The English have taverns, Italians have osterias, and Poles have karczmas. Lovely and welcoming roadside restaurants for weary travelers to stop and rest and where families go for celebrations and leisure. It’s definitely worth it to go stop in a karczma and have a taste of hearty Polish food. In karczmas you get honest food at reasonable prices, the company of nice folks and you can enjoy the lovely Polish countryside around you.
Now, wouldn’t it be good if you could have all this within tram distance? Krakówiacy rejoice, Zabłocie 13 is a true karczma-style restaurant in the city center.
Only a hundred years ago, Zabłocie was not in Kraków at all. Like Kazimierz and other neighborhoods that have since joined the city, it used to be an independent town with its own city hall. Today, however, Zabłocie is one of the fastest-growing districts in Kraków. New blocks of apartments are popping up on every corner. So it’s a very nice surprise to see a place like Zabłocie 13 clinging to tradition among hipster cafés and a plethora of soulless eateries.
Back in 1881, the building which houses Zabłocie 13 was a slaughterhouse for Zabłocie residents. Not all of the original elements have survived, but some of the character is still there. A huge garden with a playground for the little ones is a perfect summer attraction.
All around there are the newly built white stone towers of modern Zabłocie and it’s a nice feeling to be in a cozy dark wood and old stone house with hearty Polish food. This is what Zabłocie 13 offers: solid, down to earth and traditional Polish food at its best.
Down to Earth
The Zabłocki Burger (29 PLN), for instance, is just the right version of a what a good burger should be. Prime beef, arugula, blue cheese, red onion marmalade and lingonberries with golden crispy fries.
Looks good, tastes amazing, is a canonical, perfect, no sideways, no tricks, no fancy unnecessary fuss about it. A good piece of meat with blue cheese and good bread in a bed of fresh greens. Nothing more, nothing less.
The pork chop with roasted potatoes and fried cabbage (29 PLN) is another simple wonder that, if cooked right, makes you love Polish food. In Zabłocie 13 they nail it, and few times will you have meat this tender in a restaurant with this prices. If you never tried this classic Polish dish, try it here before anywhere else to know how it ought to be. It’s pork dredged in breadcrumbs with the typical cabbage salad as side dish. It should be -and it is here- crispy on the outside, tender in the inside. Right on.
Gulp it down with some not-so-traditional Mojito lemonade (10 PLN) or even better, the watermelon Mojito (10) PLN). Just like the food menu, the drinks on offer are seasonal, explains Michał, the manager. Family friendly as this place is, they have a kids menu available, and being in a hipster sanctuary as they are, vegetarian options abound.
To complete your experience bring with you a copy of Lover of the Ursa Major, by Sergiusz Piasecki. Is a smuggler’s story that became the best selling book in Poland a hundred years ago. The descriptions of long walks in the forests and epicurean dinners in karczmas depicting in detail every dish will make you crave for anything on the traditionally Polish menu of Zabłocie 13 and enjoy the food twice as much. Smacznego!
For more foodie articles on Kraków, click the link here.