One of the most common questions we get is where to go for proper Czech cuisine in Prague. It makes total sense, of course: when you are in Prague, you want to try the local cuisine. There are many options, of course, but not all of them are that great. Tourism in Prague is both a blessing and a curse, with many restaurants just counting on their guests never, ever coming back. As a result, you will end up with an inferior product for a relatively high price. For instance, if a restaurant advertises “traditional” or “original” Czech cuisine, and the sign is in English only, we recommend that you skip it.
That said, there are some fantastic, great restaurants that serve great Czech cuisine that would make our grandmas proud. You will notice that there are many Italian restaurants in Prague. That’s the nineties. Coming out of Communism, many people wanted to try new, international cuisines, and the Italian cuisine is the logical choice. It’s fast, cheap, and pretty much everybody likes it. However, in the past few years, we have seen the opposite trend: people coming back to the roots. The oldest restaurant on this list is La Degustation, opened 8 years ago. So by visiting a young Czech restaurant in Prague, you are not only tasting local cuisine, you are tapping into one of the hottest trends on the local food scene. This is hardly an exhaustive list; it's just a few places we like to visit. For more tips see our guide to eating traditional Czech food in Prague.
Lokal is a concept of the Czech pub as envisioned by the omnipresent Ambiente group of restaurants. While the first (and still the best) one opened five years ago in the Dlouha street, now there are five Lokals spread around the city. The latest three Lokals have revived classic Czech local pubs and pushed them a bit forward. The focus has not changed, though: Pilsner Urquell beer from tanks and traditional Czech dishes. This is a good place to order the classics: schnitzel with potato salad, goulash or fried cheese, or local specialties for the braver such as as beef tongue, tripe soup, kidneys or headcheese. For dessert, try a Czech classic - "vetrnik" or "rakvicka". Don’t let the seemingly worn interior scare you away (the wood carvings on the walls are supposed to bring a nostalgic feeling - which might not work for foreigners) because if you’re after classic food, you’ll find it here. During the day the place is quiet but in the evening it turns into a busy restaurant that is known for its bustling, noisy atmosphere. It’s not a restaurant, it’s a pub: don’t expect pleasantries and bows from the staff but efficient, quick service. Reservations for evenings are highly recommended.
Na pekarne requires some travel but trust us: it’s worth it. Many foodies from Prague make weekend pilgrimages to this place in a small village of Cakovicky and you will understand why. Owned and run by Mr Václav Fric, a famous chef and a force of nature, this is a shrine of Czech cuisine. For us it is like visiting grandma's, except you won't have to help with the dishes. The menu is brief, with several daily specials on the blackboard. Also, if you're really interested in trying a particular Czech dish, make a reservation several days ahead and ask for the dish. The chef owner is usually all around the place, boozing up the customers and chatting with them about food and anything else. Our favorite dishes? We don’t want to live your life but you should go for “svickova” (beef with creamy vegetable sauce and dumplings), wild boar with rose hip sauce, and plum jam “ravioli” for dessert.
Will travel for food? Sure thing! Calling the location of Kastrol, a sister restaurant of the Na Pekarne restaurant, would be daring, but they do Czech meaty dishes really well, and you'll get great beer, too. Besides, you won’t believe the bill is correct (yes, it’s very reasonably priced). Kastrol is the place to visit to get far from the madding crowds of the centre. The local atmosphere and genuine food are the perfect mix for what might just become the experience of your trip.
Carnivores will love this place - Cestr has a butcher in the house and even displays whole sides of cows in the steak room. Opened nearly four years ago, it quickly became one of Prague's great-value restaurants. The menu rotates the beef cuts served, and offers a nice combination of Czech-inspired dishes prepared in a modern way. Cestr uses local and seasonal ingredients only and the dishes simply make sense given the season. Besides, they have tank (unpasteurized) beer on tap. Our favorite dishes? Many people make the mistake of just focusing on the steaks. However, we would not miss the signature beef steak tartare served with few potato chips and fried capers, or any of the plentiful slow-cooked roasts or stews. Also, this is not a place to skip dessert. Whether you choose the beer ice cream, semolina pudding, sweet buns filled with poppy seeds in vanilla and rum cream or a sundae with beer ice cream, plums and caramel whipped cream, we are sure you will love it.
Visit a restaurant, and get a beer point for free! Yes, Nota Bene is two venues in one, and neither disappoints. If craft beers are your thing, this non-smoking venue is a must. The restaurant does not have a permanent menu but they always cook along the lines of classic Czech cuisine and vegetarians will not leave hungry, either. The beer point serves meaty pub classics, think sausages and the like. Sometimes they let you wait for the food, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing because you have to go through the six beers on tap in the restaurant and seven in the beer point, right? Reservations recommended. Tip: If you don’t know which beer to go with, start with the small tasting set.
Krystal Mozaika bistro
Krystal, a popular Karlin-based eatery, mixes Czech cuisine with French influences. Their small snacks to go with beer scream countryside for us: pork lard spreads and pates and the like are always a crowd-pleaser. We were never big fans of the interiors but we do respect their cooking and how Krystal tries to marry Czech classic approaches with modern techniques. We like that they sell many of the things they create for the home, too (we’re talking pates, spreads and similar). Their seasonal versions of the fruit dumplings, which don’t skip on butter (that’s important!) are one of the best in town.
La Degustation Bohême Bourgeoise
If you’ve been following this blog for a while, you may have noticed we are fans of La Degustation: we have described our recent experience here, and interviewed the executive chef and co-owner, Mr Sahajdak. By their standards, we are regulars (which means we come once a year). La Degustation pushes the envelope of what Czech cuisine can offer: every morning, their purchasing agent drives around farms to buy fresh produce for the day. On top of that, the restaurant has recently bought a farm of its own and will grow exactly what it needs. La Degustation serves two menus: a shorter, six-course menu based on the classic Czech 1894 Marie Svobodová cookbook, and a longer, twelve-course menu that adds dishes inspired by the Executive Chef. Seven amuse-bouches complement both menus. They also take great pride in Czech wines, so pairings are a welcome option, although you can choose juice and tea pairings, too (and they serve beer with some dishes). The dining experience is more than just the food: the open kitchen where the seven chefs complete the dishes shines into the dining room, thus becoming a theatre stage of sorts. Not the cheapest venue but definitely worth every penny.