Note: This is the second in a series of four articles on eating off the beaten path in Krakow.
There are many decent places in Krakow to eat and everyone knows it. However, not everyone knows where to go for a quiet meal, a smoke-free atmosphere, a place with good or even great service, thoughtful décor, “unusual” food or, last but not least, very well-prepared food. I personally prefer a combination of all six points.
Most of the places highlighted in this series are reasonably quiet or only moderately noisy and patrons are not served by people who do not immediately appear to hate their clients, their jobs or life in general. Most of these places are non-smoking or have a separate section for smokers that is well-ventilated. The interiors are usually well-lit or don’t look like they were decorated by rummaging around in the basement/attic for stuff to put on the walls and… last but not least… the food is either unusual for Krakow or if it is usual (Polish, Italian) it’s well-prepared.
Ex-Pat Necessities Part 2: Steaks, ‘cakes and Sushi
Genji Premium Sushi, Józefa Dietla 55 – Sushi and other similar (Sashimi, etc) Japanese cuisine. I am by no means a sushi expert but the food seems fresh, well-prepared and highly edible if you like sushi. They, of course, offer the typical accompaniments of miso soup (very good) and sake and such, though we have never tried the sake as we aren’t partial to it. The prices range from middle to firmly upper-middle priced but, for sushi, the prices are entirely reasonable. The décor is appropriate (seems to be Japanese but what do I know?) and atmosphere is quite relaxing and generally enjoyable but the service is the most remarkable thing about Genji: it’s excellent. Waitresses were extremely nice, polite and if they aren’t prompt enough for you there’s a little bell you can ring. Genji was also VERY quiet, even on a Saturday night at 8pm when we last visited it. Non-smoking as far as I know. There is tons of seating available and you could probably bring quite a large group here and still be assured seating. A great place for something definitely different.
Pimiento Argentino Grill, ul. Józefa 26 – Take a deep breath. Steady yourself. You are about to eat a very, very good steak – possibly the best you’ve ever had. This is by no means inexpensive food, in fact it is “fairly expensive” and if you get through more than one bottle of wine it will be “quite expensive” bordering on, for locals, “stupefyingly expensive”. Ignore the cost; put it out of your mind. Focus on the steak: T-bone (up to 700g), tenderloin (up to 300g), rib eye (up to 300g), sirloin (up to 300g). They offer other things but you can get chicken or pork anywhere. The interior is fine. They allow smoking but it’s never seemed excessive or offensive. It can get a little noisy – gleeful patrons and all that – but is fine for normal conversations. This is one of those times, though, where the only thing that matters is the food. I don’t know of a better place to get a good steak in Krakow and, in fact, I just don’t know of a better place to get a good steak, period.
Cupcake Corner, Michałowskiego 14 – Fish one night, Steak the next… time to get something small and sweet. Cupcake Corner is more of a bakery than an eclectic coffee house though it does have adequate seating for perhaps 10-12 patrons. The interior is simple but the cupcakes definitely are not. They are quite elaborate in fact and are very delectable …but come at a cost of 6 PLN/ea. This is definitely a non-trivial amount of money for something you can, if you don’t mind making a bit of a mess, shove whole in your mouth in one go. However, these really are VERY good cupcakes. Polish people are quite proud of their bakeries and baked goods, especially desserts, but after a number of office birthdays, promotions, firings, births, graduations, transfers, returns from maternity leave and other various and sundry reasons to kill a half hour and a piece of szarlotka or something with way too much whipped cream on it …well, one tires of it all. These cupcakes will make the next such event truly memorable.
Next: Pasta, Pasta, Pasta