- Ryan Kretch
TL;DR: We made a YouTube video if you are more of a 'watcher' than a 'reader'!
If you have come across this post randomly without searching the 'Best Milk Bars in Warsaw' in Google, you may be wondering what this obscure thing is. The translated name is reminiscent of the delicious morsel we ate in excess around Halloween (Milky Ways) in the United States, but while it has nothing to do with candy, it has everything to do with deliciousness. Milk Bars, known in Polish as "Bar Mleczny", are best described as canteens where one can get a home-cooked meal for cheap. These little gems popped up in frequency during the Communist era, and made a rebound in popularity in recent times as people grew nostalgic.
During the five days Fabio and I spent in Warsaw, we made it our mission to try as many Milk Bars as humanly possible (without internally combusting from fullness). The experiment was three-fold, we wanted to eat cheaply, we wanted to eat locally, and most importantly, we wanted to find the best Milk Bar in Warsaw so when you go to visit this incredible city, you will know right where to go for lunch or dinner.
Here is a map of all the places we tried, a solid 6 places:
Oh my god, this place is godly. It puts a lot of normal restaurants to shame, and in term of milk bars, it won without much competition. In fact it was so good, that we had to go there twice during our the course of our stay. Let's go into details of what made this place so gorgeous.
Friendliness and Cozy Atmosphere
When you walk in and up the stairs to the counter, a wonderful, humorous woman greets you and patiently waits for you to ponder the menu. While I cannot promise that this woman will be there when you go, the cozy environment and small amount of tables made the place feel pretty special. If you seem to be ordering a bit too much, these friendly people will somehow signal it 🙃.
Flavorful and Delicious Food
Obviously this is the most important part of any food establishment, and Bar Mleczny Lindleya 14 claimed the spot of my favorite meal I have eaten in recent months, twice. When you order a main, it comes with a starchy side (go for the mashed potatos if you are flustered and don't understand what is happening), and a mix of salads. The schnitzel (Sznycel) was tender yet beautifully breaded, and whatever other mains we ordered were fabulous, too. The mains would have been enough, but of course, the greedy, foodie side of us wanted to try as much as possible. So we added Ukrainian-style pierogies (filled with the perfect cheese to potato ratio), which were some of the best pierogies I have eaten in my life. Close to serious food coma, we topped it off with a crepe filled with more cheese and topped with a blueberry compote, that apparently people order as their mains. One thing I can recommend is don't make the mistake of over-ordering like we did.
With two mains, plus the sides, plus the plate of pierogies, plus dessert and two drinks, we paid around 85 Złoty, which is a little over 16 Euro. This was by no means the cheapest milk bar we experienced, but for the quality of the food, it was well worth the additional costs.
No matter which milk bar you go to in Warsaw or any Polish town or city, you are sure to have a unique experience and nice comfort food, so I recommend not checking Google reviews and just walk into any one that you pass. Here are some of the honorable mentions from the six that we tried:
- Przysmak: While the main dishes of this place weren't the most delicious, the atmosphere was worth it. You have to buzz into an apartment complex to get in, take a weird turn, and soon enough you are sitting in what feels like a grandmother's apartment. The service was wonderful and the apple-filled crepe was the best dessert I had at any of the milk bars I tried.
- Polny Bar Mleczny: This was the only milk bar that I found in the area that served breakfast, which gives it an extra boost in points in my book. Just make sure that you do not accidentally order the spinach omelette twice plus another egg dish, like we did, or you will be digesting a portion of around 7 eggs each.
- Mleczarnia Jerozolimska: Adjacent to Old Warsaw in Warsaw New Town, this place deserves a mention because the menu had pictures, making the ordering experience much smoother than the rest of the places. The portions were big and the pierogies were delicious too. This one is a chain actually and we ended up going to two different ones.
Bonus - Milk Bar Tips:
Because the process of going to a milk bar isn't as straightforward as going to a normal restaurant, here are a few small tips to make your journey as smooth as possible:
- All of the milk bars that we went to had a menu on the wall. If the price was covered up, it meant that that item was not available, so don't bother ordering it
- Get ready to Google translate, as the menus are rarely translated into English. Nonetheless, I had found that when going to the cash register to order, the person behind the counter was patient and sometimes had a command of English. As you can see, we didn't write down a lot of the Polish names for the foods we tried, so if you are adventurous, just point and you should get something delicious
- Do not sit at the table waiting to be served, go to the cash register to order. Some places will then immediately prepare your order right then and there, while other places you will have to bring the receipt to the kitchen counter for them to fulfill it.
- (Maybe) Be conservative while ordering at first. While prices may seem cheap, the portions are generally large and my biggest pet peeve is wasting food 🤣. However, if you are that person that wants to try everything, go for it!
- Milk bars get especially crowded around lunch-time (Approximately 12-2), so try to go a little off-peak if you want to avoid the crowds.