Sylwia Jeruzal, an art historian, leads people on tours of Krakow, Poland and alongside all the better known sites, she also has the skinny on all its foodie secrets.
From drinks to vegetarian dishes, there are few places she has not tested, tasted and explored.
The Pod Baranem is one of Krakow’s best-known bars, not five minutes from the Royal Castle and Cathedral on the Wawel Hill. The menu offers classics such as golabki – stuffed cabbage rolls – and zurek, a sour rye soup – as well as five vegetarian dishes.
If you’re not sure what to drink, the waiter will offer you, “Red wine, white wine, or vodka right away?”
The last of these is also on offer aplenty in Starka to wash down a goulash soup served in a bread bowl, for example. This popular restaurant in Kazmierz, the former Jewish quarter, offers a range of Polish classics. There are also vegetarian dishes, though, from a vegetarian cabbage wrap to fried nut and crumb-coated Camembert cheese.
Head to the heart of Kazimierz at Plac Nowy, where the early mornings see sellers of fruit, vegetables, as well as a flea market. In the day time, this is a great place to pick up a Obwarzanek, a braided ring-shaped bread that is boiled and sprinkled with salt and sesame or poppy seeds. Oscypek goes well with that, a smoked cheese made of salted sheep milk exclusively in Poland’s Tatra Mountains.
Things get lively here in the evenings, with young people flooding into the square, where there’s a rotunda, now a listed building that used to be a kosher slaughterhouse.
Today, people stand in line to buy long white bread sticks served from a dozen hatches. Known as zapiekanki, they are spread with a mushroom paste, covered with lots of cheese and baked in the oven – a kind of Polish baguette with plenty of vegetarian options.
You can see that sensibilities are changing when it comes to eating meat, especially in the city’s old town and in Kazimierz – partly because of the many students here. Even at regular pubs such a Madras Bistro at the Ghetto Heroes Square, which you pass on your way to the Schindler Museum, the cook asks whether it’s okay if he adds an egg to a rice dish. Most of the 14 dishes on the menu are without meat.
The best place though if you’re vegan or vegetarian and visiting the town is Veganic. It’s just 10 minutes on foot from the main market on the grounds of a former cigar factory and now in the heart of a cultural centre where designers are at work.
Don’t miss out on the lesser known but delicious Klimaty Poludnia. Vegetarians can dip their pierogi in a tasty butter sauce, in a restaurant housed in one of the back courtyards.
If you’re thirsty, though, the Szara Ges directly at the main market square is the place to go for modern Polish cuisine. Its name translates as the “grey goose” and vegetarians won’t be overwhelmed with options as it specialises in poultry. But the dessert is an experience in itself: A white chocolate egg filled with mango mousse on a nest of dark chocolate flakes and cotton candy. – dpa
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