New Reviews in Kraków In Your Pocket #103

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Feature: Christmas po Krakowsku

Khinkalnya 1470931840_restaurant

This modestly decorated restaurant full of traditional patterns and folk motifs just before the footbridge to Podgórze is an ode to moustaches and Georgian feasting. The concise menu of traditional specialties offers stuffed flatbreads (khachapuri, our fave) and hot, hearty stews like kharcho and chashushuli, accompanied by a choice selection of imported Georgian wines.

 

Zupa Soup Bar 1470931840_restaurant

This small soup kitchen just off of Plac Nowy offers 6 delicious soups daily (8-12zł), 3 of which change weekly and 3 of which are always available: their Thai coconut soup (or ‘Tajski żurek’ as they call it, we call it delicious), chilli con carne (perfectly spiced and probably the best in Kraków), and cream of tomato with various toppings.

 

Carioca Resto Bar 1470931840_restaurant

If you’ve been doing this as long as we have, when you come across a menu as exciting as Carioca’s, you literally get so excited that you can’t decide what to order for 20mins. Salgados (stuffed fried dough pockets)? Caruru com coentro (okra with cilantro, garlic, onions and cashews)? Churrasco (grilled meat)? Feijoada (black beans with 5 kinds of meat, served with rice and fried kale)?  We’re fans.

 

Gruszka Nova1470931840_restaurant

This cult upstairs ‘journalists’ club’ on the corner of the market square was until recently one of Kraków’s last holdouts where you could stagger in late, order a plate of pierogi and a beer, and chain-smoke mercilessly among your fellow diners. Following a paint job and a bit of re-branding, we were actually relieved to see that while the ashtrays are gone and the menu has gone upmarket modern Polish, the basic spirit of this place remains intact.

 

Qrudo Food & Wine1470931840_restaurant1470931900_red_wine

This modern Polish restaurant across from the High Synagogue offers an original menu of contemporary interpretations of local Galician and Jewish cuisine, and an extensive wine list in a slightly garish interior primarily populated with tourists. With small sepia photos of the Jewish Quarter juxtaposed with large abstract paintings, R&B sex jams on the stereo and a colour palette of grey and fuchsia (yikes), there’s a confused tension between Qrudo’s fine dining aspirations and its atmosphere and execution…

 

Columbus Coffee 1470931861_cafe

Whoever came up with the concept for this Polish coffeehouse franchise seems to have done most of their field research inside a Starbucks, but they obviously took good notes and almost fooled us into thinking this was indeed an American brand (the misguided celebration of Columbus is pretty convincing). There’s a certain cultural competency here when it comes to things like smiling, speedy service, plenty of space, clean restrooms, lots of outlets, and armchairs that are so comfortable they actually sell them as a second business.

 

Kraków Cat Cafe (Kocia Kawiarnia) 1470931861_cafe cattrack

The Taiwanese/Japanese craze for cat cafes has made itself at home in Europe in the past few years, with no shortage of kitty lovers yearning for cuddles. Poland is no exception, and Kocia Kawiarnia is its first stab at the trend, in business since June 2015 (others have since sprung up in Warsaw and Lublin). The premise is exactly what you’d expect: a lot of patrons sipping cutesy drinks while desperately trying to get the attention of a few supremely uninterested cats.

BARaWINO 1470931900_red_wine1470931840_restaurant

Wait a second, wine bars can be…casual? Occupying a uniquely-shaped (hooray for trapezoids!) corner locale near Plac Wolnica, BARaWINO is the first wine bar connected with ‘Kondrat Wina Wybrane’ (Kondrat Selected Wines) – one of the largest wine importers in Poland. This isn’t necessarily the domain of haughty sommeliers, wine snobs and flashy business execs, however, but rather a social, laid-back gathering place for friends (not just couples!), who place their orders at the bar and either take their bottle home (at a discount), or relax by the glass at one of the simple wooden tables.

 

Zet Pe Te music

Located at Tytano, Zet Pe Te is Kraków’s new premier cultural space and live music venue for bands and DJs touring nationally and internationally. The diverse calendar features everything from klezmer to hip-hop, house and reggae, with film screenings, art exhibitions and other events as well. The name denotes the Polish phonetic pronunciation of ZPT, or ‘Zakład Przetwórstwa Tytoniowego’ (Tobacco Processing Plant) – a nod to the former tobacco factory complex it’s located in.

 

Klub 89 music

Lying perfectly intact and practically frozen in time in the basement of the Forum Hotel, we knew it was only a matter of time before this sleeping dragon awoke again. Originally opened in 1989 (hence the name). Closed in 2002, the club has been restored and reopened in exactly its original style by Forum Przestrzenie in collaboration with Unsound Festival to basically serve as a year-round headquarters for Unsound’s aesthetic and events.

 

Zdzisław Beksiński Gallery art-gallery

One of PL’s most internationally recognised and controversial 20th century painters, Zdzisław Beksiński is known for his large, almost luminous, and emotionally-charged canvases depicting grotesque figures and apocalyptic landscapes. The themes of war, ruin, decay and deformity are prevalent throughout his work, which has been described as both ‘fantastical realism’ and ‘dystopian surrealism. One of the most worthwhile things to see in Nowa Huta, this stunning collection of 50 paintings in the Nowa Huta Cultural Centre features some of his most definitive work.

 

 

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