Sign up for blog updates

Prague: ARTĚL Style

Expert recommendations and insider tips for first-time visitors and locals alike from ARTĚL’s founder, Karen Feldman, who has lived in Prague since 1994. Click on the links below for detailed reviews – from Feldman’s own unique perspective – of all the best that Prague has to offer...

CATEGORIES

POPULAR POSTS

THE BOOK

 

Buy the book at amazon.com

Know a good place for us to check out? Tell us!

 

 

Expats Blog

Dining & Drinking

Traditional Czech Food in Prague: What to Have and Where to Have It

Published on May 12th, 2016 in Dining & Drinking

  • Serving soup to workers at lunchtime, 1963 (source: ČTK / Czech News Agency)

  • Workers are awarded with a meal in Karlovy Vary, 1960 (source: ČTK / Czech News Agency)

  • Breakfast, 1933 (source: ČTK / Czech News Agency)

 

This post originally appeared on Taste of Prague tour guides Jan and Zuzi’s food blog on April 25, 2016. You can read the full-original full-length post here.

 

What are the classic Czech foods and where do you have them? Here’s a list of classic Czech foods and our favorite Prague restaurants for traditional Czech cuisine that remind us of our childhood:

 

BEEF STEAK TARTARE

photo courtesy of Taste of Prague 

  

The undisputed king of the “snacks that go well with beer” category, the steak tartare is a Czech classic you should not leave Prague without tasting. We have several favorites in Prague but we keep coming back for the beef steak tartare at Cestr. The meat taken from dry-aged Czech spotted cows is premixed with onions, fried capers, oil and cream and served with a sous-vide cooked quail egg and bread lightly roasted on butter. The perfect companion? A glass of freshly poured Pilsner.

 

Legerova 75/57, Prague 1, Wenceslas Square
http://cestr.ambi.cz/en/
tel 222 727 851
hours Mon – Fri 11:30 – 23:00; Sat 12:00 – 23:00; Sun 12:00 – 22:00
metro A/C to Muzeum

 

 

KULAJDA

 

photo courtesy of Taste of Prague 

 

Kulajda (pronounced “ku-lay-dah”) is a creamy potato soup with mushrooms, dill, vinegar and a poached egg on top. As strange as it may seem, the best version in Prague is served in the lobby of the Mandarin Oriental Hotel restaurant, Spices. The potato wedges are roasted and the egg is sous-vide cooked and when broken, it oozes into the rich creamy potato soup with a strong flavor of forest mushrooms. A true symphony of flavors that is rich and filling.

 

Nebovidská 459/1, Prague 1
www.mandarinoriental.cz/prague/fine-dining/spices-restaurant-and-bar/
tel 233 088 888
hours Daily 18:00–23:00
metro A Malostranská
tram 12, 20, 22 to Hellichova

 

 

WIENER SAUSAGES

photo courtesy of Taste of Prague 

 

Czechs love sausages and eat them as fast food, breakfast (yes, we love sausages for breakfast), and as the perfect solid compliment to beer. For the best Wieners in Prague, we go to the Nase maso butcher shop. More often than we’d actually like, we tend to order the “variace”: one classic, one beef and one Debrecener sausage, all on a paper plate with a bit of mustard and bread, the way these should be eaten.

 

Dlouhá 39, Prague 1, Old Town
http://nasemaso.ambi.cz/
tel 222 312 533
hours Mon – Sat 9:00 – 10:00
metro A to Staromestka or B to Namesti Republiky
tram 8 to Dlouhá trida

 

 

SVICKOVA

 

photo courtesy of Taste of Prague 

 

Svickova, a classic Czech dish made for weddings or Sunday family lunches, is a very personal, intimate affair tied to the family recipe. Your grandma’s the best, and the rest is blasphemy. We like the version at Na Pekarne in the Cakovicky village just outside of the city the most: it is on the sweeter side, the flavors are deep, the sauce, which really makes the dish, has a rich, silky texture, and the Carlsbad dumplings are hard to fault. Finished off with cranberry compote, this dish is a true staple of traditional Czech cuisine.

Kojetická 36, Čakovičky
http://napekarne.com
tel 315 602 615
hours Wed – Sat 11:00 – 22:00; Sun 11 – 18

 

 

ROAST DUCK

photo courtesy of Taste of Prague 

 

There are not many Czech traditional dishes that would be based around chicken, but duck? That’s a completely different story. Just like schnitzel, duck can be found on the menu of many restaurants, but we go to U Bansethu in the Nusle district for our favorite. Delicious, juicy duck filled with dumplings and sauerkraut. Combine with fresh Pilsner for a combo that is everything: rich, sweet, tangy, salty and bitter in every bite and gulp. And all that at about CZK 150 for a portion that will fill you for the rest of the day.

 

Táborská 389/49, Prague 4
www.ubansethu.cz/cz/
tel 724 582 721
hours Daily 11:00 – 24:00
metro C to Vysehrad

 

 

SCHNITZEL WITH POTATO SALAD

 

photo courtesy of Taste of Prague 

 

Traditional Czech food is Central European food, and the schnitzel is the perfect example. Claimed by the Viennese, the Wiener schnitzel is veal, the Czech and German versions are mostly pork, and the Cotoletta alla Milanese from Milan, Italy, is veal again. The perfect accompaniment? Potato salad, a.k.a. the king of all sides. The traditional Czech version is a mixture of potatoes, carrots, hard-boiled eggs, onions and pickles, with mayo, mustard, brine from the pickles and salt and pepper. The best version in Prague? Cafe Savoy in our book.

 

Vítězná 124/5, Prague 5, Malá Strana
http://cafesavoy.ambi.cz/en/
tel 257 311 562
hours Mon – Fri: 8:00 – 22:30; Sat & Sun: 9:00 – 22:30
tram 6, 9, 12, 20, 22 to Ujezd

 

 

FRIED CHEESE

 

photo courtesy of Taste of Prague 

 

It tells you something about the plight of vegetarians here in the Czech Republic when the classic Czech vegetarian dish actually contains no vegetables, is fried and defies any notion of seasonality. That said, many Czechs would argue that “fried cheese”, i.e. a slice of fried, breaded Eidam cheese, is a gooey, cheesy, rich, comforting and utterly delicious piece of food that never fails to satisfy. For the best fried cheese in the town, head over to Lokal, whose version pan-fried in butter is something Jan’s Slovak cousins always insist on tasting the first moment they arrive in Prague.

 

Dlouhá 33, Prague 1, Old Town
http://lokal-dlouha.ambi.cz/en/
tel 222 316 265
hours Mon – Fri 11:00 – 01:00; Sat 11:00 – 01:00; Sun 11:00 – 24:00
metro A to Staromestka or B to Namesti Republiky

 

 

GOULASH

 

Just like the schnitzel, goulash is shared all across the former Austro-Hungarian Empire, but while the Hungarian version is soupy and is eaten with a spoon, the Czech version is a thicker stew, usually using a cheaper cut of beef, and served with dumplings. And just like svickova, many people can agree what a goulash is, but every pub has its own, specific recipe that can vary wildly. For a good goulash in the centre of Prague, we’d visit the Mincovna restaurant in the Old Town Square, which also serves fresh Pilsner, the perfect pairing.

 

Staroměstské náměstí 930/7, Prague 1, Old Town
www.restauracemincovna.cz/
tel 727 955 669
hours Daily 11:00 – 24:00
metro A to Staroměstská

 

 

FRUIT DUMPLINGS

photo courtesy of Taste of Prague  

 

Traditional Czech cuisine incorporates a main sweet dish. We’re talking something sizable, warm and sweet that is not served as dessert but as the main dish, usually after soup or appetizer. And the fruit dumplings are the absolute classic representative of that category: dumplings filled with fruit and served in a deeper dish with melted butter, sugar and other sweet condiments. Our heart belongs to the fruit dumplings at Krystal Mozaika bistro in the Karlin district. The dumplings have seasonal fillings and are always served with a delicious and rich side of melted butter, poppy seeds or farmers cheese, and jam made from the fruit that’s inside the dumplings.

 

Sokolovská 101/99, Prague 8, Karlin
www.krystal-bistro.cz/
tel 222 318 152
hours Mon – Fri 11:00 – 23:00; Sat – Sun 12:00 – 23:00
tram 3 or 8 to Krizikova

 

 

KOLACHE

photo courtesy of Taste of Prague  

 

The best kolache in the world come from the kitchen of Zuzi’s grandma in Moravia. But if you want to get as near as it gets to the perfection we call Zuzi’s grandma’s kolache, head over to the Simply good bakery in the Karlin district. Sure, the place lacks somewhat in atmosphere and only has one real table, but that does not really matter: you can take the small kolache or the bigger frgale with plum jam, farmers cheese or poppies or their combinations to the Karlinske namesti park nearby.

 

Sokolovská 146/70, Prague 8
www.simplygood.cz
tel 776 789 635
hours Mon–Fri 10:00–17:00
metro B to Křižíkova
tram 3 or 8 to Karlínské náměstí

 

 

BUCHTY

 

 

Buchty, sweet yeast dough buns, are something the heroes of Czech fairy tales would pack to go when they were about to embark on a journey. And why not? They are full of energy, delicious and entirely Czech. We eat them for breakfast, as a sweet snack later on during the day, and if there’s no freshly baked buns on the table when you visit a grandma, people can take serious offence. We eat our buns at EMA Espresso Bar, one of our favorite coffee shops in Prague. They are baked by Lucie, a.k.a. Chez Lucie, a former baking blogger turned baker in Cafe Lounge, the sister cafe of EMA. Her buns are fluffy and bursting with the filling (usually plum jam or farmers cheese), and go incredibly well with coffee.

 

Na Florenci 1420/3, Prague 1
www.emaespressobar.cz/
tel 730 156 933
hours Mon Friday 8:00 – 20:00; Sat 9:00 – 20:00
metro B to Namesti Republiky

 

 

VETRNIK

photo courtesy of Taste of Prague   

 

What you should have instead is the vetrnik, a choux pastry (not unlike the French eclair or the Italian profiterole) filled with vanilla cream, caramel whipped cream and topped off with caramel fondant. Yes, it’s sweet, and yes, it’s more addictive than crack. We have tested vetrnik pastries in Prague a while ago, and the vetrnik at Cafe Savoy came head and shoulders above all competition. A tip based on real experience: have the mini version only. The “standard size” vetrnik is a dare that may start with smiles but often ends in tears.

 

 

CHLEBICEK

photo courtesy of Taste of Prague  

 

Czechs love the chlebicek: a slice of baguette-like bread or toast bread with savory toppings, it is a jack of many trades. It serves as fast food, finger food at house parties, office food, and can be had at social events like theatre plays or senior proms here in Prague. For the best version, head over to the Sisters bistro, where Hana Michopulu tries to reinvent the whole concept by fusing the Czech tradition with some Scandinavian influences, and she does it very well. But no matter where you go, the classic potato-salad-and-ham combo is still the undisputed king of the category.

 

Dlouhá 39, Prague 1
www.chlebicky-praha.cz
tel 775 991 975
hours Mon – Fri 8–19:00; Sat 9–16:00
metro A to Staromestka or B to Namesti Republiky
tram 8 to Dlouhá trida

 

 

KREMROLE

photo courtesy of Taste of Prague  

 

One of the most popular Czech pastries is basically cream in a roll, a bit reminiscent of cannoli. The roll is made of flaky pastry and the cream is a soft meringue cream, and the combination of the two (dusted with powdered sugar) is mainly responsible for the fact that Jan cannot seem to get back to his college weight despite the jogging he reluctantly took on in the spring. We go for kremrole to the Saturday Kulatak farmers market at the Dejvicka subway stop. How will you find the spot where they sell them? Easy. It’s the stand with the longest line.

 

Vítězné náměstí, Prague 6
hours Saturdays, April-October 8:00-14:00

metro Dejvická
 

 

BEER AND CZECH BEER SNACKS

 

photo courtesy of Taste of Prague 

 

More than often, “beer snacks”, which can be found on the menu of virtually every pub in Prague, consist of a piece of meat and a condiment. The classics include Prague ham with horseradish cream, pickled sausage (“utopenec”), headcheese with vinegar and chopped onion, or blood sausages. Vegetarians may opt for “pickled cheese”, which is really Camembert-style cheese marinated in oil with spices. We’d go to Lokal to try a proper selection, because that is pretty much the backbone of Lokal pubs’ menu, and virtually the only thing you can order after the kitchen closes at night. Pair with beer. Of course. 
 

 

 

close