Here are a few impressions from the various places I enjoyed lunch, dinner or just a few cozy hours at while roaming the Polish capital.
Location: Posnanska 11 near Wilcza
The Tel Aviv Café+Deli is located in a side street not far from Politechnika metro station. Funny enough there is another humus place just across the street (and humus delis are far less common than sushi restaurants in Warsaw).
The sign outside announces ‘Jewish food’. However, I would call it rather Mediterranean or North African. We opted for the all-you-can-eat lunch buffet for 27zl per person. Tucked away in a corner in the back room of the deli we found soup, salads and a delicious range of humus and other spreads. The colors were amazing from bright green to dark red. So was the taste of it all – amazing. I washed my lunch down with a fresh nana mint tea. But there is also the usual range of coffee shop coffees, teas and infusions.
Overall a delicious but certainly not local place. The staff is extremely friendly and helpful. Prices are on the posher side. Therefore the patrons are mix of tourists and business people with the occasional student,
Location: Marszalkowsa 8
This stylish restaurant and bar sits just across the street from a few hip theaters and the photography institute. The menu changes monthly; there is an English version but the waiters are more than happy to explain the selection. The food is a mix of modern Western or US style food (New York Strip steak with snow peas or turkey roll with Parmesan on green peas) along with Asian style starters (e.g. shrimp tempura). Until you get to the brilliant cakes for dessert it’s a rather health oriented cuisine. The beer is local (I opted for the slightly sweetish Lomza).
Overall a delicious place though not cheap for local standards (mains start at 26zl for a simple pasta). The staff is extremely friendly and helpful. The audience is mainly comprised of younger theater goers and hip students.
Delikatesy Braci Gessler
Location: across the street from the Bristol Hotel
Wandering through the area between Nowe Miasto and Jerusalem Avenue you may find yourself in a tourist trap. Most houses have been renovated to resemble Disneyland more than a town with history; the streets are lined with sushi restaurants and shops by global brands. So naturally the crackling turn of the century facade of the Hotel Europe just across the street from the beautifully renovated Hotel Le Meridian Bristol caught my attention – they sit there like two sisters: one is the apple of the family’s eye in a neat little dress and the other the black sheep in rags that has long been given up on.
The Braci Gessler resides in the Hotel Europe building and promises a break from tourist central. The patrons look like they had the same thought – backpackers and ordinary people reading up on last night’s soccer scores. The tea is cheap but not really cheap (5zl for a cup – other places charge 8zl for a pot). However, there are also some promising pastries and fresh sandwiches at reasonable prices on display.
Location: Freta 10
To Lubie (I like) stretches along the two floors of a belfry of the Dominican church in Warsaw’s old town. The lack of space makes for a cozy atmosphere which is helped by the friendly staff and the delicious cakes. Yes, it is right in tourist central but the prices aren’t as ridiculous as elsewhere (9zl for a pot of tea, 14zl for a large slice of pawlowa cake)
Location: Freta 3 (near Dluga)
The Use-It Warsaw people describe Pod Samsonem as “the only place worth recommending” when it comes to Jewish restaurants in Warsaw. It has been welcoming guests right in the heart of the old town, across the street from the Marie Curie museum since 1958. Hence the staff which a very old concierge lady who checks your coat and makes sure you find the toilet.
The food is as I had imagined Polish food all along: fat sausages, herring and other fish, pirogi… And I liked it. Just the right stuff to finish a cold winter’s day.
Due to its location and status the patrons of Samson’s are tourists (a whole lot of German was spoken around me) and groups of middle aged business men or friends. However, the prices are comparatively reasonable: three of us, sharing a couple of large beers and 7 more than filling starters paid 135zl. Mains also start at 20zl.
Location: Mokotowska, just off Plac Zbawicielka
This is a pretty generic place, serving the usual global coffee shop fare along with the usual delicious Polish cakes and the usual delicious Polish snack foods (nalesniki – filled crepes – and pirogi). The walls are decorated with wonderfully kitsch pink floral wallpapers. The two ladies who run it are friendly. The prices are average. But despite all these positive attributes sparks between me and this place didn’t fly as much as, say the Café Prozna or the Kepa.
Location: Prozna 12
I love this little coffee shop in a rundown house not far from the Palace of Culture. And I probably wouldn’t have found it if it wasn’t for the brilliant Use-It Warsaw app.
The walls arelined with old photographs from the golden years before WWII. The corners and comfy couches make it a great place to hang out for a few hours on a wintry day. Treat yourself to the usual coffee shop fare (along with delicious cakes at around 12zl a slice) or have a little snack. I particularly enjoyed the nalesniki – crepes filled with cheese or vegetables.
Location: Finlandska 12a
Saska Kepa, on the other side of the Vistula if you follow Jerusalem Avenue from the Cultural Palace, is a place I could see myself living in. Not least for this little coffee shop/deli gem. The Kepa Café serves vegetarian food only with a little Ayurveda twist. All its coffee specialties are also available in caffeine free, rooibus based versions – pretty funky. The small shop is decorated with modern art installations and inspirational quotes on the tables. Also good to know for the traveler and poor student: there is free WiFi (with an insanely long Polish word as a pass code).
When I visited they were just about to start their ‘Kasza Day’ – a day when you could eat all kinds of kasza based foods, assembled to your liking with spices or vegetables or nuts. I wish I could translate the word kasza. But I can’t. However, I can tell you what counts as kasza: buckwheat, couscous, bulgur… You figure it out for yourself.
Last not least: when I was there everyone in the cafe (staff and patrons) was female. Wonder what that means?