My favorite neighborhood in Warsaw. Tree-lined streets. Al fresco dining. Pre-war Bauhaus architecture. When you step onto Francuska street from Rondo Waszyngtona, you have entered a new world. I often tell people this is the “Brooklyn” of Warsaw. That might be a bit of a stretch, but you get the idea.
Interestingly, the main street (Francuska that leads into Paryska) may be the most picturesque, but the dining options leave a bit to be desired. A few exceptions exist (one is mentioned below) and nothing is horrible, but the best places to eat and drink are hidden away in the east and west sections of the neighborhood. Only F30 is an “easy find” but all are worth it.
Highly visible on Francusca by the colorful umbrellas hanging over its corner patio, F30 is the laid-back, comfortable coffee shop and bar that is perfect any time of the day.
The coffees, drinks, and pastries are all well prepared as are the galettes and crepes from the kitchen and, at times, from the permanently parked food truck outside. This is really a great place just to hang out and relax. A nice selection of bottled beer, wine, and cocktails round out the menu. In the summer, the patio provides some of the best people watching one could ask for in Warsaw’s most stylistically diverse neighborhood.
Surprisingly, Warsaw has recently become a bit of a center for vegan and vegetarian restaurants. Bistor Eden stands out for its diverse menu and selection of natural or organic wines as well as its cozy, fresh atmosphere.
You can’t go wrong with much on the menu. Brunch is excellent with some novel items like “Korean kimchi toast”. However, on the weekends, be prepared to reserve a table if you want to partake. Lunch and dinner run the gambit from Mexican-influenced dishes such as “Nachos sin Carne” with jackfruit and fried avocado tacos to Asian-influenced dishes such as udon miso soup. I can’t say the service is the best in town, but hey, trade-offs.
Mięsny Deli & Bistro
On the other end of the vegetarian spectrum, Mięsny Deli & Bistro is part deli, part butcher, and part restaurant. My meat eating friends swear this has the best cuts and sausages in town, and I have thoroughly enjoyed their non-meat dishes that the accommodating staff humors me with.
Wine selection is on-point and made up of some choice vintages from the big wine producing countries of Europe. With the restaurant seating situated right in front of the deli counter, the ambiance is relaxed and casual while the food spans a bit into what I would call “simple upscale”. But no matter, the prices are moderate and the quality is high. A great place for a weekend dinner with friends or a date.
Head farther east on Walecznych and you will immediately encounter Pikanteria, an unpretentious and sometimes rowdy Polish restaurant with a great selection of craft bottled beers.
The restaurant has a huge menu. Thus, this place is great for large groups or bringing out-of-towners who want some traditional Polish food but don’t know exactly what to try as you are certain to find something meet most people’s tastes.
OSP Saska Kępa
Inexpensive pizza and pasta in Warsaw is definitely hit or miss, with most confusing quantity with quality. OSP, on the other hand, provides simple, flavorful Italian dishes and very good pizza at an incredible value. I have never been let down by their seasonal specials or the gnocchi (when made fresh – make sure to ask). My only wish is for a better wine and beer selection, but the incredibly friendly service more than makes up for this. In fact, when living in Saska, OSP became almost a weekly stop.
Le Rendez-Vous – Cave à vin bar à vin
Come to Le Rendez-Vous and you are guaranteed a good time simply because Gilles, the incredibly energetic and passionate owner, and his wife Emilia are just so friendly, infectious, and sincere. Of course, the feature here is French wine and Gilles will do his best to match your palette. But do not let that stop you from partaking in a nicely prepared cheese platter or one of their BBQs that seem to randomly happen during the summer months. The outdoor patio is delightful when the weather is nice, and the downstairs is cozy when its not. Come and leave a little drunker and a lot happier than when you came in. I promise you won’t regret it.
Saska Kępa is not a late-night area. In fact, most of the streets are pretty deserted by 10 p.m. with restaurants and stores closed. Except Klubokawiarnia Towarzyska, which is one of my favorite bars in all of Warsaw. Open late and serving a large selection of beers as well as an extensive menu of cocktails, this is a hipster hangout that also happens to have its share of all sorts of locals (probably as it is one of the only places open).
In addition, this bar happens to offer one of the more unique music venues I have ever been to: a small, basement room with questionable acoustics that hosts everything from a single drummer to DJ sets to full-on bands. Definitely one of my go-to spots for a late night beer when in the area, and I have been pleasantly surprised to get caught in a concert or other performance on a few occasions.