Life is great when you don’t have any food allergies. When you are gluten intolerant, things have not been so rosy here in Prague. Typical Czech cuisine does use gluten rather than not, and choices have been limited. That said, things have been getting better even in the gluten-free food department. We have decided to set up a small guide of Prague for people with gluten intolerance. We have picked some places that are good in their own right but are also good options for celiacs. We have tried to avoid places that offer one gluten-free dish, instead opting for eateries that offer more variety even for a diner with gluten intolerance.
One word of caution before we start off the list: please note that most of these places are not entirely gluten-free in the sense that they use flour in the kitchen for their regular dishes; therefore, in theory, there might be traces of gluten in the food that they serve.
Fine dining restaurants are in general fairly easy to navigate for the celiac. Most of the restaurants we talked to may not have gluten-free dishes on the menu per se, but will do their gluten-free versions when requested, as confirmed, for instance, by Grand Cru, Pot-au-feu, Aureole and others. We still have some favorites on the Prague fine dining scene that cook without sources of gluten on a regular basis.
Everything takes days over at La Degustation, our favorite Michelin star restaurant in Prague. When they serve red beets, they cook them, dry them, and then marinate them in beet juice again just to intensify flavor. They cook their onion puree in sous-vide for days just to get the right taste. And the same goes for sauces: they do not use flour to thicken them, instead reducing the volume to make them thicker and more flavorful. Their bread is not gluten-free, but nearly all else is. All this means you can have a tasting menu with a modern twist on traditional Czech cuisine without fears.
Field, the new kid on the Prague fine dining block, has no problem feeding celiacs. When asked about the matter, Mr Kasparek, the executive chef, just shrugged any concerns off: they do serve gluten-free bread when requested and he uses no flour in the sauces.
Sansho, our favorite casual dining Asian-fusion restaurant is a champ when it comes to flavors… and gluten-free food, too. Skip the sliders and dive into what Jan thinks is the best dish in Prague: the pork belly with three peppercorn sauce (the winter version), or with watermelon and hoisin sauce (the summer version of the dish). Other dishes they serve are great, too. Just walk in and tell the staff that you are gluten-intolerant. They will figure out the rest.
A walk up the Stresovice district past the Muller Villa, the hospital and the Vetrnik college dorms is your guilt-free passport to a meal at Story, a restaurant headed by a young, talented chef who worked in a Michelin-star restaurant in London. The flavors are great, the staff (the chef’s girlfriend who is a pastry chef with previous London experience, too) is friendly and they can cook anything gluten-free.
When it comes to gluten-free food, we think that sushi never fails to satisfy. Prague does have a few good places for sushi, and while our friends may have various favorites, we left our heart at Mash Hana, a cosy Japanese restaurant behind the Prague Castle run by an actual Japanese family and visited by Japanese expats. Great sushi and Japanese cuisine. Jan loves the soundtrack: why don’t more restaurants play classical music instead of the horrible 80s hits that have been plaguing the Prague dining scene? If you're not up for the walk to Prague 6, we also like the sushi at Yami in the centre, or Hanil (which also serves Korean food) or Yamato in the Vinohrady district.
Pizza Nuova, our favorite place for pizza in Prague, can split opinions when it comes to their all-you-can-eat menu: is it gluttony, or not? (Of course it is.) Whatever your position on these types of establishments might be, celiacs will indeed find refuge in Pizza Nuova, which offers gluten-free pasta dishes in its a-la-carte menu. Their antipasti bar also has a nice assortment of gluten-free bites. If you’re up for some decent Italian, make sure Pizza Nuova is on your list, along with its sister restaurant, Pasta Fresca, which makes its own gluten-free penne and spaghetti.
The Vietnamese community is the only ethnically different minority in a country that is otherwise completely white, and Vietnamese food has been a trend on the Prague food scene for a few years. Sure, Banh Mi may be out of bounds for the celiac, but a bowl of delicious, fragrant Pho Bo delivers every single time. At least for us. The best one we know of is sold at Pho Vietnam, or at Au Co in the Dejvice district, a good place for your last meal on the way to the airport.
Sisters, a popular bistro selling a modern itineration of the venerable Czech open-faced sandwich, the chlebicek, has finally begun to sell gluten-free versions of its creations: they offer the classic ham-and-potato-salad, and even the red beet puree is thickened by breadcrumbs made from their gluten-free bread, which you can buy to go, too. Combine it with some meat from Nase maso across the hall, and you’ll be happy… and very full.
Alriso, the risotto-focused sister restaurant of the likes of Aldente, Aldolce, Alforno and so on, is also serving gluten-free pasta, and their risotto is something that caters well to celiacs. Actually, their entire menu is gluten-free. Combine the visit with Original Coffee nearby for coffee or with RedPif for wines.
There is no better way to enjoy a cup of great coffee and a gluten-free cake than on the bench in front of TriCafe. This little cafe located dangerously near the Charles Bridge is an oasis in the madness of what is the tourist centre, especially in the summer. Not all of their cakes are gluten-free, but they make sure they have a few every day. A calm place great for contemplation, a book or planning the rest of your day.
Muj salek kavy
Ever since they expanded their operation and opened their bakery in the back, Muj salek kavy has been baking gluten-free bread… and selling lots of it. We have been buying it for our gluten-free guests, because unlike many other gluten-free bread we tried in Prague, it does look and taste like actual bread. In addition to great coffee, Muj salek offers a few gluten-free dishes and breakfast on their fairly recent menu.
If you are up for something sweet, make sure you stop by Simply good in the Karlin district. When we recently interviewed Hanka, the owner, she said she loves to use almond flour to bake gluten-free cakes. And she sure knows how to bake.
Did you know one of the most loved ice-cream places in Prague serves their gelato and sorbets in gluten-free cones when requested? Well, now you know. Now you have to wait until March to get a scoop, because Angelato closes for the winter season. What’s up with that?
And a few shopping bonuses:
Celia is a thing that has brought tears to many of our gluten-free Prague food tour guests: the gluten-free beer from the Saas Brewery may have been their first in ages. And it actually tastes very good. It can be bought in any Billa supermarket. That said, even Pilsner Urquell has very low gluten levels and is served fresh in many pubs.
The Naplavka farmers’ market on the riverside below the Vysehrad fortress is probably our favorite way to spend the Saturday morning, and judging by the crowds, we’re not alone. (Just wear an extra layer in these chilly months. It gets cold near the river.) We also go there to buy gluten-free bread for our Saturday tour guests when they have a gluten intolerance. They also have gluten-free cakes and great coffee, and the walk back to the centre is worth the visit alone.
Sklizeno Foodie Market
Sklizeno Foodie Market, a favorite spot for local food shopping near the Wenceslas Square has opened a small bistro that offers vegan sandwiches and bagels, raw and gluten-free desserts and smoothies with “superfoods”. (Jan has only recently realized that burgers are not included in that category.) On top of that, Sklizeno has always been a champion in introducing gluten-free produce to the market (but to be honest, that bar hasn't been that high, anyway).