Whether you’re craving the simplicity of a hearty Polish meal, the pomp of internationally inspired cuisine or the comforting warmth of a 2 a.m. fire-grilled kielbasa, Krakow’s got you covered. The diversity of its gastronomic offerings may not be as robust as, say, a London or a New York, but the styles are varied enough that you likely won’t go wanting for much (except for, perhaps, an underrated oriental restaurant). That said, here are a few things you’ll want to know when venturing out into the world of Krakow dining.
As far as local eating goes, bar mleczny (soviet-era milk bars) are about as authentic and inexpensive an option as you can find. You’ll know them by their complete lack of aesthetic décor and your inability to understand their all-Polish menu boards. Tricky waters to navigate, for sure, but usually well worth the effort. If you’re feeling a bit less adventurous, take to the numerous restaurants bunched together around Old Town, Market Square and the Jewish Kazimierz Quarter. Here Polish and Polish-fusion are king, from trendy eateries cooking up contemporary takes on old favorites to food carts selling traditional snacks like obwarzanki (bagels) and zapiekanka (Polish pizza). Keep an eye out for Mr. Delag and Mr. Malik’s once-esoteric “kielbasa van,” which serves hot sausages to hungry locals and tipsy tourists from 8 p.m. to 3 a.m. nightly on ul. Grzegórzecka.
For those looking to expand beyond the ample and delicious Polish offerings, you’ll find a decent amount to choose from. Chinese food joints abound in Krakow but are less often hit than miss, while restaurants serving up French and (especially) Italian are becoming increasingly popular. There are about half a dozen good vegetarian options around Old Town and Kazimierz (Karma, Café Wlynek accordingly), which may not seem like much until you realize how much meat the locals traditionally consume. Whatever your preference, just follow your nose and our suggestions to find the right seat either in a cozy cellar (winter) or at a bustling outdoor table (summer). Then kick back and enjoy all the flavors Krakow has to offer.