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Almost a frog’s eye view at a young man with auburn hair is sitting at a table opposite a blonde woman. The two hold their glasses of red wine in their left hands. The table stands under a large decorative lamp, close to a huge window overlooking sunlit Kraków’s Main Market Square. St Adalbert’s Church can be seen just behind it, with the towers of St Mary’s closing the view.
Szara Gęś (The Grey Goose) Restaurant in Kraków

Authentic and hearty (…) refined cooking blends many different flavours

 

The above are Michelin Guide’s Points of View on two of Kraków’s restaurants. Like most gourmet tourists, in its recommendations of Małopolska restaurants, the guide emphasises the pleasant atmosphere, the talented chefs and their teams, and wine pairing.

 

A view of a corked bottle of wine with a greyish label on the left-hand side, standing on a wooden table. Standing to its right are two oversized wine glasses with red wine. The glass container behind it contains a white candle and a handful of wine corks. Two blurred lit candles, a shorter yellow, and a taller orange one, stand in the background.
A corked bottle and glasses of wine

It no longer comes as a surprise that a fair share of the suggested wines come from Małopolska, whose wine industry has seen a true and powerful renaissance after communism brought it decades of downfall. The produce of local vintners is certainly at par with Italian and Spanish wines, beating those made by Poland’s cold-climate neighbours.

Not unlike the vineyards, Małopolska restaurants have long ago shaken off the shabbiness characteristic of the ancien regime. As their number grows, in parallel with both the local preferences for dining out and the numbers of arriving gourmet tourists, they not only expand the range of tastes they cater to but also excel in that, which finds its proof in an increasing number of awards they win each year. They have recommendations from Slow Food Polska, Gault & Mill, and one of the most prestigious in the world – the distinction of the Red Michelin Guide: the dream of all the world’s chefs and restaurant. The region already boasts restaurants with Michelin stars (from one to three) awarded for the taste and quality of the food, Bib Gourmand recommendation for good quality food at a reasonable price, and Michelin plates for food that is fresh and good.

The first, and as yet the only, region’s restaurant with a star is Bottiglieria 1881, listed in the Michelin Red Guide as one of prime European restaurants since 2020. The chef behind its success drew it by combining flavours remembered from childhood, which he sourced from local suppliers.

When asked to suggest top gourmet restaurants, UK expats staying in Kraków choose Pod Nosem, Pod Różą, Szara, Farina (the fish and the seafood!), and Copernicus (that’s where the Royals stayed), explaining that they combine delicious food and wines (and whiskies) with the friendliest and competent staff. For other suggestions why not peek into the Red Guide and browse through our recommendations here.

The region’s wine producers are among the finest in the country. Even the Jagiellonian University (Poland’s oldest) produces its own wine, and so do some of the ancient monastic orders that in this way cherish the traditions as old as the hills on which their vineyards spread.
A rare piece of gossip claims that, having been a guest of one of Kraków’s many film festivals, Benedict Cumberbatch returned to his lodgings in the Emperor Suite at Kanonicza 22, and proposed after a romantic dinner in Pod Nosem Restaurant just below. Was he successful? Well, the famous ad in The Sunday Times was published soon afterwards.
Slow food is a powerful trend, observed not only among Małopolska’s prime restaurateurs but also in more modest venues all around the region. Untainted with the craving for the processed, brand-driven products, their owners have their own trusted suppliers farming their produce just miles away, a reason why the region’s slow food menus are often seasonal.

Małopolska has more to offer. Look and see: