Bar Mlecznys, or Polish Milk Bars, are government subsidized cafeterias from Poland’s communist past. They were places where workers could get a hot, inexpensive meal after World War II. Often times, visits to the Milk Bars were covered in the worker’s wages.
There are still a few Polish Milk Bars left and they not only provide a cheap meal, but are unique glimpses into a completely different era of Poland’s past. They serve traditional Polish dishes such as pierogi, potato pancakes, soups and bigos. Most of the food was dairy based because meat had to be rationed after the war.
A Present Day Visit to a Polish Milk Bar
We visited a Polish Milk Bar on Świętego Tomasza called Milk Bar Tomasza. The menu was pretty extensive and the dishes were ridiculously cheap. Milk Bar Tomasza was small and quaint. Just a very simple, no frills place to have a meal. Meat is no longer a rarity, and many dishes did include it.
We tried pierogi, one of Poland’s main dishes, along with a potato pancake, a pesto sandwich and two fresh glasses of grapefruit juice. Each item on the menu was ridiculously cheap and the grand total of our dinner came out to 49 PLN ($12).
Whether your a backpacker, a budget seeker or a luxury traveler, a visit to a Polish Milk Bar is a step into the country’s history, and the experience is not one to be missed.