This month I finally re-visited one of my favourite European cities: Prague. As I returned to Prague for the first time in 17 years, I was keen to explore not only the tourist sights, but also the best places to eat and drink. Here’s my foodies tour of the Czech capital city.
From the castle complex and St. Vitus Cathedral overlooking the narrow streets of Malá Strana (the “Lesser Town”); to the Baroque and Gothic gems dotted around Stare Miasto (the old town) and the romantic bridges; the capital of Czech Republic is full of charms waiting to be discovered.
Before my trip, I partnered with an online gift company called Tinggly. We’ve all been struggling at some point to find the perfect gift for a partner, parent, sibling or friend. Tinggly offers great gift solutions for people who love travel, culture, adventure, and experiences that will last in their memories for years to come. In the gift box you will find a voucher code that has no expiration date and can be redeemed for hundreds of different experiences in 100+ countries around the world.
Tinggly: give stories, not stuff.
I absolutely love the idea of gifting experiences instead of things. After all, experiences are what make our hearts beat and our minds dream! When the Tinggly team reached to offer one of their gift boxes, I immediately accepted. It took me a long time to choose an experience, undecided between the many available in Krakow and London, Tallinn and Prague! In the end, my husband and I decided to book a Half Day Food Trip of Prague for Two. The food tour was organised by Eating Europe and provided a great introduction into Czech food and a taste of local life.
Where to eat in Prague
I was in Prague for just four days, from Saturday afternoon to Wednesday morning. I stayed at Mama Shelter Prague, a cool and quirky hotel located Holešovice, Praha 7, with rooms starting from just €59/night (full disclosure: one night of my stay was complimentary). From the hotel, you can easily walk or hop on a tram down to the old town.
My husband and I spent of our short trip wandering around the old town (stare miasto), malá strana, Prague’s Castle and New Town. These neighbourhoods offer a rare mix of old-world charm and fascinating recent history, with gothic and modern architecture standing side by side.
A guide to traditional Czech food and the best places to eat in Prague
Likewise, the food scene of Prague is a mix of traditional and contemporary dishes. Let’s start with the most traditional restaurants where you will get a taste of authentic Czech cuisine and of the city’s famous beer.
A local’s favourite is Lokál which has several locations in the city and draughts the beer straight from the tanks to your pint glass. They also prepare classic Czech dishes, using only fresh ingredients and spices sourced from renowned regional suppliers.
Another fun, beautiful and affordable place to taste Czech food and beer is Cerveny Jelen. Housed in the former building of the Anglo-Czechoslovak Bank, Cerveny Jelen is massive, spread over three floors (each with a different kitchen and menu) and with huge ceilings. Order a Řezané pivo, a drink in which a pale beer (or lager) and a dark beer (porter or stout) are blended together.
St. Norbert’s Brewery located in Strahov Monastery. Since the 17th Century, beer has been brewed on the premises in a style altogether different from the more modern Pilsner varieties that have become the staple in the Czech Republic. It is also a restaurant where you can sample Czech food.
Café Louvre has been in business since 1902 and has welcomed Franz Kafka, Albert Einstein and a host of famous writers. We discovered this historic café during the Eating Prague food tour. There I tasted a classic Czech dish called svíčková: braised beef served on cream with cranberry compote and bread dumplings.
Špejle is a modern bistro offering Czech style tapas and pinchos. I loved the concept of this restaurant to turn traditional Czech recipes into bite-sized dishes. The duck with sauerkraut and gingerbread-dusted potato dumplings was delicious. I paired it with a house made ginger lemonade.
A great place for a tasty and quick vegetarian lunch (but also meat) is Sisters in Pasaz Dlouhá.
Part of the ubiquitous Ambiente restaurant group, Sisters offers a gourmet assortment of the most typical Czech snack food: ‘chlebicky’ (which literally means “little breads”). The concept is similar to Danish open sandwiches, or smørrebrød.
It’s not a proper Czech meal without maso (meat). The best place to buy fresh meat and charcuterie, but also jars of homemade mustard, pickles and rye bread with caraway seeds is Naše maso in Pasaz Dlouhá. In the shop, you can watch the local artisan butchers at work and get a taste of the famous Prague ham and přeštice sausages.
One of my favourite discoveries was Eska, where we had dinner with my friend (and Prague native) Sarka Babicka. The space is beautiful with an industrial feel, spread over two floors with open kitchens. I loved their strong focus on vegetables, fermented food, and open grills. Eska is also one of the few restaurants in the city serving speciality coffee. I would love to return to Eska to try their breakfast menu. Next time though, I won’t leave without a loaf of their sourdough bread!
Czech cuisine focuses heavily on meat as you can imagine, but with Prague being a capital city full of young people, tourists and expats of course you are going to find a wide choice of vegetarian and vegan food. In fact, our guide told us that vegetarian restaurants have been popping up all over Prague!
Maitrea is a popular vegetarian restaurant located just next to the Old Town Square. The food isn’t traditional Czech (my husband ate quesadillas and I ate curry), but it was really tasty and affordable. You can also check out their sister restaurant Lehká Hlava.
If you can’t decide what to eat and just want a place to hang out with friends, sharing a few drinks and plates, listening to live music, then Manifesto Market in the Florenc district is the perfect place for you. And if you are looking for something sweet, Crème de la Crème serves delicious gelato.
Finally, T-Anker is a bar and restaurant that was recommended to by our food tour guide Eva. I didn’t have time to go, though its location sounds wonderful: on the rooftop of the Kotva department store. Get the lift outside the store to go up, order a drink and enjoy the amazing views!
Speciality coffee shops in Prague
Super Tramp Coffee in the old town wins points for its spacious courtyard, which I bet is glorious on Spring and Summer days. The café is perfectly located for a break from sightseeing and I love that is offers really good coffee by Hungarian speciality roaster Casino Mocca.
EMA espresso bar, owned by speciality coffee roastery Alf&Bet, is one of the best-known speciality coffee shops in Prague. It is conveniently located near the old town, and around the corner from Florenc train station and Manifesto Market. It’s a nice place to hang out, just note that they don’t have WiFi. So instead we walked to Karlín and spent a few hours working at our laptops and sipping coffee at Muj Salek kavy. They serve doubleshot coffee and cakes, as well as breakfast / lunch / dinner dishes that looked very inviting. This cozy café is located in the heart of the Karlín neighbourhood, east of New Town, a nice area with a local feel and amazing restaurants and bars like Eska, Etapa and Loft café.
A few days later, we visited another speciality coffee shop, Mazelab, this one located a bit out of the city centre. The bright, spacious and undoubtedly cool space reminded me of Melbourne cafés. The team behind Mazelab also roast their own coffee beans, Format Coffee.
On our last morning we visited Cukrarna Mysak, a beautiful two-storey café and patisserie in the New Town near Wenceslas Square. Even though it’s been open since 1911, this café has a modern approach using speciality coffee roasted just outside Prague. They also freshly bake to-die-for pastries every day. A must try are the flaky pain au chocolat, the vetrnik (a choux pastry garnished with caramel and vanilla cream) and the kremrole (puff pastry filled with meringue).
So here’s my guide to eating out and drinking coffee in Prague. While I loved all the places recommended here, please remember that Prague is a very big city and what I could explore in a few days was just a tiny bit of it. Don’t be afraid to try the many restaurants and cafés of Prague. Prices range from very cheap to fairly reasonable and so you won’t break the bank!
I would love to know about your favourite places to eat in Prague, please let me know in the comments!
Disclaimer: I received a complimentary Tinggly voucher for the purpose of reviewing one of their gift experiences. All opinions are my own.