You never really think of Prague as a foodie destination – Not exactly a destination you travel to looking for delicious food or gourmet restaurants. One of my Czech friends once said that if you get hungry in Prague, you eat meat and potatoes for breakfast, lunch & dinner because that’s all there is. So to be honest I had no expectation of savouring any extraordinary meal when I reached Prague. But in less than a day I fell in love with the local Czech cuisine. The way some locals & restaurants are trying to revive pre-war culture & bring back the lost recipes to table is extraordinary. This is my humble attempt to give you a small glimpse of the culinary scene in this Eating Out Guide for Prague.
My Mantra for finding local food
When you travel to a new place, finding local food should not be difficult. All you need is an open mind, good appetite and willingness to talk to the locals what do they eat everyday. Talk, ask questions, read and just eat! Find out what their grandma cooks – that’s would be the real deal 🙂 Last month I visited Amsterdam and wrote a food guide on 12 items you need to try when in Amsterdam.
Read the Amsterdam eating out guide here
Guide to Czech cuisine
Traditional Czech Cuisine is designed to keep you warm and full through freezing winters. While meat and potatoes are staple, you will get your dose of vegetables in gravy (cooked & puréed), as sauerkraut or as deep-fried snack (deep fried Cauliflower & czech beer yum!).
Scroll down to the bottom of page to see the list of local restaurants in Prague that serve all the food mentioned in this Czech Cuisine guide.
Knedlíky (Dumplings – Bread & Potato) – Knedlíky is a staple food of the Czechs. You can have either bread dumpling or potato dumpling. Bread dumplings are made with flour, yeast, egg, salt, and milk and are boiled and then sliced. They are wonderfully spongy and the best thing about these dumplings is that they are perfect for mopping up all the gravy in your Guláš!
Klöße are made from mashed potatoes, eggs, and flour and are steamed or boiled.
Smažený sýr (Fried Cheese) – This is a bit of a non-traditional dish but is widely eaten in all the bars and restaurants. The Cheese (usually Edam or Czech cheese) is coated with bread crumbs and deep-fried. Although you might be tempted to call it a bar food but it is actually a main dish. Eat hot while the cheese is still melted and dip it in the Czech tartare sauce.
Guláš – Guláš or Goulash is a rich meat stew with gravy made with root vegetables. While the Hungarian Goulash is has more gravy and vegetables, Czech version is more meaty and hearty. Sometimes it is made with Czech beer (more the merrier!) Any local pub or restaurant will serve Guláš but see the restaurant recommendations below to taste the best Guláš in Prague.
Svíčková – A very creamy & rich dish made with beef and root vegetables. Beef tenderloin or sirloin is slow cooked with onions, carrots, celeriac, turnips & spices. Cooked root vegetables make up the sauce and cream is added just before eating. You can also find Svíčková made with pork or rabbit in Prague.
Chlebíček (Open faced sandwich) – Czechs love these open-faced sandwiches as much as they love their beer. The toppings can be traditional like ham, cheese, mayonnaise, eggs or very innovative like the one I had with beet puree and walnuts.
These sandwiches reminded me quite a lot of the Tapas in Barcelona – I tried similar open sandwiches in tapas bars.
How to have a gastronomic weekend in Barcelona? Read here
Guide to Czech desserts
Ok so now you have tasted everything savoury and now its time for Czech desserts!
Žemlovka – Think of a bread pudding. Now think of a bread pudding with apples, raisins and topped with sweet milk or custard. Sounds like heaven on a plate doesn’t it? Like most of the Czech cuisine, this dessert is rustic and hearty. You can find the authentic version in most old school canteen type restaurants but a lot of modern restaurants are experimenting with such recipes and bringing them back on their menu.
Koláče – Traditional Koláče is a pastry made with fruits, jams in a striking pattern. Czech immigrants brought it with them to America and then it has undergone a lot of variations. There is also meat filled version – Klobasniky but the traditional version is always made with non-meaty filling
Kremrole (Cream Rolls) – Literally means a roll of cream. It’s a flaky pastry filled with either meringue or sweetened cream. This is not Trdelník (see what’s Trdelník below) but an original Czech dessert that you need to try in Prague!
Guide to Street Food in Prague
If you are looking for local Czech cuisine, you are most likely to find it in small family owned restaurants and not on the streets. Also why have street food in Prague which is not local, aimed at tourists and which most of the times costs you the same as a dish in a small restaurant!
However if you are wandering around in search of street food in Orague, try Klobasa sausage. Many hot dog vendors will have this on their menu. Eat it like a hot dog with sauerkraut, onion & sauces.
Is there anything for Vegetarians in Czech Cuisine?
Czech cuisine is undoubtedly focused on meat & potatoes but vegetarians do not despair! There are many dining options for you. You just need to make sure that the ‘vegetarian’ dish that you are eating does not contain egg as most of the dishes will.
So what if you can’t eat Goulash, many restaurants will serve Lentils for mains. Fried cheese, fried cauliflower or basically any fried vegetables will come to your rescue! A lot of restaurants have added vegetarian dishes to their menu as Prague attracts to many travellers from different countries & cultures. I have also added my recommendation for a vegetarian restaurant below. Apart from that you can find many Italian & Indian restaurants catering to vegetarian customers in Prague.
Your Guide to Drinking in Prague
Wine in the Czech Republic is produced mainly in southern Moravia, although a few vineyards are located in Bohemia and you can sample most of these wines in Prague. The Czech republic is undoubtedly famous for its beer but it also has a long history of producing wine. Winemakers in Czech republic have started using the stainless steel tanks and temperature controlled fermentation methods. Moravian Riesling & Muscat are the 2 varieties you definitely should you try.
Beer for breakfast, beer for snack, beer for lunch and beer for dinner. in Prague you will be surrounded by microbreweries where you can see the beer being made and taste it straight from the tank. So may varieties of beer that I can possibly make an entire post on beer tasting in Prague!
2 Beers you definitely need try in Prague are Pilsner Urquell and Kozel (dark lager). You can drink many more varieties at microbreweries.
When buying any food item from street vendors I always think of 2 things – Does the price sound right and is this really something local to to this city?
Trdelník is one of such thing that is widely sold on the streets of Prague and sadly it is not local. Don’t get me wrong, I love traditional spit cakes in their original form. And athough the photo of Trdelník is always Instagram worthy, I thought it tasted OK. Priced anywhere from 100 to 400 CZK, I am not sure if they are even worth that price. Just think how many Kremrole you can get in that price..Yumm! But I’ll leave you to decide on this one.
Local restaurants in Prague
So now you know what to eat & drink when you are hungry in Prague! Let me give you some tips on where you can find all this delicious food in Prague.
Havelská Koruna – Canteen style local restaurant in Prague that takes you back in the 70’s. Located in the busy tourist centre, this place serves authentic local Czech cuisine. How can you tell? Not a single person speaks English and you will mostly find locals eating here. You will get a slip which records what you eat. You get your food on a tray and once done, go to the counter with your slip and pay the bill which will most likely be less than 150 CZK for a person!
Lokal – Whoever I talked to about eating out in Prague, seemed to talk very highly of this place – almost like an institution. But it is worth the hype The beer is good, the ambiance is casual & relaxed, food is good and light on pocket. Ticks all the boxes, doesn’t it?
Kolkovna – This is a restaurant chain owned by local Pilsner Urquell-affiliated chain. They serve fresh unpasteurized pilsner from the tank and good food. A bit touristy in my opinion but worth visiting for the best Guláš.
U Pinkasů – A restaurant service typical Czech cuisine where Pilsner Urquell was the first beer being drawn in Prague as early as in 1843. If you are visiting during summer, they have a very beautiful summer garden where you can sit for hours drinking beer and enjoy their delicious food.
Maitrea (Vegetarian restaurant in Prague) – A pretty place serving Vegetarian food with eastern touches.
Sisters – One of the best place in Prague to try Chlebíček (open-faced sandwiches). They do amazing varieties – Traditional and non-traditional ones.
Kantýna – A place for meat lovers! They have their own butcher shop and deli. They do the juiciest Pork Schnitzels
La Degustation Bohême Bourgeoise – Michelin star restaurant that sources seasonal products from local farmers and hunters. Their degustation menu keeps changing based on the seasonality & availability of produce.
Eska – A modern restaurant inspired by Nordic cuisine and focusing on seasonal ingredients. This restaurant is bringing back a lot of Czech classics in a new & modern avatar.
So what are your best picks?
Hope you have a wonderful gastronomic time in Prague.
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