7 Ways to eat well in Prague
These days, dining in Prague means much more than Brazil-sized slabs of pork, layers of dumplings and mountains of sauerkraut. Thanks to the latest gastro revolution sweeping the city, the range and quality of food have finally reached levels worthy of Prague’s legendary beauty.
Over the last few years, new restaurants have burst onto the scene, particularly in the fast-changing neighbourhoods surrounding the historical centre. Establishments like Sansho epitomise this trend and showcase quality, locally-sourced fare.
In addition, organic produce is easy to find, including at farmers markets, which attract a huge following, and Prague has plenty to offer vegetarian and vegan visitors, raw food fans and those looking for gluten-free options.
Here are seven tips to help you make the most of the latest developments and eat well in Prague.
Join the locals for lunch
On working days, vast swathes of the working population head to their favourite haunts for the lunch (polední) menu, which generally runs from 11.00 until 15.00. Join them in this hallowed Czech tradition, which endures even in the time-pressed capital, and relax with good food at good prices.
Menus typically comprise soup and a choice of four or five main courses, including a vegetarian dish, and sometimes a drink added in, for approximately CZK 150. At some restaurants, the menu remains the same all week. Although inevitably Czech staples predominate, many eateries now serve contemporary versions of them or international dishes, or both.
Venture beyond the centreNaturally, some of Prague’s best restaurants are in the historical centre, but the surrounding districts offer good value meals in less frenetic surroundings. Thanks to excellent public transport, neighbourhoods like Holešovice and Karlín are just minutes away. Redevelopment is transforming these once grimy industrial quarters and attracting cosmopolitan new restaurants and cafés.
In Karlín, an eclectic collection of eateries line the long parallel thoroughfares of Křižíkova and Sokolovská. The mix includes socially-conscious vegetarian Mlsná Kavka, Garage bistro, where you’ll encounter Toronto’s legendary poutine. On Sokolovská, Krystal Bistro is smart but affordable.
Just over the river, Holešovice reveals some unexpected gems. Pop into the Naše Toustárna bakery for a gluten-free muffin or a crusty bread sandwich. Nearby Puzzle Salads serves more than its name suggests, including lunchtime soup and a main course. For an evening meal, book a table at Italian deli/bistro La Bottega Tusarova. Or, for flavours from further east, visit SaSaZu, a club and Asian restaurant in one.
Try a lesser-known cuisineThe gastro revolution in Prague is the chance to sample lesser known but excellent cuisines not always easily found at home. Georgian food, for example, deserves a much higher profile; the wonderfully moreish chačapuri (cheese-filled flat bread) at the Polévkárna Paní Mančo is a must.
Vietnamese cuisine is ubiquitous; for a filling bowl of phô soup, locals recommend Hanoi and Asianfood Pho Slavikova among others. Vietnamese Bánh mì sandwiches are also immensely popular; try the Bánh mì Makers or banh mi ba.
Catch a food festival/street festivalRegular food festivals punctuate the Prague calendar; the stretches of embankment on both sides of the River Vltava from Jiráskův most to the Železniční are known as Náplavka (Náplavka-Rašínovo embankment and Náplavka-Hořejší embankment) and host festivals such as Food Truck Show or Veggie Náplavka. Find information about events on both banks on the official Náplavka website (http://prazskenaplavky.cz/) or from the Food Event organiser (http://foodevent.cz/nase-festivaly/ Czech only).
You’ll also find food stalls at Zažit město jinak (Different City Experience), a city-wide street festival offering a quirky take on Prague life.
Pick up some picnic goodies at a deli
Browse the farmers marketsFarmers markets are another great picnic food source. Besides locally-grown fruit and vegetables, you’ll find dairy products, cold and smoked meats, baked goods, and herbs and spices. Bear in mind that vendors sometimes set up at different markets on different days.
You can also grab a quick snack or a takeaway lunch. Possibilities include coffee and cake from the Louskáček bakery, soup or fresh pasta from PastaArt or, at the Jířího z Poděbrad market or a burger from Kaiser Franz.
Check out meat-free and gluten-free or raw food optionsPrague is an accommodating destination for visitors with special dietary needs. A recent study ranked the Czech Republic as one of the most vegetarian-friendly countries in Europe, and even devoted carnivores frequent Maitrea, Lehká hlava and Etnosvět (Ethno-world), three of Prague’s most famous meat-free eateries. Vegan dishes feature on vegetarian restaurant menus, and raw food enthusiasts can choose from at least seven establishments, including MyRaw Café. If you’re in a hurry and need a quick bite, try Vegg Go, which serves soup, main courses and salads.
Meanwhile, for gluten-free food, look out for bezlepkové jídlo or jídlo bez lepku, which is increasingly available. The Švejk Restaurace U Karla might not be the obvious choice for visitors wanting to avoid gluten, but this traditional Czech restaurant offers a full wheat-free menu. For baked products (bezlepkové pečivo), try Naše Toustárna, the delis above or Country Life health food shop. All dishes at Aliso risotteria italiana are gluten-free. And if you’re visiting farmers markets, look out for the Dvorník bakery, which specialises in gluten-free and wholemeal products.
RESTAURANTS & CAFÉS
- Aliso risotteria italiana Betlémské nám 11, tel.: 222 233 341, www.alriso.cz
- banh mi ba Rybná 26 & Panská 9, Prague 1, http://banhmiba.cz/
- Bánh mì Makers Dlouhá 39 (Gurmet pasáž Dlouhá) Prague 1, tel.: 608 967 210, https://www.facebook.com/banhmimakers/
- Hanoi, Slezská 57 Prague 3, tel.: 728 774 637, http://restauracehanoi.webnode.cz/
- Kofein, Nitranská 9 Prague 3, tel.: 273 132 145, www.ikofein.cz
- Martin's Bistro Velehradská 4, Prague 3, tel.: 774 100 378, www.facebook.com/Martins-bistro-524106154292232/
- Mozaika Burger & Co. Nitranská 13, Prague 3, tel.: 725 422 862, www.mozaikaburger.cz
- Naše Toustárna Dělnická 56, Prague 7, tel.: 605 270 430, www.facebook.com/NaseToustarna/
- Polévkárna Sokolovská 97, Prague 2, tel.: 608 074 414, https://www.facebook.com/Pol%C3%A9vk%C3%A1rna-109006169140095/
- Puzzle Salads Jankovcova 14b, Prague 7, www.puzzlesalads.cz
- Švejk Restaurace U Karla Křemencova 7, Prague 1, tel 222 515 889, www.svejk-restaurant.cz
- Vegg-Go several locations: see www.vegg-go.com
- White&Crispy – Maison gluten free Pavla Švandy ze Šemčic 16, Prague 5 & Seifertova 63, Prague 3, tel.: 222 263 883, www.whiteandcrispy.com
DELICATESSENS & BAKERIES
FARMERS MARKET VENDORS
- Celozrnná a bezlepková pekárna David Dvorník www.celozrnnapekarna.cz
- Kaiser Franz https://www.facebook.com/KaiserFranzCZ/?fref=ts
- Louskáček http://louskacek.eu/cs/
- PastaArt http://www.pastaart.cz/
- For more information about food festivals please visit Prague City Tourism's Event Calendar.
A freelancer, Briton David Creighton has lived in Prague since 2000. He translates from Czech to English and writes about a variety of topics, including travel and business. In his spare time, he enjoys travelling, hiking and cycling.