ones, but I've had really good ones in restaurants too. And also try non-Polish food - you'll be surprised at both the taste and the presentation. One example of an unorthodox place I would not imagine in my youth growing up there - yes, vegan burgers! :

Posted by
5981 posts

jules m, our trip was 2013, so the very before times. And I'm not a foodie and don't tend to remember places to recommend, but I'll share what I do remember about food there. Of your itinerary, we mainly visited Warsaw, Krakow, and Zakopane. Note: all spellings approximate.

I dislike duck so cant help you there. I dont recall seeing a lot of craft brew, brew pubs, biergartens etc., mostly it seemed vodka was the main social drink. But the big cities were pretty cosmopolitan, so a lot of trendy bars and lots of international food (pizza, spaghetti, some Chinese, etc.). Some of the Poles and guides we met say that they dont really eat the traditional foods that often. As you might guess, its a cross between Russian and German - heavy and starchy.

Of course pierogi were everywhere, but they come in both sweet (blueberry!) and savory (mushrooms, saurkraut, meat). So try a variety and some places have cooking classes. Sausages we mostly saw as street food, along with zapiekanki (a kind of makeshift pizza) and, in Krakow, big soft pretzels. A place I do remember in both Krakow and Warsaw, was Krakowski Kredens, a deli with tons of sausages and other delicacies, and take away sandwiches. A common dish we saw on almost every menu was pork cutlets, sometimes with mushroom gravy. Carp and herring are common. Stuffed cabbage (golumbki) and mushroom soup are very traditional. Cream cake was popular dessert, along with other tortes and tarts. One item that makes a good light meal is nalesniki, which are much like thick crepes, with both savory and sweet options. InYourPocket guides was really helpful to locate places.

In Kaszimerz, go to Szeroka Street, which is really a square. it is (was?) lined with nice restaurants, with hawkers standing outside showing you the menus and inviting you inside. A couple of Jewish-Israeli and Jewish-Yiddish restaurants were there when we were there and I think the Yiddish one has (had) klezmer music. It was featured in one of Rick's videos. At the end of the square is an old synagogue used a s museum, and was a setting in Schindler's List.

The only place we came across traditional music was in Zakopane where we ate in a place that had music and dancers from the Goral (mountain people) traditions. Locals told us that most people listen to Europop - the polka-flavored things is mostly for tourists. Zakopane also has a big craft/food market at the foot of the mountain, where you can buy "ears" of the local sheep cheese for sampling.

The one traditional food item I hesitate to mention is the smalec. This translates as lard, used as a spread on bread like butter. Its tastier, more like bacon fat with bits of meat. Some people turn up their noses, but if you think about it, butter is animal fat too.

Posted by
2214 posts

Hmmm, while I have not seen roast duck on many Polish menus, something not to miss is called Żeberka Wieprzowe, which are roasted pork ribs usually slow cooked in sauerkraut and apples, delicious!

While craft breweries have not really taken off in Poland, you'll find plenty of beer on every menu, the brand Żywiec is always a safe bet. The old renaissance town of Żywiec itself is a wonderful day trip from Krakow and houses the original brewery of the company with a museum on site too.

I haven't heard anything about Polish wine, but as I mentioned in the pervious topic, Polish craft Mead is truly a national treasure there, so delicate and refreshing especially with forest fruit, I always try to snag a few bottles when I am over there.

When in Zakopane make sure try Oscypek, which is the local smoked cheese of the Tatra mountains. They look like finely adorned croissants if I had to describe their appearance, and you'll be able to smell them a mile away lol! They are always sold by the local grandmas in stands all over Zakopane.