It has been a few months already since my long weekend in Warsaw, where I was invited to experience Restaurant Week, and the food scene of the city. One of the reasons it has taken me so long to write this post, even though I edited all my photos after returning home, is I needed time to process it all, plus I was also being lazy . Warsaw has surprised me and won me over, I sincerely didn't expect to like it that much, it is a complex city with many layers, however I was able to explore a bit more under the surface and beyond the tourist path thanks to my amazing guide, Agnieska. I can't recommend her enough if you are planning a stay in Warsaw and want to see it with the eyes of a local with an extensive knowledge of its history.
If you love good food, then you definitely should add Warsaw to your list of places to visit, it has a vibrant food scene with the influence of many international cuisines. You can find breakfast markets, you can never have enough of those, many interesting brunch places, a night food market located on a disused train platform. I also learnt that in Poland there is a reality tv show on how to run a successful food truck, I believe that would be so much more interesting than some of the reality programmes we have here in the UK. Whilst it is evident the want to explore and taste different types of cuisine, in Warsaw, one can still enjoy traditional Polish food, I had a first taste of it at the Bio Bazar: pickled herrings of all kinds, cheese and all the local produce. I also enjoyed the most delicious pyzi z mięsem (potato dumplings with meat) in a bar mlecznyin Praga.
Below the places I recommend visiting:
- Bio Bazar Ul. Zelazna 51/53 | róg Żelaznej i Prostej, Warsaw 00-841, Poland Old factory buildings transformed to traditional organic food market. Here you can find the best Polish cuisine, organic products directly from farmers and a knowledge on Polish culinary heritage. It's a pearl on a culinary map of Warsaw - for ordinary health food customers and visitors interested in Polish culinary tradition. Obviously prices are not "the cheapest one" but this is not a case. This products (mostly certifies) are worthy of its prices.
- TargŚniadaniowy (Breakfast Market), is open in the summer in Warsaw’s neighborhood of Zoliborz. Here you can find homemade products, fruits and vegetables, fresh bread and also grab yourself breakfast. Even though lunch was in a few hours, I couldn't resist having a breakfast sandwich from one of the food trucks- I opted for buenos dias from La Chica - only around £4/ 20 Zloty- with avocado, eggs, jalapeño, cheese and tomato. Heaven!
- Nocny a night food market in a disuse train platform, when you are getting there it almost feel like you are in a secret location, I write almost because you will be surrounded by quite a lot of people going in your same direction. Again, only open during summer, it is the perfect place to spend an evening, more than a food market it feels like being in a club with great food and atmosphere.
- Zabkowski s.c. bar Ząbkowska 2, 00-001 Warszawa, Poland. Probably the most authentic experience of my stay in Warsaw and after reading a bit more about milk bars and their history I wish I visited a few more, they are old establishment, a reminder of old, socialist times. A meal here is very cheap, but home made and tasty. The menu is in Polish, so my lovely guide ordered for me, then when the order is ready is called out for collection. I could have easily eaten two portions of pyzi z mięsem- they were delicious and costed us 6,50 Zloty. A bargain at less than a pound.
E. Wedel chocolate lounge – Szpitalna 8, Warsaw 00-031, Poland. Wedel is the oldest chocolate brand in Poland. You simply must enjoy a cup of hot chocolate in this amazing establishment.
One thing you can't ignore whilst in Warsaw is its still very recent tragic history- from walking around areas that have been completely rebuilt after bombings (starting from the Old Town) most of the times to street art representing yellow daffodils, which are the symbol of the Ghetto Uprising. On my first day in Warsaw, I visited the Uprising Museum, after seeing images and videos of what happened at the time all I could think of is how important is not to forget, so that history doesn't repeat itself (even though we never seem to learn from the past).
A few other places I recommend visiting is:
- Palace of Culture and Science, the tallest building in Poland and where you can have a breathtaking view of the city.
- Neon Museum- my favourite- a private collection dedicated to the documentation and the preservation of Cold War era neon signs, which I found fascinating. This is located inside the Soho Factory, another interesting place to see.
- Łazienki Park- the largest park in Warsaw.
- Walk around the neighbourhood of Praga and venture inside the courtyards, you will find the most surprising sights. This district has retained the atmosphere and look of the old Warsaw and have been used as many movie locations. 11 Ząbkowska St., for example, was used as a set for Roman Polanski's The Pianist.
I had a great stay in the most beautiful hotel in Warsaw, Hotel Bellotto, and enjoyed the comfort of being so close to the Old Town. The building used to be a Palace and every evening I looked forward to relaxing in my apartment.
Disclaimer: I was a guest of Warsaw tourist office. All opinions are my own.