Plump pierogi, rich cheesecakes and infused vodka are just a few of the tempting delicacies you’ll find in Warsaw. Find out exactly which recipes and restaurants should be on your must-try list with recommendations from the experts.
Pastry chef Joy Ludwig-McNutt has reviewed everything from street food to fine dining on her blog, My Traveling Joys. “I honestly didn’t have high foodie expectations for what I viewed as gray, post-Communist-era Warsaw when we first moved here,” says the American expat, who came to Warsaw in 2013 with her husband. “However, I’ve been thoroughly impressed. You can get just about any kind of cuisine here, and at reasonable prices!" Running through some of the international options, she says, "I have a couple places where I can get my fix of Turkish food and Mexican tacos. Warsaw has everything from traditional Polish dishes to high-end cuisine.”
“Burgers and food trucks have become really popular,” she continues. “In May, Food Port opened along the Wisła River, close to Poniatowski Bridge – Warsaw’s first permanent location for food trucks...You’ll also find a ton of places serving traditional Polish food, such as pierogi and pork cutlets.”
When it comes to drinks, there's a clear front runner. “Poland is home to vodka,” says Michał Sobieszuk, who guides food and vodka-themed tours for Eat Warsaw. “There are hundreds (if not thousands!) of brands of vodka in Poland, and unsurprisingly, the most interesting gems are to be found locally. For a unique, single-distilled potato vodka, head for the Kaszuby region and find Vestal Vodka.”
Savory and sweet
Michał has no shortage of recommendations for traditional food. His top choices include: "bigos, a traditional meat and cabbage stew [and] żurek, a soup made of soured rye flour and meat – all of us love to have it served in a bowl made of bread. Pierogi are well-known dumplings filled with anything you wish – sweet, fruity, veggie, meaty...the best pierogi are of course made by ‘my granny’."
As a professional pastry chef for CookUp Culinary Studio, Joy is well-placed to advise on sweet treats. Her monthly class focuses on American or French recipes, but she's also a fount of knowledge on Polish delicacies. Her favorites include “sernik, a baked cheesecake made from fresh crumbly cheese, and tort bezowy, a layered meringue dessert with a creamy filling.” She also recommends “makowiec, a poppyseed loaf cake which sometimes contains raisins, almonds or walnuts” and "the Polish chocolate institution of Wedel."
Bars and restaurants
“For a laid-back weekend breakfast, head for Powiśle to visit places like SAM, Stor Café or Veg Deli,” Michał suggests. “If you're looking for some fine dining, why not check out the Michelin-starred Atelier Amaro (remember to book well in advance!), Warszawa Wschodnia in trendy Soho Factory, or molecular Nolita.”
Joy seconds the Nolita suggestion, adding “Różana, which is set in a beautiful two-story, pre-war villa. The dessert cart here is to die for!” For those in search of craft beers, Joy suggests “Cuda na Kiju, which is tucked away in the former Communist headquarters building near the palm tree roundabout. If beer isn’t your forte, you can order a liter of prosecco on tap instead.”