Designer Zofia Chylak Takes Us on a Virtual Tour of Her Hometown—Warsaw, Poland
Consider this an insider’s guide to the coolest locations.
Warsaw is where I was born, and apart from the time I spent in New York, it is where I have lived my entire life. I love it even though it’s not always easy. I see the beauty underneath the changes it went through during the war—it was completely destroyed and reborn. I guess that’s why there is a lingering spirit of resilience. I think that because of its difficult history, it adapted and became able to evolve quickly. Usually, every time I prepare a guide for friends or journalists from abroad, I have to add something new as things are constantly popping up.
During my childhood, and in the memories that I have of that time, there were almost no restaurants. Almost everything I know and love was created just a few years or a few months ago. While on a lockdown, I missed my city and kept thinking about all the places I wanted to go as soon as it was safe, hoping they would still be there and wondering who would have survived this moment in history.
Usually spring is the best time to visit the city, when it is getting warm and the city is green and in bloom—it’s that time of year where you see hundreds of people on the Vistula River boulevards.
WHERE TO EAT
Opasły Tom: I highly recommend this place. Chef Flavia Borawska knows how to connect Polish traditional cuisine with a very modern approach. And you can sense her Italian roots, too. The interior is very well thought through and designed by the local design firm Buck Studio. There is also a wonderful view of the National Opera Theatre opposite.
Eden Bistro: This is a vegan restaurant located in the Saska Kepa neighborhood. Founded by the people behind the Usta—a well-known Polish food magazine—it’s a perfect place to sit outside in summer. When it’s less warm, you can sit in a greenhouse surrounded by plants, and when it’s colder you can spend time inside the modernist villa where the restaurant is located.
Ale Wino: This is one of my favorite restaurants and wine shops in Warsaw. The flavors and options available are incredible. I would recommend ordering for the table so you can share family-style and try more than one dish.
Regina: This is a really lovely restaurant with a mix of Italian and Chinese cuisine. I recommend the eggplant with chili bean sauce and weekend Chinese brunches. It’s also a great spot for evening drinks.
Sam: This spot has amazing, healthy food and is great for breakfast. They also have a store downstairs where you can buy delicious “miracle” bread and take-away food as well as vegetables and produce from local farmers.
Mod: The perfect ramen and best doughnut place in Warsaw.
Yestersen Café: This is a great Polish online vintage store with design, and just recently they opened their café, where you can enjoy coffee, sweets, and vintage furniture.
WHERE TO STAY
Autor Rooms: A small boutique hotel founded by Mamastudio, a well-known Warsaw graphic design office specializing in visual communication for brands. The base of the interior concept was to furnish the place strictly with Polish design, furniture, and art.
Puro Hotel: The Warsaw Puro Hotel opened last year and is the perfect location to stay while visiting. It has a great view of the city from the bar upstairs.
Collage: This is a little concept store created by a Warsaw-based interior design studio, which is now online—they have a selection of great cosmetics, home design, and jewelry. It’s my favorite place for shopping—I go there whenever I’m looking for a gift.
I love hunting for vintage and shopping in a sustainable way. Crush and Ventimiglia Vintage are two of my favorites. And there are some really wonderful perfume stores in Warsaw too, including Galilu, Candleria, and Mood Scent Bar.
Mak 1904 is a lovely, cool little flower shop founded by a mother-and-daughter duo whose family have been in the flower business for generations.
GARDENS & SECRET SPOTS
We are lucky to have some beautiful parks and outdoor spaces, including Warsaw Botanical Garden, Royal Lazienki Park, and Palace Complex, which is located in the central district of the city. It was designed in the 17th century and transformed by Poland’s last monarch. During the summer you can enjoy great Chopin piano concerts, too!
The Polin Museum is one of the largest historical museums that focuses on the history of Polish Jews and shows two cultures coexisting next to each other for centuries. At the ŻIH Jewish Historical Institute there is a great exhibition presenting the archives saved during the Holocaust. “What we were unable to shout out to the world” is a permanent exhibition at the Emanuel Ringelblum Jewish Historical Institute dedicated to the Underground Archive of the Warsaw Ghetto and its creators, the Oneg Shabbat group.
National Museum: This place has a really beautiful gallery of medieval art.
The Museum of Modern Art now has two different locations; one is on Pańska 3 street, and there’s a nice art bookstore there. The other one is located near the Vistula River—you can take a little walk after visiting the current exhibition. There’s also a lunch spot inside the museum, like Paloma.
Top photo: Courtesy of Autor Rooms
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