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Looking for the best Krakow traditional food to try during your next Poland trip? Here’s everything I tried (and loved) in Krakow!
Gothic architecture, affordable vodka tastings and carb-heavy Krakow traditional food? It’s hard to find something NOT to love about Krakow. Thanks to a cheap Ryanair flight I scooped up in 2019, I got the chance to fall head over heels in love with Krakow in a way I never imagined.
I’m a foodie at heart, but the world doesn’t gush over Polish foods the way it does over other cuisines. Think about it: how many times do the girls text you for a Margarita Monday or to slurp down pasta at some swanky Italian joint? Has anyone ever texted you “get in loser – we’re going for barszcz and placki ziemniaczane?” Probably not.
But just because it’s not popular, doesn’t mean it’s not good. With restaurants and food trucks across the country serving hearty Polish soups, thick and filling breads, sweet donuts, and savory pierogies – Krakow is the capital of comfort food. Naturally, I had to try (and photograph) all of it immediately upon arrival.
Keep reading for the tastiest, most mind-blowing Krakow traditional food you’ll try on next your trip to Poland!
10 Krakow Traditional Foods You Need to Try ASAP
Below you’ll find a little bit of history and places to try 10 of the best traditional Polish foods in Krakow. My personal favorites are…
- Zapiekanka (Polish pizza)
- Kotlet schabowy (schnitzel)
I hope you’re hungry now…because you definitely won’t be after your Krakow trip!
Pierogies: Traditional Polish Dumpling and My Favorite Food in Poland
When it comes to the best traditional dishes in Poland, it’s hard to dispute the pierogi’s claim to the top slot on the list. Thankfully, you won’t have to look far to sample ridiculously delicious pierogies during your trip. You can find these savory bastards on every corner in Old Town Krakow!
Krakow pierogies are offered with a variety of fillings. The traditional option is filled with mashed potato, cheese and onion and topped with caramelized onions and sour cream. Most restaurants will offer a meat filling, as well as porridge and cheese and dessert options – which are usually fruit-filled.
The best pierogies in Krakow (in my opinion) were made by moi in a traditional Polish pierogi making class. If you’re not one for working like a dog in the kitchen on your vacation, I would suggest heading to Restauracja U Babci Maliny* for the best pierogi in Krakow.
U Babci Maliny’s basement seating area is covered in framed photos and heavy drapes and gives off an Eastern European old-money vibe…No wonder it’s widely regarded as one of the best places to eat in Krakow. Be sure to make a reservation!
If you are interested in learning how to make this world-famous Krakow traditional food, which I highly recommend, consider some of Viator’s top-rated cooking classes linked below. Unfortunately, the class I booked on Viator in 2019 is no longer available. However, you can browse this blog post about my pierogi-making class in Krakow (recipe included).
👩🏽🍳 Viator Tours You May Enjoy:
*If you try out U Babci Maliny, I would recommend ordering the fried pierogies stuffed with meat. Some of my friends ordered the boiled pierogies stuffed with cheese and potato and they were served with a sauce so sweet it tasted like melted vanilla ice cream.
Barszcz or Polish Borscht: Beetroot Soup
In Kraków, I noticed that barszcz was usually served with dumplings. However, since I ordered this traditional Polish food during my pierogi-feeding-frenzy at U Babci Maliny, I decided to order mine with an egg instead.
Although let’s be honest, when it comes to Polish pierogies – the limit does not exist.
Also referred to as wigilijny barszcz czerwony, this beetroot soup is a popular choice for Christmas Eve dinner in Poland.
Kotlet Schabowy: Similar to Schnitzel
Fortunately, you don’t have to be able to pronounce something in order to eat it. Anyone else point-and-pray at restaurants abroad?
Kotlet schabowy is a Polish take on the very popular Viennese or traditional German food – schnitzel. Breaded meat fried to perfection and served with potatoes…no wonder it made the list of best Krakow traditional food.
Although you can find kotlet schabowy all over Old Town Krakow, I would recommend heading over to Polakowski to be truly blown away by this delicious Polish dish. I ordered kotlet schabowy z czosnkiem (breaded pork chop with garlic) and mashed potatoes – and it truly was some of the best food in Krakow.
Polakowski was recommended to me by a Krakow-native, my pierogi-making class instructor, Olgierd. Serving tons of traditional Polish food in Krakow, the cafe/restaurant is self-serve-style and extremely affordable. It was one of my top Krakow dining experiences and definitely one to add to your list of the best food in Krakow Old Town!
Golabki: Cabbage Rolls
Golabki is a type of Polish cabbage roll usually stuffed with rice and meat and covered in tomato sauce. If you’re looking for some shockingly low-carb snacks in Krakow, Golabki is your best option compared to the rest of the carb-heavy foods in Poland.
I tried Golabki from a little restaurant down the road, Gospoda Koko Polish Restaurant Krakow, on my first night of my trip. Thanks for the rec – Little Havana Party Hostel front desk staff! Trust me, there’s no better place to try out some delicious Krakow food without breaking the bank. I ordered a beer, half a cabbage roll and five pierogis for the equivalent of €4. Spoiler alert: I was STUFFED.
Be sure to add Gospoda Koko to your list of the best affordable restaurants in Krakow.
Placki Ziemniaczane: Potato Pancakes
Placki ziemniaczane are pretty self-explanatory once you learn they’re basically just potato pancakes. They’re also every bit as delicious as they sound…which is why they made the list of must-try Krakow traditional food.
Poland is also famous for a crepe-like pancake called Nalesniki, usually filled with cheese or fruit. Unfortunately, I didn’t have the opportunity to try these during my trip. Just another reason to go back for more Krakow Poland food!
I tried placki ziemniaczane at one of Krakow’s famous Milk Bars. Milk Bars serve food in a cafeteria-style setting at crazy low prices. You can find them all over Kraków, but my personal favorite was Bar Mleczny “Pod Teminda“ (besides the fact they didn’t serve alcohol).
Zapiekanka: Polish Pizza
If you’re a pizza-lover (why do you think I lived in Italy?), zapiekanka is definitely going to make your list of must-try Krakow traditional food.
Found mostly in Kazimierz (the Jewish Quarter), zapiekanka is a popular Poland street food. It’s a mix between an open-faced sub sandwich and a personal pizza that comes with loads of toppings and sauces. Fair warning: for street food, it’s incredibly hard to eat on-the-go unless you want to be covered in crumbs and spicy sauce.
I ordered my zapiekanka from Zapiekanki BarOko in Plac Nowy. Although they have plenty of delicious option on their menu, I would recommend ordering the Niebo w Gebie. It’s full of sausage, tomato, sheep cheese, spring onion, cheese, mushrooms and topped with a generous drizzle of spicy sauce. Although I needed to basically shower to get all the sauce off my hands, Zapiekanki BarOko is definitely one of the best unique places to eat in Krakow.
Paczki: Polish Donuts
Quick dessert pivot here – so try and keep up. If you’re a donut freak, and yes, that’s a positive thing, you’re not going to want to miss the sweet side of Krakow street food.
If you’re asking yourself what to eat in Krakow…paczki is always the right answer.
Essentially, paczki are plump and delicious Polish donuts! Krakowskie Paczki in Old Town Krakow is an adorable paczki stand near St. Mary’s Basilica that sells the yummmmmmiest paczki for only €1.40 apiece. I tried the toffee, but at this price, there’s no reason not to try multiple flavors!
Obwarzanek: Polish Bagel or Bread Ring
In my opinion, the best bread is in the form of either bagels or bread bowls. I’m not kidding – I’m a bagel freak. I travel the world sampling the best bagels. Some of my favorites so far include Gotham Bagels in Madison, the great Rosenberg’s Bagels in Denver and Bowery Bagels in Portland. Since Krakow is actually the birthplace of the bagel, obwarzanek was one of Krakow’s Polish food specialities I definitely couldn’t miss.
Random fact: did you know that bagels were given to a woman as a gift after childbirth in medeival Poland?
On every corner of Krakow you will find street vendors selling obwarzanek krakowski. The taste is comparable to a Western bagel, but obwarzanek are much larger with a wider hole in the center. The flavors are usually salt, cheese, poppy seed and sesame seed. Obwarzanek krakowski are delicious, but I could have used some cream cheese!
Kielbasa: Polish Sausage
Attention all meat-eaters! Don’t worry, I didn’t forget to mention the mack daddy of all meat-based Krakow traditional food…Polish kielbasa.
Internationally, kielbasa refers to a type of light, pork sausage packaged in a U shape that’s simlar to the Polish Podwawelska or Śląska sausage. In Poland, however, kielbasa litterally means “sausage” and doesn’t refer to a specific type.
Kielbasa is served everywhere in Krakow, and I mean everywhere. You’ll usually find it served with bread and a variety of sauces, but it’s also an amazing Polish snack on its own. Kielbasa is served on holidays, special occasions like weddings and also as an everyday part of Polish cuisine! You can find it hot and cold, in sandwiches or soups or mixed in with ingredients like eggs or veggies.
Where are all my fellow alcoholics at? It’s time to touch on a real staple of Polish cuisine and culture – wódka!
Polish vodka dates back all the way to the middle ages and was originally used for medicinal purposes. Nowadays…its uses are a little different.
Now I’m usually a wine girl, but I couldn’t pass up a wódka tasting during my first visit to Krakow. I’m nothing if not culturally dedicated. Thankfully, the vodka flights at Wodka Bar were flavored…so I didn’t have to choke down six plain vodka shots.
For only 37 PLN or about €9, we sampled black currant, apricot, ginger, wild rose, chili chocolate and hazelnut flavored vodka. The chili chocolate was my fav by a landslide.
No visit to Krakow is complete without stuffing your face with all of the delicious Krakow traditional foods listed above. I left Poland feeling more pierogi than person…and I wouldn’t change a thing. Poland is just another great reason to fall in love with traveling Europe!
Quick Krakow Traditional Food FAQs
If you’re wondering what to eat in Poland, you’ve come to the right place. The most famous traditional food in Poland is pierogies. Pierogies are dumpings stuffed with a variety of fillings, usually potatoes, onion and cheese. Other traditional foods from Poland include barszcz (sour beetroop soup), kotlet schabowy (similar to schnitzel), golabki (cabbage rolls), placki ziemniaczane (potato pancakes), zapiekanka (Polish pizza), paczki (donuts), kielbasa sausage and vodka.
Krakow’s food is very heavy and comforting. You’ll find lots of meat-heavy dishes and hearty soups with potatoes and bread on the side. Both cheese and sausage play a large part in Polish cuisine. In my personal opinion, pierogi are the best food in Poland.
Compared to the rest of Europe, Poland has very unique mealtimes. A hearty breakfast or śniadanie is usually eaten early in the day, around 7:00AM. A second breakfast, known as drugie śniadanie, is a lighter meal usually eaten around 11:00AM. The third meal of the day is dinner, or obiad, which is typically the main meal of the day and is eaten anywhere from 1:00-5:00PM, with 3:00PM being the most popular time. The last meal of the day in Polish culture is supper or kolacja. This is the lightest meal of the day and is usually eaten around 7:00-9:00PM.
Lunch does not really exist in Poland.
If you enjoyed this virtual all-you-can-eat Krakow tour, you might enjoy my related posts linked below. Thanks for reading and if you enjoy my blog make sure to follow my adventures on Instagram @madisonsfootsteps!