Throughout Poland you may find cozy diner style cafes tucked into back streets or on the corner, out of the way, a few blocks from the main squares. Hearkening back to its communist days under soviet rule milk bars continue to serve traditional dishes at incredible rates. These are indeed relics from a different era and here you can find the heart of Polish cuisine to find out why they haven’t disappeared. Perogies, dumplings, cabbage dishes, pickled sides of everything imaginable. They even serve some meat dishes and typical Polish meals. The milk bars were established by the government as subsidized restaurants for people to afford to get a meal out on occasion without breaking the bank. They seem to be a communist version of social security of sorts. That said, the prices are very low and much can be had for very little money. It is worth getting a bunch of items and sharing with the table to experience the cuisine of the people and get a feel for how your gramma might have cooked it at home, as most of the establishments are run by no nonsense, older ladies who expect a quick order and prompt payment. They have no qualms about running out of items or rushing your order. They are there to cook, not for the ambiance, and its kinda charming in its own way. You must visit a few on our trip and experience it for yourself. Milk bars draw an eclectic mix as everyone seems to enjoy frequenting their favorite local establishment for a quick mid day meal.
We sampled a few milk bars on our trip tasting various perogies, cabbage dishes and carrot dishes. We found the quality to be pretty good, albeit a tad bit bland, especially for the price. The dishes give remarkable insight into the cultural cuisine and a good baseline for any subsequent eating along the trip. We find a vast menu of simply prepared items of basic but yummy dishes. Portions are modest but prices are very low and a feast can be had for a few dollars. When they run out of an item, they simply remove the price on the board, or remove the item altogether from the menu for the day.