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Tales from the Wizards: Being a Foodie in Krakow with Summer

Originally from small town North Carolina, Summer has now called Krakow home for a year. In this post, she shares a new secret passion of hers – indulging in Krakow’s food, beer, and coffee scene!

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I’ve always been a lover of coffee. And with the abundance of cute cafes all over Krakow, sometimes I just can’t resist that exra cup.

I will start off by saying this: I am an AVID lover of chicken nuggets. Although I have had the privilege to travel quite often, I’ve never been much of a “foodie.” I have no shame in seeking out a McDonalds, throwing back a 20 piece McNugget, then calling it a day. Not only is it cost effective, it’s also easily obtainable relatively anywhere. That being said, when I moved into my downtown apartment on Grodzka street directly beside a McDonalds, I thought I was in serious trouble.

 

But oh boy, would I be wrong…

 

On one of my first days as a teacher for English Wizards, there was a shocking amount of us new arrivals that had a birthday on the same day. Naturally, we planned a group dinner so that we could all celebrate in tandem, as well as acquaint ourselves a bit better. The name of the restaurant is Bordo, an intimate, little tavern that is tucked away on one of the winding back alleys of Kraków’s Old Town.

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Couldn’t have been more happy with my birthday dinner – and stouts – for only a few Euro!

First, I was impressed by the atmosphere. The warm lights, antique appearance and exquisite smell of traditional, Polish dishes were enough to capture the attention of even the most scrupulous food critic. Now I will remind you, it was one of my first days, so my brain was still functioning in euros. Therefore when I began glancing over the menu, I immediately was taken aback by the unsurprisingly high prices for a restaurant in the center of a town.

 

“Is this one of those tourist trap restaurants?!” I thought to myself.

 

However, when I quickly regained my sense, I realized that this place is unquestionably cheap! There are two menus: one with an English translation, and another one that is solely in Polish (have your Google translation app handy). On the all Polish menu, the restaurant offers a three course meal for 14.90zł, which becomes 16.90zł if you choose to add soup. So in case your mind is also stuck in a different currency, I will remind you that both of these options are under €4!

 

Another rave-worthy restaurant in Kraków is Międzymiastowa. This urban chic resto bar is hidden in a cul de sac on the outskirts of Krakow’s Old Town.

 

It’s surrounded by many other restaurants and bars, one of them being Weźże Krafta. Międzymiastowa is a masked beauty. When approaching the entrance, I was appalled that my friend had dragged me out of the apartment at 9 in the morning for breakfast, but my mind was soon changed. The inside is beautifully designed, and even more importantly, the food is phenomenal.

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You might think that because the cost of living is low, salaries are also lower than Western Europe. While that may unfortunately be the case for many locals, the ease of movement within the EU combined with the oversaturation of the TEFL job market in Western Europe has made native English teacher salaries basically the same all over the EU.

 

Whether you’re teaching in Madrid, Milan, Marseille, or Gdansk, a native English speaker with no experience and only a basic TEFL certification will earn somewhere in the area of about €1000 per month. But the difference isn’t in the salary, it’s in the prices: that same €1000 goes far, far further in Gdansk than in Milan or Marseille.

You certainly won’t get rich teaching in Poland. If you want to save money and pay off debts, Poland certainly isn’t the place for you. Most teachers here end up breaking even – there’s just so much to do in Europe that your excess earnings will more likely be going to fund a weekend holiday in Prague instead of your 401k savings account.

But if you want to experience living in Europe and still want to live a comfortable lifestyle, without being forced to share a cramped apartment and survive off cheap grocery runs, Poland may be the perfect balance.

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Sometimes it just takes a dark beer and pizza to make me happy. Hence, my forever love for Pizzatopia.

Growing up in the southern United States, pancakes (yes, the fluffy kind) were something I had eaten regularly. They became a comfort food, and also a smell I can associate with lazy Sunday mornings at home with my family. Throughout my travels across Europe, I’ve come to find that finding true pancakes (not crepes) is quite the difficult, and sometimes impossible task. That is, unless you’re willing to break out the apron and make them yourself whenever the craving hits.

 

Luckily, Mr. Pancake in Kraków is an upbeat “American diner” themed restaurant where you can get both a savory or a sweet fix. The wide variety of pancake dishes to choose from can be intoxicating, but I see this as an excuse to come back multiple times. Personally, I always go with the basic “Egg & Bacon” option because it hits closer to home. But beware, if you’re as North American as me, it is important to note that unfortunately they only carry Aunt Jemima, not pure maple syrup.

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Behond the glory of Mr. Pancake. Never thought I’d find pancakes this fat and delicious on this side of the Atlantic.

While I do appreciate a good, reasonably priced meal, I have also sought out to find the best places to fuel my caffeine addiction. My personal priorities for characteristics to look for in a coffee shop are ones that are quiet enough for working, but also lively enough so that I can occasionally take periodic breaks from my tasks. This juxtaposition has proved to make my quest quite difficult, nevertheless, I’ve still managed to narrow down my favorites to a select few that I frequent regularly.

 

I will start off by introducing Cheder, a small cafe/cultural center located in Kazimierz, the former Jewish District. The coffee is incredible, and the menu is assorted with many other drink and snack options that will make leaving hard! I’ve stayed there for hours either reading or doing lesson planning for upcoming courses. Another two that I adore equally are Cytat and Alchemia, both located in Kazimierz a short stretch away from Cheder.

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Cappuccino + croissant, the classic European breakfast. Such an easy find in Krakow!

All in all, I’ve lived in Kraków for just under a year, and I can count the amount of times I indulged in McNuggets on one hand. This city is brimming with noteworthy restaurants around every corner. If anything, this article barely even scratches the surface. If you are up for the challenge, I would not only recommend the places mentioned, but also a quest of your own to see which restaurants and cafes can be your personal, local getaways!

 

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This is a guest post as part of our “Tales from the Wizards” series, where our Wizards take over the blog and share their stories of life in Poland.

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