Bar Mleczny (milk bar)

Milk Bars. A full course meal for the cost of a Starbucks coffee!

Bar Mleczny (Milk Bars) in Warsaw

Milk Bars in Warsaw
One of the most popular Milk Bars in Warsaw. “Prasowy” Bar Mleczny in Marszałkowska Street.

Bar Mleczny literally means Milk Bar. The first Bar Mleczny, which was opened in Warsaw in 1896, had a menu mainly based on dairy items. Today, you can eat a wide range of traditional Polish food for the cost of a Starbucks coffee. That’s right! For around 5 euros you can have a full meal composed of soup, first course and a drink (kompot).

Don’t expect the best service, though. You’ll have to line up to order and then line up again to collect your food.

Note: Sometimes the dish won’t be ready and you’ll have to wait at the table until an old lady will scream the name of your dish. A little price to pay for an authentic experience and some great homemade traditional food. I actually find the whole thing quite entertaining!

During communist times Milk Bar’s popularity exploded and the number of restaurants in the whole Poland soared to 40.000. After the fall of the USSR, the Milk Bar was seen as a relic of the past and most people abandoned it in favor of “fancier” restaurants. Today, however, they are back in fashion and their number is rising again.

The menu at a Milk Bar

The daily menu – usually written with a white chalk on a blackboard – will be written in Polish, and therefore it will be incomprehensible to most of you.

So, keep in mind these dishes when you go there:

Soups (zupy):

  • Pomidorowa (z ryżem) – tomato soup, usu- ally served with rice
  • Żurek – thick sour rye soup with hard boiled eggs and polish sausage
  • Ogórkowa –  soup made of salted sour cucumbers

Main courses (dania główne):

  • Pierogi – polish dumplings with either meat (pierogi z mięsem), or onions and cottage cheese (pierogi ruskie)
  • Bigos – a stew of sauerkraut, polish sausage and other kinds of meat
  • Kotlet schabowy – polish pork cutlet
  • Gulasz – meat stew seasoned with paprika and other spices

Except for Pierogi, all other dishes will be served with either potato (ziemniaki), buckwheat (kasza) or rice (ryż) and are always accompanied by a side salad (surówka).

The best Milk Bars in Warsaw

There are many Bar Mleczny in Warsaw. Make sure you visit one of these (link to google maps):

NOTE: You can’t say you visited Poland until you eat in a Milk Bar!

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