A Vegetarian’s Guide to Krakow


Krakow was the first city I visited on my three week Euro trip this summer and it did not disappoint. 

Steeped in history with architecture reminiscent of the medieval age, a fairy-tale-esque Old Town shrowded in urban legend and mystery, a bustling Jewish Quarter and more flavours of Polish vodka than you can drink (and believe me, I tried), I quickly fell in love with the understated charm of the city.

There's also the deep and dark history of the country which is worth delving into. Visiting the sobering Auschwitz and Birkenhau museum is a must. Wandering around the medieval main square gives a sense of the constant bustling trading that has been taking place since the 13th century, whilst a tour of the Jewish Quarter gives an insight into the horrific treatment of the Jewish population in the country before and during WWII.

I stayed at a lovely little hostel called Let's Rock and instantly made friends with a great group of people who I bonded with over Polish vodka tasting (of course).

It was great to get to know so many different people from all over the world. It always surprises me how deep conversation with strangers gets after a few drinks and jokes when you’re travelling. You discuss everything from culture to politics, future goals to past experiences. After just a few short days together with this group, I felt like I made friends for life! Perhaps I’m most nostalgic about this group of friends because I met them first.


Anyway, onto the good stuff. The FOOD.

Polish food is typically quite meat heavy:  think pork knuckles, dumplings stuffed with meat and bread soaked in meaty gravy. Mmmmm...


Needless to say, eating out as a vegetarian was challenging in most restaurants.

Luckily for me, Krakow has a surprising amount of vegetarian/vegan restaurants a short walk from the beautiful Old Town square. And guess what? Two of the lovely people I made friends with at the hostel were vegetarian (winner!) which meant I got to try out a few of the restaurants with them.

Below are a few that I tried, tested and loved.

Chimera

Tucked away down a side alley off the quaint Old Town, near to the university, lies Chimera. Blink and you'd miss the nondescript entrance to this charming restaurant. Signposted by a wrought iron black sign hanging above a doorway, you walk through an old medieval townhouse to get to the outdoor courtyard, which is flooded with natural light and covered with green climbers and vines. 

There are 30 different fresh and colourful vegetarian dishes to choose from, as well as some meaty options too. You choose between one and six dishes depending on how hungry you are and then add a seasonal juice — all for a very reasonable price (6 dishes for 19 zloty, or £4). Highly recommend for a healthy and quick lunch!






Krowarzywa Vegan Burger

The best vegan burger I had, this simple and modern burger bar offers a variety of burgers with a Polish twist — think seasonal Polish vegetables, smoked tofu, and chickpea & herbs. All burgers can be made gluten free and come with a generous filling of salad and sauces. I also indulged in a smoothie 'cocktail' as I was in need of some healthy greens! Their menu is created with a dietitian and changes with the seasons, placing emphasis on healthy, nutritious and natural ingredients — right up my street!


Glonojad


No frills, simple decor and a menu that's bursting with flavour, veggies and colour: Glonojad is as simple yet delicious as it gets. I loved that the menu gave the chance to experience a few typical Polish meals with a vegetarian twist. Classic Pierogi, loaded casserole and vegetable cakes are offered alongside more typical Western dishes like burritos, lasagna and pasta, catering to every food mood! Again, this restaurant is very reasonably priced (around £3-4 for a main dish).

Nova Krova


Healthy, tasty and 100% vegan. This restaurant is closer to the Jewish Quarter than the Old Town and I stumbled upon it as I was walking around by myself after a tour of the Jewish Quarter. I find that I often come across fun restaurants and hidden gems this way! 

The menu was mainly in Polish so I just asked the waitress to bring me whatever was good, and I ended up with a huge plate filled with falafel in a tortilla wrap, salad and the BEST homemade wedges served with basil mayo (Mildred's, you have serious competition... luckily for you it's all the way over in Poland). In true Polish vegetarian restaurant style, the decor was basic with exposed wooden beams, hispter stickers and deep quotes decorating the walls, plain wooden furniture and huge windows allowing lots of light to stream in.



Veganic


Offering vegan and gluten free dishes that range from spicy chickpea stew to spaghetti buckwheat with avocado, this restaurant creatively combines super healthy with delicious and seasonal ingredients. It's a little more expensive than the other restaurants I mentioned, but definitely worth it for the colourful presentation alone! Plus, let's face it, 'expensive' in Krakow is still pretty affordable, with most main meals costing under £7! The cocktail menu is also worth mentioning (because who doesn't love a cocktail on holiday?) hello espresso martinis and elderflower gin!




Have you been to Krakow? Where were your favourite places to eat? Share them with me in the comments!


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