I live to eat. Apart from travel and scuba diving, food is my greatest passion. When I’m not on the road I like to go back with my memories to certain places and the best way to do it is through food. Given the gastronomy scene evolved in Kraków in recent years I would like to take you on a journey today through some of Kraków’s exceptional restaurants and bars.
Asia on the plate
Poland’s vision of Chinese food is something like chopped vegetables and sliced meat stir fired in a pan or spring rolls or cabbage salad … yeah that is not real Chinese food. However, I found two gems that serve authentic Chinese food. Additionally a nice ramen place and a good Indian restaurant.
1. Jinling Dumpling
YES, YES, YES!!! The shrimp dumplings, fried buns and sauteed black pepper beef are absolutely amazing. The interior is modern and stylish without cliche red dragons or temple-like portals. My friend said that even the loo looks like it was designed by a skilled architect. Every time when I go to Jinling Dumpling I order something different, however there are two dishes which I order every time.
It’s xiao long bao and red bean paste buns. Those two tastes bring me straight back to Shanghai and Hong Kong as they taste so authentic, so real, so incredibly great. Besides, I love red bean paste and Jinling Dumpling is I think the only restaurant that has dishes with red bean paste on the menu. Additionally, the restaurant has an open kitchen stocked with special equipment from China which means the smell that comes out of the kitchen is natural and as soon as the amazing smell reaches your nostrools the mouth waters instantly. I also met the owner. He is a very kind man who came to Poland from China and has a polish wife
Address: Dietla 39 street, 31-062 Kraków
2. China Palace
I go there for two items they have on the menu – hot pot and Pekin duck. Tried some hot pot places in Kraków but China Palace has the most authentic one. Even my friend Vandy who was born in Hong Kong said that the food there is genuine. The interior is a bit, hmmm, a bit kitschy but the service is fabulous and the restaurant has a warm friendly atmosphere. Noticed that Chinese tourists who are on a trip in Kraków go there for dinner, so that’s another indicator of the restaurant’s authenticity.
Address: Mackiewicza 14 B street, 31-214 Kraków
3. Ramen People
Yup, excellent ramen, good service and the kimchi is very close to the one I had in South Korea. There are a couple of ramen places in Kraków however Ramen People beats them by miles. Tried every ramen that is on the menu and my ultimate favourite is the Miso Ramen with beef and leek. The runner up is the Tonkotsu Yokohama Ramen with chashu which is braised pork and bamboo shoots.
Yummy! Love going there especially during cold autumn evenings or winter as the ramen is perfect for warming up.
Address: there are two locations 1. Nadwiślańska 5 Street, 30-527 Kraków 2. Czysta 8 Street, 31-121 Kraków
4. Hot Chili
It’s extremely difficult to find proper Indian food outside of India however Hot Chili is very very close to it. Found that place by coincidence as my English tutor recommended it to me like 7 years ago. After the first visit to this restaurant I simply fell in love with it. Tried out some other Indian restaurants but nope, Hot Chili is still at the top. Do I have a favourite dish… hmmm all of them are good but if I had to choose I would go for shahi paneer. It’s cottage cheese cooked with a creamy sauce with raisins. Also the naans are delicious. Go for the garlic naan but remember no date or kissing after it unless your partner orders a garlic naan as well. For fans of spicy dishes, chicken vindaloo will make you sweat but in a very good way.
Address: Pijarska 9 street, 31-015 Krakow
A touch of France
A Beef Bourguignon tastes best in a small Parisian bistro but going to Paris for lunch every Saturday is somehow impossible. Hence, I found two restaurants in Kraków that give me the touch of France in Poland.
1. Bazaar Bistro
Oh yes, omg yes and one more time yes. Although it’s a place that serves more international cuisine, the atmosphere, interior and general good vibe remind me of modern French bistros. Not hiding that I’m in love with Bazaar Bistro. Every day they bake fresh bread, baguettes and sweet rolls. Till now I thought that nothing can ever beat a cinnamon roll, until I tried the cardamon roll.
In the summer you can find rolls with summer fruits like rhubarb, strawberries or blueberries. During covid lockdown Bazaar Bistro was selling their specialities in jars. Every time I went there to get bread, I ended up buying liver parfait, bitter orange jam, garlic butter or egg paste. It’s a miracle that I didn’t grow in size after that. When it comes to food the restaurant always comes up with something new. They have extraordinary breakfasts – red shakshuka rocks but lately they decided to do an oyster bar from Thursday till Sunday. Tried it and yeah, very much thumbs up! And there we have the wine… ahhhh Prosecco! Well just go and try out yourself, you won’t be disappointed. Only before you go, make a reservation 😉
Address: Plac Nowy 6, 31-058 Kraków
2. Zazie Bistro
There we have it, authentic Beef Bourguignon. Zazie Bistro is ideal for a meeting with friends over wine or for a romantic dinner. Apart from the regular menu they also have a seasonal one. Like in the autumn you can get dishes with pumpkin or in the summer asparagus in every shape and form. Last time I was there I ordered snails in butter sauce, yup they definitely know how to prepare the snails to make them nice and tender. Only be careful when ordering the crème brulee, the portion is huge 😛
Address: Józefa 34 street, 32-056 Kraków
A touch of Mediterranean
A restaurant that serves Basque food in tapas size portions. Was there today and after trying five items from the menu I rolled out of the restaurant. Luckily the way to my apartment was downhill otherwise it would be difficult to walk with a full belly looking like Bibendum – the Michelin mascot. The stuffed squid was amazing, same as the rabbit liver… good I’m still digesting the food. The service is quite cool. As I didn’t know which wine to choose the waiter after a couple of questions – white or red, more or less dry, more or less fruity picked the perfect wine. Before you go I have two pieces of advice. First – make a reservation. Second – if you don’t have a reservation and you are offered to sit outside during summer time, it’s better to sit at the bar instead as outside it’s just too hot… they have aircon inside 😀 Although my friend’s husband who is from the Basque region in Spain said that – nehhh they don’t serve Basque food, it’s more general Spanish, it’s still amazing. Besides, I would say something similar if I would go to a Silesian restaurant in Italy for example. Nahhhh they don’t serve traditional Silesian dishes, it’s general Polish food. Anyway, worth going for sure!
Address: Kazimierza Brodzińskiego 4 street, 30-506 Kraków
Although they serve more international cuisine, the variety of mussels you can eat at Karakter is amazing. It’s a hip, modern place where having a reservation is essential. The menu is very creative. Apart from delicious mussels, they serve, for example ostrich tartare. Heeeee ostrich tartare? Aha… and it does the job! Also, the service is exceptional. Last time I was there my friend JGG and I ordered a starter and mussels to share as the second course, we weren’t that hungry. The chef divided the portion into two but I was quite unlucky as most of my mussels were empty. Told the waitress that, well it’s a bit unfair. As an apology from the chef I got a second portion free of charge… this time the mussels weren’t empty 😉
Address: Brzozowa 17 street, 31-050 Kraków
Coffee and Cake
Now we are talking as I do have a sweet tooth and life without sweets would just be sad. Therefore some tips where to find some exceptional stuff.
1. Somnium Café Bar
My latest discovery. I got there by coincidence after getting out of the tram with a desperate need for coffee. It turned out that Somnium has a secret weapon which is called nitro coffee – coffee enriched with nitrogen. That I also discovered by coincidence as I was in the mood for something different than my traditional latte. The nice waitress suggested nitro coffee and explained to me how it’s made. WOW! I had no idea that there are special machines to do that. Since then I go to Somnium nearly every day 😀 Plus they have decent cakes, freshly made every day.
Address: Beera Meiselsa 5 street, 31-063 Kraków
2. Nad and Greg
Ahhhhhhhhh a place where a croissant tastes like a real croissant. The taste of butter is present in every chocolate bread, raisin swirl and apple pocket. Absolutely love that bakery as apart from traditional French pastries they have little gorgeous looking cakes… well the cakes taste even better than they look like. What I’m fascinated by is the attention to detail the pastry chef puts into creating those, they look like little jewels. Additionally, the service is very friendly.
Today when I went there to get my favourite almond croissants, chocolate bread and chocolate mousse – yup lots of chocolate and mentioned that I plan to write about them the Ladies got really excited. And that’s the cool thing about the place, you can always have a chat together with the delicious cakes and pastries at Nad and Greg.
Address: Rynek Podgórski 11, 30-518 Kraków
3. Good Lood
Every time when you see a queue somewhere in Kraków you can be certain it’s the queue to Good Lood. No wonder, as they make some pretty amazing ice cream. No offence Ben & Jerry but compared to Good Lood you suck. The ice creme there is not only fresh and home made but they create different flavours every day. On the menu are four classic flavours that you can get every day – dark chocolate, caramel with pink Himalayan salt, strawberry and white cream. On top of that the chefs go mental every day with special flavours like gorgonzola with pear, prosecco, earl greay with lemon… seriously?! To come up with that you need to be either crazy or extremely brave. Anyhow, Good Lood is the place to get ice cream not only on a hot summer day.
Address: many locations in Krakow… search on Google maps for the closest.
Last but not least… places to drink. About that I could write an essay or a book but let’s stick to three places worth visiting.
1. Nalej se
A bar where you pour the beer yourself. OK, there is a traditional bar where you can order drinks but the main attraction is the DIY piece. You need to get a card at the bar which you top up with cash and then the fun can start. There is a wall with beer taps – one tap one beer flavour and it works like a petrol station. The price is per 100 ml, which means you pay only for the amount you pour. Which means you can either pour a pint if you fancy a particular flavour or try a bit of each. The bar also has a garden and they serve quite decent bar food. Very very cool place.
Address: Tadeusza Romanowicza 4 street, 30-702 Kraków
2. Absynt Cafe
I discovered it thanks to Alice and Francesco. Firstly, I was reluctant to go in but that changed after the fire shot. Basically, a shot that burns and you have to drink it as quickly as possible otherwise the straw will melt. Well, look for yourself in the attached video. On top of the fire shot the bar offers some cool drinks like Green Fairy – prosecco with absinthe. I love the atmosphere which the bar has. It’s a mix of bohemian 19th century vibe and chilled out corner bar where you can go order a drink, smoke a cigarette and watch the street life passing by. Definitely a place worth going, plus the bartenders are very cool!
Address: Miodowa 28, 31-055 Kraków
3. Pijalnia wódki i piwa
That’s a bar which is simple and classic in its idea. It has a nostalgic vibe that goes back into the 60’s when in Poland you went to a bar to order a vodka shot and cold hering. Pijalnia wódki i piwa brings you back to the 60’s literally. The interior is decorated with old school posters and slogans, you stand at the bar and it’s always filled with people. For one Euro you can buy a shot and you have a variety to choose from like, traditional plain vodka, bison grass vodka or flavored vodkas which we in Poland call nalewka. Love that place especially after a night out when you feel like having one more drink before going home.
Address: Plac Nowy 7, Floriańska 34 street and Szewska 25 street – all in Kraków but there are also locations in other Polish cities like Warsaw, Poznań, Lublin or Wrocław
Guys, that’s just a tip of the iceberg of places you can go to in Kraków. There is much much more to explore. I picked those, that I like most as they transport me back to places I’ve visited or have a unique vibe. As a foodie I keep discovering the Kraków culinary scene and will drop a post about my discoveries any time soon 😉