Walk into Krakow’s Kazimierz district and you might think you’ve just teleported back to the shtetl. Once the center of Krakow’s thriving Jewish community, Kazimierz is one of the biggest attractions in Krakow today, a living ode to the town’s vibrant Jewish history. Full of quaint cobblestone streets, grand old synagogues and moving exhibits that depict Jewish life in pre-war Europe, Kazimierz is an integral part of Kraków’s culture — and the food is not to be missed. For years, Kazimierz was a place where Polish and Jewish cultures coexisted, and the restaurant scene today reflects that. Dishes like plumped goose, drunken chicken livers and pierogi with farmer’s cheese are abundant, delicious throwbacks to a bygone era. Below are five of Kraków’s can’t-miss Jewish food spots.
Featuring an impressive in-house library of Jewish books and an Israeli-inspired menu, Cheder Cafe is a favorite breakfast spot among locals, operating out of an old synagogue. In the mornings, go for a cup of their Finjan coffee — a dark, rich brew with cardamom and brown sugar — and fresh pita with labneh and beet pesto. Stay to curl up with a book or bring a laptop along; the atmosphere at Cheder is calm, laid-back and ideal for working in. At night, come for the lectures, concerts and Judaica film screenings, hosted by the Jewish Culture Festival. Make sure to try the pastries, which change often, while perusing the bookshelves.
Józefa 36, 31-056 Kraków
Open Sunday-Friday, 10 a.m.-9 p.m.
Phone: +48 515 732 226
Located in Kazimierz’s famed Szeroka square is Ariel, a historic restaurant full of old-world style (think: dining rooms with antique lamps and eclectic paintings) and a menu filled with dishes reminiscent of the past. For starters, try the carp (their specialty) and the herring with onions and cream. The roast goose with cherries is excellent, as are the chicken-liver-stuffed goose necks. Cap it off with a shot of Slivovitz while enjoying the live klezmer music. If you’re up for some post-meal touring, check out the gallery: Ariel houses the only private Judaic art collection in Krakow. L’chaim!
Szeroka 18, 31-053 Kraków
Open Sunday-Saturday, 12 p.m.-10 p.m.
Phone: +48 12 421 79 20
Once Upon A Time | Chajim Kohan
Quaint and authentic, this gastropub boasts an impressive selection of Polish beers and house-infused vodkas — and an equally impressive menu. Order the pierogi, which are plump and cheese-filled, and try the tzimmes, a traditional Jewish stew made with chunks of beef, apricots and prunes. Savory and sweet, it’s especially comforting when enjoyed in Chajim Kohan’s warm, candlelit setting.
Szeroka 1, 31-053 Kraków
Open Sunday-Saturday, 10 a.m.-10:30 p.m.
Phone: +48 12 421 21 17
There’s only one way to describe Hevre and that is: an absolute vibe. Located in a former prayer house, Hevre retains much of the venue’s original charm, with intricate frescoes on the ceilings and antique chandeliers. It’s easily Kraków’s hippest venue, serving up syrup-infused beers, mulled wines and a special treat for Pilsner connoisseurs: unpasteurised Pilsner Urquell, straight from the tank. The menu, which changes often, revolves around Galician-Jewish dishes, and features inventive hits like duck sandwiches on potato rolls. On weekends, the vibe at Hevre turns up a notch, going from laid-back bar to Kazimierz’s hottest club, with guest DJs and rave-y sets. Bring the hevre!
Beera Meiselsa 18, 31-058 Kraków
Open Sunday-Saturday, 10 a.m.-12 a.m.
If you’re looking for traditional Galician Jewish food and a hopping klezmer scene, Klezmer Hois is the place to go. Cofounded by the late Leopold Kozłowski-Kleinmann, the last klezmer musician of Galicia, it’s located in what used to be a mikvah on Szeroka Street. Now a hotel and restaurant, Klezmer Hois is a gathering spot for the literary crowd of Krakow with a venerated list of guests, including Steven Spielberg, Roman Polański and Czesław Miłosz. Everything is delicious, but standouts from the menu include the chicken kneidlach (matzah balls) in dill sauce, goose pipkes, and the delightfully named “Yankiel the Innkeeper of Berdytchov’s Soup.” Come late — concerts are held every day at 8 p.m.
Szeroka 6, 31-053 Kraków
Open Sunday-Monday, 7 a.m.-11 p.m.
Phone: +48 12 411 12 45