What they're eating in Warsaw

From vegan dumplings to pistachio cheesecake, the Polish capital’s food scene is exciting.

By Karolina Wiercigroch
Published 6 Sept 2022, 06:09 BST
Zander with crayfish and salsify at Dyletanci. 

Zander with crayfish and salsify at Dyletanci. 

Photograph by Joanna Matyjek

1. The pistachio cheesecake at Deseo

Run by Łukasz Smoliński and Natalia Sitarska, the couple behind popular Polish food and travel blog Tasteaway, patisserie Deseo has a glass counter stacked with luscious desserts. The standout is the pistachio cheesecake, a buttery base of chopped pistachios, topped with vivid green filling and velvety vanilla ganache. You can also buy their homemade pistachio paste if you want to try to recreate it at home. 

2. Sauerkraut cake at Syty Chmiel

This airy new gastropub specialises in bistro-style Polish cuisine and craft beers. Chef Wit Szychowski, better known as Pan Tasak (‘Mr Cleaver’), garnered fans by selling brioche sandwiches at a hip night market. At his new spot, however, the thing to order is the crispy sauerkraut cake topped with sour cream and chives. It tastes like a delicious cross between babka ziemniaczana — Polish potato cake — and Korean kimchi. 

3. Zander, crayfish and salsify at Dyletanci

In the leafy riverside district of Powiśle, Dyletanci offers smart dining and a lengthy wine list. The seasonal menu, created by Rafał Hreczaniuk — one of Poland’s best-known chefs — highlights the best local produce, some of which is grown by sous chef Artur Ogrodziński on an organic farm just south of the city. Among the recent highlights of the evening tasting menu is crispy pan-fried zander fillet, served with boiled crayfish and milk-steamed salsify, topped with foamy, brandy-infused crayfish bisque. 

4. Vegan pelmeni at Peaches Gastro Girls

Warsaw’s vegan scene is growing fast, and Peaches Gastro Girls offers some of the most inventive plant-based dining in town. Set in a tenement courtyard, it changes its menu with the seasons, but there’s usually some variety of dumplings — in this case, Siberian pelmeni. Filled with buckwheat and smoked vegan quark, they’re topped with soy sour cream and buckwheat crumbs. Melon adds freshness and jalapeño brings a kick. 

5. Rye bread at Rdest

Artisanal bakeries are becoming Warsaw’s latest culinary craze, continuing Poland’s long, loving relationship with bread. Rdest, a charming little spot serving bread, coffee and pastries, was opened by graphic designer-turned-baker Karolina Huzarska during the pandemic. Situated in the historic neighbourhood of Old Mokotów, it attracts customers from all over the city with its signature rectangular loaves of dark rye sourdough. 

Published in Issue 17 (autumn 2022) of Food by National Geographic Traveller 

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