Best food places and restaurants in Kraków

Polish cuisine is mostly hearty and heavy. Dishes like pierogi and bigos, kotlet schabowy, golonka and gołąbki are classics that are typically served at home or in one of the legendary Socialist milk bars (Bary mleczne). The milk bar cantines became very popular with its affordable food in the Polish People's Republic and celebrated a revival in the past decade.

Especially after a night in Kraków bars, many people go for some revitalizing food in one of the many cantines. You serve yourself at the counter, carefully look for the prices by piece or grams and load various specialities onto your plate. At the end of the row you go through the cashier and pay - conveniently, like everywhere in Poland, by card.

Apart from that, Kraków’s food scene has a lot more to offer. You can visit some of the other self-service places, named Restauracja samoobsługowa, or you can decide for a typical street kitchen, which in Kraków mostly consists of Zapiekanka. The latter, well, it looks like a baguette shaped pizza with lots and lots of toppings. The best place in Kraków to try it, is clearly Plac Nowy in Kazimierz. The food stalls on this square are legendary.

In the past years, Krakóws restaurants and culinary scene has also moved forward. In Stare Miasto and in Kazimierz you will find more and more trendy markets with local dishes and street food from all around the world. Another highlight surely are traditional Jewish restaurants like Once upon a Time, Klezmer-Hois and Ariel that are mostly situated around Szeroka street. In summer you can enjoy melancholic, yet joyful Klezmer music here, while munching on your kugel and gefilte fish.

Polakowski Restauracja

In 2022, I went past this restaurant a few times, not knowing if I should go inside or not. Most of the time it looked empty, yet staff was inside and the kitchen seemed to be working. Eventually I opened that door and probably found one of my favorite restaurants in Kraków.

Polakowski restaurant

No, it’s not particularly special, unless we’re talking about the traditional floor to ceiling cupboards filled with old-style jars with pickled vegetables. It’s more this mix of good home-made Polish food and a charmingly rude service that does minimum effort to serve you.

Selfie in Polakowski

Sounds bad? Not at all. It means that they don’t bother you and everybody minds their business. Ordering was indeed a bit tricky though, since, like in a milk bar, you’re supposed to add different garnishes to your main. That would be easy of course, if the waitresses would tell you or give you a rough idea of what’s available.

Pro tip: Check the menu in front of the door or online before you walk inside. There’s also one lying at the main counter, but as far as I remember it’s only in Polish. But let’s say you want some Polish-style Schnitzel (Kotlet schabowy), don’t expect it to come with anything else. You have to add potatoes, salads, sauce, well, whatever you feel like.

Shelves with pickles in Polakowski restaurant

So really, not being sarcastic: Polakowski is well-situated in Kazimierz, has lots of space because apparently everyone is put off by the service, it’s comparably cheap and the food is amazing home-made stuff. If you have some laptop work to do, even better; the workers more focus on watching their TikTok reels than bothering you about next orders. To be fair though;it does say Restauracja samoobsługowa on the front, which means self-service restaurant. Still, to me it’s tasty, cheap, cute and rude.

Address: Miodowa 39

Opening hours: daily 10:00-23:00

Website: https://www.polakowski.com.pl/

Food Trucks Wawrzyńca/Judah Food Market

If you want to try some more trendy international cuisine you should have a look at the Judah food trucks at the street corner of Wawrzyńca and Wąska. In an abandoned looking backyard, a few stalls have opened recently. The cooperative has set up chairs, little tables and parasoles to save its customers from the sun. What to find at this street food place: Well, the trucks are changing regularly.

Judah wall mural

Pretty consistent is the presence of the Belgian Fries (Frytki belgijskie) and the Japanese Tempura. Furthermore, you can try some traditional kumpir, which is a more oriental version of a jacket potato with different fillings. American style burgers and sausages are available at The Dog Food Truck and at Boogie’s. Other food available includes Polish pierogi, Zapiekanka, cake, and Asian boxes.

Behind the Frytki belgijskie stand you will notice a Yiddish mural in black and white that was placed here by the Israeli artist Pilpeled. It serves as a perfect background for a quick snack or a longer stopover with food and beer at Judah Food Market. The opening hours are comparably long. Frytki belgijskie offers the tasty double fried chips way past midnight. So after a long party in some of the best bars of Kraków’s Kazimierz district, you can pop by for some electrolytes.

Address: Świętego Wawrzyńca 16

Opening hours: daily ca. 12:00-00:00

Website: https://www.facebook.com/JudahFoodMarket

Zapiekanka at Plac Nowy

Trying Zapiekanka is an absolute must for any street food lover. The Polish type of pizza comes on a long, fluffy baguette topped with anything that could be considered sinful, nutrition wise at least. The most popular combinations come with sausage, some veggies and lots of cheese. But looking at the wide varieties of Zapiekankas, you can surely find vegetarian versions as well.

Plac Nowy

And the best place to buy Zapiekanka? Well, technically anywhere in Kraków, but the hotspot clearly is Plac Nowy in Kazimierz. Most of the square is occupied by a dodecagonal shaped brick building called okrąglak. On (almost) every of the twelve sides of the house one can find a stall with delicious snacks, sometimes way too big to finish on a sober stomach.

If you did just leave one of the best bars in Krakóws Kazimierz district, you might have acquired the super power though, to swallow even two massive Zapiekanka to fill your exhausted body with fresh electrolytes, salts, vitamins and obviously cheese.

Polish Zapiekanka Pizza

Apart from Zapiekanka, there's also a few other dishes sold at the okrąglak by the way. In the stalls South of it you will find some Polish interpretation of Döner Kebab, falafels with hummus, grills and the vegan snack store Uapami.

Address: Plac nowy

Opening hours: daily ca. 09:00-04:00, on weekends longer than on weekdays

Website: http://www.placnowy.pl/

Pierogarnia Krakowiacy

Pierogi are one of the signature dishes of Polish cuisine and a must-have for every foodie traveling to Kraków. In special pierogi shops you can buy the filled dumplings premade for cooking or you order it in a restaurant. Choose from a wide variety of fillings, from which one particular vegetarian version is the most favorite: Ruskie. “Russian” pierogi refer to dumplings with a potato mash filling. Since the war in Ukraine many restaurants in Poland renamed this type of pierogi and call it Ukrainskie now.

Restaurant selling Perogi

Other versions include pierogi with chanterelles, other mushrooms, beetroot, meat and special local creations. Generally, you can find pierogi all over Kraków restaurants, but in my opinion some of the best are available on Floriańska, a little street leading Northwards from the main square. One of my favorite places here is Pierogarnia Krakowiacy.

tables in Pierogarnia Krakowiacy restaurant

You can get all the classic types of dumplings here, plus a few more creative versions hand-selected by the chefs. The pierogi here are usually served with bacon, butter, fried onions, or with vegetarian alternatives. My recommendation: Ask for cream (śmietana). Unlike in Ukraine and Russia, it’s not automatically served with dumplings. In my opinion though, it makes them even better.

Plate of Perogi

Address: Floriańska 21

Opening hours: daily ca. 12:00-22:00

Website: https://www.facebook.com/PierogarniaKrakowiacyFlorianska/

Dickery Wafflehouse

Since Poland is quite a conservative society and the government tries to crack down on any sort of liberal project, the opening of the Dickery Wafflehouse in Kraków was a big scandal. This special patisserie chain opened in 2022 in different Polish cities, among them also Wroclaw and Warsaw.

The fact alone that they sell delicious waffles in the shape of male and female genitalia sparked some outrage among the ruling conservative PiS party. Quite a few politicians called for police investigations about “the worst sewage from the Western world pouring into Poland”. The more interesting it was for me, to shyly have a look inside it in 2022 at Zwierzyniecka.

Knowing how conservative Polish society is, I didn't dare in the end to greedily stuff my mouth with baked genitalia in public. I should have though, since the project is trying to break the taboos of sexuality in the country. Plus, the chocolate covered and sprinkled creations of the Dickery look delicious as hell.

Address: Zwierzyniecka 15

Opening hours: daily 12:00-20:00

Website: https://instagram.com/dickery.krakow

Bar Mleczny Pod Filarkami

On the busy crossroads of Starowiślna and Józefa Dietla, you can find the traditional milk bar Pod Filarkami. The name suggests that this restaurant in Kraków is situated under some columns: Those you will notice right at the entrance, which leads into a well-lit room with white walls and minimalistic interior.

Customers can choose all classic cantine dishes of Poland. Enjoy savory salads with mayonnaise, meatballs and schnitzels, pierogi, bigos, żurek and anything else you could wish for. The food is comparably cheap and simple with a focus on savory home-made recipes. If you want proper Polish food and a socialist style experience, the bar mleczny Pod Filarkami at the Northern edge of Kazimierz is an excellent choice.

Pod Filarkami, by the way, is part of a whole chain of milk bars with similar service. On their website, you can find a selection of other restaurants in Kraków. Other popular places by Bary Kraków include Targowy, Uniwersytecki, Krakus, and Smakosz.

Address: Starowiślna 29

Opening hours: daily 08:00-18:00

Website: https://www.barykrakow.pl/bary/pod-filarkami

Once upon a Time/Dawno Temu na Kazimierzu

Once upon a Time or Dawno Temu na Kazimierzu, well, or Chajim Kohan is probably one of the most interesting places to eat out in Kazimierz. Even if you’re not hungry, you should have a look at this little Jewish restaurant that overwhelms visitors with its historic interior. Mannequins, dolls, wooden barrels, Singer sewing machines, beautifully framed paintings and pictures, wall carpets and antique furniture turn this place into a fantastic hodgepodge where visitors drift back into different moments in time.

Once upon a time restaurant front

Chajim Kohan is placed on the Northern edge of the Yiddish Szeroka square and therefore, mostly sticks to Jewish and Polish cooking traditions. Asking for the menu, the waiters will bring you something that looks like an old newspaper. Here you will discover a selection of tasty pierogi and soups, meatballs with sauce, grilled meat Jerusalem style, Mediterranean hummus, lamb sausages, Jewish Cholent stew, and so called “Jewish Caviar”, which is a mix of chopped chicken livers with eggs and truffle flavor.

Tsimes

If you want to try something unusual, Cymes could be an interesting option. This traditional stew consists of beef, carrots, cashews, prunes, and apricots. The fruits give it a pretty sweet note that is rather common to Maghreb tagine traditions. A Yiddish classic is gefilte fish, which roughly translates to “filled fish”. This cold dish, also known as karp po żydowsku in Polish, used to be very common to the Ashkenazi Jew’s Sabbath dinner and would consist of a mix of minced carp, whitefish and pike, boiled eggs, and jelly.

Once upon a time restaurant interior

In the evenings and especially during the Jewish Culture Festival (Authority Link) in the end of June/beginning of July, you can expect breathtaking live performances in Once upon a Time/Chojim Kohan. The style of music is mostly Jewish klezmer, but sometimes also other kinds of bands are playing. If you want to dance to it, go for it. What might make your legs move faster, is the wide selection of Polish beers and spirits on the menu.

Address: Szeroka 1

Opening hours: daily 10:00-22:30

Website: http://szeroka1.com/

Bar Mleczny Centralny in Nowa Huta

A socialist legend in the planned town of Nowa Huta is the Central Diner (Bar Mleczny Centralny) in Osiedle Centrum C. Walking along the main square of Nowa Huta, you will quickly notice the Stalinist facades and the high iron-cast windows with the big letters announcing the name of this Kraków restaurant. Inside you can expect high walls and socialist chandeliers. At the counter you get in line with many other visitors choosing from a wide selection of typical cafeteria food.

Bar Mleczna

On the menu you will spot Polish dishes like schabowy, bigos, pierogi, flaki and żur. Some of the options you can put on the tray yourself. Others you will have to order, so some basic Polish knowledge is of some sort of help. I recommend reading into Polish food beforehand and remembering a few words. Then you go and study the current menu and ask for the dishes you wish for. Just like in the socialist days, expect that some options might not be available at short notice. Now you have to be flexible and stay calm. Don’t show that you don’t know the language. Just answer „tak“, which means „yes“ and be surprised about what you will get.

Queueing customers in Bar Mleczny Centralny

Pro tip for Centralny and all other bary mleczne: Add some kompot to your order. This type of fruit drink is popular all over Eastern Europe and is made from preserved berries, cherries, grapes, raisins, strawberries, and other ingredients. Kompot is simply made by putting the fruit into a pot with water, boiling it up for around half an hour and optionally adding some sweeteners. It then even serves as a base for kisiel, a thicker version of kompot that is a perfect dessert after a hearty meal. If you want to know more about Polish cuisine, check out my article about the best Polish food.

Address: Osiedle Centrum C 1

Opening hours: Mon-Tue 08:00-18:00

Website: https://spolem-nh.pl/bary-mleczne/

Restaurant Stylowa in Nowa Huta

If you want to discover a real icon of the Socialist culinary Poland, then you should visit this restaurant in Krakóws East. I wouldn’t really call it excellent or legendary or great. Noone really knows why it even became that popular. Well, some say it is a little nostalgic place of frozen time. And as frozen as history is here, as cold is the service.

Stylowa

You will find Restauracja Stylowa, which translates into “Restaurant Style”, just in the heart of the Socialist planned settlement of Nowa Huta, right on Osiedle Centrum C. When I came there the first time, I decided to sit outside and enjoy the view onto the mostly Stalinist facades, contemplating about how life must have been in the perfect Socialist world.

Stylowa interior

And you can actually contemplate a lot, since no waiter would possibly dare to interrupt your thought. Heavily waving your hands helps after a while and you might get the staff’s attention. Honestly, this rude type of service seems to be a bit of a show though. Once the staff comes to you, they’re maybe a bit snippy, but eventually helpful.

Nowa Huta restaurant table with view of statue

Generally, I would recommend the pierogi ruskie here, which since the Russian war in Ukraine might have changed to “Ukrainian pierogi”. If you want cream with it, insist on it. It’s definitely not included. And maybe learn the Polish name “Śmietana”, so you can order it without making the waiter run away from your English.

After that, you should definitely have a look inside. Then you will certainly understand, what I mean by frozen in time: The furniture, the lamp shades, the curtains - not saying they are 50 years old, but they well might be.

Address: os. Centrum C 3

Opening hours: daily 10:00-22:00

Website: https://www.stylowa-krakow.pl/

Kazimierz Food Square at the Old Synagogue

Modern international cuisine from burgers to pierogi and tacos waits for you at the Kazimierz Food Square right next to the Old Synagogue. Before you go to enjoy your snacks there, you should have a little look at the parking lot behind the synagogue. From here you can spot one of the most amazing murals on the huge brick walls near Dajwór street. It commemorates the Bosak family, who lived in this part of Kazimierz since 1633 and were extinguished by the Nazis during the holocaust.

The food square eventually hides behind a packing station of the Polish post. For a rather quick snack, you can check out Ur’Tacos Kraków, a food stall that prepares French tacos - yes, French tacos, also known as matelas, and because they’re French, they should be filled with loads of cheese. Just that in Kraków they’re not. Instead, Ur’Tacos at Kazimierz Food Square decided to fill them with anything from chicken curry to Mediterranean falafels, North African merguez sausages and shawarma. Sounds pretty eclectic, but to be fair, it’s actually delicious and a perfect choice for a hangover day or right after leaving one of the best bars of Kraków.

Next door Rodi’s Yellow Submarine Smash Burger & Shake with the iconic faces of the Beatles sells delicious American burgers with chips. In summer, you can also check out the Jamaican restaurant Boomshakalaka that advertises its deals as “Poland’s taste of the Caribbean.'' Inside the neighboring building Al Medina offers great Moroccan food in Kraków. And if you want to have more tips about sights in Poland, you can get some tips in the tourist information right on the Kazimierz food square.

Address: Dajwór 6

Opening hours: daily ca. 11:00-22:00

Website: https://www.kazimierzsquare.com/pl/

Hamsa Middle Eastern Restaurant at Szeroka Square

If you want to try Jewish food, but are more interested in the Middle Eastern part of it, you should definitely have a look at Hamsa at the Northern end of Szeroka square. You will recognize the place pretty fast because of the large hand of fatima, also known as “Hamsa”.

The restaurant occupies at least two stories of the noticeable brick building here. Inside you can expect cozy corners and lit up spaces with a nice view onto the Old Synagogue. The menu is pretty mixed and incorporates North-African and Palestinian dishes next to Israeli classics such as Hummus and Falafel.

If you fancy a little snack, you can order three Mezes for around 80 Złoty. Choose tasty pastes like different types of Hummus, Babaghanoush, and Muhammara. It’s always served with bread, pickles, and some wine leaf rolls. For those who are a bit more hungry, the Moroccan tagines are a must.

Furthermore, I would recommend you to try the different tea creations as well as the homemade lemonades. Pear and apple are particularly tasty. Apart from that you could go for the juices. They can also be part of a delicious Jerusalem style breakfast with rich Shakshuka.

Address: Szeroka 2

Opening hours: Mon-Fri 10:00-22:00, Sat-Sun 09:00-22:00

Website: http://hamsa.pl

Cheder

A Cheder is a traditional study room, in which yiddish children would receive their religious education by their Rabbi. Naturally, Café Cheder on Józefa is designed in exactly this style. The book shelves on the walls are filled with religious and other Jewish writings in different languages.

At the back of the room you sit down on the carpeted floor, which is actually a great space to bring children to. Apart from that, you will find plenty of tables for some remote office work in the afternoon or a Romantic glass of kosher wine in the evening.

My personal highlight in Cheder is a special home-made creation called fig flower lemonade. They prepare it with fig jam, orange flower, and cornflower blossoms and serve it with a beautiful copper straw. And if they don’t have it anymore, I’m sure they’ll have something else equally enjoyable.

Address: Józefa 36

Opening hours: Mon-Fri 10:00-21:00, Sat-Sun 10:00-22:00

Website: http://chedercafe.pl/