Zapiekanka polish street food

What to eat in Warsaw: 15 Traditional foods in Warsaw to try

Rachel HannahSeptember 25, 2023

Wondering what to eat in Warsaw? Whether you’re spending a few days, a week, or more I have created this compilation of the most famous foods in Warsaw that you should try.

Polish cuisine is characterized by hearty and flavorful dishes that reflect the country’s history, geography, and cultural influences.

Along with the Polish classics, I’ve also included some lesser-known dishes that might be fun to track down at traditional Polish restaurants or local bakeries.

In addition to learning the history, taking in the natural scenery, and admiring the unmissable architecture, trying the food is one of the main things to do in Warsaw. This list is a great starting point for what to eat in Warsaw but I’ve also added a section at the end with my top recommended food tours.

So let’s get to it so you can stop wondering what to eat in Warsaw!

Disclosure: Some of the links below are affiliate links. This means that, at zero cost to you, I will earn an affiliate commission if you click through the link and finalize a purchase.

1. Paczki

rose water jelly paczki in warsaw topped with powdered sugar
My rosewater filled Paczki was so good!

Paczki were one of my favorite foods in Warsaw, so you must plan on enjoying a freshly made paczki from a local bakery or pastry shop!

Paczki are round, deep-fried pastries with a golden-brown exterior. They are typically larger than a standard doughnut, about the size of a small hand.

These pastries are known for their sumptuous fillings, which vary, but traditional flavors include fruit preserves like raspberry, plum, or rosehip, as well as custard, chocolate, or cream. Paczki are often finished with a generous dusting of powdered sugar or icing glaze.

What I liked most about them was they were not overly sweet like the Paczki in the United States are.

They are particularly popular in the lead-up to Fat Thursday (Tłusty Czwartek), which falls on the Thursday before Ash Wednesday and marks the beginning of Lent. On this day, Poles indulge in paczki to enjoy rich foods before the fasting period of Lent.

However, you can typically find them in bakeries, pastry shops, and supermarkets throughout the year in Warsaw. Another fantastic way to try Paczki and many other Polish foods in Warsaw is to join a guided food tour. This particular tour visits Cukiernia Pawlowicz which is the same bakery that I got my Paczki from so I can confirm it is delicious! In addition, you also get to try around 9 more samples including other sweet treats, pierogies, and flavored vodkas.

2. Pierogies

pierogi with onion at gdanski bar mleczny is a good choice for what to eat in warsaw
Photo Credit: Gdanski Bar Mleczny

Indulging in a plate of pierogies is a must try food in Warsaw. It’s a delightful way to experience the heart and soul of Polish comfort food, and you’ll have the opportunity to savor both traditional and contemporary takes on this beloved dish in the capital city.

Pierogies are dumplings made from unleavened dough and can be filled with various ingredients, such as potatoes, cheese, meat, mushrooms, or fruit. They are often boiled and then sautéed in butter or served with sour cream.

Pierogies are an iconic Polish dish so you’ll have no trouble finding a place to eat this food in Warsaw. From traditional Polish restaurants, and milk bars (where I went), to street food stalls, you can take part in a Warsaw cooking class like this one to learn how to make them for yourself!

It only costs $50 USD and all you have to do is show up! An expert chef will teach you about the origins of the pierogi before learning how to knead and roll out the dough. Then stuff them with various fillings and learn several dumpling folding techniques before cooking them up and trying them.

This fun dumpling cooking class in Warsaw can be booked online in advance here.

3. Polish Vodka

moscow mule with pickled ginger and polish vodka
I don’t like Vodka straight so I went for a cocktail!

Warsaw offers a wide variety of Polish vodkas, ranging from classic clear vodkas to flavored versions. Traditional Polish vodkas are typically made from grains like rye, wheat, or barley, although potato vodka is also an option.

Polish vodka is renowned for its purity and high-quality ingredients and production methods which results in a smooth and clean taste. Some vodkas are distilled multiple times to achieve exceptional clarity and taste.

In Warsaw, vodka is typically served chilled and straight. It’s common to enjoy a shot of vodka as a standalone drink, and it’s customary to toast before drinking. Locals will often use phrases like “Na zdrowie!” which means “To your health!”

Sometimes vodka is served with small, flavorful snacks called zakąski that are meant to complement the vodka. These can include pickles, herring, sausage, or bread with various toppings.

Warsaw offers a wide range of Polish vodka brands, including internationally recognized names like Chopin, Belvedere, and Wyborowa, as well as many local and artisanal brands that craft unique and distinctive vodkas.

While visiting Warsaw you’ll also have the opportunity to explore the world of Polish vodka through guided vodka tastings or by trying different brands and flavors at bars and restaurants.

This private vodka tour includes around 6 different samples of varying types and includes snack pairings for each round. You will not only learn how to judge each vodka based on its smell, appearance, and taste but also learn about the fascinating history of Poland’s national drink. It’s a great value for just $64 USD!

4. Zapiekanka

Zapiekanka polish street food

One of the most fun foods to try in Warsaw is Zapiekanka! It’s a popular Polish street food that you can all over the city that is often enjoyed as a quick snack or a casual meal.

Zapiekanka is an open-faced sandwich made with a halved baguette for the base, typically topped with mushrooms, cheese, and other ingredients, then baked until bubbly and golden. This baking process gives zapiekanka its name, which translates to “baked.”

Zapiekanka is often finished with ketchup, garlic sauce, mayo, and a sprinkle of dried oregano or other herbs and spices. I just went for the garlic sauce and mayo!

When in Warsaw, trying a zapiekanka from a local street vendor is a must-do culinary experience. A guided food tour is a great way to be shown to non-touristy and authentic restaurants. In particular, this 3-hour food tour includes trying Zapiekanka along with 12 to 13 other samples all for just $90 USD!

5. Chocolate babka

chocolate babka food in warsaw

Chocolate babka is a delicious and indulgent sweet bread or cake that you can find in Warsaw. This dessert is a popular treat for those with a sweet tooth and is often enjoyed with a cup of coffee or tea.

What makes chocolate babka distinctive is the chocolate swirl which is evident once the finished loaf is sliced.

Chocolate babka starts with a rich, sweet dough that is similar to a brioche or challah bread.

The dough is rolled out into a rectangle, and a generous layer of chocolate filling is spread over it. Chopped nuts, such as walnuts or pecans, may also be added for extra texture and flavor.

Once baked, the chocolate babka may be glazed with a simple sugar syrup or a chocolate glaze to add a shiny finish and a touch of extra sweetness.

6. Gołąbki

authentic golabki food in warsaw

Gołąbki is a hearty and satisfying dish that showcases the wholesome and flavorful qualities of Polish comfort food, and it’s a favorite among locals and visitors looking to savor authentic Polish flavors.

Gołąbki are cabbage rolls filled with a mixture of ground meat (often pork or beef) and rice or barley, then baked in a tomato sauce.

The sauce adds a savory and slightly tangy flavor to the dish. It may also include ingredients like onions, garlic, and seasonings.

Gołąbki is often served as a main course with a ladle of the tomato sauce from the baking dish. They can be garnished with fresh herbs like parsley or dill. Additionally, a dollop of sour cream is a common topping, which adds a creamy contrast to the savory flavors.

When in Warsaw, you can find gołąbki on the menus of traditional Polish restaurants and eateries specializing in Polish cuisine.

7. Kielbasa (Polish Sausage)

polish kielbasa with fries and mustard from kielba w gebie in warsaw
Photo Credit: Kielba w Gebie

Polish sausage, known as kielbasa in Polish is a quintessential food recognized worldwide. I’m sure you’ve already tried it at some point but what you may not realize is that it comes in various types and flavors, and in Warsaw, you’ll discover a rich array of options to suit your taste preferences.

Here’s a description of the most common Polish sausages in Warsaw:

  • Kielbasa Krakowska: A dry, smoked sausage made from pork, beef, and various spices. It has a slightly smoky and savory taste.
  • Kielbasa Kabanos: A thin, dried sausage often made from pork. It’s a popular snack due to its crunchy texture and bold flavor.
  • Kielbasa Wiejska: A coarsely ground sausage made from a mix of pork and beef, seasoned with garlic and marjoram. It has a rich, aromatic flavor.
  • Kielbasa Kiełbasa Myśliwska: A game sausage made from game meats like venison or boar. It has a robust, wild taste.
  • Kielbasa Surowa: A raw sausage, typically pork-based, that is cooked before consumption. It’s often used in various Polish dishes.

Kielbasa is often served with mustard, horseradish, and a side of sauerkraut (fermented cabbage) or pickles.

When visiting Warsaw, you can find Polish sausage served in different styles, such as in a sandwich or as part of a platter with various accompaniments. Sausage stands and food markets are excellent places to enjoy a quick and delicious kielbasa meal.

8. Placki Ziemniaczane (Potato Pancakes)

Placki Ziemniaczane Potato Pancakes

Placki ziemniaczane, often simply called “placki,” are potato pancakes that are a cherished part of Polish cuisine. These pancakes are known for their crispy exterior and tender, savory interior.

Placki ziemniaczane are potato pancakes, similar to hash browns, made from grated potatoes mixed with onions and seasonings, then fried until crispy.

Placki ziemniaczane is typically served hot and can be enjoyed in various ways. Common accompaniments include sour cream, applesauce, or a sprinkle of sugar. Savory toppings like sautéed mushrooms, goulash, or smoked salmon are also popular options, turning placki into a versatile dish suitable for various occasions.

Placki are a beloved part of Polish culinary traditions and are often associated with comfort food and home-cooked meals. They can be enjoyed at any time of day, from breakfast to dinner, and are especially popular during celebrations and family gatherings.

10. Flaki

flaki a traditonal polish soup is a food to try in warsaw for adventurous eaters

Flaki is a traditional Polish dish made from tripe (cow stomach) cooked in a savory broth, often flavored with herbs and spices.

It’s an acquired taste, so it’s worth trying if you’re feeling adventurous and want to explore traditional Polish dishes while in Warsaw.

The tripe is cleaned thoroughly and then simmered until tender in a seasoned broth along with additional ingredients such as onions, carrots, garlic, and various herbs and spices. The soup is cooked until the flavors meld together, resulting in a savory and aromatic dish.

Flaki soup has a rich, savory flavor with a slightly chewy texture from the tripe. The seasonings and vegetables add depth and complexity to the taste. Common seasonings include bay leaves, marjoram, and black pepper.

While flaki might not be a dish you’ll find on every restaurant menu, you can still find it in some traditional Polish restaurants and eateries in Warsaw.

11. Borscht


Borscht, often referred to as “Barszcz” in Polish, is a classic soup that you can find in Warsaw.

Borscht is made primarily from beets, which give the soup its distinctive color and sweet, earthy flavor.

The beets are simmered in either broth chicken or vegetable broth, along with other ingredients such as spices like garlic and bay leaves and vegetables including onions, carrots, and sometimes cabbage. Some recipes call for the addition of sour cream or yogurt, which adds creaminess and a hint of tanginess to the soup.

It can be served hot or cold and can remain vegetarian or include meat, such as beef or pork.

There are several variations of Borscht throughout Poland and Eastern Europe. In Warsaw and other parts of Poland, a clear or “white” Borscht known as “Białe Barszcz” is popular. This version omits beets and is made with a sour base, often using fermented rye flour or wheat flour. It is typically served with sausage or ham and hard-boiled eggs.

12. Bigos (Hunter’s Stew)

bigos hunters stew is one of the heartiest foods to try in warsaw

Bigos often referred to as Hunter’s Stew in English, is sometimes referred to as “Polish soul food” due to its comforting and hearty nature.

It’s made from sauerkraut (fermented cabbage) and fresh cabbage, which give the dish its distinctive texture and tangy flavor. The stew also typically includes a variety of meats, such as pork, beef, sausage, and sometimes game meats like venison.

It’s slowly cooked over low heat for an extended period, allowing the flavors to meld together and develop a rich, complex taste.

When served it is often paired with a slice of dark rye bread, which is used to scoop up the flavorful stew.

Bigos is a common dish in Polish restaurants and eateries in Warsaw. It’s readily available and offers a taste of authentic Polish flavors and culinary heritage.

13. Wuzetka

Wuzetka on plate in warsaw poland_ go to warsaw
Photo Credit: Go To Warsaw

Wuzetka, also known as W-Z Cake, is a classic Polish dessert that you can find in pastry shops, cafes, and bakeries throughout Warsaw and throughout Poland. It’s a delicious chocolate cake that’s rich, creamy, and satisfying for both locals and visitors.

Wuzetka typically consists of two or more layers of chocolate sponge cake. The sponge cake layers are light and airy, providing a delicate contrast to the creamy chocolate fillings.

The entire cake is coated with a glossy chocolate glaze and topped with a layer of freshly whipped cream.

14. Polish Meringue Cake (Pavlova/Beza)

Polish Meringue Cake Stary Dom Warsaw Poland
Photo Credit: Stary Dom

What to satisfy your sweet tooth?

Polish Meringue Cake is a delightful and elegant dessert that features a crispy meringue shell filled with whipped cream and fresh fruit. It’s a popular dessert in Poland and is often served on special occasions and during festive gatherings or holidays like Easter.

The foundation of the Polish Meringue Cake is a meringue shell typically filled with a generous layer of whipped cream. The cream is often sweetened and sometimes flavored with a touch of vanilla extract.

Sliced strawberries, raspberries, kiwi, and passion fruit are commonly used to top off the cake, but they can vary based on the fruits in season. Polish Meringue Cake is typically served chilled and cut into slices or squares.

When in Poland, especially in Warsaw and other cities, you’ll find Polish Meringue Cake on the menus of cafes, patisseries, and restaurants.

14. Kotlet Schabowy (Pork Cutlet)

Kotlet Schabowy schabowy warsaw
Photo Credit: Schabowy Warsaw

Kotlet schabowy is a traditional Polish dish similar to a German schnitzel but with a distinct Polish flair.

Kotlet schabowy is made primarily from boneless pork chops. The pork chops are typically pounded or flattened to an even thickness, ensuring that they cook evenly when fried.

While the classic kotlet schabowy is made with pork, you can find variations that use other meats, such as chicken or veal.

The key to a perfect kotlet schabowy is the breading made from stale white bread. It gives the pork chops a crispy and golden crust when fried while keeping the pork tender and juicy inside.

It is often with a side of mashed potatoes and a simple salad, such as coleslaw or cucumber salad.

You can find kotlet schabowy on the menus of many traditional Polish establishments in Warsaw.

15. Zupa Fasolowa

Zupa Fasolowa

Zupa Fasolowa, which translates to “bean soup” in Polish, is a popular hearty and comforting soup, especially during the colder months.

Zupa Fasolowa is Polish bean soup, typically made with white navy beans and flavored with ingredients like smoked sausage, bacon, and vegetables. The smoked sausage and bacon add a rich, smoky taste to the soup, while ingredients like onions, carrots, and garlic provide aromatic depth.

The soup can vary in texture, from slightly thick and chunky to smoother, depending on personal preferences and regional variations. Some versions are blended for a creamier consistency.

Zupa Fasolowa is often served hot and is accompanied by a slice of fresh bread or a roll.

This dish was actually one of the first things I tried while I was in Warsaw and it was perfect to have during a chilly autumn morning.

4 BEST Food Tours in Warsaw

cukiernia pawlowicz storefront

Delicious Poland Food Tasting – If you have a limitless stomach, this tour offers the most food, around 13 to 14 different samples! It’s enough to replace a meal. You’ll walk, talk, and eat from places you wouldn’t find on your own. Samples include foods like pierogi, borscht, beef tartar, cabbage, potato pancakes, polish donuts, vodka, beer and more. Your guide is knowledgeable about Polish culture, food, and traditions so you’re sure to learn a lot! Expect to pay about $90 USD for this experience.

Small Group Food Tour – This tour mixes history and food into one so if you’re limited on time while in Warsaw this would be a great option! For starters, you’ll be driven around Warsaw in a little minibus from the Cold War and learn lots of history as you go! Another unique thing about this tour is that it also visits the public market where you’ll get to meet some of the vendors and try the traditional foods that they’re selling. You’ll even try coffee made how it was during and after World War 2. This tour is a little more expensive at $119 but it’s one of the most inclusive choices.

Plant-Powered Walk – Did you know Poland is the vegetarian capital of Europe? If you’re veg or vegan this Plant-Powered Food and Walking Tour is the perfect choice. It’s also a walking tour so you’ll explore the architecture and history too! There are around 8 different samples to try from off-the-beaten-path locations. Throughout the 3-hour tour, your local guide will teach you about the food scene and share personal stories for your entertainment. This veg tour costs $87 USD per person.

Taste the Best Polish Vodkas – If you’re enthusiastic about vodka or want to learn what makes Polish vodka so special this tour is for you. A local vodka expert will take you to around 4 local bars where you’ll try around 6 different types of vodka variations. You will be taught how to judge vodka according to its appearance, smell, and taste. The samples are generous but not so much that you’ll end up hammered at the end. Snack pairings such as bacon, bread, lard, and dumplings are included too! For just $64 USD this tour is really great value!

Final Word on What to Eat in Warsaw

I hope you’ve enjoyed this delicious round of up to 15 different traditional foods in Warsaw. My hope is that after reading this guide you won’t have to wonder what to eat in Warsaw!

From internationally loved classics like the Paczki and Pierogies to true local stars such as the hearty Hunter’s Stew or freshly baked Chocolate Babka there is a diverse range of foods to try in this city. Good luck choosing what to eat in Warsaw first!

If you’re traveling in Poland check out my other related guides below:

Things to do in Warsaw

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