I had previously been on a Free Walking Tour in Krakow with the same group the day before for their Old Town walking tour and loved it so much that I made sure to collect a flyer for the Free Walking Tours they offered in Warsaw. The one tour that I knew I had to do while in Poland was the food and drink tour as being a food blogger I would be a fool to miss out on being shown some of the local delicacies and eateries while in town. I was unable to do the tour in Krakow as I was leaving the same afternoon it was running but was in Warsaw while they were running it so I went along to that one instead. The tour runs on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday days at 3pm and begins at the Charles De Gaulle statue at the Charles De Gaulle square in Warsaw. The Krakow tour begins outside St Mary’s Church at the Market Square in Old Town and runs on Monday, Wednesday and Friday at 2pm and Saturday’s at 10:30am.
The tour runs for about 2-3 hours and you visit 6 locations on the Warsaw tour. The first location was a restaurant called Bambino Bar which dates back to the socialist Soviet years as it is a location that provides cheap, subsidised food in a self-service style with minimal décor keeping overhead costs down. While there we had a take-away coffee cup of Borsch soup, which is a traditional Eastern European beetroot, based soup. I was a big fan of this soup and do hope to try the cream based version of this dish sometime. This dish is traditionally the first course of Christmas dinner and is a recipe that most Eastern Europeans know how to make as it consists of beetroot, sugar, water and citric acid making it quite simple to make.
The next location was a little restaurant around the corner from the hostel where I was staying (Warsaw Downtown Hostel) called Dzik Malina. Here we had some cheese and potato dumplings (also known as Pierogi) topped with onion and sausage along with a piece of boar sausage. These dumplings were said to be in the ‘Russian style’ according to our guide. I found them to be not very sturdy making eating them off a toothpick a near impossible task. The sausage was nice and the flavour of the dumpling was nice and one I would have again, perhaps with some sauce of more of the toppings, as it was not a strong flavour. The restaurant itself had a cute décor and looked like a nice place to go for lunch or dinner, especially if you were staying at the hostel around the corner. Sadly I did not make it back to try out more of their menu.
The third stop of the tour was at Zapiexy, which was a little take-out bar that gave off a vibe of a bygone era. Here we tried Zapiekanka which is a traditional Polish dish dating back to the Soviet years again when meat and vegetables could be scares at times. We had the version of bread topped with mushroom and cheese before being baked. It was similar to a cheesy for me but after my antipasto plate before something I could not finish due to feeling quite full already. The berry flavoured fizzy drink called Orangine however that we tried was delicious and a homemade Polish fizzy drink that during the Soviet years was a treat for the children being served in expensive glass bottles. At this stop our guide reminisced and told us stories about his childhood and how these foods made up a big part of it.
Our next stop, now that we had some food in our bellies, was a bar for a traditional shot of vodka. The way that the Polish drink their vodka is supposedly with a gherkin at the end. I being not a fan of gherkins choose to skip it and just go for the vodka. The vodka was not an amazing one and I am assuming that we did not get a great vodka available at de Luxe Bar being on the tour. However this stop did give me the chance to do the traditional pose with vodka shot while in Poland photo opportunity.
Our next stop was for a little street side store called * that sells what is viewed as the best jam doughnut in Warsaw and prior to lent has lines forming around the corner and is constantly baking more doughnuts though out the day no matter the weather or season. These jam doughnuts are different to the ones you traditionally think of as the filling was a rose flavoured jam. The doughnut was delicious but very sweet and by the time you finished it you felt the sugar coma kicking in. They may look small but I recommend finishing your first one before considering going back for a second straight away.
The final stop on our tour is a must see location in Warsaw for any beer lover. The bar was called PiwPaw (Beer Heaven) and had a wall filled with many different taps, each one for a different type of beer. We had 4 different samples of beers to highlight some different Polish beers on offer at the bar. The boys in the group were big fans of this stop and many stayed on after the tour was over to have a few more drinks. This bar allows you the option of sampling a beer in a glass like we did which was a little bit bigger than a shot glass in volume for 10 PLN if you do not know what you want to drink; or if do know what you want then you can have a pint of a single beer for 60 PLN.
The four samples we tried are briefly detailed below. I was a fan of the last and first beer mostly. The boys in the group tended to enjoy the second one also but the third one was neither a favourite of the groups, nor a favourite of the local population.
1 – IPA
2 – High alcohol percentage – normal for a Polish beer.
3 – Smoked beer – won an award, not liked by locals.
4 – Wheat beer.
Overall the tour was a fun experience and there were some cool people that I met on the walking tour. I was much more a fan of Maciej in Krakow as a tour guide but I think that was more because he had a lively personality like myself so we clicked quite well and I enjoyed his storytelling style. The tour itself is well paced and you do some walking but it is about 30-40 minutes worth and broken up into manageable portions. I would however advise that you do not eat as much as I did right before the tour as you will want to eat everything on the tour and do not have a great amount of time at each location in which to finish it.