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Food & Dining in Poland


Poland has a distinctive cuisine, with typical ingredients being dill, marjoram, caraway seeds, wild mushrooms and sour cream, which is frequently added to soups, sauces and braised meats. Soups play an important part at mealtimes and are usually rich and very thick. Barszcz (beetroot soup), however, runs thin and clear and is often served in cups with small hot pasties stuffed with meat or cabbage. There are several salt- and fresh-water fish dishes using trout, carp and herring. Pastries, such as szarlotka (apple cake), packi (jelly doughnuts) and makowiec (poppy seed cake) can be bought at a 'cukiernia'. Note that big cities offer a selection of other world cuisines.

Restaurant meals in Poland have greatly improved in the past decade. It used to be nearly impossible to find decent food outside of a private home, but entrepreneurs have seized on the growing numbers of businessmen and tourists. In addition to standard restaurants (restauracja), look for places with the word karczma (literally "inn") in the name. These are often done up in traditional, peasant style, with simpler cooking and a warmer atmosphere. Here and there you'll still see the occasional bar mleczny, or milk bar; these self-service canteens traditionally cater to students and are great for simple Polish meals like pierogies, potato pancakes, soups and some meat dishes. Milk bars often have shorter opening hours, are non-smoking, and don't serve alcohol.


Warsaw has a very dynamic and fast-paced restaurant scene. New places seem to open weekly and the choice is considerable. Some of its restaurants have become well known abroad as well. Everything from Chinese to Mexican, Italian to vegetarian is on offer. There are a lot of deluxe establishments, fast food places on almost every corner, as well as street stalls offering hot dogs, Vietnamese noodles and falafel.

Those seeking chic and trendy eateries will find that these are a Warsaw speciality. Restaurants are the place to be seen. One of the most stylish and hip places is 99, which is a world-class restaurant. In the same category is the recently opened Boathouse. Similarly trendy bars are Zanzi Bar and Rabarbar. These all offer sophistication and exclusivity.

One of Warsaw's specialities is its Italian restaurants. The presence of a large Italian business community means that quality and standards are high. Some of the best Italian cuisine in the region is cooked up here. Venezia is locally famous and Balgera, a relative newcomer, offers exquisite northern Italian dishes. Chianti is one of the most romantic restaurants, while Roma Café is intimate and charming. Verona offers style and good food and Vera Italia attracts lots of Italians. Parmizzanos in the Marriott Hotel uses only the finest ingredients while San Marzano provides fast service and creative dishes.

For Mexican cuisine, Blue Cactus has established itself as one of the city's favourite get-together locations. Santorini, with its wonderful Greek décor is also lively. El Popo is close to several trendy bars and feels alive on any night of the week. Grand Kredens, decorated in an artistically put together mixture of styles, is also a great choice for a group.

If you like Asian food, Warsaw has a lot to offer. Japanese restaurants are all excellent: Tsubame has style and great sake, Tokio is popular and flies in fresh seafood weekly, while Akasaka has tasty tempura and noodles. Dong Nam is a huge restaurant that offers several different Asian cuisines. Pekin is small and the food is great, while the Oriental (at the Sheraton Hotel) is a popular business choice. Fans of Indian food will want to visit Club Tandoor, which has a dedicated following.

The Lebanese restaurant Le Cedre is one of the more interesting and delightful restaurants in the city. Vegetarians will love Nove Miasto – one of the most elegant and classy vegetarian restaurants in the world. Café Ejlat offers Jewish fare, while Varna has Bulgarian cuisine covered, along with some of the best wine bargains in town.

Fukier, in the Old Town is a must for anyone who wants to experience traditional Polish cuisine. Also famous are Bazyliszek, Gessler and one of the most appreciated of them all, Restauracja Polska. Less expensive is Klub Aktora, a local favourite, along with Literacka and Kmicic.

In a league of its own is Belvedere, located in Lazienki Park. This is the destination of choice for presidents and the rich and famous. Also unique is the Chef's Table, a private dining experience in the kitchen of the Sheraton Hotel.

If you're heading for the National Theatre, opera or visiting a gallery, La Boheme would be a fabulous choice. It mixes class and elegance with great cuisine. Also popular is Qchnia Artystyczna, one of Warsaw's true bohemian locales.

Warsaw also has some very special cafés. First among these is Blikle, one of the capitals most loved establishments. The Nowy Swiat Café is a beautiful Viennese-style establishment. Café Brama is hip, with excellent food and Café Europa is a pleasant place to stop for a break in the Old Town. The Café Bristol is wonderful. Still more fun are Miedzy Nami and the trendy Modulor Café. Local celebrity Stash Pruszynski has done extremely well with his recently opened Radio Café.




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