For those new in town, ul. Krakowski Przedmieście is money drainer. Not so for the Insiders. Below are some options for złoty-stretchers. The article was written a year ago but updated for 2011. Photos to follow, soon.
Royal Pauper (Warsaw Insider, September 2010)
With princely (and pricey) options abound along the Royal Route, the Insider’s Kit F. Chung dives into the opposite end to bring you pauper (and value) living.
Delikatesy Braci Gessler (Smaki na Wynos) ul. Krakowskie Przedmieście 13, tel. 022 826 79 36, www.gessler.pl Mon-Fri 8:00-23:00, Sat 9:00-23:00, Sun 10:00-23:00
Kinks. For delicious, monster-sized, freshly made sandwiches at a mere zł. 5, you have to put up with kinks. The goods come from the same kitchens supplying the tables of the Bib Gourmand endorsed U Kucharzy next door. You could sit in and gaze out at the grand façade of the Bristol Hotel. You could even have coffee brought to your table. But when the traffic picks up, it’s self-service. Everyone, from scruffy students to trendy tourists, keeps coming back for more pączki, cappuccino and cheesecake. Don’t pop in too early though. It was 8.30am and the waitress’s answer to customers’ enquiries about when the hot-from-oven goods would show up was: “Maybe in an hour’s time, I dunno”. Kinks, but that part of the deal.
Sklep z Kanapkami ul. Krakowskie Przedmieście 11, Open Mon-Fri 08:00-22:00, Sat-Sun 09:00-22:00
What a lie. It calls itself “A Shop with Sandwiches” when actually it’s a “Sandwiches And More Café”. Sandwiches start at zł. 4.50, while “more” include soups, salads, quiches and way too many types of tempting cakes and tarts for your willpower to resist. The ground floor is bright and airy with cheerful cushions on the benches. Upstairs is dimmer with an eclectic ensemble of salvaged furniture. And there’s free wi-fi to boot.
Pierogarnia on Bernardskiej ul. Bednarska 28/30, tel. 022 828-0392, www.pierogarnianabednarskiej.pl, Open daily 11:00-21:00
One of the prettiest lanes branching off the Royal Route is Bednarska. And it’s here you find the pierogi that locals consistently good-mouth. There’s a whole range of sweet and savoury dumplings with plenty of choices for vegetarians. And if it’s all too doughy, go for the soups.
Bistro Przekąski Zakąski ul. Krakowskie Przedmieście 13, tel. 022 826 79 36, www.gessler.pl Open daily 24 hours
Every Polish eatery dreams of growing up to be Przekąski Zakąski. So much so, the eateries, previously called “bar”, are dressing themselves up as “bistro”. But it’s more than just a label that has given Przekąski Zakąski, also brought to you by the busy bees behind U Kucharzy, its cult status with the hip mob. It’s the comb of location, the zł. 4 per shot vodka at all hours, the short menu of zł. 8 per plate of whatever you order (but usually it’s more like whatever’s in stock), and that scruffy laidback mien married with a hint of snobbery that has pulled in all life forms.
Naleśnikarnia ul. Moliera 2, tel. 022 826-8948, http://www.nalesniki.w8w.pl, Open Mon-Fri 11:00-19:00
A giddy variety of wholesome and filling pancakes, for main course and dessert, served in a space large enough to swing a cat. Located on a lane parallel to the Royal Route, the tables on the sidewalk are good for lunchtime chats despite the passing traffic.
Bar Mleczny Familijny ul. Nowy Świat 39, tel. 022 826-4579, Open Mon-Fri 07:00-20:00, Sat-Sun 09:00-17:00
The place for a reality bite. In case you’re new in town, Bar Mleczny (milk bars) are state-sponsored canteens dating back to the commie days. For some, it’s the food of no choice. While others appreciate the home-style cooking. I can’t be bordered with the lunchtime queues but in a town where few places are opened at 7am, this is a quiet spot for a petit déjeuner of fresh scrambled eggs and a stale-ish roll. Coffee drinkers have to deal with Inka coffee (made from cereal grains), also a child of communism.
Nowy Świat “Pavilions” Enter from ul. Nowy Świat 26 and Foksal
An entertainment labyrinth that has developed organically to dole out anything from kebab, Vietnamese and sushi to coffee, beer, cocktails and hookah. Pewex, the old-timer among this lot, is a must-see.
Infashion Outlet ul. Nowy Świat 43, tel. 502 263-655, www.infashion.pl Open Mon-Fri 11:00-19:00, Sat 11:00-16:00
Getting dressed in Nowy Świat is made affordable by Natalia Pstrokońska. By coincidence, her son and mine go to the same school. Each time I see Natalia wearing items from her shop, my thoughts are, “I want the same in my size, please.” Natalia started off with the Noa Noa Outlet Store, which was reviewed last year by the Insider’s Ed-in-Chief. Since then the style-conscious editor has been getting her party outfits here. The boutique is renamed, but it’s still Scandinavian designs. Each collection comes in limited pieces with prices ranging from zł. 50-300.
Castle Inn ul. Świętojańska 2, tel. 022 425-1000, http://www.castleinn.pl
Castle Inn is the rich younger brother of the Oki Doki Hostel. In the same spirits as the senior sibling, each room has a different theme but decked with finer and comfier furnishings. Art students were called upon to convert the rooms into flights of fantasy. The “Alice in Wonderland” chamber is an example of the creativity. In bathrooms (some are more spacious than single rooms in mid-range hotels), you can soak in a claw-footed tub while contemplating a Magritte. Your inn-mates vary from loaded students to unconventional biz people. The location is something to write home and brag about: it’s a neighbour of the Royal Castle. The downside is the din from churches, cafés and restaurants. But they provide earplugs to light-sleepers.
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