When we started our Prague food tours in 2011, the hardest thing was finding a decent place for Czech pastries. Just like the chefs tended to cheat a lot with the ingredients under the Communist rule, pastry chefs were no different, and even the consumers had pretty low standards up until a few years ago (witness the popular “Hera means baking” campaign by a big margarine producer). We would literally have to buy pastries somewhere before the tour and bring them over to the restaurants we were visiting, bribing the wait staff with favors and smiles to let us serve them there, while the chefs and managers were refusing to bake their own on the assumption that Czech pastries were “too common”.
Which is a shame. The Czechs are famed to have been the pastry makers of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, with a long and proud tradition of baking and French-inspired pastry making. And the fact is that Prague is full of pastry shops frequented by locals. The problem is most of them are not exceptional. Prague still lacks places like Cedric Grolet’s Le Meurice in Paris, and while Prague has its star chefs and star butchers (oh yeah, we like our meat), we are still waiting for star pastry chefs to pop out (with, perhaps, the notable exceptions of Mr Skála and Ms Fabesová).
That said, Prague has some great pastry shops that will make you reasonably happy and quite unreasonably fat. So if you have a sweet tooth and are on the lookout for pastry shops and pastries in Prague, we are here to help. This is our guide to the best pastry shops in Prague. You live only once, right?
Czech Pastries in Prague - what to order
There are so many Czech pastries to choose from you’d have to book two more nights in Prague to go through all of them, and that does not even count the three nights of hospitalization that would inevitably follow. That said, there are some basic pastries you should never miss:
venecek: choux pastry with vanilla pastry cream and sugar glaze
vetrnik: choux pastry with vanilla pastry cream, caramel whipped cream and caramel fondant on top
laskonka: two or three meringues with some sort of ganache or cream in the middle. The classic combinations include nuts (incl. coconut), caramel and chocolate.
kremrole: puff pastry roll with a soft meringue filling
koňaková špička: biscotti base with a eggnog-filled tower of chocolate cream and chocolate on top
rakvička: a simple hollow biscotti filled with whipped cream or chocolate-flavored whipped cream.
Czech Pastries in Prague - where to have them
We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again: Mysak currently (this was published in April 2019) serves the best Czech pastries in Prague. With Lukáš Pohl, a driven and talented pastry chef with experience from NYC taking helm at the reopened top floor, Myšák has focused on what’s made it famous in the first place: pastries. And they are great: while deeply rooted in the Czech pastry-making tradition, they do feature modern upgrades and carry a signature of the pastry maker, so this is probably the only place in town where a venecek, a classic choux pastry, is not a donut-shaped, circular affair, but rather a finger-shaped pastry.
Added bonus: history and specialty coffee. Yes, Mysak was originally opened in 1911 and it is one of those rare places with uninterrupted operation before, during and after Communism. (Jan was always treated to something at Mysak if the grades at the end of the year were great. He enjoyed both visits.) Also, Mysak is a rare bird by offering bona fide specialty coffee with those pastries. While most pastry shops in Prague serve a lot of coffee but rarely put a second thought in it, Mysak has both the technology and the beans to pass as a solid coffee shop by itself. For pure weirdness, try “alzirska kava”, the staple of the Czech pastry shop: coffee with whipped cream and eggnog. Getting a shot of caffeine, sugar AND alcohol at the same time? Yes, Czechs know how to live.
Having a fine dining background, Mr Skála, the pastry chef who gave name to this shop (Cukrár Skála literally means Pastry Chef Skála), likes to enter international pastry making competitions, and it shows: the construction and finish of his pastries can be absolutely immaculate. The pastry shop at the end of the alley by the side of the Sia restaurant next to the Marriott is a joy to visit, as you can just observe all the pastry chefs in white aprons focusing on their particular tasks of the day. You know what they say. There’s three things you can watch indefinitely: the fire, the sea, and someone making pastries.
Now, while the portfolio is fairly wide, mostly French-inspired with quite a few originals, we come for the modern or simply rewritten versions of Czech pastries like the Cubist laskonka or konaková spicka. We’d also place take-away order just to get our hands on their cleverly branded take-away boxes. Their second location in Dlouhá street sets out to upgrade the classic kremrole, a puff pastry roll filled with meringue, with various different fillings, which is a great idea. Last tip: their poppy seed and cherry kolache ranks high on our Prague kolache list.
Want to see how a Czech pastry shop for affluent Prague urbanites looked like in the 1930s? Head over to Erhart Café. You have three beautifully refurbished retro Constructivist locations to choose from: the original one in the Letná district, a newer one in the Vinohrady district, and the newest one in the U Nováku house in the New Town, literally 30 seconds from St Tropez. Honestly, there is a sense of joy when you enter Erhart because of just how nice and atmospheric the locations are: just makes you proud of the Czech pastry tradition.
Both branches are filled to the brink with a very wide variety of classic Czech pastries like vetrnik or laskonka, which sell by the unit, and a variety of cakes cut and priced according to weight. Now, Erhart does sometimes skip on butter and uses substitutes instead. (How do we know? We ask on behalf of lactose-free guests of our Prague food tours.) Also, it may be hard to estimate what is the precise weight and price of a slice of cake will be, but that just goes with the system. Having said that, Erhart Cafe is a very popular spot among the locals that makes many Czech pastries well above the standard and serves them in a really cool, atmospheric environment of a Constructivist pastry shop. Come here for nice pastry and that feeling of First Republic affluence.
Iveta Fabesova, a finalist of the Czech version of the “Top Chef” show, has always been more of a pastry chef than a chef, and went on to publish a few cookbooks and open four pastry shops. Iveta clearly favors French-style pastry making: we like her mille-feuille - the custard is not that sweet and the leafs are buttery and softer than many, which makes them easier to cut. She has also invested in a “Masterclass” by the famed Cedric Grolet of Paris’ Le Meurice and sells copies of his famous creations like the Citron or the Noisette. They are cheaper than the originals… and sadly taste a bit cheaper, too, but it’s a nice introduction to top-notch avant-garde patisserie if you’re not visiting Paris in the near future. That said, IF Café also sells Czech classics like vetrnik, and they’re actually quite good.
Out of the four locations, Jungmannova street in the New Town seems to the obvious choice, just a stone’s throw from the Wenceslas Square. The location at Werichova vila at the edge of Kampa park is arguably the most beautiful and peaceful. Bear in mind that by entering this location, you are entering the museum of Mr Werich, the famed Czech actor and author, and will pay a nominal fee. Finally, the location at Tylovo náměstí in the Vinohrady district is where you go to blend in with the locals. The first and the third location mentioned above include working pastry shops, so you can watch pastry chefs at work while you eat and sip away.
Cukrárna St Tropez
Yes, the pink wall paint is an affront to anybody with a set of healthy eyes. Yes, the coffee is too dark and not prepared ideally (which, btw, applies to nearly all the pastry shops on this list). Yes, the ambiance does not match that of Café Savoy or Erhart Café. Still, the pastries at Cukrárna Saint Tropez are seriously good, especially if you like French-inspired pastries. Clearly a lot of butter has fallen victim to some of their creations. No secrets in this place: the pastries are made by Czech and French pastry chefs on plain sight right next to the counter. You can join a pastry making class (booking way ahead is recommended). Despite the French inclinations, we think this is a perfect rendition of a “regular” Czech pastry shops, including some elements that border on kitsch: the preposterous custom cakes (we put one in our Instagram stories like “OMG”, and they replied “Thank you.”), the decorations of display windows, and, last but not least, that pinkest of all pink walls.
Up until Mysak reopened by the same restaurant group, Café Savoy was our go to for Czech pastries, and they still make the best vetrnik in town in our book. With their recent shift to a more restaurant experience, the pastries have been sidetracked a bit, but a view of their pastry shop with a chandelier next to the bathrooms is still one of the most calming views in the city (and yes, there is a chair you can sit on). We’d go to the Savoy if we craved something traditionally Czech and found ourselves on the Castle side of the river. Just avoid the busy weekend brunch hour. (Or go to Café Lounge nearby instead, which offers a smaller selection of great pastries.)
Having desserts in a beer hall, a shrine of Pilsner lager, where people go to drink nine beers in a single sitting, which is the average consumption there? Strange, we know. Until you find out that Lokál resells pastries made daily at… Café Savoy. To add insult to injury, the prices of these pastries are lower at Lokál than in Café Savoy. (Both belong to the same restaurant group.) Talk about a life hack!
Our favorite gem? Definitely the “rakvicka" - a staple of Lokal’s pastry menu served up until late hours (in case you like your booze with something sweet). The crunch when you bite into a rakvicka is highly addictive. Combine the rakvicka (which translates as “little coffin”) with two veneceks (“laurel wreaths”) and you can recreate one of our favorite macabre scenes from The Cremator, one of the best movies of the “Czechoslovak New Wave” of cinema in the 1960s. Have one at the window sill of Lokál Hamburk in the Karlín district after you grabbed coffee from Kafe Karlín nearby, and enjoy the view of the Karlín square in front of you. Life is good.
Now, is Ovocný Světozor the best place for pastries in Prague? Probably not. Make it “definitely not”. But is it an institution beloved by the locals with a strong brand name? Oh, you betcha. Do they serve Czech pastries? Of course. Is it “authentic”? Absolutely, just the way a Chick-fil-A is authentic: it’s still fast food and you can probably have better chicken prepared a la minute in a restaurant, but it could be much worse, and the place has a strong following among the locals. (One difference: Světozor is open on Sundays and their views on LGBT rights are not known.) It is a factory but then again, for a factory, this is probably as good as it gets. So if you’re walking past one and just crave something sweet, we’ll give you a pass. The truth is you’ll be sitting among locals and have a real experience. And that is enough to count in Prague, especially during the high season.
Now, we write about Prague’s farmers markets elsewhere, but given Prague’s latitude and cold winters, it only makes sense that they also include stands by local pastry makers. The most famous of them is probably Karlovarské cukrářství at the Saturday Dejvice farmers market. It’s easy too spot - just look for the longest line on the market. We’d have their kremrole.