After a very busy year my holiday time was definitely overdue. A place I am always happy to re-visit and like to call my second home is the truly wonderful Polish city of Krakow.
As a student, I spent my year abroad studying in this city and it holds many memories dear to my heart. I have been back to visit since, but I knew another visit was in order. I returned a few weeks ago to frequent some old haunts, hunt down new ones, for food inspiration and of course to do what I do best which is... eat!
Returning with a friend of mine who had also visited the city before, we were on a mission to eat our way round the city sharing plates and street food. Below is round up #1 of our favourite finds and eats in Krakow.
My main mission of this trip was to try several different types of Pierogi. Pierogi are a traditional handmade Polish dumpling which is made from unleavened dough. They are semi-circular in shape and filled with various different ingredients.
We successfully managed to work our way through a few different varieties including pierogi filled with fava beans, cheese and potato, sauerkraut and mushroom and garlic spinach.
However... on to the round up we go!
1. Milkbar Tomasza
Our favourite pierogi was from a lovely modern take on the traditional Polish milk bar (Bar Mleczny). The traditional ones are self-service cafeterias which were establised after World War I to provide cheap but nourishing hearty food. These are still going strong today and you can expect to buy a three course meal for the price of £3-£4.
Milkbar Tomasza was just over the road from our apartment on sw. Tomasza . It is modern in style but still retains the intimate cafeteria feel to it.
We loved this place so much that we went back three times during out stay... and on three times we ordered these INCREDIBLE Spinach Pierogi (pierogi ze szpinakiem) because they were indeed the best pierogi I have ever tasted. Light and fluffy dumplings filled with an intensely flavoured (but highly welcomed) garlic spinach which were boiled then fried and served with golden onions and chives. A portion of eight pierogi came to 13zl (£2.60).
The staff were super friendly and polite and extremely flattered to see us return. This was the star of the trip for me.
2. Zapiekanka from Plac Nowy in Kazimierz
Zapiekanka are one of the most popular Polish street foods you can get. They are halved baguettes which are served open faced like a pizza. They are usually topped with mushrooms and cheese and then whatever other toppings you desire.
Zapiekanka's are available from most of the kebab shops on in the Main Square (Rynek Główny) in Krakow but I highly recommend taking a walk over to Kazimierz, the Jewish district of Krakow and venturing to Plac Nowy where you will be greeted by an array of zapiekanka vendors. The usual rule of thumb is to join the vendor which has the biggest queue and eye up the zapiekanka's which are served whilst you make your decision on your toppings.
We tried a few different ones. Our favourite by far was this beast below... a vegetarian special with kidney beans, sweetcorn, tomatoes, tomato ketchup and topped with crispy fried onions. These come with an extremely messy warning though!
My vegetarian sidekick went for a similar one (minus the kielbasa) with spinach, garlic mayonnaise and crispy onions.
When I lived in Krakow this was my favourite haunt. I could never get bored of eating here as the menu changes daily and the food is fresh and tasty, but also extremely healthy and good value for money. It is situated on sw. Anny and a nice hideaway just a stones throw from the Main Square.
There is a cellar restaurant in this establishment but the part that has me hooked is their salad bar based in the main courtyard. You can buy a small plate which means you get three different salads priced at 13zl (£2.60) or a large plate with five portions at 17zl (£3.40).
It is a cafeteria style salad bar where you choose your plate size and then walk along the counters and point at salads saying "proszę" to the staff serving you as they pile your plate high.
There are always at least a selection of ten cold vegetarian salad options to choose from and usually a few meat and fish ones too. They also serve up hot portions of stew, grilled potatoes, tarts and savoury pancakes.
All salads come with the option of a dressing on the side in a little tub and unlimited rye bread. Portions as you can clearly see are also overly generous!
I would also recommend trying their cake... We tried their Szarlotka (a Polish apple cake) and also a rhubarb version of this too. Both were very good and like a cold slab of buttery crumble. Mmm.
And on that note we have round up one of our feasting in Krakow. My next post features the delights of Antler Poutine&Burger, Horai and Ambasada Śledzia (plus a few sneaky extras).