Contributed by guest post author Guillem (plus my recommendations).
Mention Prague and most people who have been think of its beautiful architecture; dramatic facades right out of a fairytale movie set that form the backdrop for romantic old trams and couples holding hands as they walk under arches. But Czech gastronomy, perhaps overshadowed by other cuisines easily available in Prague (like French, Spanish and Italian), is not particularly famous. While the endless options for places to eat in Prague (even for international food) might mean that you don’t have to plan every meal in advance, if you visit the city and don’t sample the best Czech food in Prague or dine at the best places to eat in Prague, that would be a real shame.
Forget about tourist traps like Trdelník; the so-called chimney cake is not a Czech invention and the ones sold to Instagram-inspired tourists by many shops in the Old Town aren’t even that good (and are over-priced). Locals vouch that you can skip it and you wouldn’t be missing out on anything.
If you’ve never tried traditional Czech food, then you should know that it is simple but comforting and filling, and might remind someone who grew up on a farm in Central Europe of the hearty, rustic meals of their childhood. Here is a guide to tell you where to eat in Prague, what Czech food to try, and where you’ll find the best food in Prague for every budget.
Evolution of Czech Cuisine
The location of the Czech Republic has obvious influences on its cuisine. As a Central European country, Celt and Slav influences have a presence in most of traditional food. As in the case of its neighbors, the traditional cuisine is based around the local produce the people had access to at the time, with very high presence of bread as the base of the meal. Other elementary items of traditional Czech cuisine include grains, legumes, and porridge, as well as meat (mainly pork, beef, poultry, venison and fresh water fish).
A foreign introduction that rooted itself quickly in Czech gastronomy was the dumpling from Tyrolean shepherds, but the dumplings in Czech dishes couldn’t be more different than those of Asian cuisine. Introduction of potatoes also spread naturally around the whole country.
Today, the Czech capital offers food from around the world, while still keeping its true roots.
Prague specialties: Czech Food in Prague
- Beef goulash (hovězí guláš): This dish may have originated in Hungary but it is center stage in Czech cuisine. It is a must when you visit Prague.
- Beer (pivo) and beer snacks (utopenci): Beer is the pride of the Czech Republic. Pilsner Urquell, Staropramen, Gambrinus… you name it. They are delicious and cheaper than water (literally). Try them with the pickled sausage.
- Fruit dumplings (ovocné knedlíky): Although this may seem like a dessert or a snack, they are usually served as a main dish.
- Roast duck (pečená kachna): Delicious with a pickled beetroot salad on the side!
- Fried cheese (Smažený sýr): The king of street foods in the Czech Republic, this breaded and fried cheese snack is real comfort food.
- Pork knuckle (vepřové koleno): This glorious piece of meat, usually cooked with dark beer, is one of my go to dishes every time I am in Prague.
- Czech sausages: It doesn’t matter which variety, jaternice, klobása, utopenci… try them all!
- Svíčková: Beef sirloin in cream sauce. One of the most popular Czech meals prepared with vegetables and seasoned with spices and herbs and boiled with double cream. Usually served with bread dumplings.
- Becherovka: This medicinal digestive is not really from Prague, since it is produced in the spa town Karlovy Vary, but it is very popular in Prague.
Where to Eat in Prague: Recommendations for the Best Places to Eat in Prague
Best Czech Restaurants in Prague
Eating on the cheap in Prague is easy and by no means linked to bad quality. To try Czech food on a budget, head to one of many Czech pubs for meat dishes, goulash and (unpasteurized) tank beer- it’s the quintessential Czech dining experience that you have try at least once when in Prague Here are some recommendations for cheap places to eat in Prague.
- Find splendid Czech food in one of the city’s medieval taverns, such as Krčma (Kostečná 925/4, 110 00 Staré Město) and indulge in the meat-heavy food. My recommendation? Go for the pork knuckle, but don’t forget to share it with someone (unless you’re planning to eat 1.4 kg of meat).
- Another option to taste good local inexpensive food is U Parlamentu, (Valentinská 52/8, 110 00 Praha-Staré Město) where pork knuckle and roast pork are good choices.
- Lokál Dlouhá (Dlouhá 33, 110 00 Staré Město) A no-frills Czech pub (apparently Prague’s longest) where you can wash down local dishes such as dumplings with goulash and meat, and fried cheese (typical bar food) with Pilsner. This place is wildly popular with locals as well, especially on weekends. If you ask a local about where to eat in Prague so you can taste some local dishes and bar snacks, they would most likely recommend this place. There are other branches around the city including a busy one at U Bílé Kuzelky, just near the Charles Bridge.
- Sisters Bistro (Dlouhá 39, Prague) This place comes highly recommended to those looking to eat on the cheap in Prague. You could think of this as a street food in Prague, except that you can actually enjoy it in the very nice Sisters Bistro (breakfast and lunch as it’s open till early evening). This little sandwich place started by two sisters, one of the best places to eat in Prague really, is so unassuming that you might walk right past it, so pay attention if you’re using Maps to get there.
- Go here for chlebicek or Czech open-faced sandwiches (that reminded me, Natasha of the Scandinavian smørrebrød) with rye bread they bake themselves and toppings such as ham and potato salad, goat cheese and beetroot puree, crispy pork, and shrimp and egg. You should be full with just two of these and absolutely stuffed with three. At CZK30 a piece, they’re also easy on the pocket. Ask about their soup of the day when you visit. Staff here is very friendly, and this is just one more reason why it’s my favorite place to eat in Prague on a budget.
- Naše Maso (Dlouhá 39, Prague) Judging by the crowd in and queue out of Naše Maso, right next to Sisters Bistro, you can tell that this butcher shop plus bistro, is loved equally by locals as it is by young tourists wanting to eat on a budget. The name itself translates to ‘our meat’ and high standards are maintained when it comes to how and where the meat is sourced from. This bistro, recommended by locals for some of the best food in Prague, isn’t a place for vegetarians but heaven for meat-lovers who can get ham and meals such as a grilled sausage or hotdog, pate, burger, braised pork belly, meat loaf or freshly grilled meat that you can select from the display. Also a budget meal in Prague.
- If you’re prepared to spend a bit more, my suggestion is U Medvídků (Na Perštýně 344/5, 110 00 Staré Město). They offer a fantastic Brewer’s tasting menu made of a three-course beer-based meal paired with excellent beer. (The price is 740 CZK or 29 € at the time of writing and it is totally worth it.)
- Try V Kolkovne (V kolkovne 910/8) in the Jewish quarter. This brewery offers excellent Czech food, with the roast duck being the star.
- If you ask a Prague local about a high-end Czech meal they will probably send you straight to La Degustation Bohême Burgeoise (Haštalská 18, 110 00 Staré Město) a Michelin-star restaurant offering a tasting menu for 3,450 CZK (135 €). The food is innovative but with Czech origins. It is pricey, but you get what you pay for.
Best Restaurants in Prague for International Food
- Asian food is coming strong in Prague, with its star being Vietnamese cuisine. The inexpensive Pho Vietnam Tuan & Lan (Anglická 529/15, 120 00 Praha 2) offers delicious Bún Bò for 85 CZK (3.3 €) and shrimp, pork and egg summer rolls for as little as 30 CZK (1.2 €).
- If you are a vegetarian or need a break from meaty Czech food, head to Bea’s Vegetarian Dhaba (Týnská 19) hidden in a small courtyard and offering cheap vegetarian platters for 49 CZK (2 €). There are also branches around the city.
- Who doesn’t like Italian food, right? Thankfully, it’s available everywhere when we want something simple, familiar, delicious and not too expensive. Head to Pizzeria Rugantino (Dušní 4, 110 00 Staré Město) for great pizza, risotto, pasta as well as seafood mains like grilled octopus, calamari and steak.
- Pivo & Basilico (Zámecká 203/2, 118 00 Malá Strana) is another restaurant to visit if you’re in the Prague Castle area and looking for a good Italian meal. There are also Czech dishes on the menu.
- If you crave (and you probably will) something fresh, try Engawa BBQ & Sushi (Petrské nám. 1664/5, 110 00 Nové Město) a very popular Japanese restaurant that offers various treats like fantastic sushi, noodles and BBQ. Is it the most authentic Japanese restaurant? No, but it does the trick when you want some sushi in Prague.
- To dine like royalty in the old world grandeur of Prague’s iconic cafés, head to Café Imperial (Na Poříčí 1072/15, 110 00 Nové Město) (but with reservations for dinnertime or, for breakfast and lunch if you want to walk-in). This place isn’t cheap and might seem touristy, but there’s a good reason why it’s so popular- it’s still fantastic breakfast, good food (both local and international), and great coffee and cakes, in what is a very popular (and iconic) restaurant in the city. Dining here isn’t just about the food or good service; it’s about enjoying it in the majestic art deco interior, complete with ornate pillars and walls covered with ceramic tiles, in a café that makes up the city’s cultural heritage.
- To treat yourself to a fine French meal (think Coq au Vin, smoked duck breast, escargot, and baked rabbit) in Prague or the best Eggs Benedict in the city (as described by a Prague local), head to Brasserie La Gare (V Celnici 1038/3, 110 00 Nové Město) considered among the best restaurants in Prague. There’s also a deli with wines, cheeses, breads, olive oil, marmalades etc available for purchase.
- If you are looking for something special, go to Bellevue (Smetanovo nábř. 329/18, 110 00 Praha-Staré Město) a contemporary restaurant with European influences with a tasting menu for 1,790 CZK (73 €). To top it, the riverside views of this restaurant are incredible.
- Another option is Divinis (Týnská 1053/21, 110 00 Staré Město) an Italian restaurant with fantastic decor and a great degustation menu for 2,900 CZK (115 €) including quality wine.
Best Cafés and Breakfasts in Prague
- If you’re looking for a nice cup of specialty coffee, check out Original Coffee (Betlémská 12, 110 00 Staré Město), a hip roastery that also serves delicious treats. They also sell accessories that are a nice addition if you are a coffee fanatic.
- If you’re in the Prague Castle area and want to have a good coffee, light breakfast or lunch and indulge your sweet tooth in some seriously good pralines and chocolate cakes, then head to Prague Chocolate Café Bistro (44 Nerudova Malá Strana). Friendly service too.
- For a nice breakfast or brunch head to Cukr Kava Limonada (Lázeňská 7, 118 00 Malá Strana). This cosy establishment is famous for its delicious bubbly lemonade.
- If coffee is what you’re looking for, Kavarna Místo (Bubenečská 12, 160 00 Praha 6), a minimalist coffee temple that also serves tasty breakfasts with Czech and European influences.
- Looking for something different? Check Vnitroblock (Tusarova 791/31, 170 00 Praha 7-Holešovice-Praha 7) a concept store/cinema/dance studio/exhibition space and of course coffee shop located in a great industrial venue.
- If you’re looking for a fancy breakfast at a place that isn’t just a café, but something of an institution in Prague, then Café Savoy (Vítězná 124/5, Malá Strana, 150 00 Praha-Smíchov) is your pick. This spectacular art nouveau café is extremely beautiful, and it leads most lists for a great breakfast in Prague. However, be ready to wait if you don’t have a reservation or head later in the day for a quieter experience.
Where To Drink in Prague
- You can go out for cocktails in Prague, but beer is the heart of the drinking culture in the Czech Republic and they are, rightfully, very proud of it. If you want to taste different kinds of Czech beer somewhere other than a bar and really learn about beer, visit the Prague Beer Museum (Smetanovo nábř. 205/22, 110 00 Praha-Staré Město). I recommend that you order a flight (a selection of five or ten beers). It’s very inexpensive and there is no bad beer to be seen (or drunk).
- Hit the oldest pub in town, U Fleků (Křemencova 11, 110 00 Nové Město) and enjoy their self-brewed dark beer and shots of Becherovka, the national digestive produced in the spa town Karlovy Vary. It’ll cure any stomach upset that a heavy Czech meal may have caused. The evenings in U Fleků are lively and fun, filled with live music.
- If you prefer cocktails and a more hip crowd, head to Bukowski’s Bar (Bořivojova 689/86, 130 00 Praha 3-Žižkov) serving delicious cocktails at a reasonable price.
- Head to Pivovarsky Klub (Krizikova 17) to choose from an extensive menu of beers (both Czech and international) and enjoy delicious food in their cellar.
- If you want a drink with a view, hotel rooftops should be your choice. U Prince (Staroměstské nám. 460/29, 110 00 Staré Město), Golden Well Terasa U Zlate Studne (U Zlaté studně 166/4, 118 00 Malá Strana) or Intercontinental Prague (Zlatá Praha) (Pařížská 30, 110 00 Staré Město) are some good options.
- If you want something out of the ordinary go to T-Anker (Náměstí Republiky 656/8, 110 00 Staré Město). Even though it has a fantastic overview of the Old Town, it’s quite unknown by tourists. This is because it’s hidden away! To get there, stand in front of the department store KOTVA and on your left side follow the store. When you reach the middle of the store’s left side you will see an external elevator. Take it and go up to the 5th floor and there you are!
Bonus Recommendations for Prague
The first one isn’t really a restaurant or a place to drink, but a culinary experience with a cultural touch. Manifesto (Na Florenci, 110 00 Prague-Florenc) is a new cultural and gastro pop-up market located relatively close to the center. The current temporary installation is built out of containers and will be rebuilt after 2 years. Beside the stalls of many restaurants, cafés and pubs of the city, you’ll find cultural events such as screenings, exhibitions, dance workshops, etc.
Make sure you don’t miss this amazing gastro-cultural experience. It has a bit of everything so it is meant for everyone!
Travel tip: If you are in Prague during Christmas, make sure you visit Manifesto! They are preparing a special event where the architects will add heated igloos, additional vendor stalls to host a design market as well as fireplaces. The overall experience will be a hipster alternative to the traditional-style markets.
The Jazz Boat
Another special way to enjoy Prague during a meal is the Jazz Boat. It’s a cruise on the Vltava river with live music from jazz bands where you can enjoy a nice meal while exploring Prague from a different perspective. While the meal is not stellar, it is decent, and the highlights of this experience are the live music and the view of the city from the water. It all adds up to a great evening!
As you can see, Prague’s culinary experiences can be just as rich, varied and enjoyable as those of other cities more famous for their food. The recommendations above are just that, recommendations, based on personal experiences, but make sure to also explore for yourself, since there are plenty of other restaurants in Prague that are worth visiting. Prague is a magical city in every sense of the word, so make sure you enjoy it to the fullest! If you are planning on visiting Prague, check out this post about the best way to experience the city, with the top 12 activities in the Czech capital.
Guillem is the Writer, Photographer and Publisher at Feast of Travel. While he is working on his Ph.D. in Biomedicine he tries to fit in his dreams of traveling the world place by pace and meal by meal. That is why he created Feast of Travel: a travel blog dedicated to share his experiences during his journey and help his readers, even if only a bit, to enjoy their own trips even more.You can find Feast of Travel on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook and Pinterest.
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Have you visited Prague or are you a Prague local? What would you add to this list and have you been to any of the places mentioned in this list?