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Literacka, Gdansk, Poland

Literacka (Gdansk, Poland)

Anchored at one end of its three-block run by the Basilica of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary (one of the world’s largest brick churches) and, at the other, by St. Mary’s Gate, the huge portal linking the street to the Motława River, St. Mary’s Street (Ulica Mariacka) simply cannot be any more picturesque. After the destruction of World War II left it in piles of rubble, a loving reconstruction restored its original Gothic style. Flanking the cobblestone street, gabled houses delight pedestrians with their handsome facades; rain gutters in the form of dragons, fish, and gargoyles; and broad terraces with stone panels engraved with patrician scenes and religious symbols, approached by stone perrons.

During the day, tourists fill the street, hunting for amber souvenirs and giving their cameras a major workout. But in the evening, most of the tourists have gone, and, illuminated only by street lanterns, this lovely lane becomes truly magical. At the very end, in the shadow of the behemoth basilica, Literacka has been operating since the 1950s. This restaurant and wine bar features cozy rooms with fireplaces, rows of books, and the occasional chess board. But you’ll want to snatch an outdoor table on the terrace or on street level to absorb this enchanting atmosphere, where medieval shoemakers used to toil and where merchants and goldsmiths resided for centuries.

Fork and KnifeTry This: Begin with the excellent tomato cream soup with smoked pepper. For your main course, your inner carnivore will be awakened by the stone carvings of a cow and a bull looking at you from the terrace panels. Savor the wild boar tenderloin with creamy rosemary and mustard sauce, potatoes, roasted cauliflower puree, and forest mushroom fricassee, or try the venison with cherry sauce, cauliflower puree, mixed vegetables, and crispy Parma ham. For dessert, indulge in the pavlova with fresh fruits alongside a warming cup of one of nearly a dozen varieties of tea or another glass of wine from the list of reds and whites from nearly 20 countries.