We travel mostly for food. We guess we all do, really. Sights? Yes, sure, we are going to see them, anyway, while we walk from a breakfast spot to a cafe. An hour-long line to wait for entry in a touristy spot? We're out. An hour-long walk to a place out of the centre that serves the best ice-cream in town? Sure thing! We look for authenticity both in food and in the environment. We travel because we want to see how the locals live and what they eat. What would a local foodie recommend to us? That's the question we want answered.
And because we write this blog (and run our Prague food tours) primarily for people like us, we have decided to share something like a top ten of our Prague dishes or bites. To do the complete list, you will have to visit many different restaurants but trust us: we stand behind these dishes. Also, it does not hurt that some of these restaurants are off the beaten track, so you may get see things that are more authentic and that you would not have seen otherwise.
Hong Kong rolls at SaSaZu
Why start with an Asian-inspired dish? Because we visited SaSaZu quite recently and have this dish still in fresh memory. A confession we have to make: we could eat this dish for breakfast, lunch and dinner, and snacks in between. It is absolutely gorgeous: the combination of flavors and textures you get from the cucumber, crispy sea bass, mint and other herbs and then a dip in the apple soy sauce... we are in heaven.
Perigord sauce at Cestr
We know it sounds weird, but we keep coming back to the Cestr restaurant mostly for the Perigord sauce. Although shown above with fries, we love it with the potato mash, a star dish of the restaurant: boiled in whole milk and then combined with lots of butter, there are only a few things better than this. But the Perigord sauce with truffles and demi-glace is so good we can pour it just about on anything. For instance, it makes wonders to the already great spinach or the beluga lentils that come with their trout sometimes.
Meatloaf at Nase Mase
When Nase maso, the new butcher shop in Dlouha street, opened, the three butchers had a contest who made the best meatloaf. The master butcher, of course... lost, and now they make the other butcher's grandma's recipe on a daily basis, and they sell out often! The meatloaf is simply fantastic: with about 20% beef, 80% pork and more than 30% fat, of course it's good! You get three generous slices and three slices of bread to go with that, along with a side order of mustard. Hands down the best meatloaf we've ever had (and our's grandmas' meatloaf is pretty solid, too)!
Frgale at Simply Good
What happens when a former corporate executive opens her own bakery? Wonderful things happen. Simply good in the Karlin district has been our bakery of choice when it comes to Czech kolachees and frgals, and the latter deserves a separate trip. Which means three stars in the Michelin guide book. Just saying. Simply Good’s frgale, a Moravian pastry that resembles a sweet yeast dough pizza with plum jam, curd cheese or poppies and then finished with streusel is a Czech classic to die for.
Wild boar with rose hip sauce at Na Pekarne
Now if you are willing to travel for food, this pilgrimage will take you to Cakovicky, a village about 10 miles North of Prague, to Na Pekarne, a small pub and restaurant of Mr Fric, a famous Czech chef who will take you under his wing and will not let you go until you are fed and happy. There is a fine line between a guest and a hostage, and Mr Fric is yet to find it. :-) But you will forget the fact that you were served Slivovitz on entry and a beer when you sat down even if you did not ask for either when you taste Mr Fric's wild board with rose hip sauce: the meat is incredibly tender, and the sweeter sauce really combines well with the potato pancakes that include walnuts and raisins. Let us put it this way: if Mr Fric opened a restaurant just around the corner from us, we would be very overweight. Don't skip on dessert: the "povidlove tasticky" (potato-based ravioli-type pasta filled with plum jam and served with lots of butter, some sugar and crushed nuts) would deserve a separate entry on this list, too.
kulajda soup at essensia
The description of the kulajda soup itself might not seem very appealing: creamy soup with potatoes, mushrooms, dill, vinegar and a poached egg. But have a spoon of the kulajda at the upscale Essensia restaurant in the Mandarin Oriental, and you'll know what the buzz is all about. You know that it must be good when it deserved a spot in Mandarin Oriental's menu, which tends to be more Asian-inspired. Everybody knows that Mr Stift, the executive chef, is a master of Czech cuisine and the kulajda is the best proof: wonderfully delicate and light yet full of fantastic flavors. It may be a bit pricey for a soup at CZK 245 (EUR 9) but definitely worth the price. The downside? The staff might look strange at you when you order just one thing from the entire menu. But they don’t. (At least not to your face.)
beef rendang at Sansho
The "beef curry", served with roti bread and some rice, at Sansho is slow-cooked for long hours with many spices and it shows: every bite has a deep, yet a different flavor, and it is rare to see such richness of flavor in a single dish. In Sansho, it is served with spicy jam. The dish is a combination of the wonderful, organic and traceable Czech beef from The Reat Meat Society and the skill of Mr Paul Day, the Executive Chef. But let's be honest: it is really hard to pick just one dish at Sansho: we also love the pork belly and watermellon salad, the soft shell crab sliders or the chicken wings. Do yourselves a favor and check Sansho out.
Pickled herring and wasabi mayo chlebicek at the Sisters bistro
When we started our food tours 2.5 years ago, Jan’s friends would pick on him at the soccer games, saying, “your really take your guests for chlebiceks (the Czech open-faced sandwiches)? Have you gone completely insane?” Well, if the chlebiceks are as good as the pickled herring and wasabi mayonnaise chlebicek, our favorite, at the Sisters bistro opened half a year ago by Hana Michiopulu, you would be mad not to like them. The pickle is light and fresh and compliments the delicate bite of the wasabi mayonnaise and the slice of the sourdough bread underneath it. Unlike some other chlebiceks served at Sisters, it is not entirely Czech, but it is pretty darn good.
mini vetrnik at cafe savoy
The vetrnik is normally very big and very rich so you may not need to eat for the rest of the day, which would really ruin it for us. However, Cafe Savoy offers a mini version, which we recommend. It is one of the most popular things served during our Food and Culture Tour and although Zuzi is not big on sweets, Cafe Savoy's vetrnik is a pastry she will never turn down: a small choux pastry stuffed with luscious, rich yet very light vanilla and caramel creams and topped with a caramel coating on the top.
smoky dish at the dish burger bistro
The Dish Fine Burger Bistro, a popular burger place in the Vinohrady district, quickly won us over, and we have become regulars fast, visiting about once a week. If Jan had his way, we would be there twice as often. The Smoky Dish has everything a great burger should have: a fantastic, grilled brioche bun, a great, juicy patty, BBQ sauce, smoked chili mayo, fried onions and pickles. Pair it with their bistro fries and flavored mayos, and you'll be in heaven... and a food coma for the rest of the day.
Sweet bonus: Pistachio ice-cream at AlDolce
Jan has a particular food addiction: the wonderful, lush pistachio cream sold in some Italian specialty shops here in Prague. Because of its addictive nature, he only gets it a few times a year: for birthday, for his name day (a big thing here in the Czech Republic), and sometimes for Christmas (provided he was nice, of course). The pistachio ice-cream at Al Dolce is the closest thing to the wonderful flavor and richness of the pistachio cream sold legally on the streets. Now, there is one thing where we agree to disagree: while Zuzi likes the bits of pistachio they sometimes put in, Jan likes the creamy version better. Either way, it is still worth trying. Yum!