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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.

  • Photo:www.facebook.com/pg/martinsvelehradska
  • Photo: www.eska.ambi.cz
  • Photo: www.facebook.com/pg/mlsnakavka

 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.

  1. 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.

Outstanding examples include Kofein, Martin's Bistro, Mozaika Burger & Co., all in Vinohrady, Tobruk, in a quiet corner of the Old Town, and Nejen Bistro in Karlín.

  1. Venture beyond the centre

    Naturally, 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.

Off the main drags but nearby, Podolka restaurant and restaurant/bakery Eska specialise in diverse, mid-market menus, and Proti proudu is a good choice for breakfast or a filling sandwich.

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.

  1. Try a lesser-known cuisine

    The 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.

  1. Catch a food festival/street festival

    Regular 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. 

  1. Pick up some picnic goodies at a deli

Delmart delicatessen and bistro stocks a wide range of products, as does Sklizeno.  Náš grunt delicatessens stock  locally-sourced items, but with a more limited selection.

  1. Browse the farmers markets

    Farmers 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.

Markets run all year or from spring until the end of December. They include Jířího z Poděbrad (Jiřák) square, Náplavka, and Dejvice aka Kulaťák.

  1. Check out meat-free and gluten-free or raw food options

    Prague 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[1], 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

DELICATESSENS & BAKERIES

FARMERS MARKET VENDORS

FOOD/STREET FESTIVALS

  • For more information about food festivals please visit Prague City Tourism's Event Calendar.

 

[1] https://jakubmarian.com/map-of-vegetarian-friendliness-number-of-vegetarian-restaurants-in-europe-by-country/

 

David Creighton

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.