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KRAKÓW: Female places

24.03.2017 City

The article you are going to read is not a review of „The Art of Love”, nor is it a guide to an intimate map of a female body. What it is, is a series of recommendations of places where the female soul feels at home. In our case, this will be the female soul in Kraków. We used various fora and social media channels to ask different generations of women about where they like to meet for a glass of wine, cup of coffee, breakfast or a dance. Here’s what came out of it.

Intimately among books. Lokator and Literacka

We can say that Lokator had been on a pilgrimage for a decade, changing its addresses until it luckily – and permanently, we hope! – made itself at home on now fashionable Mostowa street. The street has become a destination for thousands of photography enthusiasts and those craving romantic views from the neighboring Kładka Bernatka [Father Bernatek Footbridge]. In all the noise, Lokator – a well-designed café/bookstore – is a real oasis of calm. Here we can find comic books, publications from small publishers, shelves full of beautifully published children books, and bookshelves with poetry and albums. Hidden among it all is a tiny bar serving delicious tea, coffee, and homemade cakes. Here you can meet writers, journalists, artists, and mothers with children.

Literacka is a total novelty on the map of Kraków located on Krakowska street. A slightly eclectic interior – there’s everything in here! – with armchairs representing various epochs invites lovers of books and intimate atmosphere. Due to its location under Teatr Nowy [Nowy Theater] the place sometimes gets crowded if the audience must have a cup of coffee or a glass of wine right before a performance. No wonder, the bar serves good-quality wine at an affordable price and delicious snacks. The most famous are homemade vegan date pralines sprinkled with dark chocolate or coconut. Let’s not forget about the topography of the place – labyrinthine bookshelves, cul-de-sacs, and a girls’ favorite mezzanine – which certainly encourages intimate talks.

Marysia wrote: “A worthy cafe – Literacka on Krakowska. Intimately among books. Nice things to eat. Easy to get to. No problem with a parking space”. Female pragmatism, isn’t it?

Lokator, Mostowa 1
Literacka, Krakowska 41

The French link. Bonjour Cava 

Lovely twin cafes with simple interiors reminiscent of Provençal homes. All three sisters, each of them located near a university, are often visited by students and university workers. Lucky them! The food – bread, rolls, quiches, cakes – is tasty, inexpensive, and always fresh. A perfect place to talk over a cup of black coffee.

Aga wrote: “I like Bonjour Cava on Piłsudskiego. Cozy, good coffee, tasty baking and salads. You can talk comfortably." A terse description, but how to the point!

Bonjour Cava 
Piłsudskiego 5
Dolnych Młynów 10/7c

Good breakfast is good for a bad mood. Wesoła Cafe and Nad & Greg

Wesoła Cafe [Happy Cafe] is a legend or, actually, a tale about food that is as good for the body as it is for the soul. Perhaps that’s the reason why, at 7 a.m., the place is full of girls and women talking over breakfast and coffee. Unsurprisingly, the place doesn’t get even a bit less crowded until the evening. Talking, coffee, some more talking. All of it takes place on plush pistachio-colored seats accompanied by rough wood and gorgeous dinnerware. On the other side of the city, in Podgórze, you will find a relatively new spot. Nad & Greg – a traditional French patisserie run by a French-Polish married couple – is a real breakfast gem for those who like starting their days sweet. You compose your breakfast set yourself, choosing between madeleines, pistachio rolls, raspberry or almond croissants served with a homemade preserve, and two types of coffee. A place perfect for a female tête-à-tête!

Kasia:  “If you wanna talk to your friend, especially if you’re sad, Wesoła is the choice. When I think that nothing in this world could cheer me up, they do it. I’m sure people who work there like each other. You can feel a friendly atmosphere among them and it affects you in a positive way. They will make thousands hearts on your cappuccino if you’re feeling downhearted. The music is just perfect – you can talk easily to your friends, but you know others can’t hear you”.

 Agnieszka: “What these two places have in common is a casual atmosphere and a good-quality cuisine. I feel good there no matter if I’m wearing sneakers and no make-up or an evening dress. That’s the key for me – I don’t like dressing up if I don’t feel like it”.

Wesoła Cafe, Rakowicka 17
Nad & Greg, Rynek Podgórski 11

Café decadence. Mostowa Art Cafe and Bunkier Cafe

Two ends of the city and two completely different interiors with only one thing to share: a conversation-inviting atmosphere. Bunkier Cafe is a unique spot on the map of Kraków – a spot whose interior has become an extension of Planty Park. Trees do not mark boundaries here but harmoniously connect tables and chairs with the natural greenery. The interior – they say – Galician. Mismatched furniture, crocheted napkins, metal tableware from the 1980s, and a wooden floor worn out by years. A breakfast menu is rich, indeed. Rich in cakes, ice cream, and coffee. Something to look at and something to eat. Humming, bustling, hushed conversations, and yes – cigarette smoke. A dreamed-of place for a morning exchange of confidences and long evening talks with a group of friends. Mostowa ArtCafe is quite different – somewhat modern, ascetic, artistic. It’s a small place with a tiny painting gallery and a symbolic garden, but it boasts a view of Father Bernatek Footbridge, a neo-Gothic brick hospital and the Wolnic Square. If you’d like a drink, there’s plenty to choose from: craft beer and ciders as well as curious fruit wines. It’s wonderfully worth it to spend here a little while during the week. A close-lipped barman will surely keep your secrets safe.

Beata wrote: “Bunkier Café and its delightful buzz, provoking all sorts of discussions”.

Mostowa ArtCafe, Mostowa 8
Bunkier Cafe, pl. Szczepański 3a

When the evening comes. Mercy Brown and Sababa

These cocktail bars have everything in common but they’re not one. When the evening comes, Mercy and Sababa, located in the center and Kazimierz respectively, attract crowds, even though the former admits only 70 people. So where’s the devil? The devil is in the detail! Namely, impeccably designed interiors. Mercy Brown is a miniature bar from American 1920s whose design draws on the Prohibition era: chocolate plush armchairs, crystal mirrors, heavy velvet curtains with tassels and a copper bar. Here you’ll see a burlesque and listen to cabaret-like music played live. Sababa – a Hebrew word for “cool” – is located in Kazimierz in an old house dating back to the 16th century. Skillful designers used this to the place’s advantage and craftily joined original sandstone elements with modern furniture and three main colors: black, gold, and white. In the center – illuminated with the light from chandeliers weaved from copper net – stands the bar. Two places: counter here, counter there. Behind the counters – elegant bow-tied barmen conjuring up sensational drinks. Accompanied by both barmen and drinks, women forget the stresses of everyday life and turn into princesses.

Agata wrote: “Mercy Brown is a perfect place to go if you want to talk about your heart’s dilemmas while sipping a custom-made (delicious!) drink. It’s also worth starting your party here to get in the mood for the rest of the night. When it comes to me, I could as easily spend the rest of the night there – the music is good and there’s even a stage”.

That’s what Magda said: “After the last Friday in Sababa with my 4 girlfriends I can certainly say that the place is a women’s choice! The women-men ratio (except for barmen) is 70 to 30%. I believe that the reason for it, apart from drinks preferred by women mostly, are the already mentioned barmen”. Nevertheless, female talks are often accompanied (discreetly) by (discreet) men.

Mercy Brown, Straszewskiego 28
Sababa, Szeroka 2

Female for ages. Piwnica Pod Baranami.

Rumour has it that God Almighty created this place on the seventh day. Piwnica Pod Baranami [The Cellar under the Rams] – that’s what it has always been and what it continues to be. The magic of the place has never lost its power while the labyrinth of corridors – with much less smoke than five decades ago – resonates with female voices. The thought about women might have been the reason for the creation of the “Kobiety i wino” [Women and wine] club and the subsequent redesigning of bar shelves. No vodka now – only good-quality wine on your meeting with girlfriends.

Paulina wrote: “I love chatting with my girlfriends in Piwnica Pod Baranami: on our way to Kino Pod Baranami [Movie theater under the Rams] or after a screening – to talk about our reflections over a glass of wine. There is also a beautiful student dressed for the ‘60s who comes during a class break, alone or with friends, and asks for Ewa Demarczyk’s songs. There is a group of joyous women near their fifties who meet in the afternoons over mulled wine. There is an energetic, long-haired blond girl who comes to Piwnica to play chess. She always wins. All these girls and women have their favorite tables, seats, drinks, and music. It’s nice seeing them feel “at home”.

Piwnica pod Baranami, 
Rynek Główny 27

text: Kasia Pilitowska
photos: courtesy of the restaurants

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