The Vinohrady district is a place of many appeals. Originally a place for vineyards (which is what “Vinohrady” means, anyway), Vinohrady witnessed a population boom in the late 19th and early 20th century, becoming the fourth biggest town in the Czech Republic alone before it became a part of Prague in 1922. It is a district of affluence and beauty, with Art Deco houses and lush trees and beautiful parks overlooking either the centre or other parts of the city. It is also very popular among expats and young professional: it is very near the centre, but not directly in it, and it has nearly everything you’d want for a comfortable life. If you live in Vinohrady, there would be very few motives to move out of it.
And it is also a great place for other things: Vinohrady has probably the highest concentration of specialty coffee places in Prague: it actually boasts more good cafes than the central district. It is also a great place for Vietnamese, Mexican or Italian food, with some fancy fast food thrown into the mix. And the Jirak farmers’ markets can be a reason alone to move in. And if you haven’t had enough, the cool, Bohemian Zizkov district and the leafy Vrsovice district are just a stone’s throw away. What to see, where to eat and what to drink? Here’s our Vinohrady neighborhood guide.
What to see:
Completed in 1935 and designed by Pavel Janak for the Hussite congregation, Husuv sbor is one of the important Constructivist buildings in Prague. It is dominated by the bell tower with three bells and the chalice, the symbol of the Hussites, at the very top. Getting inside is a revelation: not made churches have a roof made of industrial skylights.
Church of the Most Sacred Heart of Our Lord
One of the most famous buildings in Vinohrady, the church was completed in 1932 on a design by Slovenian-born Joze Plecnik, famous for his work at the Prague Castle and in Ljubljana, Slovenia. Inspired by Noah’s Arc, the church really dominates Jiriho z Podebrad Sq. and includes the biggest clock face in Central Europe. The interiors are surprisingly sombre, with a flat wooden ceiling and quite fascinating lighting arrangement.
One of the most popular parks in Prague, especially during the summer, Riegrovy sady has two major appeals. The first one is undoubtedly one of the nicest views of the centre if you sit on the grass on the Western slope. The second is the biggest beer garden in Prague with a capacity of 1400 people. Combine the two for a night to remember. Also, make sure you have a look at the biggest Sokol gym in the world, incl. a pool, on the park’s southern edge.
“The Peace Square” is conveniently located above an eponymous subway stop, which means it can be your first point of entry into the neighborhood. It does have lots to offer: the St Ludmila Church was the primary church in the area until the Church of the Most Sacred Heart of Our Lord was opened, and it houses two cultural institutions: the Vinohrady Theatre and the Narodni dum hall right next to the Bruxx pub, which we recommend sneaking into. Also, it accommodates the smallest Vinohrady institution: the hot dog stand right next to the subway entry, one of the few bona-fide street food stands in Prague.
The Vinohrady Theatre is testament to the neighborhood’s affluence at the beginning of the 20th Century. Built in 1907, the Art Deco theatre was nearly as opulent as the National Theatre, and filled to the brink with new technology. Today it remains one of the most important theaters in Prague, and the building with the two angels of “bravery” and “truth” is simply stunning.
Where to eat:
Aromi has been a staple on the Vinohrady dining scene and easily the fanciest restaurant of the district for years now. And it has remained so after it moved to the new location right next to the Vinohrady district: the spacious room in the back with large windows is a great place if you want to impress your partner or their parents, or if you simply like high-end Italian cuisine with good service and wines. We’d skip the coffee, but the room in the front will be a good option for breakfast or a snack any time of the day, and might end up being better value than the fancy meals in the back.
Dish Fine Burger Bistro
It’s not easy getting a seat in Dish, and it was not easy from the very first day they opened. Because Dish serves the best burgers in town. There. We said it. The Smoky Dish is still our benchmark we use to measure all other burgers in Prague. It’s a small, fun place where people are happy just to be there and devour their burgers and fries with smoked chili mayonnaise, only to flush them down with Unetice lagers, despite the fact that the elbow space can reach budget airline economy class levels. Because if you serve us a great burger, we’ll let you get away with murder.
Pho Vietnam at Jiriho z Podebrad was one of the first places where locals realized that Vietnamese cuisine in Prague, and Pho in particular, can make for a fantastic fast food option to some greasy Czech favorites. Several years and many Vietnamese joints later, they still sell some of the best Pho in town: a huge bowl of fragrant broth full of herbs and ginger with noodles and meat, it is a comforter for any weather condition. We’d go to the Anglicka location for a more civilized, sit-down meal, but if you want the original, hole-in-a-wall feeling, the Slavikova location is your better bet.
If you want a good, honest Czech meal (with a French influence) with your craft beers, Nota Bene is your top choice... if you’re willing to wait, because you may sometimes grow a small beard before the small kitchen completes the order on a busy night. But hey, you have six craft beers on tap to go through, so this may not be a problem. For further beer studies and investigations, head to the beer point downstairs.
Another first for Vinohrady: Las Adelitas was the first “destination” Mexican restaurant worth traveling for, and it still remains one of our top food choices after a night of drinking. The original location in Americka is still the cutest one in our view, while the Lucemburska location can accommodate larger parties and more mango margaritas… which will only require another hung over visit the next day. Seems somebody’s found the perfect business model here, come to think of it.
A tapas bar in Prague? Vinohrady? And in a basement? And what’s up with that name, anyway? Yes, we don’t usually travel to Kofein as a destination dining place, but whenever we stop by, we are surprised that we actually like some of the dishes a lot: we love to share (unless we really like the dishes - that’s when sharing becomes difficult) and there simply aren’t many restaurants in Prague that offer sharing portions. We guess we have to go again to get surprised again.
Bad Jeff's Barbeque
Arguably the best barbecue in Prague. And it’s not only due to the lack of proper competition. Chef Bad Jeff Cohen prepares ribs, chicken wings and burgers according to the best of American traditions, but vegetarians are not ostracized and segregated in Bad Jeff’s BBQ with a selection of meatless dishes. One of the few restaurants that serve house cocktails. Come to think of it, more restaurants in Prague should offer house cocktails.
Hands down the best bread in town at the moment, and a sensation when it opened out of nowhere a few months ago. If you can find better bread in Prague, we’d love to see where. Since opening the coffee got much better and they also offer brunches from time to time. And the young baker is really passionate about his craft. Oh, would we love to have Praktika around the corner from where we live! Is it socially acceptable to sell your house and move elsewhere in order to be closer to a great bakery? There’s only one way to find out...
A hugely popular French “traditional” cafe and bakery, Le Caveau started as a small space but has kept expanding until today’s size. We would not have coffee here for the world, but they do make some of the best baguettes in town, and their croissants are decent, too. And you know what? We’d easily see ourselves spending an evening in Le Caveau drinking wine and just nibbling on things.
Haven’t had enough Vietnamese food in Prague? Not a problem in Vinohrady: you can always have another banh mi sandwich at Mr Banh Mi. Just one level above “hole-in-a-wall”, Mr Banh Mi serves fast food the way it should be: fast and flavorful, and one of the best budget eats in Prague. Sit down behind one of the four tables of the establishment and just eat away. Because there’s not much to look at otherwise. But you won’t mind: just take a bite and enjoy.
A popular small bakery just a stone’s throw from Le Caveau, Antonínovo pekarství sells very popular rohliky, or rolls, and other sweet and savory baked products and sandwiches to boot. Just sit down at the table with the local moms and enjoy the simple joys of life. Like gluten. We love gluten.
Come to think of it, Yamato is probably one of the best sushi places in Prague. Which is located in a landlocked country. You do the math. But if you seriously crave sushi, Yamato, run by a Czech chef with genuine sushi-master training, is a place where Japanese aesthetics, service and traditions are taken seriously and the sushi is as good as it gets here, but we also like the other Japanese dishes on their menu, so make sure you check them out.
Belgian beers and oysters? If you crave that in Prague, comfortably nestled far from the nearest sea shore, you might want to give Bruxx a try. It actually is one of the places in Prague where having oysters makes any sense: this is a high-turnover environment for oysters, so the ones ending up on your plate will be actually fresh and delicious… if they’re cleaned properly.
Did the Vinohrady district need a brewery? Of course it did. How can you ask that? And it actually brews some interesting beers, incl. the Vinohradska 11, the brewery’s take on the Czech classic slightly-less-than-a-lager beer. If you want to see a noisy, happy place that serves Czech pub classics, which can either be great or not, make sure you add Vinohradsky pivovar to your list.
No. This is not as good as Sisters. And it’s not hipster or cool in any sense of the word. But if there is any place in Prague that could be norm-core, it would be Prima chlebicek, a deli that sells reasonably good chlebiceks, the Czech open-faced sandwiches, at reasonable prices. It was cool three years ago, but the world has moved on. Still a solid choice and a place to see locals eating quick, authentic food. For the love of god, don’t enter the canteen next door.
Jirák Farmers’ Market
One of the first and still one of the most popular farmers’ markets in Prague, the Jirak market is a classic Prague destination and truly your only choice if you want to visit a farmers’ market but don’t have Saturdays free, because it opens on Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays. Yes, it may be small but it’s authentic and true, and the atmosphere in between the trees and along the benches is nice and neighborly. A great stop anywhere you go.
A fine vegetarian/organic spot very near the Namesti Miru square, Bio Zahrada caters to slightly hippie crowd of stay-at-home moms and lovers of vegetarian and organic produce. Come for the breakfasts with coffee, stay for the lunch specials, and come back for lighter dinner with wine. This is mostly a shop that sells organic and farmer produce to take away, but the prepared food is not bad actually. A nice option of you’re a vegetarian and you’re passing by.
The newer location of one of the most popular Czech pastry shops in Prague plays the retro card, and it plays it well: the logo and the interior design is reminiscent of the Constructivist 1930s when the original Erhart Café was a popular destination in the Letna district. The pastries do follow the local tradition, too, and they’re not bad. Their vetrnik (caramel choux pastry) actually ranked high in our Prague’s vetrnik challenge about a year ago, which is a sign of quality… and decadence.
Sure, we won’t ever have the coffee there unless somebody’s pointing a gun at us. And the cutsie-pants decor of the French-style patisserie is not our style. And we don’t like all the pastries. But the ones we do? We do like them a lot. And we actually like the fact that the owner, a Czech Top Chef finalist, does not phone it in and is working her ass off in the shop. We prefer the Tylovo namesti location over the Belgicka one.
Where to drink:
If you love Italian bubbles, don’t make this your first stop in Vinohrady. Because it could easily become your last, too. Prosekárna may be first and foremost a shop that sells Prosecco, and lots of it, but that does not mean you can’t buy a bottle and open it right there. Maybe they even let you enter their basement that features a cool fireplace. And if you think Prosecco is just cheap bubbles, think again: they have some boutique bottles and delicious natural Prosecco, too.
Had enough of the ubiquitous Pilsner Urquell and want to taste something different? Beergeek will deliver: the bar opened by the eponymous beer distributor offers a curated selection of thirty beers on tap from both Czech Republic and abroad in smaller, tasting portions. And chicken wings. Because they go well with beer. Come in the afternoon for a serious tasting session, stay later for the party. Seasonal beers, experimental batches, tap takeovers: you name it, they have it. A must for any beer lover visiting Prague as one of the best places for craft beers in Prague.
Bar and Books
Bar and Books may be the best place in Prague to spend New Year’s Eve with the burlesque show, but that does not mean it’s not worth a visit during the rest of the year. The place tries hard to keep things happening: they serve Bond-inspired drinks, give Cuban cigars to ladies for free on Mondays, give discounts on whiskey on Tuesdays, and have a burlesque show and insult comedy nights from time to time. And if having whiskey and a cigar while being insulted by comedian isn’t fun, we don’t know what is.
We should only say that Lounge Bohemia does exist, and it is seated in Vinohrady. For now. Because the London-based bar run by a Czech bartending genius/madman (we haven’t decided yet) is a pop-up only and will be dismantled eventually. Getting in is difficult: the bar does not advertise its number or its address. So you have to get the number somehow, text them between noon and 4pm… and they might text you back. But having the molecular-mixology drinks and popcorn in a Czech mid-century modern styled interior is fun. Oh, and btw, we have the number, so send us an email if you want to go. Your time is running out.
Yes, coffee room is a fairly small room that sits maybe three tables and a few more chairs along the walls, but the young, passionate owners with a peculiar affinity to London are genuinely eager to please and the atmosphere is friendly. Quite a few reasons to come: good coffee from selected European micro-roasters, nice sandwiches and cookies on the bar, and good tea by Tea Mountain and natural wine from Veltlin, the two Karlin-based suppliers, to boot. Not to mention the selection of high-end magazines we pretend to read while we’re there.
Kavarna prazirna, which translates as “The Roastery Cafe”, has a huge following as a place that roasts and serves good specialty coffee at affordable prices and prepared by and for regular folks without the hipster fuzz usually associated with purveyors of good coffee. We are not big fans of the interiors, because we don’t particularly like basement cafes. Still, if this place tickles your fancy, you’ll be probably returning often.
La Boheme Café
We absolutely love to hate La Boheme Coffee: we don’t particularly love the roasts, or the cutesy decor, which we think ruined the beautiful Stockist furniture showroom that preceded it, or the coffee-based drinks. And, let’s be honest, if we were to pick a side in Prague’s roasters’ cold war, we’d clearly fall within the Doubleshot crowd. That said, we do understand why the place is so popular: quirky, comfortable interiors with the largest windows in Prague’s coffee world, the coffee is drinkable, and the teas are actually nice. And you get to sit in a sofa, which is a welcome change after the hardwood benches and repurposed palettes they let you sit on in other specialty coffee places. Would you hate it or love it? Only you can answer that.
Monolok is the perfect place for work: the spacious tables simply call for a laptop, the wifi is strong (when it works), the coffee is good and you can either choose lots of light on the ground floor, or safe and comfortable seclusion in the basement. We’ve also had many meetings in Monolok, a place that seems to please nearly everyone. Sure, it could be better. The food is not the best in town. And the staff could smile more. But the coffee is mostly great, and for some reason, we think the place is great for work. But hey, you don’t have to, okay?
A Vinohrady first: Karel, the owner of the diminutive Al Cafetero, was undeniably the first person to serve specialty coffee to people in Prague who, until their first visit, felt like kings sipping super-dark robusta-inflicted Italian espressos. Lots of things changed since Karel served his first vacuum pot, but Al Cafetero has not. Still a small, quirky kingdom of Mr Karel who will frown at anyone who wants sugar with their coffee. Yup. Some things don’t change. And that’s not a bad thing.
A cute, small bistro that serves great coffee and nice lunches, soups, sandwiches and smaller snacks. And also some healthy breakfasts with granola and other sweet treats. Mezi zrnky is worth a try.
We’ve had an argument about Anonymous Coffee with a foodie friend lately. He hated it because they do whatever they please to do with coffee. We like them because they do whatever they please to do with coffee. Sure, it looks like a comic-book nerd’s wet dream where color-coded baristas served great coffee and explain superhero philosophy while you drank it. But then all the baristas quit and moved to Eska, the new restaurant opened in the Karlin district. The machine stayed, and the coffee should too. It’s up to you to see how Anonymous Coffee moves on without its founders, mascots and souls.
The Vinohrady district is packed with great cafes, so opening a spanking new one very near at least two other good cafes takes some courage and self-confidence. Double B brings roasting to the table, offering a few of its own roasts both as espresso and filters. Now, when we say espresso, we mean double espresso: they do not pull single shots. This is yet another great place to get some work done.
Clearly, Vinohrady thinks having three coffee roasters is not cool, so it added a fourth one. Dos Mundos roasts its beans on the premises, and lets you taste the results for a reasonable fee. We’d sit at the bar, breath in the aroma and enjoy the roasting show.
Where to shop:
A counterpoint to the Bohemia Design shop, Shit Happens is the other, and the modern, side of the Czech porcelain tradition. This is what happens when a team of young porcelain designers does exactly what they really want: Martina Zilova, one of our favorite designers, creates fantastic bowls and pottery we’d buy in an instant. And the jewelry designs are bold and will make heads turn. Want a souvenir from Prague nobody will have? Make this one of your top priorities.
Pour Pour is a tiny design store that manages to cram in quite an assortment of pieces by young fashion and fashion accessory designers into a small room. Most of the pieces cater to a younger audience: they’re fun and you won’t have to take a mortgage to buy them.
Zilka Optik Studio
If you’re in the market for unique eyewear that will make you stand out in any crowd, make Zilka the top of your list. Now, you don’t walk in just to buy a pair: Zilka likes to build a long-term relationship with his clients, so expect to be offered three or four pairs that match your lifestyle, your career and your social status.
If you like your fashion or home accessory with a story, Nila is your shop. Focusing on sustainable fashion and on home accessories that avoid child labor, use organic cotton and are crafted by local craftsmen. Which wouldn’t mean much if the pieces were not beautiful. Luckily, they are.
Well, the title says it all. If you like Moleskine products (and we know you do), you will LOVE this shop that sells virtually nothing else. Come for the regular stuff, walk away with the limited editions.
Sure, you may not be buying a sofa on your vacation, but Vinohradsky Pavilon, the showroom of the Stockist furniture and home accessories distributor with outposts by Modernista and Kubista design shops, is worth a visit. Originally a market hall became the first post-Communist luxury “mall”, only to become vacant as luxury brands all moved into the centre. Today the pavilion showcases furniture and home accessories by famous foreign and up-and-coming Czech brands, like Lugi, which makes fantastic wooden boards and rolling pins and other office and kitchen accessories. Yes, the price tags are sometimes prohibitive, but one can dream, right?
Lazy Eye fashion pieces are highly addictive if you like 1950s classic fashion. Because we’ve seen women buying one piece and then never buying anything else. Just sayin’. We’re talking dresses and wide skirts in bright colors or plaids. Although they may be reminiscent of Audrey Hepburn in the Roman Holiday, they do look surprisingly good on women with ink, which actually seems to be a demographic that fell in love with the brand. Subdued, invisible pieces? No. These are “look-at-me” fashion statements.
Gentlemen Brothers may be a simple barbershop, but it sure looks line an extension of the Bar and Books bar nearby: the men’s only barbershop features leather chairs and a central bar. Get your hair done and your mustache waxed by beefed up, inked barbers. If you have a mustache, that is.
Want to impress your grandma with an authentic souvenir from Prague? The classic blue onion design pottery is the thing to buy. And where else should you buy it than in a factory store of a traditional Czech manufacturer? Sure, hipsters may not be lining up to buy the classic today, but trust us. It’s coming back. We give it two years.
The secret spot that Karen, the owner of the Artelglass design stores, failed to keep to herself when she spilled the beans in our interview. She goes there to buy antiques. And she LOVES buying antiques. If you’re like her, you might find that precious find you’ve been waiting for so long