Jul082017

Cheap Eats Dining in Poland

I love to cook my own meals. The cost of dining out in restaurants in the USA is a wasteful overspend most Americans make rather than cooking their own meals. That is a realization I made in the 1980s when I used my first computer to keep track of all our expenses. Shifting nearly all meals to home cooking saves thousands of dollars each year to spend on travel. We eat loads of fresh seafood I prepare at home in Monterey.

Grocery store dining is my normal operating procedure in many places I travel frequently in Europe like Amsterdam, London and Stockholm.

My dining attitude changes when I am in places like Poland, Czech Republic and Slovakia. In these countries a good meal at a basic restaurant is available for $5 to $10 per person, including beer.

Both Kelley and I have foods and ingredients we avoid, so it is easier to make our own meals at the hotel from grocery store food and eat one or two meals a day in restaurants when out and about.

We tend to eat simple foods like fish meals, burgers and pizza for restaurant and pub dining.

Here are some examples of meals and prices for dining in Poland on our two week trip last month.

Gdansk beer-1

Typical beer prices in Poland are 8 to 10 zloty per 500ml glass, about $2.25 – $2.80. We drank 5 zloty pints and paid as much as 14 zloty in big tourist pubs.

In Prague pubs, the typical price of a beer is even less at 30 CZK to 50 CZK or about $1.20 to $2.00 per beer.

In London pubs, a pint of beer is about $6 to $7.

Poland trout

Whole trout is a common menu item in central Europe for $7 to $10. This trout cost 32 PLN ($9 USD) in a nice courtyard cafe of the Hotel Wawel Black Duck Restaurant in Old Town Krakow.

Potato pancakes

Kelley took a liking this trip to potato pancakes, placki ziemniaczane. I ate those a few times too with a vegetarian goulash.

We ate at Pyra potato bar in Gdansk, where Kelley had a potato casserole with salmon for 17 PLN, less than $5. No photo. The place was packed as probably the best value in Gdansk Old Town for cheap food with beer. Two meals and 3 Lech beers cost 56 PLN, about $15.

Pyra Bar Gdansk

Try as we might, we never found a place in Krakow with a potato casserole. I know we will seek out Pyra Bar again when we are back in Gdansk or Gydnia, or if we ever get to Poznan.

Huki Muki

Huki Muki, Krakow is an Old Town Krakow favorite of ours for cheap big hamburgers at 10 zloty to 14 zloty, depending on toppings ($2.75), cheeseburger 11 zloty ($3), fries 6 zloty ($1.70) and 10 zloty liters of beer.

$3 burger

A $4 burger at http://www.novarestobar.pl/ in the Kazimierz pub crawl square around Plac Nowy, Krakow.

$5 Pizza

Whole pizza is a common item in Poland for about 20 PLN or $5 to $6. Pizza slices seem less common in Poland than in Czechia or Slovakia. My two weeks in Slovakia last year impressed upon me that pizza slice shops are the national fast food.

One of the interesting things we found is a prime tourist location in Krakow or Gdansk did not necessarily mean higher food and drink prices. I chose Sukiennice Restaurant at the Cloth Hall on Rynek Glowny, Krakow’s main market square based upon a recommendation from the local Krakow In Your Pocket tourist guide.

Sukiennice salmon

For 80 zloty ($22), Kelley ate salmon.

Sukiennice schnitzel

I ate an oversize pork schnitzel with mushroom gravy and we drank four pints of beer, all the while with a view to the Old Town Hall.

Sukiennice

Sukiennice Restaurant at Krakow Cloth Hall on Rynek Glowny.

Krakow Town Hall

Sukiennice outdoor table view of Krakow 13th c. Town Hall Tower on Rynek Glowny.

Zapiekanki is another local dish in Poland, kind of like pizza on a half loaf of French Bread.

Zapikanki (2)

Plac Nowy in Krakow has a dozen places for zapiekanki in the center rotunda building of the historic Kazimierz Jewish Quarter market square. The rotunda building was the Jewish Quarter slaughter house until World War II.

Plac Nowy Zapiekanki

These fast food places are convenient quick and cheap eats on Plac Nowy when the alcohol from the 20 pubs surrounding the square creates a need to eat.

Carrefour SuperMarket Food

Hamburgers, pizza and potatoes are not a particularly healthy travel diet. I primarily eat fresh vegetables and fruits for my diet. Cherries were in season in June for about $4 to $5 per pound. Other fruits were less expensive.

I generally send out tweets during my international travels to share what the cost of food is in different places.

My standard purchase is a hot grilled chicken, baguette, bunch of broccoli, hummus, brie, other cheese for Kelley, some kind of fruit and beer.

Restaurant meals were supplemental to store and market bought veggies and fruits.

Krakow Carrefour market

28 PLN ($7.70 USD) at Carrefour supermarket Krakow purchased a hot whole grilled chicken on sale for 5 PLN ($1.35 USD), but normally priced 9 PLN ($2.43 USD).

150g Jarlsberg cheese 2.77 PLN ($o.75 USD), baguette 2.20 PLN ($0.60), Brie 40g. 1.20 PLN ($0.33) and 200g hummus 7.50 PLN ($2.03 USD).

3 nectarines 3 PLN ($0.81), and

2 Zywiec beers (500ml) 5.40PLN ($1.46 USD) + 1.00 PLN bottle deposits ($0.27 USD) .

An EU report I read while in Poland stated the country has the lowest average food prices in Europe.

In Stockholm, a few days later, I spent 170 SEK ($20.20 USD) to buy food at Central Station Coop supermarket. Prices were whole grilled chicken 53 SEK ($6.30), baguette 20 SEK ($2.38), hummus 28 SEK  ($3.32), broccoli 17 SEK ($2.02), smoked salmon 52 SEK ($6.17).

Stockholm market food

I enjoy travels through Central Europe where the beer flows cheaply and dining out is not a travel budget buster.

 

 

About Ric Garrido

Ric Garrido of Monterey, California started Loyalty Traveler in 2006 for traveler education on hotel and air travel, primarily using frequent flyer and frequent guest loyalty programs for bargain travel. Loyalty Traveler joined BoardingArea.com in 2008.

More articles by Ric Garrido »

Comments

  1. Ric,

    Taking my 14 year old son around Europe and considering Krakow for second week of October. Can you recommend favorite hotel to stay and a few fun things to do?

  2. Kraków, Poznań, Gdańsk, Wrocław and finally Warsaw are the first step in learning the delights of Poland and Central Europe before prices double and triple in a decade. There are more hidden excelent options. In August I am going for another tour of Polish castles and other historical buildings. This tour (assembled on booking.com) includes Topacz Castle – Best Western Plus Podklasztorze (Medieval Monastery) – Vienna House Andel’s Łódź (Old Factory) – Dwór Carski Spała (Tzar’s Mansion). Dining is as spectacular as in big cities but often with a local flavor.

  3. Next time you should try the North Fish seafood fastfood joint usually found at the shopping malls next to the main train stations.

    It is modeled the Nordic Fish chain found in many European cities even the Blue and Red symbol looks very much alike – but it is a Poland only chain.

    Very fresh Halibut at very cheap price, among other staple fishes.

    The one at Krakaw train station mall has fresh fish steaks to choose from for grilled dishes, on top of the usual fried fishes.

    The one at Warsaw – the mall almost next to the IC hotel, only has the fried version but are freshly made, i.e. they only make a second batch when the first one out there is sold out even the batch sold out quickly. Everynight we walked from Westin to the Mall and headed up to the food court to have our halibut fix. 2 out of the 3 nights we had to wait for it – almost like they only make a fresh batch when enough guests ordered it. Very fresh very tasty and not greasy at all.
    Then they have a “All You Can Fetch” sides that you could purchase to go with your fish – all told we spent less than $10 for our fishes and the sides, The fish was as good as the one we got at Gdynia marina and better than the seabass we had at the highly recommended restaurant at Sopot (forgot its name but In Your Pocket has good write up on the Sopot restaurant).

    Poland is indeed very cheap when it comes to meals and lodgings comparing to its neighboring countries.

    Vilnius is another very cheap city.

  4. “We have drank”??? 5 zloty pints and paid as much as 14 zloty in big tourist pubs.
    This from a former school teacher?
    Other than that, I really enjoy the reports of your travels, especially the listing of beer prices. In so many places, alcohol is a high markup item, but it appears much less so in Europe.

  5. Radisson Blu, Holiday Inn, Hotel Indigo are all good locations near Old Town. There are even less expensive independent hotels within Old Town area.

    As far as what to do?

    We hang out at pubs and shopping and walk circles around the Planty and other city parks, walk over to pubs in Kazimierz and see lots of churches.

    Bicycle rentals allow for good rides along the river paths.

    Boat ride on the river.

    Krakow free walking tours has a few different kind of tours. https://freewalkingtour.com/krakow/

    https://www.tripadvisor.com/Attractions-g274772-Activities-Krakow_Lesser_Poland_Province_Southern_Poland.html

    There are many museums in the city.
    Schindler’s Factory Museum is a good museum for the Jewish experience in Krakow during WWII.
    The only other one we visited is the university museum, which may not be too interesting for a teenager.

    There are many guided tour small shuttles for private tours. That might be a good idea for getting a tour of the city catered to your interests.

    In general, we simply find stuff happening while walking around Krakow. We attended a Renaissance Fair, saw a skateboard competition, last summer the Tour of Poland cycling race, seen dance performances, invited to an art show.

    I visit a lot of grocery stores.

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