The atmosphere of a grandma’s kitchen, little room…exceptional taste! You get the feeling as if the world’s culinary secrets and intentions were put in one bowl of highly flavored, steamy fare.
Tiny, itsy-bitsy eateries in Krakow pop up like mushrooms. A regiment of soldiers or a bus of tourists from Japan won’t find enough room here. Yet, these often inconspicuous, small spaces – which sometimes happen to be real design gems – offer the best food in Krakow served from the counter by owners themselves. Pocket-size restaurants are often an economic necessity, but they also allow a search for a unique, intimate relation between the owner, the chef, and the guest. Let’s peek in these micro enterprises of taste and smell what’s there.
If you’re looking for this place following the official address from Facebook, you’ll be doing it in vain. The teeny-weeny pizza parlor is nestled two meters from the entrance to Bunkier Sztuki and can be entered from Planty Park. The interior hides three tiny tables with red-checked tablecloths, making you feel as if it was waiting for the arrival of the Snow White. Pizzas are displayed on the counter and brought to you by the owner himself, a bold man who was mastering his craft in Rome in the 1980s and became the real Italian pizzaiolo. He patiently explains everything and checks guests’ tastes to suit them best. There is a brilliant pizza with potatoes and rosemary, potatoes and ham, or dried tomatoes and capers. There is a salami classic, but also a tiny piece of extraordinariness in the Polish setting – artichokes and anchovies. Equally tasty are the prices: orange juice for 5 zl and each 10 dag of pizza for 3,50 zl – no matter the ingredients.
This tiny spot consists largely of a cooking zone separated by a counter, behind which you’ll see a Turkish man – a former lecturer at a university in Alanya – serving dishes with an ear-to-ear smile. There are three tables and seats for the total of 6 people. A vegetarian specialty of the place is piyaz – a salad made of beans, red onion, green chili, and lots of parsley. Meat eaters can try kavurma – a spicy, pan-braised veal with onion – a specialty traditional to the owner’s hometown. Everything is served with Ayran (cold and salty yoghurt beverage) and a crispy roll. After all, some things never change. For dessert you can have a baklava and a cup of strong, immensely sweet Turkish tea. A regular meal costs around 20 zl.
The tiniest confectionery in Krakow whose best part is taken by a chilled counter displaying dazzlingly beautiful cakes and a whole array of sweet delicacies. A shelf for dirty cups, two tables and a desk complete the space. The space that has been created by two women – Justyna and Magda – out of love for risk and sweets. Their timeless must-eats include a cheesecake, brownie, muffins, a sugar-free mascarpone tart with raspberry jam, and a pischinger. New tarts arrive on deck from time to time: a salty-nuts or a lemon-mango tart. Some people are willing to get through the whole city only to buy Pavlova! Coffee and lemonade are here if you feel like having a drink and if the weather is nice you can chill out on one of the two window seats outside.
Little room to sit, ten seats at best. Everything simple and slightly tacky…apart from food! Let’s start from the beginning. The meatballs are known as Kofta or Kofta Kebabs and can be made of absolutely anything – lamb, chicken, fish, shrimps, vegetables. Here, they are served in a roll, with sliced tomatoes, generously sprinkled with parsley. You can also have your Kofta with rice or French fries, onion, tortilla, tomatoes, and different sauces and spices. Additionally, you may try a Turkish cucumber salad with tomatoes, onion, and a hint of lemon. The price of the most lavish meal won’t exceed 25 zl.
The place to come is a tiny exception – you won’t get food in here – but the uniqueness of the concept makes it worth mentioning. At SmokeGod you can get everything you need to make your own cigarettes (including ready-made cigarettes), buy a coffee or any other beverage from the never-ending list of juices, sodas, and what-nots. Undeniably, one of the advantages of the place is a petite smoking lounge and good music. Opening hours (!): 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. Oh, Krakow…
You want the truth? You won’t sit here. But you can stand and lean on a shelf watching TV or admiring a native-born Sardinian deftly kneading miniature pizzas. In fact, they are the size of a bread-and-butter plate with a must-have tomato sauce, lots of mozzarella and whatever else that comes to a hungry guest’s mind: salami, baked eggplant, mortadella, or Intalian sausages. Everything for 6 zlotys.
Let me tell you an anecdote I was told once by an owner of a tiny bar in the Kazimierz district: "I am behind the counter, servicing eight guests, because that’s how much room there is. Suddenly, the door opens and I can see a family of six entering the bar and heading straight to the toilet door. There wasn’t enough space for everybody, unfortunately. The last in a line turned to me and asked: is that all?"
In our case – no, there is more to come :) you will find the second part of our story of Krakow’s tiniest eateries next month on the pages of PURO Magazine. To arouse your curiosity and whet your appetite we present to you a map with all the spots we have discovered. Perhaps you know places we haven’t heard of? Let us know! We will gladly follow your steps and and tell you all about it!
Text: Kasia Pilitowska
Illustration: Foxtrot Studio
Photos: courtesy of restaurants’ owners