Disclaimer: I was not compensated for a blog post and did not receive a complimentary food tour. This Krakow food tour post is solely based on my own experience and I do not guarantee you will receive the same version. All opinions written on this post are my own.
Why We Do Food Tours
John and I prioritize arranging food tours at the beginning of any trip to a new country, and Krakow, Poland, was not an exception. We arrived in Poland knowing very little about the country after being redirected by COVID, so we made sure to book a food tour ASAP. We both believe that a food tour is one of the most accessible entry points to a country's culture and an excellent opportunity to learn about its history. Free walking tours are also great, but we found walking *and* eating local food is even better! Not to mention, you can get an insider's guide on what food to eat during the rest of your trip!
After a quick scan of what tours were available within our schedule, I arranged a tour with Delicious Poland. It stood out to me because the tour company touted an insider's guide to some of the best food in the area we were staying in, Kazimierz. Since Old Town catered more to tourists, we wanted to avoid tourist traps. On the day of our tour, we spent the day sightseeing and fasting (instructions say to come hungry). We arrived at SO! cafe and saw Kamila, the tour company owner, waiting for us by the door.
The Krakow Food Tour Structure
John and I were happy to find out that we were the only guests on the tour that day. So I felt like I received a more personal experience than one would typically get in food tour groups. There was a thorough introduction of Polish food and setting expectations on what we were about to eat.
This Krakow food tour structure emulates a long, multi-course dinner that requires you to walk a lot through the streets of the Kazimierz district. On this tour (and all other food tours), make sure you wear comfortable clothes and shoes. We enjoyed multiple hours trying Polish food and learning about the country's cuisine. The restaurants we ate in were so fantastic that we revisited a few during our week-long trip. We tried some of the dishes we ate on this tour at other places, but I believe Kamila has seriously hand-picked those that do these dishes best.
What We Ate on Our Krakow Street Walking Food Tour
At the start of our tour, we made a turn around the corner and found ourselves standing at our first stop. Synonymous with Poland, our first bites of the food tour were pierogi. Kamila taught the importance of and difference between the famous fillings of pierogi. For example, ruskie pierogi are not from Russia but from a different place called Ruthenia - no relationship to Russia! I would also like to note that Kamila had us taste quite a variety of pierogi styles. I felt surprised at how much there was to try, given it was just the beginning of our food tour.
Sourdough & Beetroot Soups
We moved on to another restaurant to try soups essential to Polish meals. The first one, żurek (sourdough soup), is made with a mother dough cooked with rough slices of meat and vegetables in a meat broth.
The following soup we tried was beetroot soup with pierogi. Kamila told us to eat this soup a specific way with a set of steps. The Polish style of eating this soup maximized my experience in understanding how the taste of beets and pork broth mix so well together.
Next, we moved onto another restaurant that felt like walking into someone's house as the servers warmly greeted us. We sat down at a table set with utensils and large red mugs full of red juice. The juice is kompot (compote), made of various fruits and then diluted with water. I don't typically drink sugared beverages, but I discovered that it was not as sweet or as syrupy as I expected. It was a great start to our main meal, where many plates arrived simultaneously and we ate them all family-style.
Homecooked-style dishes were some of the main stars of our street walking food tour in Krakow. Bigos (hunter's stew) is a beautiful example of how Polish homecooked meals translate seamlessly into a restaurant's comfort food choice. This wonderful bowl filled with leftovers purposefully sits in your fridge for some time for the flavors to mix and get better over time.
Potato Pancakes with Stew
We learned that sour cream was not the only topping for potato pancakes in Poland. Taking inspiration from Hungary, their neighbor to the south, this dish is a specialty to the region that involves mixing a goulash base stew with potato pancakes. It was mouthwatering and a wonderful surprise, delivering an element of richness to the pancakes I hadn't experienced before.
Aside from pierogi, this was the only Polish food I was familiar with before the food tour. Gołąbki, or cabbage rolls, are stuffed with meat, onions, rice, and seasonings combined and wrapped with cabbage leaves. At this point of the food tour, I felt like a stuffed gołąbki, having devoured quite a bit of the previous dishes. A half serving was all I could manage, and that was when I was reminded to open my second stomach because there was more food to come!
I love beetroot, so it was a pleasant surprise to learn that Polish people love making food that includes beets. Surówka z buraczków (beetroot salad )is simple and lightly seasoned, but just as tasty. Boiled beets are sliced and mixed together, then served as a side dish to accompany the saucy dishes we were eating. The version we had was earthy and still had a bite to it, making it a nice break from the meats we had been eating.
The final plate of our third stop was dessert. Racuchy is an apple fritter served with a sweetened sour cream sauce mixed with berries. It was very satisfying to combine the sour cream sauce and watch it go from white to a lovely shade of pink. The racuchy was crispy, light, and just a little sweet - I was in dessert heaven!
Thin Sausages and Mountain Cheese
Our last stop was at a multi-tap bar owned by a Polish-Turkish couple. We sat down and were promptly served a small plate of finger food to go with our drinks. Most noteworthy are kabanosy and oszczypek. Here I learned that the word kielbasa means sausage and that sausages all have their names in Polish. Kabanosy, in particular, is a sausage designed to last a long time. Historically soldiers or travelers packed kabanosy on long journeys to satiate their hunger. Oszczypek is a Polish cheese delicacy made only in the Tatra mountains of Poland. Farmers come down from the mountains to sell and distribute this unique goat cheese in the city.
Having just visited the Czech Republic, I was a little apprehensive about Polish beer. Would it stand up to the Czech's crisp lagers and deep stouts? I am happy to say that Polish beer has its sense of identity and makes a distinct mark in the world of beer. The beers we drank rivaled the microbreweries we visited in California and Oregon. As Kamila talked more about the beer scene in Krakow, we learned that the breweries strive to be creative while keeping a high standard of best practices.
Two Types of Vodka
To close our food tour, we tried two types of Polish vodkas: bison grass and flavored peach vodka. One valuable lesson I learned about vodka is that Polish vodka is not potato-based. I am not a regular vodka drinker, but I discovered a great deal about vodka varietals during this thorough Krakow food tour.
We spent some time at the bar chit-chatting and talking about food. Kamila had quickly established her knowledge and passion for Polish food and other eats around the world. Throughout the night, we had spent a lot of time sharing our personal and favorite food tour experiences and stories. I appreciated that Kamila was equally curious about cuisines from other countries as she eagerly asked about Georgian food, which is becoming very popular in Poland.
Tips on Making the Most Out of Your Food Tour
If you decide to do this food tour, don't be shy and ask your guide for recommendations of other places to visit during your stay. A couple of days after our time together, we received an email from Delicious Poland that extensively listed restaurants and bars that may interest us. I mentioned my fondness for wine during our food tour so the email included a section of wine bars!
Advantage of this Krakow Street Walking Food Tour
Aside from the delicious servings of Polish gastronomic treats, I felt like I got a great deal of information regarding the city's history. Our food tour centered on the Kazimierz neighborhood and its streets, but Kamila shared a lot about how it has shaped Krakow as a whole. She walked us through side streets and main boulevards that bore historical significance to the neighborhood. There is commissioned graffiti art all over the area representing symbolic figures and she gave us a tour and explanation of the more notable ones.
A successful food tour should leave you with a good sense of a culture's point of view. I believe the value of this food tour is the depth of knowledge of our tour guide. We were educated not just on what the food is and when it was created. The tour gave us an understanding of why certain dishes were essential to the Polish community. We also learned how the Polish perspective from Medieval times to the end of the Communist era influenced some dishes. We walked away from our time with a greater sense of gratitude and a newfound adoration for Polish food.
Interested in a Krakow Food Guide?
If you'd like to do your own self tour of the Kazimierz district, check out my breakfast, lunch, and dinner food guide here.
Have You Had Polish Food?
Please leave me a comment down below telling me which Polish food you've tried and which ones you'd like to try in the near future. Give your fellow readers (and me!) more travel and food inspiration!
Also, follow me on Instagram [@seesfoodwilltravel] and send me a DM of the food your tried. I would love to share and celebrate YOUR experience with our budding community 💞
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