Visit a “bar mleczny” —literally “milk bar” in Polish (though not to be confused with the Australian milk bar) – a Polish form of cafeteria. The first typical milk bar “Mleczarnia Nadświdrzańska” was established in 1896 in Warsaw. In the mid-1960s milk bars were common as a means of offering cheap meals to people working in companies that had no official canteen. After the fall of the communist system and the end of shortage economy, the majority of milk bars went bankrupt as they were superseded by regular restaurants. However, some of them were preserved as part of the relics of the welfare state so as to support the poorer members of the Polish society. In early 2010 milk bars were seen to make a comeback. They became small, inexpensive restaurants that took advantage of welfare state nostalgia, while providing good quality food and customer service. Due to their good locations, milk bars often fall victim to gentrification processes and are defended by protest groups.
Some people prefer milk bars over fast-food restaurants because of the homemade-style food and low prices. A typical three course lunch can cost as little as 2-5 euro. Although the typical bar mleczny had a menu based on dairy items, these establishments generally also served other, non-dairy traditional Polish dishes as well.