“Your joys are counterfeit; this happiness corrupt political shit” – Richey James Edwards.
Today’s Piątkowe Picie (Thirsty/Drinking Fridays) is a glorious step back in time to the vintage era of communism. This is my latest craze in travel, it’s a fad, it’s a fashion, it’s a passion. Touring PRL and Communist/Socialist bars in Poland.
“Maybe it’s the times we’ve had, the lazy days and the crazes and the fads” – Suede (Trash).
Whether we are fond of this history or not, let’s not gloss over the cow excrement – communism happened, it’s part of Polish history. It’s been and gone and now pretty Poland revels in the sparkling afterlife. What was that quote again?
“This a present from Stalin’s reign; but you have your life again” – Rafal Kowalczyk and Jonny Blair.
Whether its socialist memorabilia, communist style bottles of beer or just a quirky pub you are looking for, these bars are outrageously cool and I now deliberately look out for them. As a strong Northern Irish nationalist and anti- global capitalist, I love to see local entrepreneurs and clever business people in Poland opening up bars like this. I want to support them by visiting and spending my money here and I encourage you to do the same. If you own a Socialist style bar in Poland – invite me in please – I love to review them. Today I thought I would cover the First Eight Socialist Communist Bars I Drank in in Poland. I have been to more, but I wanted to get the first eight covered and written about while they are fresh in my mind. These are also in the order of when I drank or ate in them.
1.No to CYK, Gdańsk
I may well have been in Communist Themed Bars before I stepped foot in No to CYK in July 2016, but I don’t remember them vividly. Suddenly I had stepped back in time here on this enchanting journey to Gdańsk. No to CYK is awesome. As well as the upstairs part with cabinets of old coins and gimmicks, they have gas masks on the wall and a menu that boasts bottled beers for just 4 zlotys!
Cheapest Beer – Communist shaped bottles of Polish regional beers for 4 złoty.
Selling Point – 2 minutes walk from the gorgeous Długi Targ, Old Town Square in Gdańsk.
Address – Chlebnicka 2, 80-830 Gdańsk
Phone: 501 246 881
Website – N/A
Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/notocyk/
2.Jozef K, Gdańsk
ON the same street at No to CYK, at the other end sits the completely cool and stylish Jozef K. During July 2016, I used this as my base to finish my long awaited travel book, “Backpacking Centurion“. The bar is just extremely cool, not as political as No to CYK but in terms of retro items all around the walls, it’s special.
Cheapest Beer – Polish draft beers for 7 złoty.
Selling Point – Absolutely intriguing interior with books, vinyl, paintings, gramophones.
Address – Piwna 1/2, 22-100 Gdańsk
Phone – 572 161 510
Website – http://www.jozefk.pl/
Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/JozefK/
3.Projekt PRL, Starogard Gdański
When my zany life took me to the unknown town of Starogard Gdański, I uncovered some gems here and tried to put this town on the tourist map. A shining light here was the quirky Projekt PRL, which was situated in a quiet courtyard a few minutes walk from the Stary Rynek.
I met up with Jacek and had a beer in here before backpacking to the village of Rywald. One of my local travel friends, Ola Mueller also liked this bar but sadly she didn’t want to help me on my trip to her town and she told me about it 6 weeks too late. It was a shame I didn’t meet and drink with Ola in here, as the bar is now closed. Yes, sadly Starogard’s cool Projekt PRL recently succumbed to the same dustbin of history spoken about by Leon Trotsky.
Well, I enjoyed the interior, one of the barmen had lived in Ireland and at least I saw it. Plus, it completed my “communist bar hat-trick” at the time. This also made my list of best bars in Starogard Gdanski.
Cheapest Beer – Polish draft beers for 6 złoty.
Selling Point – Absolutely incredible to uncover a pub this cool is a town unventured by tourists.
Address – ul. Kościuszki 27, 83-200 Starogard Gdański
Phone – 58 561 01 98
Website – N/A
Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/Prlprojekt/
Snuggled nicely on the reverse side of the main train station in upmarket Sopot sits this little gem of a place – Retromaniak.
I was invited here by Magdalena, who organises events in the Trojmiasto (Tri-city) for Couchsurfing. This was an evening where I mingled with lots of local Polish people and foreigners with a business mind.
Cheapest Beer – Polish bottled beer only, from 7 złoty.
Selling Point – It’s in Sopot – unusual to discover this type of bar in what is a pretentious and posh seaside resort.
Address – Aleja Niepodległości 771a, 81-838 Sopot
Phone – 512 898 423
Website – N/A
Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/Retromaniak/
5.Pub PRL, Bydgoszcz
When I turned up in Bydgoszcz in October 2016, I didn’t expect that in the main square, the Stary Rynek, I would find TWO awesome PRL themed bars, but there they are, a minute’s walk apart. Pub PRL has the coolest interior and to me was the most authentic old school one of the two. In here, I drank Grzane Wino (Polish hot wine) and spoke at length to the clever bar girl Ola.
Cheapest Beer – Polish draft Warka, from 6 złoty.
Selling Point – The range of nik naks on the walls is bigger than most PRL Bars. It’s also very tight and compact and easy to meet other people in.
Address – Stary Rynek 5, 85-105 Bydgoszcz
Phone – 692 130 280
Website – http://pubprl.pl/?id=6
Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/PRL.Bydgoszcz/
6.Ministerstwo Śledzia i Wódki, Bydgoszcz
Also in the main square in Bydgoszcz, is this really cool retro bar on two levels – the ground floor and a basement. Ministerstwo Śledzia i Wódki has a cheap menu and caters for a range of clients from students to tourists to pensioners. The wall of old Polish LPs is worth a look.
Cheapest Beer – Polish draft beer including Specjal, from 4 złoty.
Selling Point – The old Polish LPs on the stairs down to the basement is worth checking out and also the location in the main square is also great. Plus it is cheap – check their menu!
Address – Stary Rynek 25, 85-105 Bydgoszcz
Phone – 512 532 135
Website – http://msiw.eu/bydgoszcz/
Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/ministerstwo.bydgoszcz/
7.Restauracja Czerwony Wieprz/Oberża Pod Czerwonym Wieprzem (The Red Pig), Warsaw
While the capital city of Poland might boast the biggest range of bars and some of the coolest bars in the country, sadly the first equivalent PRL style bar here is a tad pricey – Oberża Pod Czerwonym Wieprzem/ Restauracja Czerwony Wieprz (Restaurant Red Pig). But ignore that and you will love this place. The interior decor is amazing, the menu is stylish and vast and the staff are extremely welcoming and friendly. I had a grzane piwo (hot beer) and quick bite in here. I just wish the menu was a bit cheaper! The menu (view here) has some ridiculously cool items on it though and they describe themselves as an East European cooking in a restaurant with a cozy rustic decor & a retro, Soviet-era theme.
Cheapest Beer – Polish lager on draught starts at 8 zloty.
Selling Point – It’s in an old Communist Building and has easily the most extravagant and crazy menu on this list of bars.
Address – Żelazna 68, 00-866 Warszawa, Poland
Phone – 22 850 31 44
Website – http://www.czerwonywieprz.pl/pl/
Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/RestauracjaCzerwonyWieprz/
You might have read my stories on Poznań as the city has played a significant part on my adventure. Back in 2015, this was the first city in Poland that I did a hostel review for – Poco Loco Hostel Poznań, the first place I tried Grzane Piwo (Hot Beer) and also the venue in 2017 for my first ever Polish radio interview. So imagine my delight when I found out about Proletaryat – a cool Lenin style bar right in the city centre, just a minute’s walk from the Stary Rynek. This place is brilliant, trust me!
Cheapest Beer – Polish mini bottles, self-named, for just 5 złoty.
Selling Point – They have their own beer but really it’s the cosy atmosphere and friendly staff that make it. A shout out to Ania and Alicja who served Mateusz and I on our trip here.
Address – ul Wrocławska 9 61-838 Poznań
Phone – 508 173 608
Website – http://www.proletaryat.pl/
Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/Proletaryat/
Piątkowe Picie is a regular feature on Northern Irishman in Poland, on selected Fridays. I am always keen to work with Polish media, Polish companies and Polish bars and restaurants. If you want to feature in a future article, please get in touch – I have no limits to my writing or my travels and I love writing about and exploring Poland. Here is my media page, the companies I have worked with and my contact details.
Here are some videos from my time drinking in Communist Themed Bars in Poland. I can’t wait for my next pint in one.