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PRAGUE

October 15th, 2019

BY Taste of Prague

Having abandoned Czech cuisine after the end of communism for fancier, foreign options it took a while for Czech people to re-embrace their native foods. But in the past ten years as local affluence has risen, global inspiration has become more accessible and young chefs –free from the shackles of communist shame and a dominance of all things foreign– returned from stages abroad, grandma’s cooking has become cool again. Deeply routed in Austro-Hungarian culinary traditions, the people of Prague still love meat and beer and enjoy dishes that comfort, although modern chefs are now attempting to change all that by looking mostly northwards for inspiration.

All photos: Taste of Prague

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Fine Dining

La Degustation Bohéme Bourgeoise

Czech food at its finest

For a long time, this was the only Michelin star restaurant in Prague with a focus on Czech cuisine. Chef Sahajdak’s young team cooks from scratch every day using only local ingredients to create modern dishes partly inspired by a 1894 Czech cookbook. The eight-course set menu is served in a beautiful room with an open kitchen and whilst service can be surprisingly casual, it’s always sophisticated.

INSIDER TIP

If you're eating as a duo share both the wine pairing and the non-alcoholic pairing. Both are well worth the price.

Local speciality

Kastrol

Classics worth a detour

Yes, Kastrol may be a detour from the city centre but Czech pub food does not get better than this. The restaurant venue has everything Czechs want in a pub: big portions of proper comfort food, lots of sauces, slow-cooked meats and cold beers served in a casual, welcoming atmosphere. Some of Kastrol’s legendary dishes have been taken from Na Pekarne – a sister-venue in Cakovicky village. These include the svickova (roast beef in a creamy vegetable sauce), boar with rosehip sauce and the roast duck.

INSIDER TIP

Don't skip dessert. The 'povidlové tasticky' (potato-based ravioli-type pasta parcels filled with plum jam and served with lots of butter, some sugar and crushed nuts) are the bomb. We mean calorific bomb.

MON-THU: 11:00-15:00 & 17:00-22:00FRI: 11:00-23:00SAT: 12:00-23:00SUN: 12:00-22:00
Worth the Hype

Kantýna

A meat shrine in a former bank

Opened in a former bank by the team behind the legendary but now defunct Čestr steakhouse, Kantýna caters to what Czechs like most: meat and beer. Like Dante’s Inferno, it comes in layers. Firstly at the butcher’s counter where you order steaks and burgers to stay or go. Then, the central part where you pick up your meats from the cutters and select your drinks. Finally, you take it all on a big tray to one of the tables at the back and devour. If you’re a carnivore this place is a must on your Prague to-eat list.

INSIDER TIP

Try the 11-course 'Dinner from the Bone' menu. It’s definitely aimed at the more adventurous carnivore but one of the best food experiences the city can offer.

Worth the Hype

Mr HotDog

Fast-food done good

This fast-food joint in the Letná district does everything well, serving the best burgers in town, great cocktails and even some pretty fun merchandise. It’s a place where you leave moderation at the door and go all in, you know those hot dogs and fries and burgers ain’t good for you, but you just can’t help it. Locals know that Mr. HotDog is packed from the moment it opens so booking is a must.

INSIDER TIP

The onion rings are amazing and we don’t even like onion rings.

Baked Goods

Pekárna Praktika

Dead serious about flour & bread

Arguably the best bakery in town, Pekárna Praktika doesn’t just settle for ‘good enough’. Their philosophy demands all flours be organic and stone milled, preferably in house. The bread has to have nutritional value and everything has to represent ‘real’ food. This is not a place full of fake straw baskets either, the interior is stripped down to the very basics. If you want a loaf of bread or just a slice with paté or jam and great coffee, Praktika is your go-to.

INSIDER TIP

Enjoy bread with paté and a coffee for the breakfast of champions. Then, get a cronut from 'Oh Deer' bakery next door. They won’t mind.

Trailblazer

Kro Kitchen

Smart Czech fast-food

Opened by young chefs from Prague and beyond with fine-dining backgrounds, Kro Kitchen is an attempt to elevate Czech fast-food to something better, and it works. A lot of thought has gone into how the classics, such as pork knuckle or chicken paprikash, are updated and the results are lighter, more interesting and (most importantly) more flavorful. Get your order to go, grab a picnic blanket (they’ll rent you one) and eat in the park across the street. P.S. This is probably the only fast-food joints with a sommelier on board.

INSIDER TIP

Look out for Saturday tasting menus with wine pairings! Also, the pork knuckle combo is out of this world.

MON-THU: 11:00-15:00 & 17:00-21:00FRI-SAT: 11:00-15:00 & 17:00-23:00
Trailblazer

The Eatery

Modern Czech minimalism

Czech cuisine gets given a fresh new approach at The Eatery, which was opened by chef Býček who was the Chef de Cuisine at Alcron when it received a Michelin star. Minimalist interiors and bar seating focused around an open kitchen enhances the dining experience, as does the generous wine list full of hip local bottles and foreign staples. Whilst the incredibly well-priced lunches have a more casual feel, we wouldn’t mind having a serious date here in the evening either.

INSIDER TIP

We've always liked the way chef Býček prepares the fish delivered fresh from the local farms.

Trailblazer

Výčep

Wallachian food with a modern twist

Let’s be real, Czech pubs offer very little for your regular foodie when it comes to culinary experience but Výčep, which opened at the end of 2018 in the Vinohrady district, is different. Combining a pub venue with a restaurant that modernizes Wallachian cuisine’s most familiar dishes, Výčep achieves the difficult feat of bridging traditional and modern to offer the best pub food in Prague, by a mile.

INSIDER TIP

The homemade shots really complete the experience.

MON-THU: 11:00-23:00FRI: 11:00-12:00SAT: 12:00-00:00SUN: 12:00-22:00
Market Experience

Kulaťák farmer's market

Plenty to see and eat

Set in the beautiful Dejvice/Bubeneč district, surrounded by universities and affluent neighbourhoods, the Kulaťák market is the biggest and arguably the best farmer’s market in town and with around 100 stands and 6000 visitors each Saturday, it gets busy. You could just come and buy your local produce to take home, but what sets this market apart is its ample selection of cooked goods. The highlights? Breads from Praktika bakery (if they’re available that particular week); burgers from Argument; and the kremrole pastries (basically meringue cream in a roll, a bit reminiscent of cannoli) from Cukrarstvi Karlovy Vary, the stand which always has the longest line.

INSIDER TIP

Come early to beat the crowds. Get your coffee fix from 'Kávový klub' and then slowly transition into hot meals and beers.

BREAKFAST

Eska

Hip factory brunches

There is no better symbol of the Karlín district’s gentrification than Eska. Located in a former factory and clearly catering to young, affluent crowds it ticks every buzzword in the modern dining handbook with its farm-to-table ethos and seasonal, fermented foods all paired with cloudy natural wines. For all these hipster values, Eska does serve the best breakfast in town and locals are well aware of the fact so make sure you book your table for weekend brunch in advance. As well as brunch, Eska rolls a Bib Gourmand-awarded restaurant, a bakery and a coffee shop all into one brilliant venue.

INSIDER TIP

The 'smaženka' (fried bread in egg batter served with meaty or meatless toppings) is the star of the breakfast menu.

Chef's choice

The Real Meat Society

Rediscovering Czech breeds

Now a few years into its existence, The Real Meat Society still sets the gold standard for organic meat production using ethically-treated animals. Chef, Paul Day, single-handedly brought the Preštické prase heritage pig breed back from the brink of extinction and still offers the country’s best animals. TRMS is about way more than just raw meat though, their warm sandwiches, meatloaf and other nibbles are legendary and pair well with the craft beers available on tap. This is one of the most beautiful butcher shops filled with retro extra touches as well.

INSIDER TIP

Order the Scotch eggs and vanilla custard donuts. These items made the late 'Maso a kobliha' restaurant (run by the same owners) famous.

TUE-WED: 10:00-18:00THU-FRI: 10:00-19:00SAT: 10:00-17:00
Chef's Choice

Taro

Asian fine-dining

With just 20 bar seats surrounding an open kitchen and located in a town where most Asian eateries focus on cheap fast-food, Taro was a bold move taken by two young Czechs of Vietnamese descent who have since become famous figures within Prague’s food scene. The cooking at Taro focuses on modern Asian and the atmosphere is brilliant whether you eat during an à la carte lunch or a set-menu dinner.

INSIDER TIP

Come for the more informal à la carte lunchtimes where you'll dine alongside managers from the surrounding offices.

TUE-FRI: 11:30-15:00 & 17:30-23:00SAT: 12:00-16:00 & 18:00-23:00
The Institution

U Bansethů

Roast duck and cold pilsners

It is difficult to find continuity in a country which suffered under communist rule for over 40 years, but U Bansethů, a pub located in the Nusle district and mentioned in Mr Hasek’s iconic Good Soldier Svejk novel from the 1920s, is still rocking its thing. Here, the ‘thing’ is fresh pilsner and Czech comfort cooking. The roast duck (cooked in a rotisserie oven right by the restaurant entrance) may be the house favourite but after a few ‘hops sodas’ (we mean beer, of course) you’ll like everything about this local joint which operates under the tourism radar.

INSIDER TIP

The quarter roast duck filled with sauerkraut and served with potato pancakes is a must-order. Finish with their 'kolache' (a sweet yeast dough treat) made in-house.

The Institution

Lokál Dlouhá

Revolutionary retro pub

Lokál single-handedly brought Czech cuisine back into the spotlight after communism ended and is modelled on a ‘Category 3’ restaurant as seen during the era. Here, you’ll find a traditional Czech pub/restaurant experience with a few updates, the most important being the beer distribution. Fresh, unpasteurised beer fills stainless steel tanks daily to quench the thirst of Czech patrons who drink, on average, nine per sitting whilst devouring classic dishes and snacks. Lokál transitions from a restaurant at lunchtime into a beer hall during the evenings but not matter what the time of day, it’s always a happy place to visit.

INSIDER TIP

Try the best fried cheese in town which they sell over 500 of daily.

WINE BAR

Bokovka

Natural wines in a 16th century brewery

Bokovka ticks so many boxes: great wines from the Czech Republic and abroad (many of them natural), stunning interiors, super cool vibes and a 16th century brewery courtyard location conveniently located close enough to, yet far enough from, the party crowds on Dlouhá street. Drinking bubbles on their balcony is a quintessential summer Prague experience in our book and whilst you might not find the largest selection of wine here, you will find the bottles that count. With brilliant cheese boards and charcuterie as well as vintage tinned sardines, what more do you need?

INSIDER TIP

The pet nats by Dobrá vinice are a great way to start the evening. You can also order burgers and steaks at Naše maso next door and they'll deliver them to you.

Taste of Prague

As the first real food tour operators in Prague, we've been forcing people to overeat here for over 8 years now. We travel to eat, trying to get a fresh perspective on the food we get at home, and we share that knowledge with visitors and locals alike through our blog and social media.


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