Cold weather? How about some soup?
In Prague it’s easy to get so caught up in sightseeing that you forget to stop for lunch - but then your stomach starts protesting, and the chilly weather doesn't help. Soup to the rescue!
A filling bowl of soup, perhaps with a sandwich or salad, is perfect to keep you going. Very conveniently, the soup and sandwich/snack option is increasingly popular in Prague.
Many restaurants offer a lunch menu (polední menu) on working days between 11:00 and 14:00, comprising soup and a main course. It’s usually possible to opt for soup alone. Menus vary daily or weekly, and offer good value: a decent-sized bowl of soup shouldn’t cost much more than CZK 50 in most places.
Several new establishments specialising in soups have opened in Prague, and you’ll find Czech classics everywhere, as well as French onion soup or gazpacho, as eating out in the city becomes more and more cosmopolitan.
Here’s a round-up of popular spots, which are in the city centre or within very easy reach of it. All are open daily unless otherwise stated.
A tempting display of pastries in its windows, and an elegant tiled interior lure passers-by into this French bakery/delicatessen. It’s just a short hop from Old Town Square. Two varieties, not just French, are served daily; smooth, velvety soups are the house style. You can also find a branch in the Palladium shopping centre on Náměstí republiky.
Brilliantly situated by the River Vltava, this classy relative newcomer to the Prague restaurant scene looks like an old-timer, and is a handy stopping off point for many Prague’s sights. For lunch, try one of the filling soups on the menu with a sandwich.
A Prague institution, which has been serving a wide of variety of bagels – unsurprisingly – since the early mid-90s. The original outlet, near Old Town Square no longer exists, but the there’s a restaurant very near Charles Bridge. The soup of the day (daily) and a bagel make a filling lunch.
It would be easy to miss this simple little family-run cafe, hidden beyond a courtyard near the Lazarská tram stop. But it offers a small selection of decent and substantial soups, including a rich, smooth borsch.
Like Maitrea (see below), Country Life proves that there’s much more to vegetarianism than just lentils and lettuce. This cafeteria-style restaurant includes a wholesome soup of the day option, with healthy and filling slices of wholemeal bread to go with it.
A folksy version of a Czech institution – the jídelna (canteen), which is now almost extinct in central Prague. Stop by if you want to sample traditional Czech soups. It’s one of the cheapest places in town to try local specialities and conveniently on the route between Old Town Square and Wenceslas Square.
This vegetarian restaurant run on Buddhist principles offers a suitably soothing contrast to the bustle of nearby Old Town Square. It may even convince diehard carnivores to convert to vegetarianism. The imaginative lunchtime menu includes soups such as spicy pumpkin with peanut butter. Lunchtime menu available.
One of a new breed of restaurants specialising in soups, Polévkárna u paní Mančo opened in 2011. The energetic Georgian lady in charge worked at the nearby Polévkárna restaurant and then set up her own, separate establishment. Georgian cuisine, always on the menu, is delicious and deserves a higher global profile. Polévkárna certainly does an excellent PR job for it.
You can try up to eight soup varieties, and regulars include borshch (boršč), Marocká harira, a spicy Moroccan soup, and chicken and tarragon soup (kuřecí s estragonem). Main courses and snacks are available, and don’t miss a slice of the sinful but wonderful chačapuri – a flatbread filled with a thin layer of cheese.
A cut above the local neighbourhood restaurant, Tobruk is tucked away in a quiet corner of the Old Town. An original approach to cooking, friendly staff and a cosy ambience make this restaurant worth a stop. On the lunchtime menu you’ll come across both Czech classics and international. Lunchtime menu available.
Author: David Creighton