There is a wealth of Street Food & Street Art in Krakow. The city is well-known for its architectural beauty and towering churches.
But step away from the Old Town and you have a thriving alternative scene of rustic bars, street food trucks and imaginative street art.
This is a guest post by Dale Cullen, co-founder of City Walks Krakow. If you want to learn more about Krakow, join City Walks Poland for a guided Krakow Free walking tour or join the Street Art & Street food tour.
Street Food in Jewish Quarter Krakow
If you’re looking for Street Food & Street Art in Krakow then start by heading towards the alternative hipster district of Kazimierz- Jewish Quarter Krakow.
There is mouthwatering street food on every corner here. The former Jewish district is filled with great bars and tasty street food.
Plac Nowy is the unofficial centre of Kazimierz. It’s an old 17th-century, Jewish marketplace that has now become home to some of the Jewish Quarter’s best bars and Krakow’s most iconic street food- the Zapiekanka.
Zapiekanka in Plac Nowy
Prior to 1989, Poland was still a Communist country. Money and supplies of many goods, including meat, were scarce and queues all too common.
In the 1970s however, the Government relaxed laws on private catering, meaning households could set up their own street food vendors, in order to try to bring in some more income. You could argue Poland’s street food surge started there.
Some of the cheapest and most readily available ingredients at the time were mushrooms, cheese and bread; and by combining these three ingredients, the Poles invented the first Zapiekanka.
Zapiekanki (plural form) are long baguette breads topped originally with cheese and mushrooms, but nowadays they’re topped with every meat and veg topping you can imagine. They’re great for soaking up the alcohol of partying revellers in the bars around Plac Nowy, as well as being very cheap. A whole 30cm long Zapiekanka will only cost you around 12zl (€3).
Kazimierz Historic Murals
On Ulica Jozefa, close to Plac Nowy, you can find some of the area’s most prominent street art murals.
Painted by Piotr Janowczyk 2015 as part of an urban art project called Kazimierz Historic Murals, this side of Pub Wręga shows some of Kazimierz’s most celebrated historical figures. This includes famous cosmetics entrepreneur Helena Rubinstein and the 14th century Polish king, Kazimierz the Great, who gave his name to the area.
Read about the coolest new events space and street food park in Krakow – Hype Park
Street Food at Judah Square, Kazimierz
This popular street food truck park in Krakow’s Jewish Quarter gets its name from the “Lion of Judah” mural on its Eastern Wall. Painted by Israeli artist Pi Peled and depicting a little boy wearing a lion headdress. The shy boy represents fear in the face of confrontation and the lion represents bravery in the face of adversity. A theme that is particularly poignant given the Jewish Quarter’s tragic past.
There is a great mix of street food trucks here including the Chimney cake bakery. Popular in other Slavic regions, Chimney cakes have now found their way to Krakow.
Soft yeast dough wrapped into spiral cones, rolled in sugar and then filled with delicious sweet toppings like: ice cream, nuts, coconut and Nutella. They’re served hot and sometimes still steaming, hence the name.
Ding Dong Dumb
Across the river from Kazimierz, lies Podgorze, home of Krakow’s former World War Two ghetto. Despite the area’s shocking past, it is now gaining a reputation for some great places to eat and some even better street art.
One of the most famous (and controversial) street art murals in Krakow can be found here. A large, yellow Catholic Bell painted by Italian artist Blu in 2011. It pokes fun at the Catholic church’s hold over Poland. With the bell doubling as a megaphone, barking down orders at the obeying masses below.
Blue Nysa Van
If you want a true Krakow street food experience, then seek out the city’s original food truck. The unique outdoor, roadside dining experience – that is the Blue Nysa van.
For the best part of 25 years, two guys in laboratory-style white coats, have been setting up a roadside grill close to Hala Targowa in Krakow, at around 7 pm, 6 nights a week. There’s only one thing on the menu and it’s very popular- flame-licked kielbasa sausages, with crusty bread and a dollop of mustard. Served from the side of a Communist era, blue Nysa van. If that’s not real Polish street food then what is?!
What famous baked good is believed to have originated in Krakow’s Jewish quarter? Bagels of course!
Bagels, topped with poppy seeds are thought to have first been recorded by Ashkenazi Jews in Krakow’s Jewish Quarter in the late 16th century. However, they have an even older cousin in the Obwarzanek. Which happens to be one of Krakow’s most famous street foods.
Obwarzanki are circular ‘bagel-shaped’ bread loaves, with poppy seeds, that have been sold on the streets of Krakow for over 600 years! You can find street vendors selling them all over Krakow old town and they are very cheap at only a couple of zloty (€0.5). They’re so famous that there is even an Obwarzanek museum on the Northern side of Krakow Old Town.
The only issue with Obwarzanki is that they don’t stay fresh for very long. If they’re just out of the oven then they’re a delicious warm snack, but eat them a day or more after they’re baked, and they can get a little tough. Perhaps the reason bagels spread around the world, while Obwarzanki remains confined to Krakow.
Oscypek – Highland Cheese
The most famous cheese to come out of Malopolska, the region of Poland that includes Krakow, is Oscypek. Made from sheep’s milk, Oscypek is officially only produced in the Tatra mountains and surrounding areas.
Dating back at least as far as the early 15th century and probably earlier, Oscypek is made according to a centuries-old recipe by the Górale people of the mountains. It’s usually found in a small rugby ball or spindle shape. The cheese has a distinctive smoky taste and is best served with a side of cranberry or bacon. You can find it at Haha bar & grill in Plac Nowy or on Szewska street in Krakow Old Town.
Happy Again Mural
The Happy Again stencil in Krakow’s Jewish Quarter is one of the most popular pieces of street art in Krakow.
This artist, Kuba, has been called Krakow’s version of Banksy because he paints thought-provoking, black stencils around the city.
His most famous parodies Gene Kelly in ‘Singing in the Rain.’ It’s thought to be a reflection on the area of Kazimierz. An area that was at the very centre of the Nazi atrocities of World War Two, but is now a thriving hub of creativity and artistic expression- and therefore ‘Happy again’.
There is plenty more delicious street food and impressive artworks to see in Krakow. If you want to learn more, the best thing to do is to visit!
About the author:
Dale Cullen is originally from the UK and has worked as a writer and tour guide in London, Berlin and Krakow. After visiting some friends in Krakow in 2017 he fell in love with the city and he co-founded City Walks Krakow so he could prolong his stay and share his love of the city with as many people as possible. He also has a passion for writing and has written all of the company’s six walking tours.
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