Kazimierz is a historical – and now sort of hipstery – district of Krakow that used to be the Jewish part of town. During WWII, the Nazis relocated the Jews to a ghetto in Podgorze across the river (also the area in which Schindler’s Factory is located and where Schindler’s List was filmed). After the war, Kazimierz was basically empty and fell into ruin. When I was in Krakow in the mid-90s I don’t think I ever went into Kazimierz and was surprised when I returned in 2009 to hear that it was at that time becoming a nightlife hot spot.
Now, it’s filled with all sorts of neat shops and galleries, in addition to the synagogues and traditional restaurants.
There is even a food truck square – informally called Judah Square, after the mural on the wall there.
Important story: I got a ‘gourmet sausage’ at one of the trucks there – a huge kielbasa covered in goat cheese and cranberry sauce of some kind. I didn’t realize that a) the kielbasa casing was very tough and b) that the kielbasa was actually cut in half (hidden by the toppings), so when I tried to take a bite, instead of cutting through the casing, I just catapulted the kielbasa up into my face and onto the ground. >:( >:( Luckily I still had the other half.
We went back to Kazimierz a couple times because it was such a nice place to be. We did go to one place that seemed like a hoppin’ brunch spot (do Poles do brunch?) and we received hipster-level service; ie, they ignored us for a long time even by European standards. And then the food was ‘meh’ and overpriced (incidentally this was a time we strayed from Rick Steves’ suggestions because the place we wanted to go to was closed. NEVER STRAY FROM RICK STEVES)
We had dinner at Klezmer Hois (per Rick Steves’ recommendation) and it was one of the best dining experiences we had on our trip. It was a more traditional Jewish restaurant – although the menu was translated into English we still had to look up all the Jewish foods 🙂 – with a really comfortable, homey feel and live klezmer music!