Poles, for the most part, are asun-starved bunch, and as the all-too-brief warm weather season approaches, city dwellers throughout the country scurry to the nearest outdoor garden bar, restaurant patio or picnic spot to satisfy their tummy rumbles and exterior drinking desires. As a result, cobbled streets, spacious pavements and city-centre rooftops from Kraków to Gdańsk, Wrocław to Warsaw come to life with a riot of colours, animated conversation and outdoor degustatory delights. Poland’s patio options abound and, though highly tempting, you won’t have time to try them all, so here’s a look at the absolute best hidden haunts, lavish verandas and secluded courtyards across the country.
Kraków’s Engrossing Patio Energy In Poland’s cultural epicentre, locals crave the rays as much as beer so in the summertime, Kraków transforms into a city-wide beer garden with nearly every café and restaurant boasting a pavement terrace. First time visitors usually keep to the Old Town’s Market Square, a landmark location brimming activity and old-world charm, plus a plethora of upscale eateries, cool cafés and late night drinking locales. Patios here also offer the best views of the awe-inspiring architecture that is the Renaissance-style Cloth Hall and the 14th-century Gothic basilica of the Virgin Mary. Those looking to schmooze and booze in an exotic setting should head over to Budda Bar Drink & Garden (Rynek Główny 6, tel. +48 12 421 6522, www.buddabar.com. pl), a Buddha-themed bar tucked away in a corner of the market square. The split-level interior is bathed in sensual carmine colours and Buddhist iconography, but the main attraction is the dainty open air courtyard, star-lit dance floor at night where day trippers and city slickers boogie to new-age beats spun by resident DJs. Just off the central square, a packed-but-worthwhile locale to enjoy a mug of beer or a caffeinated drink is Tajemniczy Ogrod (ulica Bracka 3-5, tel. +48 12 429 3814, www.tajemniczyogrod. pl).
A well-travelled secret with summery wicker chairs, colourful parasols, potted plants and a comfortable backyard feel, this café-bar draws a motley crew of artsy types, backpackers and even a few laidback businessmen. If you`re looking for more luxurious refinement, visit the Terrace Bar of Hotel Stary (ulica Szczepanska 5, tel. +48 12 384 0808, www.stary.hotel.com.pl), a regal rooftop hideaway designed by the enterprising Likus brothers. You’ll really feel like red carpet jet-setter sampling some of the non-recession friendly nibbles and libations from designer furniture while catching spectacular views of the skyline. Cousin to the much-loved Wesele and Miod i Maliona restaurants in the centre of Kraków, La Campana Tratorria’s (ulica Kanonicza 7, tel. +12 430 2232) shaded backyard garden has to be one of the loveliest patios in town. This outdoor cobblestone oasis, with its country-chic tables, sheltering greenery and rustic elegance, is tucked at the back of the restaurant where locals and visiting foodies live la dolce vita. Beside the boisterous backyard patio and the green comfort factor, sophisticated diners will indulge in competently crafted and simply delicious Italian standards such as lasagna, grilled tuna steak and a sizable selection of pastas.
Frenzied souls who heed the siren call of the Vistula River will be delighted to discover Aquarius (moored at the Czerwieński Boulevard, tel. +48 12 427 2003, www. aquariuskrakow.pl), a boat-turned restaurant anchored at the foot of the Wawel Hill. With some of the best views of Kraków’s historic castle and it’s lush surroundings, this lavish two-floor watermark is the perfect repose for intimate get togethers, sipping frosty beer or lingering contentedly after a long day of sightseeing and souvenir shopping.
The space is wood-heavy and expansive but seats on the breezy top-level terrace go quickly during the day. A seasonally changing seafood- centric menu befits the milieu, featuring elegant dishes like Mediterranean goulash, butterfish with champagne sauce and royal dorada fish in fresh rosemary sauce. While the Old Town’s drinking and dining destinations can be exceedingly engaging, those in the know head to the fast-casual and free-spirited (and more wallet friendly) establishments of Kazimierz, the up-and-coming bohemian neighbourhood of the city that was once the largest Jewish quarter in Eastern Europe. Cafés and restaurants are filled with mismatched rickety furniture, eclectic artwork and chilled clientele sitting on street-front seats or in obscure inner courtyard, secluded from the main thoroughfare and the usual street clamour. Alchemia (ulica Estery 5, tel. +48 12 421 22 00, www. alchemia.com.pl), situated on the corner of the constantly-crowded Nowegu Square, is an avant-garde neighbourhood artifact where local hipsters down a few pilsners or munch on light afternoon lunch while sitting on second-hand patio furniture. The social gravitation point of the fashion-conscious is Avocado Resto Bar (ulica Bozego Ciala 1, tel. +48 12 422 0486, www. restoavocado.pl), a contemporary pastel-hued space with a large pavement patio dotted with sleek wooden furniture, green cushions and a cluster of potted plants. Foodwise, the menu offers customers a bit of everything: appetisers range from shrimp cocktail with avocado to beef carpaccio with capers, while mains include pappardelle with walnuts and gorgonzola sauce, grilled beef entrecote with béarnaise sauce and roasted fried sea bass with shrimp. Capital Indulgence During the summer months, Warsaw’s culinary action also spills to pavemnent terraces and shady decks as gastronomic establishments milk the fun-in-the-sun angle for all it’s worth. Nowy Świat, Chmielna and Foksal streets – the city’s holy trinity of high-style shopping, dining and lounging – teem with outdoor dining and lounging options from swanky restaurants to casual coffee-shops and studentfriendly beatnik bars. A perennial favourite throughout the year, Cava (ulica Nowy Świat 30, tel. +48 22 826 6427, www.cava.pl) explodes into a full-blown festival in heat of summer as thirsty entrepreneurs rub shoulders with well-heeled twenty- and thirty-somethings on maroon-coloured deck chairs. A few houses down on Nowy Świat, at number 54/56, Tapas Bar- Casa To Tu (tel. +48 22 828 0066, www.casatotu.pl) attracts a similarly style-sensitive crowd who take pleasure in the bite-sized Spanish nibbles and creative alcoholic concoctions. Delicious people-watching potential is always a good measure of a popular patio and Między Nami Cafe (ulica Bracka 20, tel. +48 22 828 5417, www.miedzynamicafe.pl
) certainly excels in that category. Lounge beds, worn-in wooden benches with white cushions are screened from the traffic by bushes and large umbrellas, but there’s plenty of space to survey the street life and the mixed-bag of patrons that frequent this high-spirited place. If you’re lucky enough to find seat, be sure to try their courgette pancakes with yogurt-mint sauce, tofu in yellow curry with soya noodles or the quiche with asparagus. To wash down all that freshly-made goodness with one of their fruity shakes or chilled cocktails.
Far from the hubbub of downtown Warsaw, big spenders fancying a secluded, romantic culinary retreat with a side helping of high-angle panoramas will rejoice in Moonsfera (ulica Wybrzeże Gdyńskie 4, tel. +48225603733, www.moonsfera.pl). Situated on the top floor of the glitzy Polish Olympics Association building, this lavishly outfitted rooftop restaurant warrants serious epicurean attention. Acclaimed chef Jarosław Uścińskiego’s – who honed his crowd-pleasing culinary craft while working in the kitchen of Bristol Hotel’s eatery and Restaurant 99 - hit his culinary stride at this high-rise establishment.
Under his guidance, the menu features decadent meals full of eastern influences and surprising tastes as well as a wide selection of top-shelf spirits and wines that more than sweeten the deal.
In a refreshing change from the on-the-hoof rush of Warsaw, Wrocław does al fresco drinking and dining in a casual, approachable way.
Across the Vistula River, Warsaw’s Praga precinct is slowlyemerging as a port of call for summerpatio pleasures. Leading theal fresco dining revolution is PassePartout (ulica Zwycięzców 21, tel.+48 22 616 2882, www.passepartout
.pl), a hidden little hangoutwith an atmospheric garden terracelocated on a sleepy side streetin Saska Kepa. The patio, deckedout with homey beige furniture, isenveloped by flower beds, bushesand towering tree - just the spot fora discreet encounter over palpablePolish grub and refreshing pick-meups.
Another honest-to-goodness lunch locale in the area is PastaCafe (ulica Kamionowksa 48a, tel. +48 22 870 0373, www.pastacafe.pl), a low-key restaurant-cum-cafe boasting an outdoor play area obscured by lush camouflage. Pasta (as the title suggests) is the main focus here so there’s a wide variety of delicious renditions of this old-school classic. Spirits in the Sun In a refreshing change from the on the- hoof rush of Warsaw, Wrocław does al fresco drinking and dining in a casual, approachable way. The centre-point of the café and restaurant culture lies in the Market Square, or Rynek, a 13th-century landmark meticulously rebuilt after wartime destruction. Here there is a particular brand of relax-andunwind spirit, one where good company is an end in itself and waiters don’t badger customers to get more sales. Let yourself be romanced by Piwnica Świdnicka (Rynek Ratusz 1, tel. +48 71 369 9510, www. piwnicaswidnicka.com), a massive underground restaurant with a straightforward sidewalk setup during the canicular days. Neighborhood imbibers and enervated sightseers get a front-row seat of the to-ings and fro-ings local characters as they indulge in signature Polish dishes. A more fun and off-beat alternative is Pracoffnia Club (ulica Wiezienna 6, tel.+48 603 585496, www.pracoffnia.pl), a gastropub run by a design and architecture studio and furnished with comfortable couches, chairs and whimsical mix of design doodads. A young, urban crowd hangs out on the curbside veranda during the fair-weather season imbibing well into the wee hours of the night. Seasoned tipplers and beer worshippers also congregate at Stare Miasto Pub (ulica Włodkowica 18, tel. +48 71 341 0834, www.staremiasto.wroc.pl
), situated just outside the inner ring of the Old Town. Communal wooden benches and a light-festooned riverside porch draw in the crowds for some nosh and slosh. Seaside Spectacle Whether you like your food to be accompanied by the sounds of waves lapping gently on the shore, captivating cityscape views or the hustle and bustle of people passing by, Gdańsk and the Tri-City area offers a potpourri of exterior dining venues. Fort the ultimate outdoor luxury, start by visiting Filharmonia Restaurant (ulica Ołowianka 1, tel. +48 58 323 8358, www.restauracjafilharmonia.pl), a polished and poshly-priced place housed inside the red-brick neo- Gothic Baltic Philharmonic building.
Grab a seat on the rooftop terrace and enjoy the near perfect harmony of musically-named fusion dishes (think: fried Norwegian salmon in wasabi sauce and roast duck sonata served in saffron puree) under the Baltic sun.
Spectacular views and gourmet treats also go hand-in-hand at Goldwasser (ulica Długie Pobrzeże 24 22, tel. +48 58 301 8878, www. goldwasser.pl), a long run restaurant where the upstairs patio affords breath-taking waterfront views for a fair price. Wrought iron railing choking in ivy, suave seats, a menu plump with international classic and local Kashubian dishes coupled with friendly wait staff able to predict diners desires makes this such a outstanding experience. Next door, Baryłka (ulica Długie Pobrzeże 24, tel. +48 58 301 4938, www.barylka.pl) boasts a similar kicking feel-good vibe with fish-centric menu that is as divine as the riverfront vista. Gdańsk’s Długa Street Street has a host of buzz-worthy of outdoor dining facilities, such as Euro (ulica Długa 79/80, tel. +48 58 305 2383, www.restauracja-euro.com.pl), a rococo-style restaurant with a lovely veranda that provides ample opportunities to watch hordes of tourists and locals strolling along and enjoying the city.