Visiting a milk bar in Warsaw is a must. Milk bars date back to the communist times, serving as cheap workers’ cafeteria. It feels like traveling back in time to 1980…..
Nowadays you can try there traditional polish homemade and still cheap dishes. Before we go to the menu I will present you 3 very important rules of a milk bar:
Rule no. 1
Don’t expect smile.
First things first, when entering a milk bar you cannot expect today’s western standard of customer service. Ladies will not smile, they seem neutral. It doesn’t mean that they don’t like you, it’s just a cultural thing.
Rule no. 2
Most milk bars do not accept card payments. They still operate like 35 years ago.
Rule no. 3
Polish your Polish.
Do your research about what you want to eat before you enter the milk bar. The menu is only in Polish. Some milk bars now have an English menu but the translation is not too helpful.
Remember! If there is no price next to the dish it means they are all out.
Menu in the milk bar is on the wall and looks like this:
After you chose what you want to try “simply” 😉 order it at the cash register and pay. You will be given a receipt. Don’t lose it or else you will stay hungry. You need to take the receipt to the ladies in the kitchen.
There are no waiters in milk bars, so you have to wait for your order and bring it to your table by yourself. Some dishes, like pierogi, are not served right away, so the ladies will let you know when your order is ready by screaming “PIEROGI Z MIĘSEM!!!” so the whole milk bar will hear. No joke!
Also, don’t expect to have the table all to yourself, if there are no free tables left it’s very likely someone will join you.
So, what you can try in the milk bar?
1. ZUPA (SOUP)
Polish people love soups, there is no question about it. In milk bars you will find a big variety of them. Some of my favourites:
OGÓRKOWA – cucumber soup (on photo)
ROSÓŁ – chicken soup
POMIDOROWA – tomato soup
GROCHOWA – pea soup
KRUPNIK – barley soup
SZCZAWIOWA Z JAJKIEM – sorrel soup with hard boiled egg
ŻUREK – sour rye soup
Price: 3-5 zloty
2. BARSZCZ W KUBKU (HOT BORSH IN MUG)
If you’re visiting Warsaw in fall or winter season a cup of hot borsch is a great way to warm up. Beets, that is made from, are rich in immune-boosting vitamin C, fiber, and essential minerals like potassium. Drink up!
Price: 2 zloty
The direct translation is “lazy dumplings”. It’s a type of Polish dumplings made with curd cheese without the filling you find in traditional pierogi. Typically served with melted butter and sugar on top.
*In the milk bar I ate, the price was 7 zloty, in other bars you can find them for 5 zloty. If you try it with a soup, as the first course, you will still pay under 10 zloty for the lunch.
Price: 5-7 zloty
4. BUDYŃ (PUDDING)
Pudding is a popular, cheap dessert in Poland. The one you can taste in milk bars is a creamy flavour served with fruit syrup or fruit.
Price: 1-2 zloty
It’s a sugary drink made of boiled fruit. Back in the day, it was the cheapest way for
making a great refreshing drink in the summer season. Milk bars are one of the last places you can buy them (not counting touristy restaurants serving polish cuisine). Kompot can be made from fresh or dried fruit like plum, cherries and strawberries.
Price: 2 zloty
Best rated milk bars:
Bar Bambino ul. Krucza 21, opening hours Monday-Friday 8.00-20.00,
Sat-Sun 9.00 – 17.00
Bar Familijny ul. Nowy Świat 39, opening hours Monday-Friday 7.00-20.00,
Sat-Sun 9.00 – 17.00
Bar Prasowy ul. Marszałkowska 10/16, opening hours Monday-Friday 9.00 – 20.00,
Sat-Sun 11.00 -19.00
Bar Ząbkowski ul. Ząbkowska 2, opening hours Monday-Friday 8.00-19.00,
Saturday 8.00- 18.00, Sunday 9.00-17.00
Bar Rusałka ul. Floriańska 14, opening hours Monday-Friday 9.00-17.30,
Saturday 9.00-16.30, Sunday 10.00-16.30