The once dismal prospects for eating out in Warsaw have, over recent decades, given way to a variety of domestic and international dining options that can satisfy pretty much any stomach and, if traveling on a budget, any wallet as well (think everything from a growing number of Michelin starred restaurants to food stalls). Though you’ll likely find the dining experience here no different than in any other large city in the western world, it’s worth bearing in mind that Varsovians are notorious for closing up shop at any time if business happens to be slow. As a matter of fact, that goes for bars and clubs too. But I digress. Ok, let’s take a look at the goods.
Staples of the local diet include borscht (red beet bisque) alongside various other hot and cold soups, as well as the ubiquitous pierogi (stuffed dumplings) and kielbasa (sausages). These are traditionally hearty dishes, heavy on the spices and awfully tasty if you know where to look. Your best bet would be to start at any of the myriad “pierogarnia” (or pierogi restaurants) scattered throughout the city and especially around Old Town. Trust us; they’re not hard to find, and the food is generally above average. You can also try your luck at the no frills “bar mleczny” (literally translated as “milk bars”). These cafeteria-style remnants of Warsaw’s soviet days have persisted in the face of modernization, offering dirt cheap authentic Polish meals that the locals much prefer to fast food joints. Or just pick up something quick at the NYC style kebab carts and continue on your way.
In general, the more upscale restaurants (places like Restaurant 99 and Butchery and Wine) tend to be situated in the Srodmiescie district in order to capitalize on the healthy influx of tourists. But then again, so do all the restaurants you’re likely to come across if you confine yourself to the tried-and-true tourist areas. Head across the Vistula to the right bank, however, and the resurging Praga district puts its eclectic array of restaurants on full display. These artsy establishments (Pasta Café, Porto Praga, etc.) provide both entertaining atmosphere as well as gastronomic diversity, and are a fun way to get to know a slightly more gritty side of the Polish capital. So basically, regardless of your preferences, you can be sure of one vague but true fact about Warsaw dining: your stomach won’t go wanting here.