Prague bars

Five Faves: Prague tips by locals - Marcela Vuong

Five Faves: Prague tips by locals - Marcela Vuong

If you want to see the Sapa market, you want to see it with Marcela - project manager by day, Vietnamese food tour guide by… ehhhh… day, too (but mostly on weekends). Warm, friendly and passionate about food, she is the perfect companion to what at the beginning might seem like an impenetrable maze of warehouses and hole-in-a-wall pho places. (Did we mention she’s beautiful, too?) Heck, she gave us her own tips when we wrote about the market, and they have never failed us on our own visits.

Born in Vietnam yet raised in the Bohemian town of Chomutov (“No-one comes from there,” she claims incorrectly, not knowing that Zuzi was in fact raised there, too.), she has a unique insight into both Vietnamese and Czech food and culture, and isn’t afraid to share it. What started as cooking Vietnamese dishes for her friends (and she has many, often recruited from young fashion and design circles) eventually snowballed into one of the most popular tours to Sapa. She also seems to be travelling all the time, which we often observe on social media with thinly disguised envy. So yes, we like her, and we think you’d like her too. Here’s her five faves for Prague and social media.


Prague off the beaten path: Bethlehem Square and its surroundings

Prague off the beaten path: Bethlehem Square and its surroundings

Calling an area this central “off the beaten path” can be quite daring, but we think the stretch of the Old Town between the National Theatre and the Charles Bridge can offer a truly authentic, local experience, with many venues frequented more by locals than foreign visitors. You see, most of Prague’s visitors move between the two bridges along the river bank, which surely is beautiful, but sadly bypasses some hidden, shady streets just a block away from the river that can offer some nice culinary and shopping opportunities. 

And on top of that, this area, which takes the total of some 15 to 30 minutes to explore at a leisurely pace, is just utterly beautiful, with a nice, quiet atmosphere that can be enjoyed literally seconds from the madness that is the Charles Bridge. Just a few steps away, you have an area where you can fall in love with Prague all over again, have a breather or contemplate the day in some of the nicest cafes and bars in Prague, and talk to the owners of some of the nicest and cleverest shops in the entire city. What follows are our personal tips for the area.


Best Cocktail Bars in Prague

Best Cocktail Bars in Prague

Many guests joining us on our Prague food tours ask us about our favorite bars. "Where should we go to have a drink in Prague later in the evening?" Yes, we love a drink at a bar, too. Just sit down, like an adult, and enjoy a drink or two in good company and engage in some good conversation. Is there a better place to contemplate on the day past than over a great drink? Yeah, we did not think so, either.  

What follows is a shortlist of what we think are the best bars in Prague.


Fun recent Prague openings: gelato, coffee and cocktails!

Fun recent Prague openings: gelato, coffee and cocktails!

As we like to say, research is the hardest part of our job. We have to visit new places when they open to see if we can recommend them or whether they are so good that we can actually steer our Prague food tours in an entirely new directions. Yes, we know, a truly horrible plight, but somebody has to do it. Now, to give you the fruit of our pain and suffering, we will - from time to time - post short notes on the places we have visited recently. These will be our opinions based on only one or two visits of fairly recently opened venues so they cannot be seen as full-fledged reviews. That said, let's start with three today.


Prague local favorites: Hemingway Bar

Prague local favorites: Hemingway Bar

We are not uncovering a secret hidden gem here: Hemingway Bar is arguably the most popular bar in town, and also one of the best ones. Getting in past 9pm when the bar stops taking reservations can take some time, but the wait is worth it: the bar is a great place to drink those woes away with class and distinction. (If you can't get in right away, just sign in. There's lots to do in the area.) It is also a fairly adult place that does focus on mixology. If you're in need of a meat market, look elsewhere. Order something from the cocktail menu, get a sample of their wide selection of rums, or just tell the bartenders what you fancy. And then just watch them work. We could do that for hours.


Czech wines you should explore in Prague

When we were scouting the locations for our new route (coming soon), we spoke to the manager of one of the best Czech restaurants in town and in the course of our nice little talk, he complained that sometimes their customers would opt for foreign wines over the Czech ones because they did not understand them. Their sommelier and the entire staff were quite saddened by that fact - they thought that Czech wines deserved the attention.

That discussion gave us the idea for this post. In an effort to get more visitors to Prague go out of their comfort zone and try some typically Czech wines, we have approached Zuzka Vesela, the manager of the “big” Vinograf wine bar at Senovazne namesti, one of our most favorite bars in the city, and asked her if she could describe some of the local wines that can be tasted in the Czech Republic and nowhere else. She was happy to help and here are some of her comments. We discussed seven grapes in total: five of them are white and two reds; five of them are purely Czech, while two come from Germany. 

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Let's start with the whites:

“Mopr” (also known as "Muškát moravský” - or “Moravian Muscat”)
Crossed from Muscat Ottonel and Prachttraube (which comes from Germany), this white grape boasts nice aroma that is not as powerful as that of a Muscato. It is often dry and aromatic and has low acidity; therefore, it is a “pleasant” wine that tends to be mineral in Bohemia due to the stony soil. It is a grape that will make mostly novices happy, but more demanding drinkers may like it, too.

Pálava
A white grape crossed from two aromatic grapes: Müller Thurgau and Gewürtztraminer. As such, it has been adapted to the Moravian soil and is rarely grown in the northern, Bohemian wine region. Heck, even the name is inspired by the Palava region in the south of Moravia. The resulting wine can be anywhere on the dry-to-sweet scale, but sweeter wines are more common, and even the drier wines tend to feel sweeter than they really are. The acidity and fruitiness are low, replaced by notes of traditional Christmas spices and rose tones. The Palava is very popular and some bottles are very good. The wine can appeal to a wide range of consumers from social drinkers to experts.

Kerner
A crossing of Riesling and Trollinger, the motivation of this crossing was resistance, better sugars and taste. This is for those who love sweeter, uncomplicated wines: Kerner wines offer a nice floral aromas and fruitiness, almost like hard candy in a bottle. The wines are also juicy and sweet. This is a simpler grape that tends to get a simpler treatment but has been loved by some of our guests who are new to wines.

Hibernal

Hibernal is an originally German crossing of Seibel and Riesling that produces full-bodied white grapes with nice acidity and higher alcohol content. The flavors are dominated by black currant notes and fruitiness. Just like rieslings, it often produces semi-dry wines.

Solaris

The very recent result of crossing the Merzling grape and Gm 6493 (crossed by Mr Kraus in Melnik), Solaris is grown mostly in the Bohemian wine region, especially at Kutna Hora. Known for its tropical and citrus notes and good acidity. It is fairly full-bodied, tends to be drier and more fruity than a Hibernal.  

And now for the two reds:

Neronet
This grape, crossed by Mr Kraus, a giant of Czech enology and the founder of the eponymous winery seated in Melnik, some 20 miles north of Prague, is a crossing of St Laurent, Blauer Portugieser and Alibernet (which itself is a crossing of Cabernet Sauvignon and Alicante Henri Bouschet). It combines the characteristics of these wines: the tannins and the edginess of a Cab Sauv, and the fruitiness and juiciness of a St Laurent (which is a Pinot grape). It has nice acidity and is fruity, but is a medium-bodied grape. It is successfully grown in Prague, too (by the Salabka winery).

Cabernet Moravia
Again a typically Moravian red crossing that combines the characteristics of Cabernet Franc (spicy, heavier paprika tones) and Zweigeltrebe (fruitiness and an easy-drinking character). It produces medium-bodied wines that are known for a nice blend of spicy and fruity notes. Look for bottles from the Slovacko region (Benes or Glos wineries in particular).  

Where to have them?

That's easy. The biggest selection can be probably had at the Vinograf wine bars (they have two branches - a small, intimate one near the Charles Bridge, and a bigger one in the New Town area). If you wish to taste strictly organic wines (called "bio-dynamic" here) from the Czech Republic, definitely visit Veltlin, a fantastic and popular wine bar in the Karlin district. Finally, some fine dining restaurants in Prague may have a great selection. We know that the good people at La Degustation really take great pride in serving Czech wines, for instance.