If you're a frequent visitor of our Facebook page, you probably know that we did not greet the results of the 2012 Czech Bar Awards, and especially the win of Café Louvre as the Best Café of 2012, with joy and excitement… Isn't it a nice coincidence that the winning Café Louvre serves coffee from the main sponsor of the Awards? What's wrong with Café Louvre, we hear you say? It surely appears in every Prague guidebook you can buy. Nothing. If you disregard the bad coffee, smokers everywhere and atrocious service. The only thing that is worth a mention is the interior… We have promised to come up with a small selection of places that we ourselves like to visit in Prague. The one thing that is good about our list is that it has no sponsor…. So here we go:
Vinograf Run by a well-known sommelier Klara Kollarova (who previously worked in the Michelin starred La Degustation), Vinograf, a pleasant little place, has an excellent selection of Czech and Moravian wines. Bottles are also for sale. In addition to wines, Vinograf offers hams, cheeses, and the occasional soup – try the pickled (which really means "marinated") hermelín. Wine pairing with chocolate is also an interesting experience. Friendly, knowledgeable staff. This is a very small place that sits no more than twenty; therefore, reservations are highly recommended.
Veltlín Owned by a famous wine trader Bogdan Trojak, the Veltlin wine bar, located in the up and coming Karlín district that was so heavily damaged in the 2002 floods, just a few steps from the Můj salek kavy cafe, offers stunning interiors and a great wine selection that focuses on wines from the former Austrian-Hungarian Empire, with a special emphasis on Moravian wines and a group of small winemakers called "The Authentics" who make wines without the use of any chemistry whatsoever. Veltlín often organizes tastings of Czech and Moravian wines - nice little events where the winemakers present their products and where a nice wine-centered community is created.
Hemingway Bar Although located in the very centre of Prague, this relaxed, cozy bar that boasts an excellent cocktail and spirit list (with a heavy focus on Caribbean rums) is a truly local place where locals go to drink their work-related woes away. Definitely try one of the many rums on offer or some of the best cocktails served in Prague and be ready to face some detailed questions about your preferences from the knowledgeable staff - they want to create the perfect drink that you will surely enjoy. Again, this venue is very small and often crowded, so reservation is a must. After a few rums, you can walk to the river (a few steps away) and recreate your favorite scene from The Old Man and the Sea… …or not.
Café Lounge This Lesser Town spot combines elegant (some would say old-fashioned) interiors (formerly a residential apartment) with nice food, friendly service and high-quality coffee. You can easily spend hours here reading, talking or just looking around and sipping some gorgeous Moravian wines. All in all, what we have here is a non-smoking café with a lovely garden that actually includes the remnants of the Medieval Hunger Wall. Just skip the desserts - they are ok, not great. Like with the other best cafés in Prague, you need a reservation during rush hours.
Můj šálek kávy This place is what a great coffee shop should be: delicious coffee, great atmosphere, nice and welcoming staff, long opening hours, and a really ‘local’, vibrant vibe. The baristas turn out some of the city’s best espressos and drip coffee. Focus on desserts and skip the food, there are better places for that. The ice creams are great, too. Or just sit down with your book/newspaper/laptop after dinner and catch up on your reading.
AlCafetero This small, non-smoking, family run café is true coffee lover’s paradise. The owner will be your most accommodating host, offering samples, souvenirs and a friendly chat. Try the delicious, awesome-tasting coffee made from a vacuum pot, but be prepared to be offered neither milk nor sugar with your coffee.
Pivovarský klub This is a great, non-smoking and highly popular place to explore a wide variety of Czech and foreign beers. The seventh tap is always reserved for their home-brewed house beer, “Stepan”, which is brewed at their sister restaurant. So start with the seven beers on tap before you move to nearly 300 beers in bottles, both domestic and foreign. A good place to visit for large parties - their offerings include the special ‘giraffe’ beer, which is a tap at your table - a huge beer for 6 to 10 people. Food is served, too. Reservations for the top floor are a must.
Nota Bene This restaurant opened just a few months ago and quickly became a popular spot especially among those who enjoy a glass of good beer with (or without) their food. The restaurant calls itself a “beer point” and as the name implies, beer is taken very seriously here. They always have about six different beers from microbreweries (so don’t expect good old Pilsner Urquell here) on tap and the waiters know their beer well, so just ask if you need help picking the right stuff, or simply order the tasting set. The menu offers good, slightly updated fare (the pork belly with spinach and dumplings is excellent). The restaurant offers bargain-priced weekday lunch specials (two courses for about CZK 150), though the dishes are simpler than those found on the main menu, and not necessarily Czech. The service can sometimes be very slow, so be ready to wait for your food. But the beer is really the true reason why you should visit. Reservations for the top floor are a must.
Bar and Books Whiskey is the name of the game in this bar, or should we say club - you have to ring a bell to gain entry, cigars are on sale and regularly smoked, and the bar is well stocked with reading materials. One page of their long menu is dedicated to James Bond-inspired drinks and cocktails, and the 007 movies are sometimes shown in the bar. This may be the perfect place to wind down after a nice Italian meal in the nearby Divinis. But you don't have to necessarily mix La Dolce Vita with Goldfinger.
Black Angel's The Best Hotel Bar of 2012, the Black Angel's is a real gem if you are in need of a drink. The men behind the bar are entertaining and highly skilled with alcohol. You can opt for an a-la-carte drink or just have a drink made ad hoc to suit your present desires. This bar, aesthetically inspired by the prohibition times in the US, is fun and the drinks are great.