OK, so we run the food tours here in Prague and all, but clearly, we are not the only foodies living in Prague. In fact, what makes the Prague food scene so exciting is not only the restaurants, delis, bars, cafes and shops opening every year, but it is the community that has been building around food and the dining scene here in Prague and that has been raising the expectations people have of good food.
There is a new generation of foodies now eating their way through Prague: people who travel for food, are in the know about global trends, can put what happens in Prague into a broader context and demand a bit more than what was “good enough” ten years ago. And because this site, and the entire Taste of Prague project, is about sharing experience with our fellow foodie travelers, we asked a few of our foodie friends or people we respect as foodies for their tips in Prague. Where do they go to eat? This is what they said.
Klara is not only a good friend of ours but also a food critic who writes reviews for the Euro weekly magazine (she used to write them for the Lidove noviny daily, too). She has her own food blog and a keen interest in coffee: she was one of the judges at last year’s Czech barista championships. Also, if we ever needed a lawyer, the one call from the jail cell would be directed to her.
Gao Den. The best Vietnamese restaurant in Prague in my opinion has a bizarre location but its management should serve as a model for all the other restaurants. I would include their fried rolls into my list of the perfect foods without any hesitation. They have recently added a fantastic chocolate fondant on their menu.
EMA Espresso Bar. A place that always makes you feel good: great coffee, consistently nice baristas, including the best Czech barista, sun shining through the large display window with friend a friend sitting behind it, affogato with a scoop of vanilla ice-cream from Tuchlovice. EMA can smooth out any rough edges of your existence, and adds everything you need for home coffee brewing. Simply everything you need to feel happy just for a moment every single day.
Zajezd. A phenomenon outside of Prague with finger-licking food, an extremely likable co-owner... and really run down interior. The perfect destination for a short trip outside of Prague to a unique place. Local, good and fun!
The Pavlik family - mother Martina and father Tomas - are true foodies who travel for food with their two daugthers, know good food from bad one, and happen to be the owners of two Instagram profiles that cause us serious salivation problems. Whenever we see Instagram pics of their creations, we wish they adopted us.
Las Adelitas on Male namesti next to the Old Town Square is a great place for a quick lunch during the working week (lunch menu for CZK 100), an informal lunch with the family over the weekends, or a margarita party with fiends for the entire Friday night. Las Adelitas is Prague's best Mexican restaurant in our opinion - simple, authentic and so good even our spoiled kids like it. Do not miss their mango margarita!
Hemingway Bar has been regularly showing up in various top 50 bar rankings around the world. Getting in can often be a problem but the wait is definitely worth it. The best spots are at the bar, of course. Most of the times, we do not even open the menu. Instead, we just tell the bartender what flavors we fancy and watch him or her prepare our drinks.
For us, La Degustation is a place for the special occasion. One of the two Michelin-star restaurants in Prague but the only one that serves modern iterations of old Czech recipes using high-quality local produce. We also like how they promote small winemakers and breweries. If you want to see contemporary Czech cuisine, La Degustation is the best place for that.
Martin and Misa
Martin and Misa is a power duo consisting of arguably the best known Czech food blogger and a skillful copywriter with a loyal social media following. Martin is a formidable blogger with incredible research skills and the power to see through marketing braggadocio, while Misa is also "our unofficial PR backseat driver”, an honorary title.
Martin says: Story. Our most favorite place in the neighborhood. Located near the end station of the tram (lines 1 and 18), the restaurant is really a gem for true lovers of residential areas on the outskirts. Story was opened last autumn by Michal Cerny, a young culinary hopeful. His cooking is technically sophisticated and strictly based on his current inspiration and seasonal ingredients. The interiors are plain and quite simple; that said, the fantastic value for money compensates for the surroundings. We would recommend Story to anyone who wants to see the cooking of the up-and-coming generation of Czech chefs.
Misa says: Nota Bene. Given how we Czechs like to brag about our beer, pubs that would serve beers from interesting small breweries are surprisingly rare. Especially when you’re intolerant to smokers or if you want more sophistication from your beer snack than the simple marinated Camembert cheese. That is why I like Nota Bene, a casual place with 6 taps and solid food. I tend to visit for at least one lunch a week: you get a really good dish - and not a diluted lunch special - for up to CZK 130 (just ignore the vegetarian course: here it’s all about the meat and fish). On top of that, stronger beers can be served in a 0.2 l glass with your lunch. And that’s quite unique here in the Czech Republic.
Viet Food Friends
Thuy, Mai and Mai Vu, three Czech students of Vietnamese origin, are true authorities on Vietnamese food in Prague as the girls behind the Viet Food Friends blog, a compass for anyone trying to navigate the booming Vietnamese food scene here in Prague.
If we really want to treat ourselves to great Vietnamese food, we visit the Sapa market, a place where they serve the most authentic Vietnamese food. Bistros specialise in a few dishes like in Vietnam, and that’s the best way. When we’re in the centre of Prague, we like to visit Remember or Pho Vietnam Tuan Lan - they may show signs of Vietnamese cuisine adjusted to the European palate but they are still among the best and, above all, have retained a high standard in the long run, which is not true for many other bistros.
Petra is one of the most famous Czech food critics and the author of a cookbook about regional cuisines in the Czech Republic. She writes a food column and reviews for MF daily and has her own Facebook profile entitled "Pospeska u plotny" (which loosely translates as Pospeska behind the stove).
My recent favourite is Maso a Kobliha. I love the way Paul Day makes everyday things special. Haggis and foremost - the salty caramel pie - are definite musts. But careful! The latter is highly addictive.
Second one is long-term favourite - Cafe de Paris. It is amazing how balanced their work has been throughout all those years. In the summer, I just go there and have something light outside, while the entrecote is there always for me in the winter. Amazing family spirit included. (Another place similar to this one is Argument near the Hradcanska subway stop.)
We wonder where Jakub gets all the energy for all the food-related projects he participates in around Prague. Must be his youthful enthusiasm. ;-) The one project we should point out is sapamapa, a map of the famous Vietnamese Sapa market in the Libus district on Prague outskirts, but we’re sure he will unveil many more this year.
Nase maso. A favorite for all those who like high-quality aged meat and honestly good charcuterie. We usually visit the butcher shop with a few friends, we order various delicacies from the menu and get to taste everything. That said, we never skip the burger and my favorite beef liver on the grill. I usually leave with a bag full of goodies such as pork cracklings, proper sausages and Prague ham.
Sapa market. My favorite places in Prague definitely include the Sapa market. The Libus-district market boasts several restaurants worth mentioning. I chose my two favorites: the Hue Xua restaurant with fantastic beef soup with shrimp dumplings Bun bo Hue. My second favorite place is Phuong Phuong that serves delicious Banh cuon, steamed rice rolls filled with minced beef and Judas' ear, sprinkled with fried onion. I never leave without tasting Vietnamese filter coffee Ca phe phin, which can be bought directly on the street from one of the mobile coffee stands.
Back when Katerina, the marketing director of Prague City Tourism, lived in New York, she was a “chowhound” – a person who will traverse the city in search of a great street snack. Although she may not be eating as adventurously now, a decade later, here in Prague, she is still likes to eat well. What we like about her is her laser-beam eye to see through the hype that surrounds some venues in Prague and call things for what they are.
My favorite restaurant in Prague: I admit to not having one. The place I return to again and again can hardly be called a restaurant – it’s an unpretentious little café called Druhej breh where I have lunch practically every day (yes… sad but true), because it is close to my office. I love their minimalist concept: ONE freshly made soup, salad and (usually) sandwich every day, plus excellent coffee (I love their flat white), decent wine, or free tap water. No, it won’t blow your culinary mind, but it is refreshingly different from all the typical pubs in the area. It’s often the brightest spot of my workday.
I hate to promote a popular favorite but I’m a fan of Dish, a stylish little burger joint in Vinohrady. It was massively hyped before it opened, and has all the hallmarks of a hipster favorite… and it‘s been a hit pretty much from day one. I almost wanted to hate it – but can’t. The burgers (and fries) are just that good. The service is always pleasant and professional, no matter how busy the place gets; and even though on weekends Dish is often full of fashionable young people with what I imagine are careers in magazines and advertising (making me, a middle-aged bureaucrat, feel slightly out of place), I always get that sense of well-being that can only come from a great meal executed flawlessly.
Finally, I’d like to put in a word for a bar called Parlour on Krakovska, a truly uninspiring street off of Wenceslas Square (really – a terrible location, but the bar is awesome.) I generally love "grown-up" cocktail bars that aren’t loud or scene-y for good conversation; until recently, the choice in Prague had been very limited. Parlour has a great ambience, delicious and reasonably priced cocktails served in gorgeous vintage glasses, good music and it’s quiet. I can’t wait to go back.
We Are / Burgers
OK, if you - in your own time - start to make burgers, with your own baked buns and everything, and venture out to food festivals to sell them, and then win the first edition of the Burger Buzz burger battle, you must be a foodie. Kuba and Jonas, two members of the We Are productions team and the two guys behind the project, definitely are.
Brewbar Naplavka. Ideal Saturday coffee. An overview of European roasters in the grinder. What about the quality of and care for the coffee? Well, the coffee is prepared by Jiri Sladek (gilded holder of the EK43 grinder included). ‘Nuff said.
Lokal Hamburk. The most pleasant of all Lokal pubs in our book. Great for lunch or dinner or for beer only: you won’t find a better glass of Pilsner anywhere.
Cidrerie. Closest to our heart. Cidres by Jachym have changed our worldview, and we hardly drink anything else since our first taste. Cidre has become a breath of fresh air into our daily hydration routine - while we recommend the demi sec as a replacement of lemonades, pale lagers and similar refreshing beverages in the afternoon, we opt for the (extra) brut instead of white wine or Prossecco in the evening. Fantastic atmosphere in the courtyard, BYOF bar and perhaps some food coming up this year. The perfect bike ride / train trip out of Prague during the high season.
Maso a Kobliha. We recommend snakebite, any meat and the donut! It was great the first day Paul Day opened the place, and ever since Maskrtnica began to bake for them, you cannot find a better bistro in Prague. The ideal place to fill in the time between your brunch and dinner.
U Kurelu. Same quality burgers as in The Tavern and a changing weekly menu on top of that - the ribs are our favorite! Czech microbrews on tap. Sadly, it is too near the Zizkov bar triangle (Malkovich, Bukowski, Vlkovka): you get a drink after dinner and you'll inevitably end up in one of those.
Malkovich. Our home bar. A large assortment of whiskey and good cocktails on top. Order a Long Island to go in the afternoon and take it for a walk to the Riegrovy sady park.
And "the obvious" bonus: Sansho
We should set one thing right by adding Sansho to the list. Nearly all the foodies who sent us their tips preempted them by writing something like "we're not going to mention Sansho because we're sure everybody else will", and then nobody actually wrote about Sansho. Se we do.
Sansho is one of the few restaurant in Prague we think would be a success in London or New York City, too. Paul Day, the chef and owner, takes the best Czech protein grown by small farmers outside and marries it with Asian flavors from the Vietnamese Sapa market, and it's a winning combination. Farm to table at its best.