I have more love for Krakow than just nostalgia, but it is a city of creativity founded by tough people who survived communism, the War and the like. Polish people have not had an easy life, and even today you'll see grandma in the kitchen kneading dough for today's serving of dumplings and goulash.
I do not eat meat, and I find it difficult to be 100% vegan in Poland unless you consume bird food from the supermarket or the salad section at the restaurant. As a two-time visitor to Krakow, these are my favorite places for traditional and authentic Polish food that also features vegetarian options.
One of the most unique culinary experiences in Krakow is to explore the Jewish and Kosher culture. Discover countless Jewish restaurants along Szeroka Street.
Located in Jewish Square, Ariel, sits between five synagogues in the heart of Kazimierz. Known for its live music events, Ariel features six indoor dining halls and outdoor seating in the summer. The green room, known as the fireplace room, features an eclectic mix of historic paintings and vintage items to replicate a Jewish tenement house from the 16th Century. In fact, "Arial" originates from the Old Testament and is named after one of the four archangels, "Uriel," known as the "Light of God."
And God bless this delicious food. Borscht, cabbage salads and Russian-style pierogies, you'll notice my trend as the blog post continues. A gift shop is also available. Prices are moderate to pricey. Check the website for the music concert calendar and apartment rentals.
If you're looking for Grandma's cooking, be sure to visit this restaurant that has been family owned and operated for over 80 years. The restaurant's roots originated in market square, but now reside nearby the Oskar Schindler factory museum and the Jewish ghetto. This is one of the few family restaurants that survived after World War II, the occupation and communism. The menu features hearty traditional Polish food, and these family recipes that are made fresh every morning.
I am obsessed with Polish carrot salad. It is one of my favorite foods in Poland. Between this and the potato pancakes with applesauce, this is a perfect lunch or dinner spot - one of the best in towns.
When I ate here three times in one trip, I realized this is a sign from God that this is probably one of the most special gems in Krakow. In fact, when a restaurant features a red and white checkered table cloth, it's a sign you've struck gold as the food is as authentic as the peasants who work in the kitchen.
Cheap. Hearty and delicious, Domowa features everything I love about Polish food (suitable for plant-based eaters), pierogies, borscht and salads. As already established, carrot salad is my favorite followed by beet salad. Sadly, sauerkraut comes in third place. Actually, I am not a big fan of sauerkraut but Domowa's - I ate the entire bowl. It's not as pungent but is light and tasty without stinking like kraut juice. The best part is - the affordable price! The soup of the day is 5 zloty, equivalent to 1.25 euro.
Traveler's Tip: Be sure to say no onion as the onion-butter topping contains bits of pork.
Located in the heart of Krakow and in the main square, Wierzynek is the oldest restaurant in the city. With 14th Century origins, travelers from around the world admire the ancient decor or chat over a beer at the street side cafe tables. According to the website, "In 1364, wealthy merchant Mikołaj Wierzynek hosted a splendid feast for the monarchs of Europe on behalf of the Polish King Casimir the Great. Wierzynek undertook the task of hosting the feast with great care and overwhelmed his noble guests with a truly lavish welcome. According to legend the tables were groaning with food and drinks and the guests celebrated for 20 days and nights. Upon departure, the generous merchant presented each guest with a splendid gift – gold and silver tableware."
Today the restaurant follows the slow food notion and features a mix of artisan and delectable cuisines, or in plain English, rare foods served in small portions that are overpriced. It is worth exploring one of the five rooms each one decorated with aristocratic charm.
I am an astrology fanatic. As a cosmonaut at heart, something ancient resides in my bones when gazing at the night sky questioning what life was like during the medieval era. Nearby Wawel Castle, this modest cafe features vegetarian friendly meals such as a Greek salad and pierogies. The Greek Salad is not identical to the one you get in Greece, but Mediterranean veggies are served inside half of a head of Iceberg lettuce, the common peasant raw greenery in Poland, and topped with an Italian-style dressing. After eating countless dumplings, my body craved raw vegetables. Affordable and modest, this Aquarian girl admires this establishment's quirks and menu.
Restauracja Przysmak Staropolski
Located near Wawel Castle is an inexpensive, outdoor cafe and restaurant. This is not exactly fine dining so don't expect the lot, but if looking for a cheap salad and pierogies, this place is a good pit stop despite the constant one-star ratings.
Restauracja Pod Smoczą Jamą
Also located near Wawel Castle, Jama is another modest-dining experience that offers good food at fair prices. A plate of Russian pierogies is 16 zloty, equivalent to four euros. It's another spot to taste test the dumplings to see which ones you enjoy best.
Pro Tip: Globalization is changing the world. When traveling abroad, be sure to check out places online to ensure the establishment is open and operating hours.
What's your favorite restaurant for authentic food in Krakow?