It must be hard being vegan in Poland. Said everyone I told about my recent trip.
It’s surprisingly easy to be vegan in Poland. Actually not that surprising if you eagle-eyed berries heard the news that Polish capital Warsaw is fast becoming one of the top destinations for vegan travellers as reported by the FT, CNN and travel site Kayak.
This was a fairly last minute, disorganised trip so I only had time to figure out where to stay and star some vegan places in our first destination: Warsaw. It was soon obvious that I had more stars on my map that I had opportunities for meals over the 2 day first stop.
In Warsaw we were living within minutes of 100% vegan pizza, burrito, Israeli and burger places! Our second destination Zakopane at the edge of the Tatra Mountains wasn’t overflowing with options but I managed to eat well at every meal. Final stop Krakow was just as good as Warsaw and again offered up more options than I could get through, although I did try! Read on for what we enjoyed in all these locations.
For more photos from the trip see my Instagram.
First stop in Warsaw: lunch! Swipe for 📷 For less than a fiver the lunch deal is soup, burrito of your choice (we both went for the Californian with pinto beans, soya, cheese sauce and lots more, plus a lemonade. Oh and ALL the hot sauces. We somehow seem to be living on vegan street as there was a vegan pizza place, 2 vegan burger places and a plant based restaurant all in the same vicinity! Too much food for just a couple of days.
Located round the corner from our Airbnb we hit vegan gold for our first meal. My notes said ‘punky, Spanish-run, cheap Mexican food’ and that is exactly what we found. The lunch deal for 22Zl (just over £4) gets you soup, a bulging burrito and homemade lemonade. With a choice of about six all-vegan burrito fillings we were spoilt for choice but both went for the California with vegan cheese sauce, soya, brown rice, chipotle mayo, black beans, onions, coriander and radish. Served with a choice of four different homemade chilli sauces it knocks Chilango out the park any day.
O H M Y D A Y S. I can't explain how good these burgers were. I'd already noted this place then we overheard a guy in a bar telling his friends (whilst eating a meat burger) that they should check this place out as the burgers are soooo good & better than meat. He wasn't wrong! 👊 I went for the seitan with vegan mayo, spicy tomato sauce & vegan bacon . Swipe for a close up 📷. T went for the smoked tofu with mustard, spicy tomato & bacon. Plus potatoes. Of course. I slept well after this! One of the best 🍃🍔 I've had.
With outposts in Warsaw and Krakow and a reputation for serving up some of the best vegan burgers around (we overheard meat-eaters espousing it’s tasty scran in another bar) this was a must. It met all our expectations and some. I had the seitan burger and Tristan the tofu burger, both topped with ‘bacon’ and served in wholemeal rolls. These on their own were mammoth so our sides of roasted potatoes were probably a bit unnecessary but you gotta order sides, right?! At £2.50 – 3.50 a burger these are unbelievably cheap compared to what you’d get back in the UK and in a lot of cases much more tasty too!
Lunch at @vegebistro a vegan Polish cafe. So nice to enjoy traditional cuisine which isn't often vegan-friendly in many countries. We shared pierogi (dumplings): half green lentil, half spiced tomato served with a kidney bean salad plus potato cutlets with mushrooms, bulgar wheat, peas & broccoli. Loving all the vegan places in this city!
I thought that Poland would be a country that I wouldn’t be able to sample much traditional cuisine but several places including this Polish vegan cafe proved me wrong. Here you can get a range of local dishes including pierogi (dumplings), cutlets and stews. We shared some dumplings and a potato cutlet with millet, mushrooms and vegetables. Somehow we managed to resist their selection of vegan cakes! It closes at 8pm so be sure to get down early or for lunch.
A photo can't do this plate justice. We arrived at Bal Bar 25 mins before close but they still accommodated our order. This sharing plate is of roasted chickpeas, hummus, sunflower seed pate, salad, mustard, cashew cream & an out of this world spinach pesto, crispy kale and wholesome bread. You can also see a sneaky vegan big lebowski made with coconut milk 😍 main to follow….
In hip district Praga Bal Bar is the main place that comes up on Happy Cow. We almost didn’t actually go there as the online menu didn’t excite us – which shows it pays to check places out IRL as the menu was totally different! We shared a platter of hummus, kale, pea dip, salad, bread, roasted chickpeas and spinach pesto and then a huge plate of dumplings. So huge we had to take over half of them for our journey the following day!
We didn’t actually eat here but I’m including it as it looked really good and we heard rave things about it. If we’d have had longer we would have certainly popped in. ‘Vegan vegan vegan vegan VEGAN vegan’ is what greets you from the outside. Clearly my type of place. The menu includes tofu and smoked sausage as toppings plus vegan cheese and all the vegetables. Kind of gutted now that I didn’t have a spare stomach to try this place too.
There ain't much in Zakopane for vegans but Bar Gorski (also called Grass or Mountain Bar just to confuse travelling vegans) has several clearly marked vegan options so you don't need much else! This is the beetroot & sage cutlets in a mushroom sauce with millet groats (they love groats here!) and carrot and cabbage salads. Happy if this is my only option for a few days! Menu only in Polish but a quick bit of Google translate and some useful vegan symbols made it easy enough to order.
Confusingly listed on Google maps and HappyCow as Mountain Bar this cafe is now called Bar Gorski but also says Grassa in the window and they have no distinguishable website. Either way it’s just off the main road opposite a small gallery. All the vegan options are clearly labelled however the menu is only in Polish. Nothing a little Google translate won’t solve! They do traditional food like pierogi, cutlets and soup as well as burgers and wraps. Easily enough on the menu to dine here several times.
I take back what I said about vegan food in this town! The hotel put on some special items for me on the breakfast buffet including a potato & pumpkin seed salad and cous cous salad plus loads of veg & pickles and a pea hummus. Followed this with a massive plate of fruit. Oh and the seeded bread was some of the best I've tasted. All set for the mountains!
This restaurant is part of the hotel Villa Jagiellonka and we only had breakfast there but it was great for vegans. They put on some special dishes for me on the buffet and explained what I could and couldn’t eat. This included salads, breads, dips, vegetables and fruit. On the last morning they even brought me coconut milk. If staying there you do need to speak to them in advance and I’m unsure of the restaurant’s usual offerings but worth enquiring as they were accommodating for our stay.
As we passed the menu caught my eye with the last item being ‘vegan burger’. Hurrah! It wasn’t a patch on the beauties enjoyed in Warsaw but for a couple of quid it was a decent dinner of a chickpea and sweetcorn pattie with salad on a seeded roll. The chips were plentiful and delicious. Worth checking out if you’re looking for some variety when in town.
Sure, they don’t offer dairy-free cheese but the waiter was really accommodating and swapped cheese for kidney beans (something I hadn’t had before on pizza – it worked) and provided more sauce too. The pizza was thin, so not a typical Chicago base, but it was decent and well-priced. There aren’t many pizza places in town and some are at posh Italian places so this seemed like a fair middle ground.
A small plant-based haunt on trendy Józefa, this place specialises in super healthy burgers. So healthy they’re served with carrot batons instead of chips (something I cannot condone). However given our burger success in Warsaw and the fact we had one in Zakopane too we opted for more traditional dishes of a lentil stew with polenta and a quinoa and vegetable plate which was so bursting with colour it made my little vegan heart happy. The simple things.
Dear Lord (or other appropriate saviour). It's taken sitting on a delayed train for me to realise that I haven't posted about the VEGAB I had in Poland. Yes, vegan. Yes, kebab. Kinda silly, huh? But totally deeee-licious. This is the spicy Beirut and Tristan went for the Hamster with PB & coconut (➡️ for 📷 including the menu – we did a swapsie half way). Verdict? Utter delight. I may have made many inappropriate sounds whilst eating it. 🙉
Given my absolute love for What the Pitta! in London I wasn’t sure if this vegan kebab joint would live up to my expectations. Well it did. And some. I went for a traditional offering with tzatziki and salad and Tristan went for a more unusual ‘Hamster’ with peanut butter and coconut which ended up being totally lush. We swapped halfway! The larger kebabs are monstrous proportions but oh-so-good. Maybe my top Krakow eat.
Lunch from @hummus_amamamusi. A large sharing bowl of jalapeño hummus with bread, veg and pickles plus a slice with classic to allow us to taste that too. The reviews were right: definitely some of the best hummus I've ever had! Would try bring some home but would that be counted as a liquid…? I've been stung with chutney before.
A hummus cafe done the right way. Take note Hummus Bros. and use some garlic in your frigging hummus! Anyway… at this stylish cosy cafe you can enjoy a sharing bowl of all range of flavours including jalapeno, sundried tomato, caper, roasted garlic and many more. Sadly only the classic comes in smaller portions but a slice of that is worth popping in for alone.
The only place we went twice and both were amongst the best meals we had. For dinner we shared potato latkes – like rostis – with a mushroom sauce and some bigos: a mushroom and cabbage stew with crusty bread. They also offer pierogi, salads, samosas and more. For breakfast the following day I had a momentous salad plate with three dips plus shredded tofu and carrot and tonnes of bread whilst T opted for the corn pancakes with fruit. All vegan, all delicious.
A vegetarian cafe (with a confusing fish logo) that serves one vegan breakfast option – a tofu and pesto ciabatta which is so much more delicious IRL than it looked or sounded. Homemade pesto is the absolute boss. There were many more lunch options including salad and pierogi (of course) but we were only there for breakfast so I’d recommend checking it out later in the day.
A great find in the Jewish district for a cheap light bite. This place does what it says on the tin – samosas and curry. All vegan! I had a spinach and chickpea samosa and it was on point. Tasted like India with a perfect balance of flavours and spices. The tamarind and tomato chutneys were also authentic in taste. Just a couple of doors down is a vegan momo place also worth checking out.