Surprising. Very affordable. Bring your appetite.
As you may have read, I was in Warsaw on holidays with my best friend for a short end of winter getaway. Lorna and I had a fun time, exploring, sightseeing and eating a lot of Polish food. Eating out in a country or city you’ve never been to before can be a little daunting, because a bad meal can really leave a bad taste when on holidays and hinder future visits. Therefore, today’s blog post is about the best restaurants I discovered while in Warsaw: I give you the Top 5 places to eat that Cookie FM recommends!
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1. Wabu Sushi Bar & Japanese Tapas
When it comes to my favourite cuisines, Japanese is in the Top Three and has been for years. Myself and Lorna discovered Wabu by chance, as it was just around the corner from our second aparthotel. As we’d had a long day of delays, flight cancellations, booking more accommodation and flights and a lot of traveling with luggage, by the time dinner came we were more than ready.
We walked into Wabu without a booking on a busy Thursday evening and were given a window table no problem. Making my dinner choice was ridiculously hard as there is a vast variety of sushi, sashimi, norimaki and hosomaki as well as main dishes and more. But being a sushi lover, I ordered the Gyoza Chicken and Vegetable Dumplings to start, then the Futomaki Peppered Tuna and Salmon & Avocado Hosomaki as my main – though in traditional Japanese restaurants, dishes are served once ready.
Gyoza is one of those foods I could all day, every day. At Wabu, their gyoza were crisp, flavoursome and very well seasoned. The underside was still soft too, telling me the chefs really do know what they’re doing. The futomaki and hosomaki were beautifully presented, alongside pickled ginger and wasabi, with a soy sauce bottle for the table. I’m a sucker for fresh, seared and cooked tuna and the flavour within the futomaki was insane! I savoured every single bite. The hosomaki was delicious too, very refreshing; salmon and avocado is always a winning combination.
A very busy restaurant that has plenty of space, ethnic decor and a great team of chefs, I’m already wanting to go back! I can easily say I’ve had the best sushi of my life. We also indulged in dessert at Wabu, where I chose the Chocolate Mousse with Chilli, which was truly excellent. Deep, dark and had enough of a chilli punch to it.
Visit Wabu Sushi Bar & Japanese Tapas, plac Europejski 2, 00-844 Warsaw // Website // Call +48 668 925 959
2. Restauracja POLKA Magda Gessler
On our first night in Warsaw, we headed to one of the most famous restaurants in the city, Restauracja POLKA by Magda Gessler. The interior design and layout of this restaurant is truly beautiful and quite the piece of art. The walls feature painted murals, the colours are opulent with plenty of gold accents and the dining furniture reflects this as well. A popular venue, it was busy when we arrived and yet we were given a table no problem without any booking. Seated in a quiet alcove, myself and Lorna salivated over the options on the menu, given we were very hungry after a long day traveling. I ordered the Potato Latkes with Creamy Mushroom Sauce as my starter and the Pork Loin Filled with Plums for my main course, alongside a bottle of red for us to share.
The Potato Latkes with Creamy Mushroom Sauce were a generous portion size for the first course, which we came to learn and love. The potato latkes, which are like rösti, were crisp, thin and were well accompanied by another generously portioned bowl of creamy mushroom sauce that was full of flavour, pepper and fresh herbs. Needless to say I polished off this plate.
My main course of the Pork Loin Filled with Plums was served with a rosemary sauce that I orrdered with Dijon mashed potatoes. A beautifully presented dish, that was packed full of unique flavours. I’ve never had pork with plums, but as it is a traditional dish in Poland, I was more than intrigued to try it and it paid off!
Both dishes were wonderful and a great way to first try the Polish delicacies, I came to find out that Latkes are very traditional. Our bottle of wine went down swimmingly, and complimented our meal very well. The service and staff in Restauracja POLKA is excellent, very friendly, with good banter and yet very professional. The premises is very big, making it ideal for large groups to dine comfortably, plus there is even more seating on the basement level, with private rooms too. You also receive excellent value for what you pay, and though this is a higher class restaurant, the prices are still very reasonable.
Visit Restauracja POLKA Magda Gessler, Świętojańska 2, 00-001 Warsaw// Website // Call +48 22 635 35 35
3. Panorama Sky Bar at the Marriott
Lorna is great for finding rooftop and high-rise bars, so on our second evening out for dinner we headed to the Panorama Sky Bar at the Marriott Hotel. On the 40th floor of this modern and sophisticated hotel is a bar like I’ve never seen before. Again, without reservation we were given a lovely table on the upper deck, overlooking the main streets of Warsaw. The food menu is served as tapas, while their cocktail menu is extensive too- you can imagine choices were rather hard!
The menu is divided by degrees, rather than starters and mains. We chose five different tapas to share: 7°C Fire Treated Tuna, 7°C Crispy Vegetables, 52°C Salmon Teriyaki, 52°C Black Angus Beef and 72°C Yakitori Chicken. They all arrived in spectacular style. Each dish was colourful, beautifully presented and full of flavour.
Naturally my favourite was the tuna, which was melting in the mouth, flavoured with ponzu and katsuobushi, served with fried lotus chips and an egg white mayonnaise, that was generously portioned too. The beef was excellent too, and the chicken was rather heavenly slathered in the yakitori sauce. The salmon was also delicious, very well cooked and packed with Asian flavours, accompanied by beansprouts, daikon and wakame, while the crispy vegetable cones broke up the strong flavours from the meats and fish perfectly.
Our cocktails acted as both apéritif and dessert, and every one was expertly created. I ordered the Botanical Garden, Primavera and the Silky, my favourite of the three being the Silky, because of its strong liquors and well matched flavours of vodka and passionfruit with cinammon and Ceylon vanilla from Madagascar! We could see the mixologist from our balcony seats too, who was pouring dozens of cocktails on the hour. Service at the Panorama Sky Bar was very good, and very busy for a Tuesday evening too. I will advise that this is a more expensive meal than others, it won’t completely break the bank and will be worth every penny!
Visit Panorama Sky Bar at the Marriott Hotel, Al. Jerozolimskie 65/79, 00-697 Warsaw // Website // Call +48
4. Latem Bar & Restaurant
On our first outing to lunch we returned to the Old Town Square and headed into Latem Bar & Restaurant. Here, myself and Lorna both opted for the Potato Latkes with Norwegian Smoked Salmon to start, which I then followed with Stuffed Duck Pierogi.
The Potato Latkes were again delicious, crisp and subtly spiced, and were a perfect match for the juicy smoked salmon served with fresh lemon slices. The combination was a lovely memory of Irish Boxty and our homegrown salmon. Next were the traditional Polish Pierogi, which are soft steamed and stuffed dumplings, that I ordered stuffed with I had opted for duck meat, while Lorna chose the spinach & cheese Pierogi, and we did share too. Flavoursome and surprisingly light to eat, they were served with a herb butter and crisp onions, and went down a treat!
The service at Latem was very friendly, our server was all sorts of intrigued about where we came from, and why we chose to come to the freezing temperatures of Warsaw! Another tradition of Poland, we were given our selection of digestifs. The first was a delicious raspberry flavour, the second a hazelnut flavour, while the final and third was pure Polish vodka. Our server also explained to us the history of Latem, that it used to be a metal music bar, and if you read its current name you’ll see it’s also spelled ‘metal’ backwards to reminisce on its former glory days!
Visit Latem Bar & Restaurant, rynek Starego Miasta 10, 00-272 Warsaw, Poland // Call+48 22 635 32 72
5. Oberża Pod Czerwonym Wieprzem (The Inn Under the Red Hog)
One restaurant I would highly recommend, if you’re a meat lover, is Oberża Pod Czerwonym Wieprzem (The Inn Under the Red Hog). When staying at Platinum Residence, this local restaurant was very impressive and so myself and Lorna enjoyed dinner here on our last night in Warsaw. Steeped in communist history and inspired by the people of World War II, ‘The Red Hog’ as it’s affectionately known as, serves up one mighty feast. The large, open dining room is only one of the areas within, as there are also side booths and private rooms for larger groups sectioned off by heavy curtains. Furnished with light wood, clean tableware and mismatching ornaments on the walls, there is quite an atmosphere here. There’s also a wall of celebrities who’ve dined here, which include Bruce Willis, Lennox Lewis, and John Malkovich.
The Red Hog also has an impressive menu, with everything from apéritifs to main courses and sides named after historical figures. As it was late, and we just wanted food there and then, we only opted for a main course, of which I chose Erich’s Pork Knuckle, and we shared a bottle of red wine. When our dishes arrived, I must say I was astounded about the size of this dish! Pork knuckle is a very typical Bavarian dish, and having grown up in Munich, it was rather typical of me to order it but it was the description that truly sold me.
The pork was a glazed oven-roasted mighty piece of meat in a caramel-beer sauce that was served with fried cabbage, lentils with a horseradish dip and an extra side of spiced potato wedges. This is cooked according to a recipe from the German Democratic Republic in the 1970s. Well, whatever they were doing in the GDR and currently at The Red Hog sure works, because this pork knuckle was purely divine! It had a great crisp bite to the skin while the meat was succulent, the gravy and vegetables were great accompaniments, and complimented the potato wedges. Our choice of wine was also a great one, and the restaurant was very kind to re-cork it for us to finish later in our apartment. Plus, if it’s good enough for Brucey, it’s good enough for us all!
Visit The Inn Under the Red Hog, Żelazna 68, 00-866 Warsaw // Website // Call +48 22 850 31 44
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Images © Nirina Plunkett