Beer is often the first thing that comes to mind when people think of the Czech Republic. Czech beer is well-known and well-respected around the world. And it very well should be, considering their incredible history of beer brewing. The Břevnov Monastery has been brewing beer since 993 AD and the Czechs had the rights to beer brewing in the 12th Century, beating their neighbors, the Germans, by an entire century.
Czech cuisine, on the other hand, likely draws a blank. Before I went to Prague for Christmas, I had no clue what a Czech dish consisted of. Well, besides beer.
But with the Czech Republic’s impressive history and incredible culture—not to mention Prague being one of the most visited cities in the European Union—I knew there had to be something worth eating there. And I ended up having some great meals there.
So, after plenty of research…
Here’s where to Eat in Prague
There seems to be two general types of restaurants in Prague: those for the locals— inexpensive and authentic restaurants serving hearty dishes— and those for the tourists— relatively expensive, familiar cuisine served in restaurants that out-price what locals can afford. (The Czech Koruna, or Crown (Kč), is used in the Czech Republic— not the euro. 100 koruna is currently worth about $4 USD.)
Traditional Czech Food
Czech cuisine is largely influenced by its geographical neighbors. It is full of hearty, meat-and-potato dishes that are perfect for winter. Common dishes are roasts, stews, dumplings and heavy sauces.
The beer goulash (beef stew with onions) at the cozy Restaurant Mlejnice near the Old Jewish Cemetery was one of my favorite meals. It was inexpensive, delicious, perfect with a Pilsner Urquell beer and in a non-smoking restaurant (trust me, that matters in Prague).
Čestr, pronounced “chester,” is an affordable yet beautiful steak restaurant with excellent house-made brandy. They butcher their meat in-house (visible through a window) and it tastes just as fresh. Have beer at Pivovar U Tří Růží—they’ve been brewing it there since 1402—but the food is forgettable. Several people suggested Lokal but I never made it there.
Fancy Food in Prague
Just because Czechs aren’t known for their food doesn’t mean they don’t have good food. Prague is actually home to two Michelin-rated restaurants: Alcron, serving international dishes, and La Degustation Bohême Bourgeoise, serving “interpretations” of Czech cuisine and European dishes.
La Degustation Bohême Bourgeoise only serves 40 people at a time, so advanced reservations are a must, but the tasting menu was wonderful and the wine pairing (featuring mostly Czech wines) was perfect. Mlýnec is another restaurant with amazing food, available a la carte or tasting menu, with a beautiful view of the Charles Bridge.
Coffee Shops in Prague
Coffee in Prague is a big deal. Coffee shops are places to spend hours relaxing, served by uniformed waiters who won’t rush you to leave. Most shops serve several different types of coffee (including those spiked with spirits), café-like dishes and sweets. The downside is that they allowed smoking inside, so they are really smoky.
Café Grand Orient has a wide range of coffees and Czech pastries. Try the cream-filled Kubistický věneček. Café Slavia is crowded and smoky but serves breakfast and lunch items, plus it’s across from the National Theater. For a more relaxing breakfast, head to Kavárna Obecní dum.
Markets in Prague
Because I was in Prague over Christmas, the Christmas Market was bustling with food and drinks. Stalls sold Prague Ham, slow roasted over an open fire until the skin was crispy and the meat juicy; Trdelník, a cinnamon pastry cooked over charcoals for a sweet yet smoky taste; Czech beer and svařené víno, warm wine flavored with spices.
I had to pass through the Christmas Market to get to my hotel, which was a perfect excuse for trdelník and svařené víno every single day. :)
I was surprisingly impressed with the majority of the food in Prague. While this is by no means a full list, it’s a few of the places I researched, visited and enjoyed on my trip to Prague.