Krakow was the first city outside of London that I visited as a full-time vegan, e.g. being vegan at home and whilst travelling.
I thought it was going to be hard, because when I envision Polish food, it’s all meat, meat, meat, and would you like a side of cheese with that? Perhaps some vodka?
Yes to the vodka, but unfortunately no to everything else, even if that ‘everything else’ included the Polish classics of cured beef sandwiches and pork loin rolls.
But although I salivated over the sweet cheese pancakes in the bakeries, I didn’t actually feel like I was missing out on much. In fact, I thought I had gained something by being vegan, because honestly, I had no idea so many places were even doing cheap vegan kebabs on the regular. (This is probably because my knowledge of vegan kebabs focuses solely on one place in Shoreditch which, being the hipster minefield it is, is definitely not cheap and consequently not for me).
Yet Krakow was a wonderful surprise, and although I was only there for four days and didn’t have as much time to eat my way through everything I wanted to, it was great fun trying.
Am I already drooling at the mere thought of the vegan brownie and soy hot chocolate Cupcake Corner serve? Yes, and I’m proud of it.
As soon as I saw this cafe off the main square in Krakow, I made a beeline towards it, grabbing my Mum’s arm and pretty much dragging her there, insisting she order a coffee so I could have time with the brownie. Do I regret manhandling my mother for a sweet dessert? A bit. Does she? Definitely. But it was so worth it – the brownie was the perfect combination of fudge-like gooeyness and cake – and the soy hot chocolate was so incredibly indulgent that I couldn’t finish the entire (huge, much bigger than a Starbucks venti) cup.
Although sold-out when we arrived late in the evening, there’s also a vegan banana flavoured cupcake which is apparently out-of-this-world-crazily-good. Is it awful to want to return to Krakow to try one of these cupcakes? I mean, I do need to visit the salt mines still, so perhaps another trip should be scheduled.
Food: regular, with vegan options. Whilst there’s only slim pickings on the dessert front, as a non-vegan orientated cafe, the fact there’s any choice at all for vegans is great.
I can remember the best kebab I had ever had. We were 18, in Budapest, and were coming back from a late one when my mate turned to me and said, ‘I’ve never had a kebab.’
My mouth dropped. A British person and you’ve never had a kebab? Sacrilege! I needed to change that for her. Ensue us buying two hefty beef kebabs from across the road of our hotel and demolishing them within minutes of arriving back with a cup of tea. We had the same kebab two nights later.
That was the last meat kebab I’d had, or any kebab for that matter, having gone vegetarian a year later and not willing to classify falafel wraps as ‘kebabs.’ Yet fast forward seven years and I finally had an entirely vegan, this-doesn’t-feel-so-bad-for-my-diet kebab, in Poland nonetheless! I couldn’t believe it.
Vegab’s kebabs are bomb. Amazing. Not greasy in the slightest, delicious, unique flavours and great value for money. I had the ‘Beirut’ on my first visit, with hummus, tahini and pickled cucumbers, and the ‘Hamster’ on my last, with peanut butter and coconut sauce. They also do pineapple inspired kebabs and ‘hot-dogs’ if you fancy something smaller. An incredibly unique concept, it’s a lovely difference compared to Krakow’s many falafel jaunts.
Location: Starowiślna 6, 31-038
With great service and a real ‘home’ environment, Glonojad has a seasonal menu with food inspired across the globe. Fancy a samosa? Glonojad has it. A quesadilla. You bet. Order a traditional pierogi dish for starter and then a pasta dish for your main, maybe a curry if you fancy something spicy, I certainly did. The vegan cookies are also wonderfully fat and buttery and are great with one of Glonojad’s many unique teas. Fancy eating here? Make sure you come early, as food tends to run out as they cook it fresh daily.
Food: vegetarian, with many vegan options
Location: Plac Jana Matejki 2, 31-157
Maybe I’m biased because Indian is one of my favourite cuisines (indeed, I went to India almost purely for the food), but Momo was hands-down, the best vegan restaurant I ate at in Krakow. We went in for something small in order to escape the bitter January chill before heading out to the Schindler museum, and I ended up demolishing two bowls of spicy soup whilst my Mum had a masala dosa with fabulous sambar. I even went back for more soup, and was tempted by their cakes too (but I’d had a Cupcake Corner hot chocolate earlier so ultimately decided against it – not entirely sure I made the right choice, however). With a wonderful ambience, this is a cute, colourful café with a small menu done well. Incredibly fresh, well-seasoned and with gluten free options too, Momo is a lesser known place and easily missed if you’re not looking out for it.
Please make sure you look out for it
Food: vegetarian, with many vegan options
Location: Dietla 49, 31-054
These are just a few of the many vegetarian/vegan restaurants Krakow has to offer, and the only ones I went to, because when I wasn’t eating in restaurants, I was eating obwarzanek krakowski – a popular Polish street food which is kind of a mix between a bagel and a pretzel. Delicious and vegan, make sure you order either the poppyseed or salt obwarzaneks, as some of them contain cheese. There are also plenty of falafel joints around the Old Town and Kazimierz for a good price if you fancy something quick, as well as zapiekanki, which is a open faced baguette topped with items of your choice such as mushrooms and pickled cucumbers – just make sure you order it without cheese!
Here are a few shoutouts to places I wish I had gone to:
A vegan burger place with lassis and huge portions. They do quoina burgers, tofu burgers, falafel burgers, seitan burgers, etc. alongside salads and soups. Need I say more?
An Israeli food joint that caters to everyone including meat-eaters and vegans. Their hummus looks beautiful and baba ganoush is never a wrong choice.
Considering I went to Krakow expecting to be eating supermarket nuts and crisps, the fact I had so many places catering to my diet really shocked me. I mean, if you had told me I couldn’t eat all of this yummy vegan food in four days I never would’ve believed it. Of course, I went to regular places too as my Mum isn’t vegan, but even when we went to that Chinese restaurant, or that Japanese café, customer service was excellent and always willing to find something for me. So vegans, from personal experience, you will not go hungry in Krakow!