Are you an herbivore? To answer this question, stand in front of a mirror and take a closer look. Do you see slim and deft fingers perfect for fruit-picking? If so, it’s a yes! Do you see well-developed teeth for munching plants and grain? If yes, you score double! You ARE an herbivore, which means you can easily follow a desired and sought-after path, vegetarian or vegan. But mind you–Krakow’s plant paths are not as well-cleared as the meaty ones, but they do lead to an array of irresistibly tasty places. Let’s see where to find them on a plant-based map of the city!
ul. Starowiślna 6
Rumor has it that doner kebab tops the rankings of Poles’ favorite dishes. Is it a wonder? The irresistible urge to scoff down this Turkish classic on waking up after all-night partying is often unimaginably hard to fight. For herbivores even more so, for, so far, the only thing they could do on a dizzy after-party morning was to watch kebab-eating meat-lovers blissfully licking their fingers. But these days are gone. The opening of the first and one-and-only spot with vegan doner kebab–vegab–brought light and color to plant lovers’ lives. The place is small and simply and practically furnished. The menu offers gargantuan wraps with pieces of perfectly-grilled succulent meat-like tofu in a Hawaiian, Greek, or Lebanese version. All of it spiced with plant hot-dogs and coconut bounty desserts.
ul. Meiselsa 4
Hummus enthusiasts have been flocking to this “mecca” for the last five years. Hummusija, a small place, enraptures with its interior featuring a wide counter, wooden tables, and a great many stylish bibelots from the sixties. In front of your eyes, hummus makers prepare hummus in a variety of flavors (more than 25!), serve coffee from cezva–a Turkish coffee pot–and slice and dice vegetables while talking to you as if you were good friends. There are three breakfast options to choose from, two vegetarian and one vegan, including Matzah brei–a fantastic, omelet-like dish of Jewish origin served sweet with a homemade preserve, and warm pita bread filled with fresh vegetables and hummus. You can also try masabacha, i.e. spicy or cumin hummus served warm. Everything comes with a leavened bread, corn tortilla bowls, or kosher pita bread.
ul. Rakowicka 17
If the „all day breakfast” formula sounds exciting, what about this one–the „vegetarian or vegan all day breakfasts”? Electrifyingly thrilling, isn’t it! It sure is, otherwise this beautifully designed café located in proximity to the Krakow University of Economics wouldn’t be bursting at the seams! One table gathers distinguished professors, young students and bankers working nearby. The place is famous for its coconut oatmeal with caramelized apples, all kinds of tarts, and exquisite, alternatively brewed coffee. If we complement it with salads, soups, sandwiches and homemade cakes, we have found a meat-free paradise.
ul. Sławkowska 8
The idea of eating a meatless burger, just like the desire for a meat-free kebab, has been preying on vegetarian and vegan minds since the arrival of the first hipster. Luckily, both the plant kebab and the meatless burger are now real and, most importantly, healthy options. Apart from Nova Krowa–a Krakow’s pioneering vegan burger spot–the city boasts a few more places serving these treats. Krowarzywa, however, is legendary. And there are lots of x’s on the menu: we have cieciorex, jaglanex, warzywex, tofex and seitanex accompanied by vegan extras–baked potato boats, mayo, cole slaw, and ketchup–and topped with dessert brownie.
ul. Dietla 45
The place tops the ranks in three categories: one – the tiniest food spot, two – the loveliest food spot, and three – the best samosas in Krakow. Let us add our own category – the world’s best peanut cake. A microscopic interior houses an exotic sofa with cushions and three bar stools. Just like in the streets of Calcutta, everything happens in front of the hungry guest’s eyes: dough kneading, samosa making, frying. Two seasonal variants to choose from, three sauce flavors, dal and curry. For dessert, drink some Indian aromatic tea. Simplicity and harmony at their best.
ul. Grzegórzecka 41
We can say this with no hint of exaggeration – the arrival of this place marks the beginning of „the new falafel era”. Prior to this event, little was known about these tiny deep-fried balls made of chickpeas. But since the arrival of Hanka brothers, the owners, Krakow residents’ taste buds have been taken hostage by irresistible falafel flavors. Colorful pickles, ruby pomegranate seeds, light and crispy falafel, green tabbouleh and sourish hummus are served in a traditional Arab way: on a plate, accompanied by or stuffed in pita bread. Once you’re full, you have to sum everything up with a sweet and strong Turkish coffee and pistachio baklava.
ul. Jakuba 21
The exact location of this place remains shrouded in mystery, so if you don’t have the address, you won’t reach it by chance. That’s exactly when our map comes to rescue! This unassuming food joint is located in a cellar hidden in the heart of the Jewish part of the Kazimierz district – with Kupa Synagogue and Ciemna street on one side, and Plac Nowy and Szeroka street on the other. White tiles cover the place’s ascetic interior and food comes to you on a plastic plate. Operating according to the Jewish tradition, the place closes during Shabbat and all the food is kosher. Teeny-tiny falafel balls are being made right in front of your eyes. Apart from falafel, you can get French fries, shakshouka, hummus and pizza. Everything’s authentic, tasty, and inexpensive.
In Krakow, something can be located either in the city center or in Kazimierz. This state of affairs has been changing, however, with more and more tiny food joints springing up like mushrooms in other districts. One of them is Zupitto, appearing out of the blue near the outdoor market in the Dębniki district, where on a Monday to Friday basis fishwives from neighboring villages sell their homemade delicacies. The spot has a grand table and a few little ones. Next to a shelf with local products, exposed on a wide counter are tempting seasonal salads, pastes, and tarts. Zupitto is famous for its vegan and vegetarian soups which can be taken home in a jar. One full course with compote as well as dessert are always on the menu, including a few gluten- and lactose-free options.
ul. Józefa 22
100% vegan, created out of pure love for everything plant. Burgers, sauces, green cocktails and desserts are made from A to Z by the chef. A short menu is the king, giving you burgers but also three warm meals based on seasonal vegetables and legumes. A tastefully designed interior is worth a closer look too–even though the place seats 10 people only–with its earthy hues, simple furniture and Moroccan lamps
ul. Józefa 2
Real vegans may have never set foot in this place, for Yumiko also serves traditional sushi with raw fish. However, the place is famous for its vegan sushi–and that’s what we come here for. Yumiko sushi masters are incredibly creative, giving you both aesthetically beautiful and wonderfully tasty rolls. Nigiri, futomaki, uramaki and hosomaki, instead of fish, boast beetroots, okras, tomato strips, cucumbers, sweet potatoes, roasted almonds, zucchini in tempura, pumpkin and avocado. You should also know about the rice – perfectly sticky and brimming with flavor. Everything topped with a glass of marvelous natural wine.
ul. Krupnicza 12
A veteran of meat-free cuisine on the Krakow scene. Adored by both meat- and plant-lovers, not only for its truly tasty food, but a minimalist interior, friendly and helpful service and the overall atmosphere. A short menu includes everything we’d love to have for breakfast and/or lunch–salads, sandwiches, omelets, hard-boiled eggs, plant pastes plus one of the best coffees in town (the owners run a coffee roasting company in the city) and heavenly cakes, including a vegan cheesecake that just takes your breath away!
text: Kasia Pilitowska
photo: courtesy of restaurants' ownersa
illustration: Foxtrot Studio