We don't know about you, but when the summer ends, we say good-bye to our running shoes, waste any exercise we engaged in during the summer, and just focus on a steady diet of Pho, roast pork, buttery risottos and other comfort foods. Hey, the winter's coming, and that's not the time to fool around. You need to eat. Just ask our grandmas.
But the gloomy, dark and increasingly short days have a positive side, too: the season for hot chocolate in Prague has officially begun. Talk about a silver lining. Here's the places we like to visit for our cup of the delicious - and highly addictive - stuff.
Cafe Savoy, our favorite place for breakfast in Prague, serves not one, but two types of hot chocolate. The "Savoy hot chocolate", which forms a part of Jan's favorite Savoy breakfast, is from the Dominican Republic and hot milk is used to make it. The second type is the "Savoy dessert hot chocolate", and it is made of Valrhona chocolate and hot water. It is served with whipped cream, which can be added to the cup and melt in the chocolate. While both hot chocolates here are great and not that sweet, we tested both side by side and we must say we found the latter to be better and more chocolatey, although Jan truly enjoys the first one as part of his breakfast.
There are so many things we love about this tiny espresso bar - be it the two cute baristas, Adam and Zdenek (not to be confused with the other Adam and Zdenek from Kafe Karlin in our beloved Karlin district), or the fact that we start our Prague food tours about a minute away, or the high standard they consistently apply on every cup of coffee they make. And if you need more reasons to visit, add the hot chocolate to the mix. Theirs is made using chocolate by Ajala, a Brno-based bean-to-bar chocolatier (they also sell their chocolate bars), and compared to most of Prague's hot chocolate, this version is less sweet and adds a bit of cocoa nib tanginess to the flavour profile. In other words, it is less heavy and less sticky that the rest of them, which means less guilt. And we like that. So if you find yourself in the area of the Dlouha street and the craving sets in, onesip coffee will scratch that itch.
If you like chocolate in any form, Choco Cafe is definitely a place worth visiting. This family-owned cafe and chocolatier does focus primarily on chocolate, selling a wide variety of its own chocolates in the cafe (along with pralines, cakes and macaroons). Their hot chocolate menu is fairly extensive and you can combine various types of hot chocolate with other ingredients, such as fruits and different alcohols. It is easy to get carried away with your order and end up with something you might not enjoy (like the hot white chocolate). Our advice: stick to the basic type and maybe one ingredient. Just one word of caution: the hot chocolate here is very rich and thick and might be too powerful for some. While we may have an issue with the service (the cafe is truly family-owned and you might be served by someone's cousin), we think their product is sinfully good. Make sure you try their Horicke trubicky rolls, a light-as-air regional specialty protected by the EU. The place tends to get crowded fairly quickly in the winter so reservations are a good idea.
Muj salek kavy
Muj salek kavy, the flagship cafe of the Doubleshot coffee roasters in the Karlin district, and arguably one of the best cafes in town, serves not one but two types of chocolate as we write this. The hot chocolate by Jordi's, a local high-quality chocolatier is an Ecuadorian 63% chocolate, prepared with steamed milk. The Ajala mix should not be mixed with animal fat, so it's prepared with water. We prefer Ajala's more bitter version better but Jordi's sweeter version will definitely find its fans, too. No matter what hot chocolate you choose, make sure you taste Muj salek kavy's coffee, too. For the same offer but more modern environment, head over to Kavarna Misto in the Bubenec district, one of our must-visit coffee shops in Prague.
EMA Espresso Bar
We probably spend more time than we should in EMA Espresso Bar, but can you blame us? With great coffee from the best European micro-roasters, friendly staff, good soundtrack (when they play the one we made for them, of course), nice plum jam buchta buns and wonderful, airy and modern interiors in a very convenient location, it is easy to spend hours there even though EMA has been primarily designed as an espresso bar for quick consumption. Although this post is about hot chocolate and EMA does serve one, we think you should know that many local foodies visit EMA after a visit to the Saturday markets and on cold days for their hot cocoa, which is delicious and has latte art on it as an extra bonus. And nothing brings back childhood memories as a cup of great, hot, steaming cocoa on a cold day. (Just beware, EMA can get really crowded even over weekend, so plan an exit strategy.)
Okay, one last cup of hot cocoa in a hot chocolate post: Peter's apartment in the Zizkov district serves probably the funnest one, with lots of cream (fun) and small marshmallows on top (fun fun fun!). This is as close to what Czechs would see as an American-style hot-chocolate as you might get, so if you're in Prague and crave that, this is your place to go. (And to make that experience complete, order a few donuts from Donuter, which has its seat in the bistro. Not really on par with our favourite, the donuts at Dough in New York City, but hey, donut's a donut, right? Our favourite is the coconut.)