In looking back on my trip to Central Europe, I would say I did better in sightseeing than in eating while in Prague; Munich was the reverse. I attribute this to the fact that in Prague I went on an almost five hour food tour (which you can read about by clicking here) and Prague had more attractions I wanted to visit, so food somewhat went down in terms of importance. Overall, I was pretty happy with the Prague food spots I did check out so here they are in the order I ended up dining at them:
Our walking tour our first day in Prague more or less ended in Josefov and while we were being shown various points of interest, our tour guide pointed out a restaurant, saying it was a favorite of Ivana Trump’s (the first Mrs. Trump) and while I could give two hoots about the Trump name, Ivana is Czech, so that does carry some clout from a culinary regard.
Located right in the heart of Josefov (it’s a stone’s throw from the Spanish Synagogue), it offers traditional Czech fare, plus you can make reservations online, which was great as it was confirmed almost immediately.
The menu is quite extensive including drink options. D had his first Czech beer in Prague, the ubiquitous Pilsner Urquell which came in three different sizes, the largest costing less than $5USD. Word to the wise, beer is CHEAP in Prague. To be different, I tried a glass of the Moravian Rose Wine (Moravia is a region in the Czech Republic), the Frankovka rosé. It was quite tasty. The Czech Republic is obviously known for its beer, but Moravia is becoming quite the big wine region too.
For dinner, well, this is where I messed up. I ordered a selection from its beer dishes portion of the menu, the VKOLKOVNĚ Brawn, which was lean ham brawn with onions and vinegar. I should have taken a hint at the mention of vinegar. It was tasty, but I ended up with a cold ham dish, not at all what I wanted. Thankfully I would have “hot ham” later on in the trip.
D chose wisely and ordered the Spicy Goulash. Before my visit I had always assumed goulash was just a Hungarian thing. Nope, it’s all over Central Europe. He enjoyed it immensely and it was indeed spicy from the few bites I had.
V kolkovne 8
Total cost: Less than $35USD
Grand Cafe Orient
Both of our tour guides had raved about the Grand Cafe Orient, Prague’s only cubist cafe, so I figured if two locals were singing its praises, it must be good. Well, it wasn’t bad per se…but it was also nothing to write home about.
We didn’t want an actual dinner after the epic saga that was our food tour, so after walking on the Charles Bridge we came back here to get a snack. While it was later, it wasn’t that late and the cafe itself was semi-deserted, so much so that I asked an unfriendly waiter if food was still being served. In the typical unpleasant/indifferent manner that is European customer service, he replied yes.
I guess the moral of this story is maybe it’s nice but I would skip if it it’s at night and dark out-it just lost a lot of its appeal. It ended up feeling like some random cafe where the wait staff was biding their time until their shifts were over. And I didn’t even get that much of a thrill from all of the cubist features (everything is cubist themed-the chairs, ceiling design, etc).
I wasn’t too hungry so I went for a slice of ( ). I also ordered ginger tea because I love the taste of ginger and after my amazing ginger ice cream in Munich, I was excited over the idea of this. Well, what I got was hot water with some cut up pieces of ginger. Not at all what I was expecting and also somewhat disappointing. The cake was delicious though, and probably had all the calories I didn’t remotely need.
D went with the maple syrup crepe that came with fresh fruit and whipped cream. He also tried a new beer ( ).
This was probably the most meh dining experience the entire trip.
Ovocný trh 19
I only realized we weren’t at the right place after we’d already sat down and been given menus. Now I know many of you would have just up and left, but we’re not really that type. We just stew and dwell on our errors. Even though my Rick Steves’ guidebook had said “don’t confuse it with the enormous, tour-group oriented Klášterní Restaurace,” you can guess where we ended up. I blame this on the fact that it was a long, hot and steep walk from the Prague Castle area to the Strahov Monastery (where the two restaurants are), and the fact that as soon as I saw a restaurant and monastery, I automatically assumed this was it. So a lesson to the wise-when you pass through into the courtyard area, just keep walking, you haven’t reached your destination.
However, our lunch at Klášterní Restaurace was entirely pleasant and the food quite tasty. Sitting outside, our section of tables was completely deserted so there was nothing touristy about it.
I ordered the Prague Goulash (I hadn’t yet eaten it in the Czech Republic) which consisted of pork and the country’s famous bread dumplings. D ordered a chicken dish which was cooked in black beer and came with onions and potatoes.
He also ordered a glass of the beer, naturally.
All in all, it wasn’t a bad meal especially since after we did go to our originally intended destination Klášterní Pivovar so D could try a beer from there (it’s a famous brewery that was originally founded in 1628 and reopened in 2004), and the place was mobbed, both its drinking and dining sections. So I guess it was a case of sometimes things have a way of working out.
Strahovské nádvoří 11
Total cost: Less than $35 USD
Terasa U Prince
We have had many final night dinner duds so I was determined that would not be the case in Prague. I found out about the Terasa U Prince from my guidebook and after I read that it had prime views of Old Town Square, my mind was made up. Yes, it’s uber touristy and the prices are undoubtedly more because of the view, but sometimes you truly can’t put a price tag on this.
After a week of rich and hearty fare, I reveled in the opportunity to order something that wasn’t meat and came doused in a rich sauce so the homemade pappardelle pasta with roasted chicken and tomato sauce was perfect (and truly, it had never tasted better).
D opted to try the Czech version of roasted pork knuckle which came with coleslaw. He preferred the German version, claiming it was crispier, but still enjoyed this one.
D tried another Staropramen (this is the second largest brewery in the country) and I ordered a Moscow mule, although it was much too spicy and non-sweet for my taste.
No doubt there are places serving better and less expensive fare and yet when all you want is to wine and dine in the middle of Prague’s ambiance, this is the place to do it.
Staroměstské náměstí 29 (The restaurant is located in the U Prince hotel)
Total cost: Less than $50USD
Prague street food
Okay, so they’re not a Czech thing (they came to the country via a Hungarian “trailblazer,”) but you sure wouldn’t know this from how many places throughout the city are selling them. You can get these rolled sweet pastries anywhere (I found the going price to be about 60 CZK) although the best is when they come right off the fire. Getting one that’s been “sitting out,” doesn’t taste nearly as good. Plan to leave Prague having eaten half a dozen of these… at least. The best I had was on our first day near our hotel (the Prague Marriott) close to the Náměstí Republiky metro stop.
Prague ham & halušky & sausage
There are a couple of food stands near the Old Town Hall and one night for dinner D requested we order from there; he was captivated by the fact everything was cooked over a huge open fire. I’m not the biggest fan of balancing full meals on my lap to eat but when in Praha…I tried the Prague ham (this was a huge piece that I didn’t come close to finishing) while D went the kielbasa route. We then split an order of the halušky as a side. These are dumplings or noodles common throughout Central and Eastern European cuisines; our dish came with more Prague ham cooked in along with sauerkraut.
This was quick, delicious, and unpretentious fare-just remember, cash only.
Nostress Cafe & Restaurant for breakfast
We dined here for breakfast before going on our tour to Terezin. The food was good although it took forever to get our meals, even though it looked like the majority of diners were just doing the traditional European breakfast route-i.e. rolls and coffee drinks. It was also somewhat pricey considering we had full meals for only a little more.
V Kolkovně 9
Thankfully with my food tour, I do feel overall I was able to delve into Prague’s food scene. But I have no doubt on my next trip there, I’ll do even better on my own in terms of searching out more local spots.