By: Janey Murray
Prague’s food scene has more to offer than just the traditional Czech staples of goulash and dumplings. While traditional Czech cuisine is still an integral part of Prague’s food culture, the recently diversified food scene is something foodies everywhere need to experience.
During the communist period in the Czech Republic, diversity in cuisine was scarce. Ingredients were limited and creativity in cooking was virtually nonexistent. But since the Velvet Revolution, the Czechs have revitalized their cuisine with creative new trends and ingredients. Trendy burger joints and upscale Czech restaurants have begun to proliferate the area. Of course, traditional food still abounds in countless pubs across the city. But the post-Iron Curtain Prague food scene, often overlooked, has now become a delight to experience.
8 PM : Dinner at U Kurelů
U Kurelů, Chvalova 1, Prague 3, 130 00
Ease your way into Prague with a taste of home at this American-owned burger restaurant. The burger trend is working its way through Prague with places like this one as Czechs travel more and discover foreign cuisines. U Kurelů offers ingredients such as smoked meats and barbeque, giving visitors a taste of some elements of Czech food along with an American favorite. The award-winning pulled pork sandwich provides a fresh taste of American cuisine here in Central Europe. The pulled pork won first prize international smoked pulled pork at the Jack Daniels World Barbecue Competition in 2016. The Tavern Classic Burger is also a delicious option. Grab a Pilsner along with your meal, a must-have at some point during your time in Prague. The restaurant is located in the Žižkov neighborhood of Prague 3. Take a walk around the neighborhood and the nearby Riegrovy sady park before or after dinner to acclimate yourself and see some spectacular views of the city from the park. You can also check out the television tower, the tallest building in Prague, which is just steps away from the restaurant.
10 AM : Café Lounge
Café Lounge Plaská 615/8, 160 00 Prague 5, Ujezd/Lesser Quarter
Café Lounge, tucked away in Lesser Town, is the perfect place to start your first full day in Prague. Take the opportunity to get a glimpse of the smaller and less populated side of the Vltava River in the Mala Strana neighborhood. On a nice day, sit in the back garden of the café, which offers a calm atmosphere, great for sitting with a coffee and breakfast. If you’re feeling like getting an early start, try the Pivovar Matuska, a local IPA from outside of Prague, for a change of pace from the typical Pilsner.
11 AM : Take a Stroll
Legion Bridge, 110 00 Prague 1-New Town
Grab a coffee to-go from Café Lounge and wander around near the riverbank. The nearby Legion Bridge is much less populated by crowds than the famous Charles Bridge. It crosses over the Strelecky ostrov, or “Shooter’s Island,” which you can check out on your way by taking the stairs or elevator down from the bridge. Wandering in Prague produces the best results. There is more to be found by stumbling upon interesting sights than by planning what to try to see ahead of time.
12 PM : Prague Foodies Tour
Meet at Lesser Town Square 5 (Malostranské náměstí 5), Prague 1, right next to the Starbucks Coffee
For foodies everywhere, the Prague Foodies food tour led by locals is the perfect activity for learning all about Prague and Czech culture. You can get a taste of the many types of cuisines infusing their way into the Prague food scene and discover some of the best restaurants around according to the locals who will be your guides. During the tour, you will learn about the history and culture of Prague through food. Your guides will explain how the lack of ingredients during the years of communism in the Czech Republic impacted the Prague food scene, and how cuisine has become more diverse and exciting in recent years as more local ingredients have become available and farmer’s markets have become an important part of the Prague food culture. While diverse ingredients were scarce during communism, in the past 10 years or so, local Czech ingredients have become more popular and Czech restaurants have improved in quality. Traditional tours last about four hours and begin at noon Monday through Saturday. Your tour guide will lead you all around the city to try small portions of the best food. Tours cost 85 euros and can accommodate 1-8 people per tour. Make sure to book online in advance to secure your spot.
5 PM : Happy Hour at Marina Ristorante
Marina Ristorante, Alsovo nabr., 110 00 Prague 1-Old Town
Once you finish your food tour, walk back over to the Vltava River and make your way to Marina Ristorante near the Manes Bridge, right off the Staroměstská metro stop. Order drinks to start off your night and catch the best lighting for taking photos, just before the sun begins to set. A wide range of cocktails as well as a selection of beer and wine are all available for your choosing. Stay for a while and rest your feet after a long day of walking around this cobblestone city. Check out the beautiful views of the river and the historic buildings of the Castle District across the river in the evening while sipping a drink. The Prague Castle that you will see is listed as the largest castle complex in the world in the Guinness Book of World Records.
7 PM : Dinner at Bella Vida Café
Bella Vida Café, Malostranské nábřeží 3, 118 00 Praha 1, Malá strana
After drinks at the Marina Ristorante, cross back over to Malá Strana via the Charles Bridge–everyone must walk across it at least once despite the crowds–and make your way to the nearby Bella Vida Café, a small and inexpensive restaurant with Italian influences. Since the Velvet Revolution, restaurants like this one offering foreign cuisine have popped up around the city as Czechs have become more well-traveled and aware of different cuisines. While Italian cuisine was not of high quality immediately following the end of communism, several restaurants around Prague have now perfected it. The restaurant sits right on the Vltava, with outdoor seating overlooking a beautiful view of the river and the other side of the city at sunset. You will now have seen both sides of Prague from afar. Sit outside if you can.
9 PM : Try a Trdelník
Head back over to Old Town after dinner for a brisk walk after the sun has set completely. Grab a Trdelník pastry, a Czech favorite, from one of the many nearby stands. Although originally Slovakian, Trdelníks are available all around Prague. This delicious dessert is essentially sugary dough, similar to a doughnut, twisted into a cylinder and grilled with sugar sprinkled on the outside. If you’re looking for more to eat, order it filled with ice cream, strawberries or chocolate–or all of the above. Walk around while eating your treat to get a feel for Prague by night.
10 PM : Finish at a Pub
U Slovanské Lipy, Tachovské us. 288/6, 130 00 Prague 3-Žižkov
Return to the Žižkov neighborhood to finish out your night. This up-and-coming neighborhood is known for its pubs, each one different from the next. Try U Slovanské Lípy: it is said to be the oldest pub in Žižkov and serves 10 different beers on tap. Everyone must experience a Žižkov pub like this one at some point. The pub atmosphere is what brings people to the neighborhood at night. Finish out your night with a beer, or “pivo” in Czech. Czechs are proud of their beer, which is an important part of Czech culture.
8 AM : Breakfast at Original Coffee
Original Coffee, Bethlehem 12, 110 00 Prague 1-Old Town
Before heading out on Sunday morning, grab a quick breakfast from Old Town to get one last glimpse of the historic area and maybe stumble upon one last little wonder of Prague. Original Coffee is tucked away on a quiet street in bustling Old Town. Grab a coffee and try a pastry as well. Sit in the trendy café, if you have time, or take it to go if you need to head out. Reflect on the transformed post-communist Prague cuisine you have just experienced. While Western European cities tend to draw the most attention for their cuisine, Prague is a hidden gem that is finally beginning to come into its own unique food culture. Don’t forget to look around as you head out of the city after breakfast: if you don’t stop and look around in Prague, you could miss a lot.