Prague, the capital city of the Czech Republic, is undoubtedly one of the most beautiful cities in Europe. But did you know that Prague is also a foodie’s dream destination? From local beers to tasting the best Czech traditional foods, from trendy coffee and brunch spots to vegan eateries, the city’s dining scene has so much to offer.
With its castle, bridges, and maze of cobbled lanes, Prague attracts around 8 million visitors from around the world every year. Its history goes back a millennium and you can see that in the different architectural styles of churches and buildings across the city. The Historic Centre of Prague, covering an area of 900 hectares with around 4,000 monuments, is listed in the UNESCO World Heritage List. The city is, quite literally, a museum of architecture under the sky.
Although Prague was bombed several times by the Allies during World War II, thankfully the old town was not completely destroyed (as it happened in nearby Dresden, for example). Its beauty and history were preserved for us to enjoy today.
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); from the the romantic bridges to the decorative Art Nouveau facades of buildings… the capital of Czech Republic is full of charms waiting to be discovered!
The majority of visitors usually spends a weekend or around 3-4 days in Prague. I strongly recommend staying longer, to fully explore the city and experience its vibrant life during the days and nights, while also leaving some time for day trips to other Czech regions. But if you are short on time, chances are you will spend all your time wandering around the old town Stare Miasto, Malá Strana, 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.
My food and drink tips are all near the city centre of Prague, some within walking distance, while others a bit further out in Praha 2, Praha 7 or Karlín. Just hop on a tram or get down to the Metro train and you’ll be anywhere in no time (and for less than 1€, since a ticket costs just 24 Czech Koruna).
Meat specialties like goulash, schnitzel and grilled sausages (grilované klobásy), dumplings (knedlík) and pancakes (palačinky), traditional sweets like kolache and buchty, Europe’s best beer: Czech cuisine can offer you all this, and much more! The classics are served all year round in restaurants around Prague. They are hearty, comforting, very filling and delicious dishes.
Some of these dishes have their roots beyond the country’s borders, in Austria, Germany, Hungary, Poland, etc. Czech people, however, have adapted and updated these recipes over centuries, added unique flavours and and made them their own. Take beef goulash (hovězí guláš), for example: a thick stew made with beef, onions, and seasonings that is popular throughout Central Europe. Nowhere you will taste one as good as in Prague, where it is served with boiled homemade knedlik (bread dumpling) on the side. Pair it with a Pilsner Czech beer and it’s pure perfection!
Food in Prague is very seasonal – think mushrooms in autumn, red cabbage in winter, asparagus in May, berries and cherries in summer, and so on. So depending on when you visit the city you will savour different tastes. One more reason to go back to Prague again and again!
Czech cuisine is certainly very meaty so when I first visited the city with my husband, who does not eat meat, I was a bit worried our options would be super limited. And they are when eating in a very traditional Czech pub, but if you try modern restaurants, street food, cafés or international restaurants then you will find many veggie and vegan alternatives. Scroll down this post to find a list of the best veggie & vegan dishes to eat.
And let’s not forget about sweets! Traditional Czech pastries and desserts are fantastic. I love visiting Prague’s bakeries and patisseries every time I go back. The city is heaven for those with a sweet tooth. I particularly love. The Trdelnik is a sweet dough rolls grilled and rolled in cinnamon and sugar originally from the Bohemia region. Street kiosks selling them are ubiquitous in Prague, but to be honest there are more traditional sweets to try in the city. I highly recommend the kremrole, a crispy roll-shaped puff pastry filled either with meringue or whipped cream. Buy them from Cukrář Skála or from Cukrarna Mysak, a beautiful two-storey café and patisserie in the New Town near Wenceslas Square.
Czech beer: the best in Europe
Pivo. Remember this word because you will hear it – and likely say it – a lot in Prague. It is, of course, the Czech word for beer. You can order it in any restaurant or bar in Prague and it will be delicious. If your really want to immerse yourself in authentic Czech life, go to U Hrocha in the Mala Strana neighbourhood (a few minutes walk from Prague’s Castle). Don’t worry about finding a table, for this traditional Czech pub is always full. Just order at the counter and drink your pivo standing inside or outside.
A guide to traditional Czech food and the best places to eat it
The food scene of Prague is a mix of traditional and contemporary dishes. You can dine in old alehouses or Michelin-starred restaurants, Art Deco cafés or trendy food halls, and everything in between. The past part? Eating out in Prague is cheap and affordable compared to most European capital cities. Let’s start with an overview of the most traditional restaurants where you will get a taste of authentic Czech cuisine.
A local’s favourite is Lokál, a chain with six locations across the city serving freshly prepared homemade food using only fresh ingredients and spices sourced from renowned regional suppliers. They draughts their beers straight from the tanks and into your pint glasses. Lokál Dlouhááá is the closest to the old town and a great spot to start a fun night out.
Výčep is a modern Czech eatery focusing on traditional cuisine with a twist and using the best quality local ingredients. On the seasonal menu you will find dishes such as “Beef tartare with pickled mushrooms, truffle mayo, bio egg yolk, mustard, bread on fire” or “Beef schnitzel – butter sauce with currant and gooseberry, kolhrabi salad with asparagus, radish, chervil”. Your drink of choice at Vycep should be a Dalesice beer, a deep and malty Pilsner brewed in south Czech (near Brno).
Another 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.
For a top quality dining experience, book a table at Vinohradský Parlament Restaurant where dishes are prepared by Chef Jan Pípal and Pilsner beers are served at the perfect temperature to best complement the food.
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.
Café Savoy has all the buzz and decadent charm of an old Viennese café, but the food is anything but old style. We had one of the best brunch here! In addition to the all day breakfast menu, the chefs prepare Czech dishes like schnitzel with potato salad.
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 butchery & deli 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. Another shop bringing locals the best meats is The Real Meat Society; they sell in-store or deliver directly to your home the best meat from Czech BIO farmers. Their philosophy is to support small farms, local economy and artisan approach, using all parts of the animals, from nose to tail.
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!
International Eats in Prague
The first time I visited Prague nearly 20 years ago there weren’t many options to eat outside of Czech food. Nowadays, you will find any cuisine you want: French, Korean, Indonesian, Venezuelan, Afghan and more. Prague is a modern European capital lived by many young people and expats, so naturally the dining scene is vibrant and cosmopolitan. You will find restaurants and street food joints showcases dishes from all around the world.
First of all, Prague is one of the best places in Europe to eat pho, the Vietnamese noodle soup. Many young Vietnamese people immigrated to Czech during Communist times, as part of an agreement between the country (named Czechoslovakia back then) and Vietnam – today they make up the third-largest ethnic minority group. Banh Mi Makers offer the best Banh Mi baguettes, Phočka, Bun Cha, Bun Bo Nam Bo and other Vietnamese street foods in two locations: the Old Town and in Praha 7. At Nhà hai hành, in Praha 5-Smíchov, you will find great genuine Vietnamese home-cooked food, and possibly the best in Prague. Then, there’s Cà phê in Holešovice, a bistro and kavarna (café) serving lunch dishes alongside traditional Vietnamese coffee sweetened with condensed milk – cà phê.
If you crave burgers, I strongly recommend DISH fine burger bistro a contemporary dining room full of bleached wood and minimalist lines, serving an upscale burger menu (and Czech beer, naturally).
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.
I didn’t go there, but Pizza Nuova in Prague ranks 40th among the Best 50 in Europe. Add it to your list if you love Neapolitan style of pizza (i.e. a soft, fragrant and round pizza with a raised edge (the famous “cornicione”), swollen and free from burns. Pizza Nuova is a proud member of the Associazione Verace Pizza Napolitana.
Kro Kitchen is where the best rotisserie grilled chickens can be found (but their vegetarian dishes are just as tasty!), alongside fancy signature drinks. You’ll find this casual bistro in the heart of Vinohrady neighbourhood and also in Karlín. They also have a speciality coffee shop and bakery, where they use beans from European and Czech third wave roasters and serve pastries from Krobakery.
The home of hummus is Prague is Paprika – Mediterranean Kitchen (Praha 2 and Praha 5): from wraps to pita stuffed with hummus, falafel or shawarma to hummus plates and shakshuka, Paprika is a great choice for veg and non-veg eaters.
Hong Kong Karlín is a “modern Asian” restaurant serving a variety of delicacies, though their signature dishes is Cantonese roasted duck. It is located at the heart of what is possibly my favourite neighbourhood to stay in Prague, Karlín. That’s really because of the incredible choice of cafés and restaurants I found there – like Etapa, Loft Café, Eska, or Muj salek kavy.
Manifesto Market is also nearby in the Florenc district (about half-way between Karlín and Old Town). Prague’s first outdoor food hall, opened in 2018, is made up by 27 shipping containers serving different kinds of food. There are also 6 restaurants and 2 bars, including a central bar that dispenses the country’s most famous brew, Pilsner Urquell, alongside local microbrews like Vinohradský Pivovar’s Vinohradská 11 pilsner.
What to eat if you’re a vegetarian/vegan
Czech cuisine tend to be very meaty, heart-warming dishes such as beef, pork and goulash. However, don’t be discouraged from visiting Prague if you are a vegetarian or vegan, for there are plenty of options for you too.
If you’re eating at a traditional Czech restaurant/pub, then it’s possible you will have only one or two choices. The first, one of the most popular vegetarian Czech dishes, is breaded fried cheese (usually Edam). I know, it’s not the healthiest one, but it never fails to satisfy! Another vegetarian option my husband usually goes for is Dill Sauce (koprovka): a creamy herby soup served with a poached egg and potatoes. If you don’t mind ordering something sweet for your main course (my husband doesn’t mind), go for the fruit dumpling (ovocné knedlíky). These are usually quite big and thick dumplings, filled with fruit, served warm in a cream of melted butter and sugar. They are often sprinkled with poppy seeds.
Vegetarians in Prague can try another staple of Czech cuisine: chlebicky (which literally means “little breads”). These open-faced sandwiches (similar to Danish smørrebrød) are often topped with meat (ham or salami) but you can also find vegetarian options with hard-boiled egg and pickles, for example. They are usually eaten while standing at the counter at deli shop, almost like a tapas snack if you’d like. My favourite place to eat them is at Sisters in Pasaz Dlouhá. Part of the ubiquitous Ambiente restaurant group, Sisters offers a gourmet assortment of chlebicky – as well as too-die-for pastries!
If you somehow get tired of Czech food, head over to Maitrea, a popular vegetarian restaurant located just next to the Old Town Square. The food isn’t traditional Czech (our lunch there consisted of Mexican quesadillas and Indian curry with rice), but it was really tasty and affordable. You can also check out their sister restaurant Lehká Hlava.
Top 3 brunch spots in Prague
As you already know if you follow me on Instagram, I love brunch and I’m always on the hunt for the best brunch dishes anywhere I travel. In Prague, I didn’t struggle to find some of the best sweet and savoury breakfast dishes. My 3 favourite spots – that I cannot wait to return to – are Eska; Etapa; and Café Savoy.
A great café and bakery to try if you’re visiting Prague is Etapa. I love their brunch dishes, such as kimchi cheese toastie or ‘zemlovka’ bread pudding, light rum cream and autumn fruit, with speciality coffee from local roasters like Father’s Coffee.
Eska is much more than just a brunch destination though; it’s a bakery, a café, a deli, a wine bar and a restaurant all in one. 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 never leave without a loaf of their “three-stage” sourdough bread, made with organic bread flour, baked in an Italian oven using a beech wood fire and left to rest for at least 14 hours.
Prague’s speciality coffee shops
The topic of speciality coffee in Prague deserves an entire post dedicated to it, so good and vibrant is the coffee scene in the Czech capital. If you’re passionate about tasting the best single origins brewed by expert baristas, Prague is definitely a place to visit.
Many cafés open around mid-morning and stay open until the evening, switching menus from coffee to beer/craft cocktails/natural wines sometime through the afternoon. Some are spacious environments welcoming remote workers with their laptops, like Mazelab or Double B, while others like OneSip are tiny and quaint joints with just enough space to drink a coffee and eat a freshly-baked pastry or a piece of bean-to-bar chocolate. Because there are so many speciality coffee shops in Prague – and they keep springing up like mushrooms so it’s impossible to keep up – I have not visited them all yet. You can find these and many more cafés on the European Coffee Trip Prague guide.
One of my favourites is Mazelab, located a bit out of the city centre in Praha 6-Bubeneč. The bright, spacious and undoubtedly cool space reminded me of Melbourne cafés. The team behind Mazelab also roast their own coffee beans, Format Coffee.
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.
Not far from EMA, over in Karlín, there’s Muj Salek kavy which is a fantastic spot to go for breakfast and then stay on for a few hours working at your laptops and sipping coffee or homemade lemonades.
And this completes my Prague Food Guide: What to Eat in Prague – for now! Despite the pandemic and long lockdown period, Prague’s food scene continues to evolve and thrive with new amazing cafés and restaurants opening up alongside the well-established ones. I hope this post has inspired you to visit Prague and Czech Republic for your next European trip.
If you have any favourite place you love to eat in Prague that you didn’t find in this guide, let me know in the comments!
Disclaimer: this is a sponsored post written in collaboration with Visit Czech Republic. All opinions are my own.