A Guide To Polish Food: What You Have To Try

Before visiting Poland, I had no idea what the cuisine would be like. I had assumed it would be a lot of stews and potatoes…and to be honest, I wasn’t wrong. But Polish food is actually really diverse and so flavourful. Here are some iconic dishes you have to try while you’re there.

Pierogi- You can’t talk about Polish food without a mention of these bad boys. They’re dumplings that are usually boiled or pan fried, with a variety of different fillings. The most common contain ground meat, cabbage, or potatoes, but you can also get sweet pierogi with cheese and fruit.

Placek Po Cygansku- This literally translates to “gypsy cake”, and it’s a potato pancake filled with a meaty stew, usually topped with sour cream or garlic sauce. I ordered this with no idea what I’d be getting, and it was BY FAR my favourite dish in all of Poland.

Placek Po Cygansku (and Golabki in the background) at a Milk Bar in Gdansk

Golabki- These are cabbage leaves stuffed with minced meat and spices, and are way more flavourful than they sound! They’re topped with a tomatoe-y sauce, and a perfect meal when you’re sick of potatoes and heavy stews.

Zur- This is a fermented rye soup, which honestly sounds kinda gross. It’s a similar flavour to sourdough, and make sure you go to one of the places that serves it out of a bread bowl. It’s a perfect antidote to a cold Poland day.

Bigos – This is essentially cabbage and tomato that’s been stewed for hours with various spices, mushrooms, and sausages. It’s really good at breakfast time with an egg and bread.

Bigos (at Setka, Wroclaw)

Golonka- A famous dish in Poland, loved by locals, this is essentially ham hock served with mash and mustard.

Lody– aka ice cream. People rave about Italian gelato, but the Poles know what they’re doing when it comes to ice cream. You’ll find shops all over the cities, just look for the “Lody” signs. In Gdansk, you’ll find a lot of soft serve places that have GIANT cones in a variety of flavours.

Lody in Gdansk

Kotlet schabowy– “Kotlet” basically just means “schnitzel”, and you’ll usually find it on a menu as pork (schabowy) or chicken (kurzaka). When in doubt, just order this and you can’t go wrong. It’s pretty much always served with sauerkraut and potatoes.

Kurzak de Volaille- This is breaded chicken stuffed with butter and spices. You might have tried it elsewhere as Chicken Kiev.

Kotlet with the usual sides – cabbage and mashed potato. In the background is kurzak de volaille

Cured pork- One thing I found EVERYWHERE in Poland was cured pork, from ham to salami and everything in between. If you’re staying somewhere with breakfast included, you’ll certainly be served up a platter of different hams and cheeses, along with tomato and cucumber. Every convenience store is stocked to the brim with it as well.

Did I miss your favourite dish? Let me know so I can try it next time I’m there!

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