© Michael Hardenfelt 2012

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Bars and restaurants in Warsaw

If the main purpose of the trip is to get a culinary experience, then you probably shouldn't place Warsaw at the very top of your list of travel destinations. 

This having been said I would like to emphasize that a gigantic development has taken place over the past few years. In 1989 Poland started the process towards the West with a handful of hotel-chefs, whose main qualifications was to be able to weigh out the products and arrange the correct amount of food on the clients plate according to the instruction manual. And then there were a lot of canteen cooks, able to make cheap and traditional Polish food.

During the past couple of years we have though witnessed a rapidly accelerating development. The Poles themselves have started to look at restaurant visits as an experience, and not just a necessary expense on special occasions or business trips. Travelling abroad has created a fondness for new food cultures, and many Polish chefs have worked in excellent restaurants abroad.

Slowly but indisputably a food culture is arising. Many small restaurants have owners who look at their job as a mission in life. It may still not reach the superior standard, but also the prices are very fair compared to international prices. 

This guide is a positive list. I do not give stars, will just mention places, which according to me or my friends are worth a visit. If I personally don't think they are worth it, I won't mention them. Sometimes I haven't been to a place for a long time, so I cannot guarantee that the information is up to date, but I would be happy to receive a feedback if someone doesn't agree with me, or has found an interesting place in Warsaw. 

Expect from my personal experience and recommendations from friends I have mentioned most of the restaurants that appear in the Guide Michelin 2013. In the newest guide from 2013 one restaurant has been granted a Star and around 20 others one, two, three or four sets of cutlery. 

 

 

Gay clubs

Until the late President  Lech Kaczynski during his term as Mayor of Warsaw banned a gay parade referring to traffic legislation gays and gay bars was an off topic in Poland.

The Mayors absurd arguments coursed people without any affiliation to the gay movement to fight for the right to walk through the town in a peaceful, political manifestation. Mr. Kaczynski's violation of the Polish Constitution and basic Human Rights initiated a change of mind, which has allowed for a constantly growing gay and transsexual scene during the last 7-8 years.  I shall only list a few places here, but much more are available in specialized guides.

 

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Bastylia (see under other restaurants)

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Wild - Chlodna 39 (close to Solidarnosc/ Okopowa)

Just for men. Video cabins, dark room and thematic parties.  

 

 

Fast food in Warsaw

Fast and cheap food has made its entry into Warsaw. For KFC - a small investment, for the Polish people - a tiger leap. You will now find 26 KFC handover places, 41 McDonalds shops + an innumerable amount of kebabs, cheap pizza-shops and other burger establishments in Warsaw - and all this has happened within a period of just 23 years.

I shall not recommend fast food places. They are international, easily recognisable and they are to be found at every other street corner.

 

 

Pizza in Warsaw

There are even more pizza restaurants than fast food places. Some of them are awful, others are ok if you are hungry. A nasty habit of pouring ketchup on the pizza is thank God becoming less fashionable.

It is difficult to tell which pizza restaurants are good. Some chains have a really good brand name and also sell internationally popular dishes together with the pizzas, but a visit will not necessarily give you good memories about your stay in Warsaw. Below an ultra-short list. Warsaw has many more good pizza restaurants, but you have to try for yourself.

Casa Mia Trattoria - Poznanska 37

Could have been in the category "Italian restaurant", but pizza and pasta is their main offering. Good quality, nice atmosphere and a friendly waitress.

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Momento Pizza - ul. Lwowska 1 (At Plac Politechniki, 5 minutes from Plac Konstytucji).

Just in front of the Technical University. Most of their clients are fastidious, future engineers. It is nice and cheap.

 

 

Spanish in Warsaw

You will find a number of Spanish restaurants in Warsaw. Unfortunately I have not visited them all. For people with travelling experience in Spain and knowledge of the Spanish cuisine many of the local restaurants will be a disappointment. A few restaurants have succeeded in making very good tapas restaurants, but unfortunately most of them have closed down.

Hiszpanska Mirador - ul. Grzybowska 2. 5 minutes from Bank Square.

Extensive Spanish menu with a real taste of Spain. Main courses generally  40-60 zloty.

 

 

Polish in Warsaw

Obviously Polish food in Poland may be presented in different ways. The three main tendencies are traditional Polish home cooking including banquets, manor cooking concentrating on game and Polish food with inspiration from French, Italian and fusion kitchen.

Pod Czerwonym Wieprzem (Under the Red Swine) - ul. Zelazna 68. Close to Solidarnosc Avenue. 10 minutes walk from Plac Bankowy.

Communist atmosphere mixed with the International, Marx and Lenin. The restaurant presents a parody on the communist time. Well made and plenty of Polish food. Worth a visit, especially to experience the atmosphere. Main courses from 20 zloty.

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AleGloria - Plac Trzech Krzyzy 3 (Right in front of Hotel Sheraton).

A restaurant with a lot of personality, owned by the Restaurant Mogul Magda Gessler. Polish manor kitchen with modern elements. 3 sets of cutlery in the Michelin Guide.

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Atelier Amaro - Agrykola 1 (By Plac Rozdrozu/ Botanical Garden - 10 minutes walk from Plac Trzech Krzyzy).

An experimental restaurant emphasizing fresh, local raw materials. No menu card, but fixed menus.  The price for a menu is around 220 zloty + a 10% tip without wine (may vary). General agreement that a meal at  Atelier Amaro is an experience.

The only restaurant in Warsaw which has been awarded a Star by the Michelin Guide.

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Belvedere - Situated in the Lazienki Park. Agrykola 1.

Traditional Polish banquet cuisine. Extensive menu, also with international dishes. Specializes in weddings. 3 sets of cutlery in the Michelin Guide.

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Platter by Karol Okrasa - ul Emilii Plater 49. Situated at Hotel Intercontinental. The kitchen is being run by one of Poland's well-known television chefs. 

Inventive, Polish cuisine. The prices are Polish hotel prices, i.e.  85-180 zloty. for a main course. A short but well selected wine list with prices from 130 zloty and upwards for a bottle. 3 sets of cutlery in the Michelin Guide.

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Polska Rozana - ul. Chocimska 7. Mokotow. A small street running parallel with Pulawska Street.

Polish cuisine with international inspiration.  Main courses 50-80 zloty. 3 sets of cutlery in the Michelin Guide.

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U Fukiera - Rynek 27 (the City Hall Square) in the Old Town.

A traditional, old restaurant, which is now being owned by the Restaurant Guru, Magda Gessler - a Lady emphasizing form and style. A list of famous people who visited the restaurant can be seen at the restaurant's Home Page. An inspiring place for those who like to eat surrounded by flower arrangements.

Traditional Polish party food. Main courses probably around 40-60 zloty but the homepage doesn't give prices, so I have no updated information. 2 sets of cutlery in the Michelin Guide.

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French in Warsaw

 

International (European) in Warsaw

Amber Room - On the Royal Route, close to the Lazienki Park. Aleje Ujazdowskie 13.

A formal restaurant with an excellent cuisine, Polish with a bit of French and some molecular inspiration. Main courses start at 60 zloty, and that's cheap in my opinion. An extensive wine list, but it is possible to buy a bottle of wine for around 150 zloty. House wine can be bought by the glass.

4 sets of cutlery in the Michelin Guide + a personal recommendation from me.

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Rozbrat 20 - ul. Rozbrat 20. On the road from Plac Trzech Krzyzy towards the river.

Delicious. A relaxed restaurant with original French food and atmosphere. Main courses 60-80 zloty. Small international wine list starts at 76 zloty for a bottle.  2 sets of cutlery in the Michelin Guide and good memories for me.

 

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Obsessja - At the Royal Route. By Hotel Belweder.

Excellent, small hotel restaurant right in front of the Russian Embassy. Payable prices, and it is clear that the chef would like to show what he is able to do.

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Pod Gigantami - On the Royal Route, close to the centre (by Plac Trzech Krzyzy) Al. Ujazdowskie 24.

Tablecloths on the tables, but cheerful service. Polish with (a lot of) international inspiration. Main courses from 64 zloty. Pretentious wine list.

4 sets of cutlery in the Michelin Guide.

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Tamka 43 - a few hundred metres from Nowy Swiat - 10 minutes walk from the Castle Square.

Experimental kitchen with seasonal raw materials and molecular inspiration. Menu list and perception menus. Fair but different prices.  3 sets of cutlery in the Michelin Guide.

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Concept - Krakowskie Przedmiescie 16/ 18 (a few steps from the Palace Square).

Mixed Polish, French, Italian. Attaches importance to a seasonal menu. Main courses from 100 zloty. Very big wine list. 

Modern interior, jazz pianist on Thursdays, good atmosphere. Maybe you pay a bit extra for the location. 2 sets of cutlery in the Michelin Guide.

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Dom Polski - ul. Francuska 11 (Saska Kepa) - Across the bridge to the other side of the river, then to the right into Saska Kepa, an area dominated by one family houses.

International kitchen with Polish inspiration. Main courses 35-100 zloty. Situated in a villa. 2 sets of cutlery in the Michelin Guide.

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Flik - ul. Pulawska 43 - Mokotow, A bit off the actual main road, surrounded by the park, Morski Oko.

Unpretentious restaurant in nice surroundings. 40-80 zloty for a main course, Saturday-Sunday Swedish buffet at 40 zloty. 2 sets of cutlery in the Michelin Guide.

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Le Rotisserie - ul. Koscielna 12 - New Town, situated in the elegant Hotel Le Regina.

A mix of Polish, French and Italian cuisine. Menu with wine 230-350 zloty. An ambitious and elegant restaurant. 2 sets of cutlery in the Michelin Guide.

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Butchery & wine - ul. Żurawia 22. Close to Hotel Novotel, side street to Marszalkowska. Neighbouring street to Jerozolimskie.

Steakhouse with elegant starters and side dishes. Choice between Polish, American and Australian beef, which is why the main courses vary from 40 to 150 zloty. Relaxed atmosphere, good food and a Bib Gourmand from the Michelin Guide.

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Boathouse. Wal Miedzeszynski 389a - Along the river, in front of the Lazienki Park (on the opposite river bank).

Huge restaurant with Mediterranean cuisine, large menu, payable prices and professional staff. 1 set of cutlery in the Michelin Guide.

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Qchnia Artystyczna - ul. Jazdów 2. The restaurant is located in the Ujazdowski castle next to the Botanical Garden and the Lazienki park.

Translated into English the name means "Artistic Kitchen" - and that's the ambition level. The atmosphere is a bit bohemian and the food tries to go beyond norms, often with an excellent result. You can have a meal for 35 zloty and it will be difficult to pay more than a hundred zloty for three courses excluding wine. A well deserved set of cutlery in the Michelin Guide.

 

 

Chinese & Vietnamese in Warsaw

During communist times quite a few Vietnamese arrived in Poland as refugees, and later they settled here. There is not always a clear distinction between the Polish version of Chinese and Vietnamese kitchen, and generally it is all about a cheap meal with rice and Asiatic inspiration. Normally you will be able to get a main course with rice for 12-18 zloty. Below I have listed a number of restaurants at a slightly higher level than "the cheapest".  

Restaurant Rong Vang - ul. Okopowa 23 - 10 minutes from Solidarnosc Avenue.

Original Vietnamese menu in a good quality and nice waiters. Main courses from 20 zloty. 

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Bar Chinczyk - ul. Okopowa 23. Right next to Rong Vang. Typical, cheap Chinese food outlet. It is on this list because of the atmosphere. 

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Canton - ul. Smocza 1. Muranow area close to Aleja Solidarnosc.

Good sized, Chinese restaurant with table-cloths, waiters service and excellent food. Main courses from 20 zloty. You may order Peking Duck and other specialities.

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Dzonka - ul. Hoza 54 - Side street of Marszalkowska Street.

Original Chinese atmosphere and nice staff. The food is made with love. Main courses from 20 zloty.

 

 

Jewish in Warsaw

There aren't too many Jewish people living in Warsaw any longer, and definitely not enough to form the basis of several restaurants. Due to World War II Poland is though the aim of many Jewish pilgrimages, and some of them also visit Warsaw, which before WWII was home to one of  the largest concentrations of Jews in Europe. Besides from that many Poles are passionately interested in Jewish culture, and a visit at a Jewish restaurant is often considered trendy.

Tel Aviv - ul. Poznanska 11. Parallel street with Marszalkowska Street.

Small restaurant with kosher menu. Even the Polish beer is kosher, according to the waiter (That I am surprised that Polish beer may be kosher is probably just due to my ignorance). Important meeting place for admirers of Jewish culture. Across the road lies the Beirut Bar, and one may notice frequent and peaceful walks between the two establishments.  

 

 

Italian in Warsaw

San Lorenzo - Jan Pawel II 36 (Hotel and office centre, parallel with Marszalkowska Street. main artery).

Traditional Italian restaurant with a fixed selection on the menu as well as seasonal offers. Prices from 35-89 zloty. for a main course. Big selection of Italian wines in all price groups. 3 sets of cutlery in the Michelin Guide.

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Restauracja Bacio - Wilcza 43 - Side street of Marszalkowska.

Gaily decorated restaurant with a traditional Italian menu. A small selection of delicious main courses from 40-60 zloty. Large pasta menu.

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Bukieteria Roma - Mokotowska 49 - Parallel street to Marszalkowska.

Small restaurant with a really nice atmosphere and a chef coddling the food. Pro but relaxed atmosphere. Main courses 40-60 zloty.

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Castello - Wiertnicza 96 - 2 minutes run from the Palace in Wilanow.

Large, ambitious restaurant situated in an old villa. Huge menu with home made pasta and main courses from 40 zloty and up.  Both food and service is professional and diligent. 

 

 

Milk Bars in Warsaw

The traditional eating places for Poles, who for some reason or another couldn't get home for dinner. In communist times there were loads of them, now the few that are left are treated like treasures, and receive a massive discount on the rent payable to the municipality, which owns most of the business premises.

You go to the till, tell the lady what you would like (no beer/ alcohol). Then you pay and get a till slip, which you deliver at the counter. Often you get it right away, but if you have to wait the lady will shout out the name of the dish when it is ready - if you don't speak Polish, just be observant. 

They don't speak English, but in particular older Poles are good at managing with gestures. Some international words are easy to understand: omelet, makaron, zupa. Traditional dishes are:

If you happen to like local folklore and taste, then try a milk bar. The quality varies quite a lot, but some of them are really excellent.

Bar mleczny pod barbakanem - ul. Mostowa 27 (New Town, next to Barbican, when you come from the Old Town).

Bar mleczny bambino - ul. Krucza 21 (by ul. Hoza, a few minutes from Marszalkowska).

Bar Mleczny Familijny - Nowy Swiat 39 (at the stretch from Plac de Gaulle till the Palace Square).

 

 

Other restaurants in Warsaw

Banja Luka (Balkan) - ul- Szkolna 2/4. Right in the centre, next to Marszalkowska-Street and the Saski Park.

Large, lively Balkan restaurant with atmosphere, musicians and waiters dressed in folk costumes and high spirits. Main courses from 30 zloty and up. 

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Borpince (Hungarian) - ul. Zgoda 1 (side street of Jerozolimskie, 5 minutes walk from Plac de Gaulle).

In a huge and exclusively decorated cellar the Hungarian kitchen shows what it is capable of when being at its best. Let the calorie meter stay at home for one day and pamper your tongue with a starter, main course and desert. Main courses from 30 zloty and upwards. Very large selection of Hungarian wines. The house wine costs 89 zloty. 

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Ganesh (Indian) - Wilcza 50 (at the corner of Poznanska - a few minutes from Marszalkowska).

Streamlined style Indian restaurant with a large selection of really good Indian dishes - be it hot or not quite so hot (even mild).

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Tandoor Palace (Indian) - Marszalkowska 21 (5 minutes from Plac Zbawiciela)

An Indian restaurant with a long tradition in Warsaw and an original Indian menu. The atmosphere is Indian, good service and a fine experience. My personal favourite Indian restaurant in Warsaw, but I also go to Ganesh (the restaurant above) now and then.

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Suparom Thaifood - ul. Marszalkowska 45, right in the middle between Plac Konstytucji and Plac Zbawiciela.

Personally I'm not very fond of Thai food, but this is good, Delicious sauces and a menu that obviously takes its job seriously. 

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Bastylia - Plac Zbawiciela (the corner of Mokotowska).

Pancake bar - Thick pancakes stuffed with deserts or as a main course with different kinds of stews. Also salads, sandwiches, beer and champagne. Nice place to enjoy a beer. The bar was previously a popular meeting place for lesbians, but is now changing a bit into mixed gay, lesbians and hetero. 

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Boston Port - ul. Okolska 2. By Pulawska, Next to Banja Luka.

International specialities, concentrating on fish at reasonable prices. Personally I love their thick fish soup. 

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Merlingo 5 Portuguese (By Pulawska, In front of Warszawianka Aqua park)

A restaurant with really delicious food and ambitions. A real feeling for Portugal and traditional Portuguese cuisine. Main courses from 40 zloty and upwards.   Perception menu with 9 dishes including wine at 230 zloty. Extremely large, international wine list.

 

 

Bars, bistros, beer halls, wine bars (usually with food as well)

Here I have a problem, because there are so many that I don't know where to begin. I suggest you find a local place, but here is a very small selection. Half a litre of Polish beer won't cost you more than 10 zloty at the following bars.

Irish Pub Patrick's - ul. Nowogrodzka 31 (side street of Marszalkowska, a few minutes from Metro Centrum).

Large Irish pub with a long bar desk. Refectory tables, simple style and good atmosphere. 

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Browarmia - Krakowskie Przedmiescie 7, 5 minutes from the Palace Square.

Own microbrewery. Really it's more a restaurant than a bar. Classical Polish food and unpasteurized beer. 

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Beirut - ul. Poznanska 12. Parallel street to Marszalkowska.

Always something going on. Music bar in the heart of the town. Tel Aviv bar across the street, humus and other Arab specialities to satisfy one's hunger. 

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Piwiarnia Warka - ul. Wilcza 35

Sports bar transmitting soccer games and other sports events on huge screens. Brilliant spareribs and other kinds of food going down well with beer.

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Charlotte - chleb i wino - Plac Zbawiciela (Between ul Wyzwolenia and Mokotowska)

The hangout of the Avant-garde. A combination of a French bakery, a cafe and a bar. No beer. 

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Regeneracja - Pulawska 61

Large pub with food. Student's atmosphere, large terrace and happy people. 

 

 

 

Cafes in Warsaw (normally without beer and wine, but not always)

In my first tourist guide to Poland, which I bought more than 15 years ago, it said something like this: If you are among those who cannot manage without your daily hot shot espresso before going to work, then you will have a hard time in Warsaw". Cafes are a relatively new phenomenon, and the Poles have taken it to their hearts. There is a cafe on every other street corner, and young, old, business people, students, gays, heteroes, members of parliament and tourists pour into the cafes to drink luxury coffee, chat, eat cakes, complain about the partner, talk about their jobs, see and be seen. 

Almost all cafes belong to some kind of change - and you feel that. No matter how much old furniture they squeeze into such a franchise cafe, then they will not be able to create an atmosphere of authenticity and affiliation.

The past couple of years have seen the emergence of new cafes with a special personality, some of them together with bakeries. They have fancy prices and they are packed with clients.

Karma - Plac Zbawiciela

The meeting place for actors and artists. Always filled, but many people sit for an hour or more with a cup of coffee. 

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Charlotte - chleb i wino (See under bars, bistros, beer halls, wine bars).

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Same Fusy - Nowomiejska 10. Old Town, by Rynek.

Good coffee, cakes and atmosphere. 

 

 

Clubs in Warsaw - for the young and the younger

Once more - a very short list compared to an enormous amount of clubs.

Plan B - Plac Zbawiciela (the corner of Aleja Wyzwolenia).

A place with lots of atmosphere, graffiti on the walls, packed with thirsty Polish and foreign students. Open till late and when everywhere else is closed, e.g. Christmas Eve. Good music at a level that allows you to talk together.

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Dobranocka - Smolna 40. Access through the gate on Jerozolimskie Street, right after Rondo de Gaulle.

Cellar with live jazz, funk, reggae and different events. Open till late. Meeting place for locals, who know how to get there.

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Clubs for gentlemen

There are much less of them that one would think, considering why Scandinavian and other Western European men went to Poland some years ago. Warsaw is a big international city, and of course it has a number of strip bars, but you will definitely find other European cities with more expertise in this area. Here is a short list, but any taxi driver will be happy to take you to a club, where he receives a fee for providing guests.

New Orleans Gentlemen's Club & Restaurant - ul. Zgoda 11 (Between Jerozolimskie, Marszalkowska and Nowy Swiat).

Huge night club with erotic dance, stylish atmosphere, large menu including oyster and lobster, but also small dishes at payable prices - and of course a large selection of champagnes.

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Hustler Gentlemen's Club - Nowy Swiat 3.

Large club with a huge selection of thirsty hostesses. A bottle of champagne from 900 till 25.000 zloty.

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Sofia Night Club - Polna 13 (5 minutes from Plac Konstytucji).

Red light nightclub. Open daily from 8 PM. Smoking and non-smoking section. Erotic dance.

 

 
 
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Regeneracja at Pulawska Street. A popular meeting place for students.

Bukieteria Roma at Mokotowska Street. Good and honest Italian food.

Bar Chinczyk (the Chinese Bar) - a Chinese pub for budget eaters and those who like wall art (Okopowa Street).

Indian food at Marszalkowska Street

Bastylia at Plac Zbawiciela - pancakes, salad and beer for gays and heteros.

 

Tourist guide in Gdansk, Warszawa and the rest of Poland