Bar Prasowy is one of the most interesting places to eat in Warsaw, Poland and will certainly be a highlight of your trip. To enjoy cheap food while rubbing elbows with people from all walks of life (you’ll certainly see plenty of students, elderly people, and numerous men and women in suits), practice your Polish, and learn a bit about culture, eat lunch at Bar Prasowy one afternoon. This is one of Warsaw’s few remaining milk bars, so eating here is an experience in itself.
What is a milk bar?
Milk bars are traditional cafeterias in Poland that serve cheap, dairy-based, and hearty traditional food for the working man or woman. Milk bars were popular in the postwar era and were started under communism when poverty in Poland was at a high. Though not many milk bars remain, those that do retain their cultural value and continue to provide cheap but healthy meals to the masses.
Bar Prasowy was opened in 1954 in Warsaw with the mission to provide healthy and affordable meals to everyone in the community. It also functions as a social space, promoting cultural events and educational discussions.
How to order
The menu at Bar Prasowy is written on a large blackboard on the wall and as menu items are sold out, they are erased off the menu. The tricky bit is that the menu items are only written and described in Polish and the cashier at my time of visit did not speak English. Don’t let this discourage you to visit though, it is simple to look up the menu items (on their online menu) beforehand and note down keywords. Writing down keywords such as meat, vegetables, main dishes (like potato pancakes), or using a translation app while at Bar Prasowy will help you understand what’s on the menu.
After choosing what to order, wait in line by the cashier (near the entrance) and place your order. Polish pronunciation is difficult; therefore, you may even want to consider writing down your order to give to the cashier. The cashier will give you your order number so while you’re waiting for your food, choose a seat in the cafeteria and wait for your number to be called in Polish. Just pay careful attention to the window to ensure you pick up your food on time, or use your translation app to figure out when your number has been called. Note that your number may be called more than once as drinks will come out before main dishes. You will have to pick up your food at the window and give your receipt to the worker calling out your order number. The meals come on disposable plates and disposable cutlery is provided. After enjoying your delicious meal, please bus your table.
Keep in mind that lines can be quite long, so it is best to come early or be prepared for a bit of a wait. Luckily, Bar Prasowy has years of experience feeding communities so they’re extremely efficient and the line moves quickly.
The food at Bar Prasowy is simple, filling, and very inexpensive — it was by far the cheapest meal we enjoyed in Warsaw. At Bar Prosowy, you can order pierogies (dumplings) with a variety of fillings, potato pancakes stuffed with cheeses or meats, soups, such as white borsch with sausage or vegetable soup with potatoes, salads, and so much more.
Prices range from about 3 PLN / ~0.77 USD for soups, to 6 PLN / ~1.53 USD for pierogies or pancakes, and about 7 PLN / ~1.79 USD for meat-based main dishes. As you can see, the prices are very affordable and the quality of food is great!
An inexpensive meal and a unique experience
From ordering to eating and busing your own table, eating at Bar Prasowy in Warsaw, Poland is a unique experience that any foodie, budget traveler, or cultural enthusiast would relish. Add Bar Prasowy to your itinerary and surely you’ll leave having both a taste of Polish culture, history, and food…you will feel full of appreciation that a milk bar, such as Bar Prasowy, still exists!
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