Popular Zakopianka road is a 102 km section of the road connecting the capital of Małopolska with Podhale region and the Tatra Mountains. It is associated infamously with traffic jams, as the lowlanders in want of mountain hiking move massively due south. Rarely, however, interesting taverns and regional cuisine, which can be found along the route, are mentioned.
What if, instead of going straight to Zakopane in a hurry, we stop on the way in Myślenice, Rabka-Zdrój or Nowy Targ? What regional jewels and landscapes can be found there? What kind of cuisine can we taste there? It is worth taking the route along Zakopianka, marked out by the Raba River, to try tasty food in interesting places.
Tradition and flavors of Galicja
On the way to Zakopane, let’s stop in Głogoczów. At the „Biesiada” (ang. Feast) inn we can try dishes boasting a long history, which differ, however, from the popular on this route highlander cuisine. Noteworthy, especially in December, are the warming dishes of the imperial cuisine, such as Hungarian goulash soup or Viennese schnitzel. The historic manor houses the „Nowina” restaurant, which has been successfully operating since 1984.
The menu includes traditional Polish cuisine, e.g. bigos staropolski (old Polish cabbage stew), roasted deer or goose dumplings. Myślenice is located about 30 km from Krakow. It was here that the poet Jan Sztaudyn- ger spent his holidays as a child. We start sightseeing from the market, where the city’s landmarks are located – the “Tereska” fountain and the 18th-century monument of Saint Florian. The Regional Museum, housed in the Greek House, a former inn, brings back a history of the region.
Continuing our route south, we will pass Rabka-Zdrój. It is also a destination point for those who want to relax in the vicinity of Gorce and Beskid Wyspowy mountain ranges. For those seeking relaxation, it is also a popular spa, famous for its graduation tower. But what if, tired after all-day wandering or hungry after visiting the graduation tower, we feel like having a highlander food? In this case, it is best to go to Zabornia (although the locals say “on Zabornia”), the district of Rabka-Zdrój, to the “Siwy Dym” (ang. grey smoke) tavern.
Although the original building from the 17th century unfortunatelly fell apart, the traditions of “Zabornianka” are maintained in the restored tavern. Both the atmosphere of the place and the cuisine served here refer to highlander traditions. We can savour a highlander pork chop with „oscypek” cheese or „gorczanski” cutlet. The inn hosts also folk music concerts of “Siwy Dym” band, which also contributed to the restoration of this place.
Highland taverns in Nowy Targ
Although located only about 30 minutes to Zakopane, it is worth stopping in Nowy Targ, the historic capital of Podhale region. If you want to learn more about the region’s history, visit the Podhale Museum of Czesław Pajarski
or take a stroll around Nowy Targ market square with the 19th-century town hall. One of the most interesting monuments is the wooden church of St. Anna, dating back to the end of the 15th century, one of The Wooden Architecture Trail in Małopolska landmarks.
One of the historical monuments of Nowy Targ is also the 18th-century inn „U Borzanka”, the oldest inn in the city. Although the present building is a restored version of the inn, which fell into disrepair in the early 90s, it successfully maintains the highlander culinary traditions, including mutton and lamb dishes, highlander potato pancaces and a „gazda” stew. One of the restaurant’s specialties is a sirloin according to „Grandma Borzankowa” recipe, cooked with the red wine and herbs. „U Borzanka” is not the only highlander tavern making Nowy Targ famous.
The „Hanka” inn is an interesting option for those who do not want to leave the Zakopianka road. It offers dishes inspired by a regional cuisine, combining the flavors of Podhale with modern trends. A gourmet referring to the history of the region is, among others, „ceper” salmon – this fish was very popular in Podhale in the 19th century and in the first half of the 20th century.
Podhale flavors anew
A visit around Zakopane is a good opportunity to learn more about cuisine of Podhale region. It is simple and full-bodied, yet offering a rich taste. Moreover it is constantly evolving – the best chefs from the region are enriching the well-known recipes with a modern touch.
During this year’s series of meetings of the “Historic Culinary Table” in Podhale region, a farm chicken with potato truffle and sheep cheese with sorrel, or “moskole” (highlander potato pancakes) as an surprising starter, were served.