We really love food here at Taste of Prague. You may have noticed that already. We do try to eat healthy: Zuzi prepares green smoothies for breakfast, we try to eat seasonal vegetables and Zuzi barely uses meat in her cooking. We try to use organic and local products. We love it. Eating healthy makes us feel good and light. But then, once in a while, we just go and have something really bad for us. Can't help it. It's delicious. Our guilty pleasures.
Our guests joining us on our tours often ask me about OUR favorite things to eat in Prague. What a mistake! We can talk for hours and will not stop. Our pleasures may be guilty but we don't feel particularly guilty when I talk about them. They are simply delicious. We actually think that people connect through their guilty pleasures. We all have them if we truly love food. And in addition: calories don't count on vacations, right? So if you like your food just like we do, here's a small list of our favorite guilty pleasures in Prague for your enjoyment.
French toast at Cafe Savoy
They should serve the French toast at Cafe Savoy with a whip, because after you’ve eaten it (sharing is very difficult after the first bite) you definitely feel like you need a few dozens of mea culpas and a few slashes: the toasts, dripping with butter and maple sirup, dusted with confectionary sugar and served with some strawberries and other seasonal fruits, will definitely make you feel guilty. On the positive side, there are savings involved: once you had this piece of heaven, you are done eating for the rest of the day, or at least can easily skip lunch. We said it many times and we will say it again: Cafe Savoy serves the best breakfast in town in our book, and the French Toast is the ultimate guilty pleasure before noon.
Smoky Dish burger at the Dish Fine Burger Bistro
I (Jan writing this one) am a man of simple tastes. If I could replace every meal with the wonderfulness that is the Smoky Dish burger at the Dish Fine Burger Bistro in the Vinohrady districts, I would be a happy man. A happy, fat man. Now, of course, this dream is unattainable, but I must confess that when we make a decision where to have a quick lunch in the city, Dish is always in my shortlist. It is just there. Never leaves. The wonderful, juicy patty, the bun, the pickle, the crispy bacon, the onions, the sauce. Love it all. And to top it off, their bistro fries with the smoked chili mayonnaise. Heaven.
“variace” at Nase maso
Sure, Jan may not be particularly proud about this, but he just might be the uncrowned champion customer of the “variace” over at the Nase maso butcher shop. What is this “variace” you keep hearing about? Well, Nase Maso serves three types of hot dog: the beef wiener, the "Nas parek” classic beef-and-pork combo hotdog, and the Debrecen sausage, which includes paprika and caraway. Well, with the “variace”, you get one each, a blob of mustard, and bread. For like three dollars. The variace gets bonus points for sheer speed. This pleasure is guilty, because nobody should eat hot dogs as much as Jan tends to do, but the “variace” gets bonus points for sheer speed - you’re eating within two minutes of the order, so the guilt does not have time to set in. And did we mention the hot dogs are juicy and delicious? Also, many of the guests of our Prague food tours love the mustard made in the Lokal pub nearby. As far as guilty pleasures eaten from a paper tray go, this is a winner.
Bubbles for breakfast
Sure, we’re no Kim and Kanye, but oh do we love ourselves some bubbles! Nothing guilty about that, right? Uh… the thing is we only drink Champagne… for Sunday breakfast. We’re newbies to the whole bubbles-for-breakfast game and learnt this from friends quite recently, but let us tell you: once you try it, it’s hard to go back. We have two favorite places for breakfasts with a bubbly component: Cafe Savoy, which serves one of our favorite breakfasts in town, serves a great Rosé de Saignée Brut by Fleury, which is our current favorite. If you want to go the whole way, get the Dom Perignon 2004 for CZK 700 per glass. But if you’re not a financial banker or don’t have a endowment fund in your name, we have a more sensible option: the Cremant du Jura by Domaine Labet over at Café Lounge nearby. They serve good breakfast in a calm environment, too. Bubbles for breakfast are great, but dangerous: it’s hard to feel guilty on a Sunday morning with Champagne in your hand: you sooo deserve it!
Maso a kobliha
Maso a kobliha, our local favorite and the best bistro in town according (not only) to our beloved We Are Burgers, should be called “Guilty Pleasue Central” because pretty much everything we put in our mouths in this joint leads to a stream of mixed emotions ranging from heavenly bliss to shame and fear of eternal damnation. It all starts when Paul Day sees us and says something like “we have a new sandwich on the menu, it’s made of organic beef and unicorn tears”, or something along those lines. Yes, the Reuben sandwich, with the toasted bread dripping of butter, the fried cheese sandwich, the crispy pork skins. Oh my. The guilt is made more bearable by Matuska beer, the stronger, the better. But nothing takes the guilt away after we finish our meal with the vanilla custard donut, the best donut this side of the Atlantic. We thought about what makes the donut so good. And it’s the fact that they only make then in batches of about a dozen, so you have them fresh nearly every time. That’s how donuts - and just anything else - should be made.
This little guilty pleasure is a bit sneaky, because it disguises itself as a never-ending search for the perfect ice-cream-coffee combo. So basically it’s science, people. At least that’s what we keep saying ourselves. And for us, the "time for affogato science" comes usually in the evening, after a long, difficult day. Coincidence? Not sure. Anyway, we have two places we like for affogato. They both serve ice-cream by 2AD. Coincindence? Not really. EMA Espresso Bar closes at 8pm, so we go there for our morning science session. However, Kavarna Misto, located about a five-minute walk from our house, closes at 10pm. We can’t stress enough how dangerous it is to have a “science lab” so near your house. Yes, the guilt generated by eating an affogato at 9:30pm can get quite intense, but it’s just so much fun. We always tell the barista to give us their current favorite. We liked the blueberry sorbet combo for a while, but our current favorite is the peanut ice-cream affogato. (You can totally taste the mushrooms as Jirka from Misto says.)
Povidlove tasticky at Na Pekarne
Now, you have to go on a journey (“pilgrimage” would be a more suitable word) for my ultimate guilty pleasure. Na Pekarne, the shrine of Czech cuisine opened by Mr Vaclav Fric, a famous Czech chef, in his birth village of Cakovicky near Prague, is our favorite place for proper Czech food. We always get stuffed even before we get to desserts. Mr Fric’s wild boar with rose hip sauce and potato pancakes or the classic Svickova dish (beef with creamy vegetable sauce and dumplings) are our favorites and the portions are generous to say the least. Yet still, once the empty plates are gone, I always have a deep breath, look at Zuzi (she knows what’s coming and doesn’t even bother to shake her head or roll her eyes) and order “povidlove tasticky” - potato “ravioli” stuffed with plum jam and served with melted butter, sugar and crushed nuts. Words cannot possibly describe how delicious this dessert is: the hot plum jam oozing from the ravioli and mixing with the nuts, sugar and butter… ecstasy. If you want to get a very similar version in Prague proper (but still a bit off the centre), head over to the Kastrol restaurant, Na Pekarne’s sister.
And to finish the post, one really-bad-for-you, over-processed supermarket bonus:
Pikao and Jesenka
Oh, the glory of Jesenka and Pikao! "What are they, Jan?" I can hear you ask. Any Czech reader already knows and probably either laughs or cringes in horror. Pikao is chocolate-flavoured sweetened condensed milk, and Jesenka is sweetened condensed cream, both in the handy format of an aluminum tube. You basically pierce the foil in the opening with the piercer included in the plastic cap and suck the contents in. You can literally feel the cholesterol clogging your veins but you don’t care. You are just happy. Pikao also has the amazing ability to turn any melted vanilla ice-cream into chocolate ice-cream with a few generous drops. Both can be found in the dairy sections of any Czech supermarket. You did not hear it from me, though.