I think you all know by now that I take eating very seriously. I always put a tremendous amount of time into planning all the details of our adventures abroad, and at least 50% of it is researching places to eat. That’s probably sort of pathetic, but I am who I am…and who I am likes good food!
Most of the time, the research pays off and we end up having fantastic meals. But sometimes a restaurant will end up being much less than we hoped for. During our recent trip to Kraków, we had about a 90% success rate…and if it wasn’t for really lousy service at one place, we would have gotten
Being almost entirely of Polish descent (just a sprinkle of German and Austrian thrown in), I grew up eating Polish food and I love it. I was so excited to experience dishes that I already knew and loved – as well as some I had never tried before – in the country where they originated.
Before I get into my restaurant reviews, I want to give a shout out to obwarzanki, which are like a cross between a bagel and a pretzel – covered with either poppy seeds, sesame seeds or salt. They are a specialty of Kraków, and sold all over the city in little kiosks like this:
Though they are freshest and best in the morning, they serve as a good snack at any time of the day. If you are in Kraków, you should definitely have one!
Now, on to the restaurant reviews!
This restaurant, whose name translates to “Under the Angels”, can be found along the Royal Route in an 18th century building, just a few minutes walk from the main square. There are a few tables set up outside in warmer weather.
There is also a covered “garden” seating area, which was bright and welcoming. But the most charming part of the building is the 13th century cellars, and this is where you should dine, if possible. As you walk down the stairs, you feel like you’re stepping back in time. The exposed brick and low ceilings, along with the many separate dining rooms and seating nooks (we were lucky enough to have our own private nook), give the restaurant really great atmosphere.
The service was wonderful and the food was fantastic. They start you off with some complementary bread served with the restaurant’s homemade lard (“smalec” in Polish), which is made from rendered white pork fat with bacon and seasonings. It may sound a little unappetizing to some of you, but try it…it’s delicious!
For the our main courses, my aunt and I had the wild boar steak marinated in juniper sauce, then grilled over a beechwood fire. It was served with bacon, capers and a delicious sauce, with potatoes and red cabbage on the side.
My mom had a grilled pork chop served with potatoes, cabbage and homemade horseradish. Now, I am not a horseradish fan, but she told me it was so good that I had to try it. At first I said no, because I know how much I normally dislike it, but I gave in and had a teeny tiny bit. Then I had a bigger taste. Then I was spreading it on every bite of my food. It was outstanding!
For dessert, we had ice cream. Normally, I don’t waste my time with vanilla ice cream, but the description of the dish sounded so good I decided to give it a shot. I’m so glad I did, because it was to die for. It was smooth and creamy and topped with chopped nuts, buckwheat honey and whipped cream. I could have had two more servings, but I didn’t want to embarrass myself.
Pod Aniołami is very well reviewed, and for good reason. For dinner, reservations are a must, and you should request to be seated in the cellar area. Service was fantastic and the prices were very reasonable. This is definitely somewhere I will go to again if I return to Kraków!<
Stare Miasto, Kraków
Restauracja Stodoła 47
Located on one of the city center’s busiest streets is Stodoła 47. The name translates to “barn” and you’ll know why the minute you walk into this charming and rustic eatery on Ulica Florianska. Filled with wagon wheels, animal skins, farming tools and lots of wood, Stodoła 47 offers up a relaxed atmosphere, good service and great food.
We all started with soups – I had forest mushrooms served in rosemary cream, my mom had the rosół (basically chicken noodle soup), and my aunt had the zurek, which is a traditional sour rye-flour soup. They were all delicious!
During my pre-trip research on where and what to eat, I kept running across mentions of “bigos”, which is a traditional Polish dish that was always highly recommended. When I saw it on the menu here, I figured I’d give it a try since I always like to eat local specialties. Unfortunately, it ended up being something that I really didn’t care for. Basically, it was stewed sauerkraut with different types of meat (kielbasa, pork, etc.) and a tomato sauce served in a bread bowl. I wanted to like it, but didn’t…you can’t win ’em all!
My mom had gołabki (stuffed cabbage), which were really good, and my aunt had pork loin with a potato pancake and forest mushroom sauce, which was outstanding.
The prices were ridiculously inexpensive. For three soups, three main courses, two bottles of Coke and two big bottles of water, the total bill was 112 zloty, which equals $37. Even though I didn’t care for the bigos, this was probably my favorite place we ate at in Kraków. The quality of the food, charming atmosphere, low prices and great service make it a place that I would enjoy visiting again and again.
Restauracja Stodoła 47
Ulica Florianska 47 (near the Florianska Gate)
Stare Miasto, Kraków
This restaurant, which is also located along the Royal Route on Grodzka, gets some mixed reviews. It seems that tourists rate it pretty well, but locals feel you can get more for your money elsewhere. Even though I would agree with that (especially when comparing it to Stodoła 47), I’m glad we decided to give it a try.
The name translates to “honey raspberry” (or maybe it’s “raspberry honey”) and the décor reflects that.
A cozy and charming place, the fare is best described and Polish-Italian, and the menu is extensive. Service was good and the prices were a bit high in comparison to some other restaurants in Kraków, but not too bad (and still much cheaper when compared to American prices). I started out with a traditional beetroot soup with meat dumplings. It came to the table still piping hot and steaming, and was absolutely delicious.
My mom had bruschetta, which I failed to get a picture of, but it was served on crispy Polish rye bread with olive oil and chopped tomatoes. My aunt opted out of an appetizer (loser!).
For the main course, I had potato pancakes with a creamy forest mushroom sauce (I love mushrooms and luckily it was mushroom season, so I ordered them as much as I could!). It was a very tasty dish:
For their main course, my mom and aunt both had a “Cracovian pretzel” (as described on the menu) filled with wild boar and covered with a venison sauce. It was a very big portion and good, but not their favorite.
Sadly, we didn’t have room for dessert, but there were a few things on the menu that sounded good.
Our experience was an overall good one, but I wouldn’t necessarily rush back to this restaurant on a future trip to Kraków. Still, if you are in the area and looking for a decent meal, Miód Malina is a good option.
Ulica Grodzka 40
Stare Miasto, Kraków
U Babci Maliny
As I mentioned at the beginning of this post, there was one restaurant that was a disappointment, and this was it. There are two locations for U Babci Maliny, and we dined at the one on Ulica Szpitalna, which is located right across from the National Theater. I had read nothing but good things about this restaurant and was very excited to eat here. Sadly, the poor service we received turned it into our least favorite dining experience in Kraków.
Upon entering the restaurant, you will find yourself in a small room with a counter to place your order and some tables to wait at. This room is for carryout orders only. If you want to dine in, you head down about 15 or so steps into what looks like a parlor from the 1940s.
Once we were seated, it took at least five minutes for the waitress to appear at our table. She was less than friendly right from the start, but we didn’t want to let it ruin our experience, so we brushed it off and placed our order. To start, my aunt ordered pickled herring (sorry, no picture!) and I ordered mushroom soup. According to my aunt, the herring was only okay, but the soup was wonderful:
We finished our starters, then we waited. And waited. And waited. Other tables that ordered after us were being served, but our food was nowhere to be seen. Neither was our waitress. Finally, after about 20 minutes, she showed up with our food, then quickly left.
I had ordered fried pierogi ruskie (filled with potato and cheese) and they were outstanding:
My mom ordered breaded chicken filet with mashed potatoes and said it was very good. My aunt ordered beef with mushrooms and mashed potatoes and said it was only okay. I didn’t get pictures of their meals, because our experience went downhill once we were served.
We had barely started to eat – I’m not exaggerating when I say we each had maybe one or two bites of our food – when our waitress came back and put the check on the table. She didn’t ask how the food was, just dropped off the check and left. We found that odd (especially in Europe where you have to specifically ask for the check), but continued to eat.
Again, no exaggeration when I say she came back two minutes later and asked for the money. I said we weren’t ready to pay yet and she just turned around and walked away. At this point, we were pretty aggravated. At first we thought maybe her shift was over and she wanted to settle the bill, but we saw that she was waiting on new tables.
Anyway, we finished our meals (I didn’t care what she did or how rude she was, there was no way I wasn’t going to finish those pierogi!). We had the money ready and waited for her to come back, since we don’t like leaving cash on the table. Well, we waited for about ten minutes and she never came back. When I tried to get her attention, she ignored us. So we ended up leaving the money on the table and going (needless to say, there was no tip left).
Reading other reviews, I feel like this experience was an anomaly, but regardless, it really left us unhappy. I would not return to this restaurant, nor would I recommend it. Such a shame, because the food (for the most part) was very good.
U Babci Maliny
Ulica Szpitlana 38
So overall, we had some really wonderful dining experiences in Kraków. With the one exception, everyone was very welcoming, friendly and helpful. There are so many delicious dishes to have…I’d have to be there for a year to try everything I wanted to!
Have you been to any of the restaurants I talked about? What were your experiences like? Or, do you have other favorite dining spots in Kraków? Let me know what they are!