Being that Zakopane is such a popular ski resort town and a major tourist destination it only makes sense that there are numerous restaurants spread throughout the town, as well as some in the mountains too. You can find pretty much any type of food you are craving while you are staying in Zakopane, but one of the most exciting things to do on any holiday is trying the regional foods. Fortunately for those adventurous types that look forward to trying something new, there are plenty of restaurants in town that serve some of the best regional dishes, so you can eat the same foods that the locals do. It is difficult to know which dishes are regional favorites, though, if you don’t know much about Polish food. And there are actually a couple of different variations of Polish cuisine too. For this reason it helps to have a guide that will help you know what to look for, both in regards to specific dishes and in regards to the actual restaurants serving such foods.
One local specialty that is a must-try for anybody visiting Zakopane, particularly if you love cheese, is the smoked sheep’s milk cheese. There are plenty of restaurants that serve this delectable specialty, and there is a whole market that is dedicated to selling and sampling cheeses. And you don’t have to worry about planning for it or missing it because it takes place every single day. These are people truly after the cheese lover’s heart for sure. Fish is also a staple of the Zakopane diet, particularly trout, and can be found at restaurants everywhere throughout Zakopane. Fried fish is extremely popular but other dishes containing fish can be found at various restaurants as well. You will also find that meats play a huge role in Polish cuisine, particularly beef, pork, and chicken, and is served a variety of ways. And of course, cabbage plays a rather large role as well, and you will likely see it in many dishes. Cream and eggs are used often in traditional Polish dishes too, and really add texture and flavor the dishes that they are both used in. Last but not least, at some point you will also come across Polish dumplings, and these are an absolute must try. They can be filled with any number of things, but the most common fillings tend to be meats, and potato and cheese. Any of these specialties will give you a true feel for the nature of Polish cuisine, and will surely satisfy your taste buds as well. There are a number of Polish cuisine serving restaurants throughout town, with a few in particular that are especially known for excellent preparation of Polish food.
- U Wnuka – If you only go to one Polish restaurant during your stay in Zakopane then this is the restaurant to go to. U Wnuka is the very first restaurant to ever exist in Zakopane. It was established as far back as 1850 and still stands today. Due to its lengthy history it is no surprise that the Polish dishes served here tend to be more on the traditional side, which means you will have the opportunity to try the long time staples of the Polish diet. The restaurant is housed on a wonderful example of Zakopane style architecture, is centrally located, has the laid back atmosphere you would expect in a mountain town restaurant frequented by locals, and is well priced and a good value for the money you will spend. Some of the authentic dishes you might want to try at U Wnuka include the Kiska (which consists of Black Pudding w/ Fried Sour Cabbage and Potatoes), Golonka (which is roasted pork knuckle), the Potato Cakes w/ Goulash, and the Slices of Mutton Broiled on a Spit. As you can see, meats are a common component of a Polish meal, and you will not see too many people complaining.
- Watra – Another restaurants that offers up a totally authentic Polish dining experience is Watra. The restaurant is right where all of the action is and it is well-known for its meats, which are cooked and served in a variety of different ways. One of the best experiences when it comes to trying the food is when meats are served in the traditional manner, which involves putting together a platter with multiple different meats for the entire table to share. This gives visitors the opportunity to try a wide range of Polish specialties at one single restaurant for a set price. You can also get a variety of the traditional sides to try as well, such as fried cabbage, dumplings, and noodles. Watra serves many other authentic dishes as well, and serves breakfast as well as lunch and dinner. There are also a number unique and delicious appetizers available to try as well, which offer a great way to try a little bit of everything if you and the rest of your party decide to share. Some of the appetizers you might want to try if you are feeling a bit adventurous include the Herring in Sour Cream, the Homely Jelly w/ Shank, and the Pajda Lard and Cucumber. And some of the other dishes that might interest you if you are looking for authentic Polish include the Sheep Rolls Stuffed w/ Cheese, the Barani Stew, the Trout Stuffed w/ Sheep Cheese, and the Silesian Dumplings w/ Goulash. Any of these dishes will make you see why traditional Polish food is loved by so many.
- Karczma Przy Mlynie – In addition to having the opportunity to try authentic traditional Polish food at Karczma Przy Mlynie, you will also get a very authentic experience as well. The décor of the restaurant is far from modern and makes a trip to the restaurant worth it just to be able to see it. And the atmosphere is laid back and has the potential to be suitable either for a family friendly meal, a celebration out with friends, or a romantic night out for two. To be sure, though, the inviting exterior and décor of the restaurant may be what gets through the doors, but it is the coziness and the delicious traditional food that will keep you there. There is an endless list of must-try dishes but since all of them can’t be listed a select few will have to be listed. Some of those must-tries include the Stewed Cabbage w/ Mushrooms and Prunes, the Highlander Noodles Served w/ Pork Scratchings, the Duck Breast in Red Wine w/ Forest Cranberries, the Steamed Zander w/ a Sauce of Lemon, Butter, and White Wine, and the Spit Roasted Lamb. These are only a very few of the items offered on the restaurant’s extensive menu, but a good place to start if traditional is what you are looking for.
You may not end up eating the regional cuisine the entire time you are in Zakopane but you should definitely try it at some point while you are staying there. By doing so you will immerse yourself so much further into Polish culture and the entire experience of visiting Zakopane Poland will be even more memorable than you ever imagined.