Sausage, potatoes, vodka and pierogi are the items most often associated with Polish cuisine, but if you abandon stereotypes and eat your way around Warsaw you’ll see how much of an exciting time it is for discovering local flavors. The city received its first Michelin star in 2013, which was around the same time many young creative chefs returned from world travels with fresh hopes, ambitions and ideas for what Polish gastronomy could be. Casual eateries flourished as a result and these days chefs and conscious eaters are returning to long-forgotten dishes and seeking high quality produce to construct their own proud culinary identities.
November 30th, 2018
This fine dining restaurant changed the dynamics of local gastronomy when it received Poland’s first Michelin star and brought attention not just to its chef, but also to the whole country. Wojciech Modest Amaro is famous for dividing his weekly menu into elements relating to nature. He’s given a new meaning and form to typical Polish products such as sauerkraut and blood sausage; prompted a newfound appreciation for the commonplace celeriac and pumpkin; and he also uses once forgotten rowan berries and nettles in many of his recipes.
Take the spirit pairing which spotlights artisanal Polish vodkas and tinctures and finishes with a flavorful herbal digestif called "Krzeska".
Pyzy Flaki Gorace
Polish dumpling sweet spot
An inconspicuous place in heart of the Praga district, this is truly the last neighborhood where you can have an “old Warsaw” experience. At Pyzy Flaki Gorace –which neighbours the iconic yet languishing Rozycki bazaar– you’ll eat Warsaw’s oldest street food, pyzy. These ping pong ball-like dumplings are filled with meat and made in a kitchen alongside aromatic flaki (tripe soup), zur (sour rye soup), herrings in oil, jellied tongues and much more.
For an "authentic" Warsaw experience skip milk bars and go straight here!
Vegan Ramen Shop
Umami to the core
According to most food pundits this is the best ramen joint in Warsaw – even for meat eaters. What’s the secret? Well, they squeeze umami out of every ingredient whether it’s in the clear Shoyu Ramen with a broth based on six different types of mushroom, or the Creamy Shio dressed with burnt garlic oil. Whatever you order, you’ll be amazed.
The place is petite and they don't take reservations so queuing (especially at weekends) is likely. There's also a second location in the Old Mokotów district (Kazimierzowska 43, 02-572) and whilst it is bigger, the crowds are no less thick.
Modern bistro dining
Bart Szymczak worked in esteemed London restaurants and travelled the globe with the hip One Star House Party pop-up before returning to Poland and being taken in by bright restaurateur, Daniel Pawelek. At Rozbrat 20, Bart combines all of his international inspirations in a menu that can, at any one time, spotlight ingredients such as mozzarella and miso alongside the more typically Polish beetroot, mulberry or cottage cheese. It works every time.
Put your meal in the chef's hands. They have a great lunchtime tasting menu featuring five courses for 14€.
Interwar nostalgia and polish tapas
From its retro interiors and staff uniforms to the food, everything at Talerzyki is inspired by Poland’s elegant interwar period and a proud moment in Polish history. Potato batter dumplings, cabbage rolls, tartare, and fermented products are paired with vodka or classic cocktails. Whilst Polish food can be a touch heavy, Talerzyki (meaning “small plates”) serves tapas-sized portions allowing you to try more of local specialities.
The fancy, downtown location and late opening hours make Talerzyki the best option for a classy pre-party. There’s nothing better than blood sausage and a cold vodka before hitting up a club!
Since opening in 2014 as Warsaw’s very first boutique pastry shop, many imitators have followed suit but Odette remains invincible. Perhaps it has something to do with the man behind the counter, Krzysztof Rabek, who is responsible for all the flavor combinations here. Some say he’s one of the most talented chefs in Poland and his unconventional training shows in Odette’s decadent sweets, petit gateaux, pralines, eclairs and puffs.
The owners of Odette also have a second location in a luxury cosmopolitan space at Twarda 4, 00-105. At this tearoom you’ll be able to try petite versions of all Odette's desserts and have a cup of many original tea blends.
Cala w Mace
Poland's baking innovator
Monika Walecka is the new face of bread baking in Poland. This food photographer, Instagrammer and techno lover became obsessed with artisan bread while working in San Francisco and so, once back in Warsaw, she rented out a workspace and started her own micro-bakery. Monika doesn’t take shortcuts, even choosing to grind heirloom wheat varieties herself. You’ll find her crusty loaves at Forteca’s weekly farmer market or follow her Instagram account for spontaneous pop-up sales.
From time to time Monika takes on fellow bread enthusiasts for an internship. If you’re serious about kneading and baking message her, perhaps you’ll get lucky!
The definition of regional Polish cooking
One of the most exciting dining restarants in town due to chef, Robert Trzópek, and his unique portrayal of Poland’s diverse regional cuisine. With previous experience of working at Noma and elBulli, Robert took a leap of faith in Polish gastronomy and became the chef-owner of this neo-bistro setting himself the task of changing the menu every month in order to serve dishes from one region of Poland at a time.
What is "kartacz"? Does "rosopita" have anything to do with pita? Don’t hesitate to ask questions about regional dishes here. The whole crew are extremely passionate about digging into traditional recipes and they'll happily share their extensive knowledge with guests.
Revived 19th century trading
This former market hall, turned boxing hall, turned hideous supermarket was given a fourth lease of life last year. Now the 19th century building hosts food stalls once more alongside a space for cultural events. From Friday through to Sunday you can buy Polish and foreign specialities, try local beers and wines, and eat plenty of great party foods from young vendors.
There’s a good balance between meat-centric and vegan-friendly offerings. "Tel Aviv Urban Food" is just one of many worth mentioning.
Meet Warsarw's food heroes
This actual fortress is also an event space six days a week, but every Wednesday it gathers cheese and charcuterie makers; farmers and orchard growers; bakers and beekeepers; and many more under one roof for a farmer’s market. All vendors are carefully selected by Warsaw’s respected restaurateur, Agnieszka Kreglicka, whose aim in setting up the market was to bring Warsaw’s food heroes and its consumers, closer together.
Don’t miss rare herbs and veggies from Mr Ziolko; Jersey milk yogurt and cheeses from Mleczna Droga; soft, fresh goats cheese from Zeby Kozka; and traditional smoked meats from Dreszler.
The brew comes first
Probably the most instagrammable spot in Warsaw, but luckily that’s not the only reason to visit Stor. The baristas here are no strangers to drippers, Aeropress or Chemex and, with pleasure, they’ll always offer you new blends to try – sometimes from foreign roasteries such as Bonanza or Rusty Nails but other times from local ones including Coffee Republic and Good Coffee. If you want to know more about Warsaw coffee culture grab a copy of Varsavia Coffee Spots on your way out – a beautiful self-published guide made by Stor’s owner.
Don't miss the macarons, donuts, pralines or cakes all made by some of Warsaw's most skilled artisans.
Day-long breakfast vibes
Located on a quiet downtown street, Krem is the perfect place for a lazy breakfast or brunch but don’t let the time put you off as owner and French expat, Luc Magnon, welcomes diners from early morning until late evening. If you’re looking for the breakfast of champions you can’t go wrong with anything you order whether it’s a delicate omelette or hearty rump steak sandwich.
Photo: Magdalena Kozicka
Luc’s famous Croque Monsieur is famed amongst local foodies as Warsaw's best hangover cure. Actually, it could cure anything apart from arteriosclerosis.
Maka i Woda
Neapolitan pizza perfection
Hidden at the back of an otherwise touristy street, Maka i Woda serves great Neapolitan pizzas. The name itself indicates simplicity – mąka i woda means “flour and water”. The menu is short, and dishes consist of nothing but a few of the best quality ingredients imported from Italy. This, and a central location, made it a favorite casual spot for Warsaw’s chefs who come here on their day’s off to indulge in homemade pasta and shake hands with their pal, chef Pawel Fabis. The infamous ravioli with homemade ricotta and egg yolk is a must-eat.
If your carnivorous nature calls drop in next door at the newly opened "Supperlardo" which is run by the same crew and offers outstanding home-cured meats.
During the communist era, Klub SPATiF was the drinking point of choice for artists, filmmakers, intellectuals, socialites and secret agents. The club’s golden times lasted from the ’50s through to the ’70s, after which it was neglected and forgotten about. But last year after a major renovation it regained its former glory and crowds of young Varsovians came flooding back. Those needing something solid before cocktails and vodka should go straight to a dining room.
Order the pork aspic, herring, and a homemade hot dog.
Wine bar and bistro synergy
Chef, Sebastian Welpa, embraces local and seasonal ingredients cooked with a slight French flair. He likes vibrant flavors but prepares them in an non-showy way making mandatory picks of the celeriac ravioli with cauliflower, truffle, and burnt butter as well as the trout tartare with pearl barley popcorn, chokeberry and dill sauce. Wines by the glass cost a maximum of 8€ and you’ll always find something appealing.
Try Polish wines (yes, they do exist and are growing in popularity). Wineries to note are: Winnica Turnau, Wzgorza Trzebnickie, Dom Bliskowice and Skarpa Dobrska but whatever these guys have will be a spot-on selection.