Warsaw’s food and drink scene surprised me – as much did much of what the city had to offer!
Unlike my usual trips I knew little about Warsaw until I began reading my Lonely Planet Poland (Travel Guide) on the flight over, and if I’m honest I didn’t have high expectations of Polish food. But following some research and recommendations, we discovered a collection of great places to eat and drink in Warsaw – here’s our highlights!
Where to eat and drink in Warsaw
Always on the look out for somewhere to taste decadent hot chocolate, it wasn’t long before I heard that E. Wedel was the place to go. Poland’s oldest brand of chocolate, in the mid 19th century Karol Wedel founded Warsaw’s first chocolate factory, later taken over by his son Emil.
Now a renowned Polish chocolatier, the city is scattered with the company’s cafes and shops and during our stay we visited several of them to try out everything from sundaes to chocolate milkshakes and salted caramel drinks.
The best was the hot chocolate taster, where you were given three (decent sized) cups of E Wedel hot chocolate – one made of dark chocolate, one of milk and the other of white. Super sweet but absolutely delicious!
If you’re looking for a real experience be sure to stop off at the Old-Fashioned Shop 1851, which has been left unchanged since 1984. It’s a beautiful place to sit for a bit of people watching over a gorgeously rich hot chocolate…
Podwale 25 is a classic Bavarian-styled restaurant providing cheap and hearty polish food in Warsaw’s Old Town. The restaurant is pretty vast, with sprawling spaces and lots of side rooms and I liked the traditional décor, with walls covered in local pictures and memorabilia. Portions were huge here, and we learnt that in Warsaw pretty much everything comes with sauerkraut and the meat is always very well done (by UK standards) – so lovers of rare meat you’ve been forewarned.
We came for lunch and ordered a meat platter for two, which actually fed four of us. A giant plate was bought to our table, piled up with liver, veal schnitzel, chicken, gammon, black pudding, sausages, rice and seasoned potatoes. In total it was 1KG worth of meat and it cost only 65 zlot (about £13)!
Also, every meal here ends with a lollypop for the kids and a shot of liquor for the adults. Na zdrowie!
If you love Asian food then you absolutely have to go to Co Tu. This Vietnamese restaurant can be found on a tiny little side street hidden behind on the city’s main streets, surrounded by other buzzing restaurants, food stalls and bars.
It’s very basic but always packed with locals, understandably so when you taste the amazing food. It actually felt a little bit like eating in Asia, with its plastic plates and paper napkins and although it doesn’t have an alcohol licence you can buy a beer for the bar next door and bring it to your table.
The food was so mouth watering that we actually came back the following day to eat here again, which was doubly great for my purse – a meal for four cost us just £18!
There’s a wide selection of mains on offer but I’d recommend one of the pho dishes, the roast duck or the sesame beef – a large portion brought out on a sizzling plate, this was the best thing I had eaten in months. Seriously.
Don’t expect much from the dessert menu though – at Co Tu your options are either battered banana or battered pineapple.
Top tip: Bring cash as Co Tu doesn’t accept cards.
Visit a milk bar
Don’t expect great service – or service of any kind actually! Milk bars are old fashioned polish fast food bars that are essentially cafeterias. The height of their popularity was back in communist times, but they’re still regularly frequented by locals looking for exceptionally cheap, but filling, meals.
I’d like to have experienced a few more of them, but Justin wasn’t much of a fan, saying that some we popped our heads into looked like prison mess halls filled with grumpy old ladies eating slop!
Still, milk bars are an experience worth having and if you’re looking for a basic cheap meal they’re well worth a trip. I eventually persuaded the family to go to one of the more friendly-looking milk bars for breakfast and the four of us had really tasty scrambled eggs with bacon and a cuppa each for less than £7 in total.
Afternoon tea at Hotel Bristol
This beautiful art deco hotel was originally opened in 1901. It’s withstood the many battles the city faced and is now one of the top luxury hotels in the city. But people don’t just come for the luxurious rooms – Hotel Bristol is also the place to have afternoon tea in Warsaw!
Want to find out more? Then come back soon to read our full review of afternoon tea at Hotel Bristol.
Located within Hotel Bristol is Café Bristol, famous for its coffee and desserts.
Although very different in style to the restaurant nearby that serves afternoon tea, its lovely art deco feel is oh so inviting and hasn’t been changed since it originally opened. Another beautiful place to stop off for lunch or a sweet snack.
The best places to eat and drink in Warsaw
So there you have it – these are my favourite places to eat and drink in Warsaw. Do you have any recommendations you think we should add? If so, please share in the comments below!
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