Simply Sara Eats: and Sips in Krakow

In the "Simply Sara Eats " series, I recount the my favorite food and drink discoveries.

It’s time to talk about Krakow. I can’t say I ate any food I didn’t like in this city, but here are the highlights - 

Best Pierogi (and Most Hidden Location): U Babci Maliny

This was my first meal in Poland and my first taste of pierogi - and the one that stands out in my memory the clearest. (It made my 10 Most Memorable Experiences in Poland!)

There are two locations in Krakow and we of course went to the harder to locate (which I recommend, for the experience alone!) It’s housed in the Polish Skills Academy which feels like an official building that you shouldn’t enter...but you do anyway, because you’re hungry and delicious pierogi are in your future. You walk straight down the corridor, take a left through the courtyard, descend down the stairs, and keep walking until you come to a large wooden door. Congratulations, you’ve made it to grandma’s house (Babci means grandmother). 

Your Polish grandmother cooks up a storm but isn't here to serve you. Order your food at the counter and head back to retrieve your food when your number is called. While you wait, absorb in the atmosphere of all her knick-knacks and quirky decor, complete with a huge fish tank in the center of the room and photos of athletes around the room. I also should mention that the price is very budget-friendly, especially for the hefty servings Grandma doles out.  

And it goes without saying that you are ordering some pierogi on this visit. If you've had better, please let me know where!! 

U Babci Maliny 
Sławkowska 17, Kraków, Poland

Here's the indication in the courtyard that you're still on the right track to find the restaurant.

The prize for finding U Babci Maliny are these pierogies. Need I say more?

Best View in Krakow: The Café Terrace of the Gallery of 19th Century Polish Art (Galeria Sztuki Polskiej XIX Wieku), part of the Sukiennice Museum

My favorite view of the main square of Krakow (Rynek Główny) was from the café terrace of the Gallery of 19th Century Polish Art (in the Sukiennice Museum). It was the perfect spot to take a break and caffeinate with the backdrop of this gorgeous square. (Michael has even declared it his favorite main square in Europe to-date!) 

Bonus is that the museum itself has a really nice collection of Polish art that is worth checking out as well!

Sukiennice Museum {Sukiennice is the old cloth hall} [link in Polish]
Rynek Główny 1-3, Kraków, Poland

Michael and I at the café with St. Mary's Basilica behind us. 

Best Bagels: Bagelmama

You can say what you want about my state, but there’s no denying that New Jersey makes the best bagels. It’s one of those foods that I miss most when I’m out of town (even when I went to school in Pennsylvania - it's just not the same!). I’ve been on a little quest of sampling bagels when I find them in Europe, and I was looking forward to seeing what I would find in Poland. After all, this is where the bagel was born.

So with that, I am going to boldly say that Bagelmama gets my distinction of making the best Europe. While I still prefer those in NJ, Bagelmama came respectably close. And the fact that they make breakfast sandwiches is a plus! 

One more thing - the staff here are very nice (as I found everywhere in Poland) and patient. They seemed to have the unfortunate location of being near a tour bus stop where lots of loud tourists would pour in trying to use their restroom without being a customer, or trying to pay for a bottle of water using Euros. The staff was very patient for having to deal with this daily! 

Dajwór 10, Kraków, Poland

A happy moment for this Jersey girl - getting acquainted with a bagel breakfast sandwich of bacon, egg, and cheese at Bagelmama, Krakow.

Best for a glass of wine: Bona

One thing I love about Europe is how it has combined two things I love into a perfect combination: books and wine. What’s more lovely than getting to browse a bookshop with a glass of red in hand, or accompanying your vino with a good read? I haven't found a bookstore like this in the US yet, but there's one in Paris and another that I really enjoyed in Madrid.

If you agree, this is the perfect spot for a glass of wine (or coffee, tea, etc) and perhaps a light bite. It made for a great spot for our aperitif before heading off to our romantic dinner! (More on that below...)

Kanonicza 11, Kraków, Poland

Most Romantic - Restauracja Pod Aniołami (“Under the Angels”)

This restaurant was a recommendation I found in Rick Steves' guidebook, and he did not lead us astray. It is set in a beautiful underground cellar and thankfully the food was as good as the atmosphere. The restaurant specializes in its preparations over a wood-fire grill. We went all out, sampling meat pierogi, mushroom soup, and mains of duck and wild boar steak (both grilled over the fire). It’s here that we also learned a little about what I'm going to refer to as “Polish honesty.” We asked to try the fruit-filled pierogi for dessert, but our waitress warned us that, “They’re really not that good.” So we went with the ricotta cheesecake which was in fact quite delicious, and had to chuckle (and be thankful) for our server’s straightforward bluntness! 

Note that if you do want to dine here, reservations are a good idea (which you can conveniently do through the form on their website - see below). Plan for a relaxed evening to take your time and linger with your love - this is not a rushed meal, nor will you want it to be since the atmosphere is so pretty! 

Restauracja Pod Aniołami
Grodzka 35, Kraków, Poland

Delicious mushroom soup for a starter at Restauracja Pod Aniołami

Best Atmosphere: Singer 

There are so many cool bars to discover in the Kazimierz district of Krakow (the neighborhood that used to be the Jewish district). I enjoyed trying a few in the area, but the one that stands out to me is Singer. I loved its ambiance - dark, candlelit, with sewing machines as tables. We went early on in the evening when the atmosphere was perfect for a date night, but I hear it gets lively in the early morning hours if you’re seeking some dancing.

Estery 20, Kraków, Poland

The coolest bar tables at Singer bar in Kazimierz 

Most Entertaining: Artefakt Café 

I of course can’t guarantee the same experience we had at Artefakt Café, but I have to mention it for the hysterical bartender we meet there. It’s also located in Kazimierz (like Singer) and its name translates to “Shot of Art.” It seems to be the type of place where you can find a variety of things - concerts, art expos, stand-up comedy acts, and of course, drinks.  

We came in as our last stop of the evening on our final night in Krakow. We were greeted with free shots from the bartender, eager to introduce us to Polish flavored vodka. He then lived up to his claim of being able to make a drink that tasted like spiced apple pie thanks to, well, vodka I presume. That was the “dessert after our beers, and then after another bartender accidentally spilled coffee on me, we were treated to another complimentary drink. The details are a little hazy but I will always remember our friendly and talkative bartender who chatted with us and kept us laughing for hours.

Artefakt Café 
Dajwór 3, Krąków, Poland

Honorable Mention: Sweet Surrender

I primarily like to promote places that give a taste of local cuisine, but I can’t help but give a shout-out to American-run cafe Sweet Surrender. It’s the type of place I would imagine becoming one of my local haunts if I lived in Krakow, bringing my laptop or book along to sit for hours sipping coffee in this airy, comfy space. It’s close to the Schlindler’s Factory Museum so it made for a perfect lunch stop afterwards. The wraps and paninis were a welcome little break that made us feel like we were eating slightly healthier until we indulged in the peanut butter blondie that provided a lovely taste of home. Keep this spot in mind for lunch or coffee break! 

Sweet Surrender
Zabłocie 25, Kraków, Poland

Sometimes a panini and salad are a welcome break from all those wonderfully fried (though sometimes boiled, in our defense) pierogies we consumed 

Score! A peanut butter blondie at Sweet Surrender! So many foods that I miss from the US all making an appearance in Krakow :-)

Do you have any favorite places in Krakow, Poland that you would recommend for food or drinks? Or have any of these places enticed you? 

Linking up for Travel Tuesday with BonnieCourtneyYalanda, and Cynthia!