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Warsaw - Poland

Warsaw has a very dynamic and fast-paced restaurant scene. New places seem to open weekly and the choice is considerable. Some of its restaurants have become well known abroad as well.

However, there was a time when a typical Warsaw waiter would tell you that none of the items on the menu were actually available! Another option was a Socialist-era "milk bar" where you were served cafeteria-style, sharing your table with a stranger. Fortunately, those days are long gone. Warsaw now boasts restaurants that make it into European top ten lists—and competition is fierce.

Everything from Chinese to Mexican, Italian to vegetarian is on offer. There are a lot of deluxe establishments, fast food places on almost every corner, as well as street stalls offering hot dogs, Vietnamese noodles and falafel.

Those seeking chic and trendy eateries will find that these are a Warsaw speciality. Restaurants are the place to be seen. One of the most stylish and hip places is 99, which is a world-class restaurant. In the same category is the recently opened Boathouse. Similarly trendy bars are Zanzi Bar and Rabarbar. These all offer sophistication and exclusivity.

One of Warsaw's specialities is its Italian restaurants. The presence of a large Italian business community means that quality and standards are high. Some of the best Italian cuisine in the region is cooked up here. Venezia is locally famous and Balgera, a relative newcomer, offers exquisite northern Italian dishes. Chianti is one of the most romantic restaurants, while Roma Café is intimate and charming. Verona offers style and good food and Vera Italia attracts lots of Italians. Parmizzanos in the Marriott Hotel uses only the finest ingredients while San Marzano provides fast service and creative dishes.

If you're after a fun and festive atmosphere, Warsaw has that as well. Blue Cactus has established itself as one of the city's favourite get-together locations. Santorini, with its wonderful Greek décor is also lively. El Popo is close to several trendy bars and feels alive on any night of the week. Grand Kredens—decorated in an artistically put together mixture of styles—is also a great choice for a group. Bars with a similar atmosphere are Lolek, Klub Harenda and Lokomotywa.

If you like Asian food, Warsaw has a lot to offer. The Japanese restaurants are all excellent: Tsubame has style and great sake, Tokio is popular and flies in fresh seafood weekly, while Akasaka has tasty tempura and noodles. Dong Nam is a huge restaurant that offers several different Asian cuisines. Pekin is small and the food is great, while the Oriental (at the Sheraton Hotel) is a popular business choice. Fans of Indian food will want to visit Club Tandoor, which has a dedicated following.

The Lebanese restaurant Le Cedre is one of the more interesting and delightful restaurants in the city. Vegetarians will love Nove Miasto - one of the most elegant and classy vegetarian restaurants in the world. Café Ejlat offers Jewish fare, while Varna has Bulgarian cuisine covered, along with some of the best wine bargains in town.

But what about Polish food? Of course Warsaw has that! Fukier, in the Old Town is a must for anyone who wants to experience traditional Polish cuisine. Also famous are Bazyliszek, Gessler and one of the most appreciated of them all, Restauracja Polska. Less expensive is Klub Aktora, a local favourite, along with Literacka and Kmicic.

In a league of its own is Belvedere, located in Lazienki Park. This is the destination of choice for presidents and the rich and famous - it's well worth a visit. Also unique is the Chef's Table, a private dining experience in the kitchen of the Sheraton Hotel.

If you're heading for the National Theatre, opera or visiting a gallery, La Boheme would be a fabulous choice. It mixes class and elegance with great cuisine. Also popular is Qchnia Artystyczna, one of Warsaw's true bohemian locales.

After your meal, you may want to visit the Column Bar in the Le Royal Meridien Bristol if you are looking for refinement and elegance. For an ongoing party try the Irish Pub or Morgan's. The Panorama Bar at the Marriott Hotel has the best views of the city. Prohibicja is fun and trendy, while the John Bull Pub is quiet but popular.

Warsaw also has some very special cafés. First among these is Blikle, one of the capitals most loved establishments. The Nowy Swiat Cafe is a beautiful Viennese-style establishment. Café Brama is hip, with excellent food and Café Europa is a pleasant place to stop for a break in the Old Town. The Café Bristol is wonderful. Still more fun are Miedzy Nami and the trendy Modulor Café. Local celebrity Stash Pruszynski has done extremely well with his recently opened Radio Café.

Whatever you're looking for, Warsaw probably has it. And if it's not there this week, it may well be there next! It's worth keeping your ear to the ground as new places are opening up all the time. Do make a reservation, as many places are almost always packed out.

Warsaw now has some of the most contemporary and exciting restaurants in Europe. The places that you visit may well be famous in a month or two. It's a real thrill dining out in such a fast-paced and competitive restaurant environment. Bon Appetit!
 
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