Looking at Wilcza, it helps to divide it into three sections. You’ve got the flanks, one benefiting from its proximity to Mokotowska, the other feasting on the spillover from Koszyki and Poznańska. Then, sandwiched in between, there’s that awkward bit in the middle. From a personal point of view, that’s the section I love. Bounded by Marszałkowska on one side and Krucza on the other, it’s this area I called home during my early Warsaw years. Back then it didn’t have much to crow about aside from possibly the highest concentration of dog droppings in the whole of planet earth (and, if memory serves correctly, these ‘leftovers’ weren’t always canine), but despite that I fell for the area and its sleazy, scruffy charms.
Yet if I found the atmosphere addictive then at the start of the millennium, it’s even more so now. Though slower in its development than other stretches of the street, there’s that magic little feeling of something special in the air. First, over summer, came the opening of Relax, now comes further reinforcement of a street that’s on the up. Run by Marta, a Pole, and Ouce, her Iraqi husband, Tahina has emerged as the Insider’s unlikely star of 2018.
Small and lively, it’s a spot that brings together authentic Middle Eastern tastes with no quarter given: beef, for instance, is marinated for two days before being slow-cooked for 36-hours. The result all but melts-in-the-mouth. Served in a featherlight lavash, there are those that would call this a kebab, but doing so would severely undersell the goodness in your hand. One bite and you’re in heaven.
But there’s more, for instance Iraqi-style scrambled eggs with dates, not to mention generous tahini bowls cascading with juicy chunks of chicken and beetroot pickled turnip. Then, coffee. Following traditional Middle Eastern practice, find it heated in a pan of sand before being served in a little metal pot with a stick of candied sugar: a work of alchemy, it’s a deliciously thick drink that immediately revives – one sip and your ears start to twitch.
Demonstrating a fiendish attention to detail, Tahina is nothing if not characterized by its scrupulous specifics: making a big song and dance about its homemade this and that, other highlights arrive in the form of crispy potato chips as well as tiny pots of date and sesame paste – sweet, glorious and bursting with flavor, if you didn’t know better you’d guess this was Nutella.
In a city where eating Middle Eastern cuisine still has the feeling of a high risk game of roulette, Tahina hits the jackpot. But more so, there’s a value to this place that goes beyond the food. A place of warmth, hospitality and casual conversation, it’s an address that you feel joins the neighborhood together.
ul. Wilcza 26, facebook