Must-Eats in Prague (early 2015 edition)

When we travel, we spend lots of time researching, and we are grateful for every little piece of reliable information we can get, especially when it comes to food. We want to eat the best food available in each destination we visit. Time is precious when you are on vacation and it is easy to settle for the second best. But you shouldn't. And this article is written for you, our fellow foodie traveler, who wants to eat the most authentic and the best local food in Prague. We bring you the ultimate "listicle" for Prague: our "best bites" in Prague, simply the food we love in Prague the most.

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We already set up a similar list last year, but we thought it needed an update. Logically, all the items listed are served in really good establishments that we love and endorse. We actually think the whole Prague trip could be built around a list like this: it is short to make sure you can taste all of these things within a short period of time. It caters to all budgets and takes you to different parts of Prague (and outside of Prague in one case) so it can be easily mixed with some smart sightseeing. And the food is delicious and represents some meaningful facts or trends in Prague. And we stand behind every dish. Heck, we even taste some on our Prague food tours. So without further ado, here we go! Our favorite bites in Prague.      


There are many delis in Prague that serve chlebiceks, the classic Czech open-faced sandwiches, but only a few pay so much attention to every little component and detail like Hana Michopulu, the owner of Sisters and one of the most prominent figures on the foodie scene as the founder of the food-centered Apetit magazine. The chlebiceks serve many functions from simple fast food to office or house party treats, and they are popular for good reason: they pack lots of flavors into a small package. The ham and potato salad version is the absolute classic: the meaty, tender ham combines perfectly well with the fresh but rich potato salad.  


When we take our guests to Sansho and serve them their pork belly dish, the first bite is usually followed by a moment of dreamy silence. That’s how good it is. The tender pieces of the pork belly, taken from the classic Czech Prestik pigs butchered by the masters of The Real Meat Society that focus on organic and traceable animal breeding, are soft and crispy at the same time and just melt in your mouth. This dish comes in two seasonal versions: with watermelon and hoisin sauce in the summer, and with three peppercorn sauce and broccoli in the winter. Both are definitely worth a try. But let's be honest: it is really hard to pick just one dish at Sansho. We also love their beef rendang, the soft shell crab sliders or the chicken wings. Do yourselves a favor and check Sansho out. 


Paul Day, the chef and owner of Maso a Kobliha, the sister restaurant of Sansho, is English but that does not stop him from following in the footsteps of the best Czech butchery traditions, while also advancing them further. Pork is one of the traditional proteins in Czech cuisine, and the classic village pig killings have always pursued a nose-to-tail philosophy: you simply process the entire animal. Scotch eggs might not be the first thing that comes to mind when you think of Czech cuisine, but it is a staple dish of the establishment, and rightly so: crispy on the outside, with juicy meat and runny yolk inside, it makes our mouth water just writing about it. Washing the eggs down with Czech craft beer served on tap is a very good idea.


What else should you order in Cestr, a restaurant that serves beef from dry-aged Czech Spotted Cows, the classic breed of beef, and changes the menu daily to reflect what fresh meet they have in their in-house meat fridge/butcher shop, than a dish incorporating some of their raw beef? While the steak tartare is arguably the best in town, we do love their beef carpaccio - if they have it on the menu. Tender slices of aged beef combine perfectly with their Gran Padano cheese emulsion and chips, arugula and oil to create a light and delicate, yet absolutely satisfying dish. Don’t forget to wipe the remaining emulsion from the plate with their sourdough bread!  


When Nase maso, the butcher shop in the Dlouha street, opened, the three butchers had a contest who made the best meatloaf. The master butcher sadly lost, and now they make the other butcher's grandma's recipe on a daily basis, and they sell out very 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)! 


Beef steak tartare is truly the king of a specific category of dishes that form a part of Czech cuisine: “snacks that go well with beer”. For a refined version of the steak tartare, there is no place like the Michelin-star La Degustation Boheme Bourgeoise, where it is served as one of the introductory amuse bouches. The whole bit looks like an Oreo cookie with two thin slices of fried bread as the cookie, and the perfectly ground and seasoned raw beef as the cream. The mouthful just melts in your mouth and there is a touch of the obligatory garlic, too. The size is great even for the unadventurous eater who is scared of raw meat. The only downside? You cannot order more. But asking nicely for seconds actually might help. 


SaSaZu is a very popular restaurant in the Holesovice market with a clubby feel - the live DJs playing during dinner service help - and a great kitchen that focuses on tasty Asian-fusion creations. We like to visit SaSaZu quite frequently and have our favorite dishes but the Hong-Kong rolls are a staple. 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. 


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.  


The Dish Fine Burger Bistro, a popular burger place in the Vinohrady district, quickly won us over, and we have become regulars guests, 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.


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. (And it has recently won our tasting of 14 Prague vetrnik pastries, too!)


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. 

The good photos by Everbay and Couple of Prague