Czech food

Best ice-cream in Prague

Best ice-cream in Prague

Summers in Prague can be excruciating. Especially in the past few years, as Czechia (yup, we’re using the new abbreviated name for the Czech Republic) has been getting more tropical weather from the South. As temperatures reach 30C/85F, the cobblestoned streets heat up, and air-conditioning is hard to find in the Unesco-protected historical centre. Your answer? Ice-cream. In your face, climate change!

But where to go for great ice-cream in Prague? We’ve gathered a few of our favorite ice-cream parlors and a few ice-cream purveyors you should look out for. And a few bonus tips on how to stay cool in summer Prague. Here’s a list of what we think is the best ice-cream in Prague.


How not to eat Czech food

How not to eat Czech food

As you might have expected, we eat out a lot when we do research for our Prague food tours, the Prague Foodie Map and this very blog. (Hey, we have an Instagram account and we try to post a picture a day, which means a meal out a day. Yeah, it’s hard to be us.) But in doing so, we often see foreign visitors do things that clearly identify them as foreign visitors and set them apart from the locals.

So we have investigated the phenomenon, asked around some of our favorite restaurants and came up with a list of “Czech food fails”: things done to Czech food by foreign visitors that make the locals either shake their head in disbelief or straight out cringe. Here’s how you don't eat Czech food in Prague restaurants


Nase maso's Czech meatloaf recipe

Nase maso's Czech meatloaf recipe

You see, traditional Czech cuisine is all about guilty pleasures. You know you should not do it. You know it’s bad for you. But once in a while, when no-one’s looking, you just need a bit of sweet satisfaction from a pice of juicy pork belly or a crunchy schnitzel. It’s just so damn delicious, and nobody can stay so strong for long.

And the same goes for the meatloaf at the Nase Mase butcher shop. Meatloaf?!? Not the first you would order when you travel, but this particular meatloaf, juicy and tender and moist and beautiful, is - believe it or not - one of the most popular meals of our Prague food tour. Yes, we later visit other restaurants for fancy sit-down meals where you can inspect chefs’ tweezer work, but when we ask at the end what was our guests’ favorite meal, the meatloaf always gets a dreamy mention. It’s just that good. Heck, when Nase maso opened, the butchers held a competition for the best meatloaf recipe: each butcher would prepare their own, and the winning recipe would become the recipe of the butcher shop. Jirka Michal’s grandma’s recipe was the clear winner.


Our guilty pleasures in Prague

Our guilty pleasures in Prague

We really love food here at Taste of Prague. You may have noticed that already. We do try to eat healthy: Zuzi prepares green smoothies for breakfast, we try to eat seasonal vegetables and Zuzi barely uses meat in her cooking. We try to use organic and local products. We love it. Eating healthy makes us feel good and light. But then, once in a while, we just go and have something really bad for us. Can't help it. It's delicious. Our guilty pleasures.

Our guests joining us on our tours often ask me about OUR favorite things to eat in Prague. What a mistake! We can talk for hours and will not stop. Our pleasures may be guilty but we don't feel particularly guilty when I talk about them. They are simply delicious. We actually think that people connect through their guilty pleasures. We all have them if we truly love food. And in addition: calories don't count on vacations, right? So if you like your food just like we do, here's a small list of our favorite guilty pleasures in Prague for your enjoyment.


Cheap Eats in Prague

Cheap Eats in Prague

Believe it or not, we used to be students, too. And just like any students, even we had tight budgets. Zuzi, for instance, saved some money by hitchhiking to and from Prague for university. Jan spent ten years doing his masters degree simply because he worked throughout his studies to make some money on the side (oh, and also because he was pretty lazy… and drafted, but that’s another story). But that does not mean we did not care about what we ate. We always liked good food, but simply did not have the money for fine dining.

We know that many visitors who want to eat their way through Prague are on a budget. While we do sometimes visit fine dining venues on our own travels, we think you do not have to compromise on quality even if you have a budget that is slightly tighter. And many times going for the budget option actually brings you the local immersion travelers crave whenever they go. Because we want you to eat well in Prague even if you do not have a gold credit card, we bring you some tips for eating Prague on a budget.


Roundup: Prague restaurants opened in September 2014

September usually means one thing for Taste of Prague: the climax of our summer season... and the wine harvest, which we are always excited about. However, September was a very interesting month for the Prague culinary scene, too. That’s great news: a few very promising places opened in September and despite this being our busiest month, we tried to visit them all. Oh, the sacrifices we have to make for you! :-)

We bring you a roundup of interesting placess that opened in Prague in or around September:


Babovka - Bundt cake recipe

Sunday is the traditional day for cooking here in the Czech Republic. Moms and grandmas gather in the kitchen and start preparing the Sunday lunch because for the older generation, Sunday is the day for a home-cooked meal. From very early morning, you can hear the unmistakeable sound of meat being tenderized for the lunch schnitzels and smell the wonderful odors of hearty Czech comfort food. And because you need to finish your lunch with something sweet, baking is an indispensable part of the whole Sunday morning cooking tradition. And "babovka", or the bundt cake, is an undisputed Sunday lunch classic.


Best breakfast in Prague (2014)

(Please note that this is an older post on breakfast in Prague. Click here for the most up-to-date post on the best breakfast in Prague.) 

OK, so we ate lots of breakfast this week. You see, there is no better way to start a day than a good, possibly opulent breakfast. Picture this: we are writing this post from the courtyard of an unnamed hotel in Prague, having breakfast. All around us we see foreign couples and families having breakfast in the sun, looking in their guides and planning the day. Breakfast is important but it is twice as important when you travel: a good breakfast set the tone for the entire day, if not your stay. We speak from experience: breakfast spots are one of the first things we look for when we research a city, and then plan our day over breakfast. 

Truth be told, the Prague breakfast scene is still in its beginnings and not all the breakfast served in Prague deserve an unconditional recommendation. But there are places we like to visit when we feel like a good breakfast. Here’s a list of our favorite breakfast spots in Prague, again in an entirely random order:

CAFÉ SAVOY

“Restraint” is not a word you would associate with breakfast at Café Savoy. The art deco interior is nice but not overwhelming and there's lots of light inside, which is something we like. This is a great place for people watching: the crowd is a mix of elegantly dressed locals and visitors from abroad. You can have a look at the pastry shop/bakery where they prepare their delicious pastries downstairs. Book a table in advance (especially for weekend mornings) and have the French toast if you feel like sinning, one of the best croissants in the city with wonderful apricot marmalade, baked brioche bread with ham and Gruyere cheese and a poached egg, or scrambled eggs - all delicious! Jan swears by the "Savoy breakfast”: some breads, ham, cheese, soft-boiled egg, bundt cake and great (and not sweet) hot chocolate - all for very reasonable CZK 200. We are not huge fans of their coffee: they take coffee from Doubleshot roasters but their baristas are super busy and don’t have the time to pamper the beans, but we hope this will improve over time.

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Thank you for reading our blog! But it gets even better than that. You know we run pretty awesome food tours in Prague and sell the Prague Foodie Map, our curated selection of Prague’s best restaurants and more? Our moms recommend it, and you'll love it, too!

CAFÉ LOUNGE

If coffee is an important part of your breakfast, then Café Lounge, just a few steps off Café Savoy, might tickle your fancy. As for breakfast, you can choose from several items that include sausages, scrambled eggs, ham-and-eggs, Bircher muesli, or you can build your own “Hunger Wall” (which actually runs through the patio of the café), i.e. you can create your own breakfast set. If you prefer a sweet breakfast, we recommend you opt for the Czech sweets - sweet buns or kolachees. We think they are superior to the pastries in the cooler. Fresh juices and a wide selection of teas are also available for the non-coffee drinkers. If the weather cooperates, definitely choose a table in their lovely courtyard in the back.

HOME KITCHEN

The “original” Home Kitchen is a small and intimate place that really feels like home: you sit at two communal tables, and the staff is friendly and helpful. The selection for breakfast is small but tasty and of high quality. Apart from eggs, you can also get pancakes and good bread with several toppings, or choose from a daily selection of three soups served with bread and flavored olive oil. The “new” Home Kitchen was recently previewed on this blog here. The new venue is much larger but the menu remains nearly the same. Great egg dishes and sweet breakfasts, too, with lighter meals and salads throughout the rest of the day. Both venues open really early (7:30 on weekdays and 8:00 on weekends) and the original one closes on Sundays. The only downside is that tap water is not served with your meal, but we still like Home Kitchen a lot.

MUJ SALEK KÁVY

Muj salek kavy is the flagship cafe of the Doubleshot roasters and it shows: espressos, cappuccinos, flat whites, drips, vacuum pots, cold brews - they have them all and they’re all good. Muj salek kavy is also a very popular place located in the Karlín district, now in the midst of a gentrification process after the 2002 floods, and is almost always packed, so reserving a table is a must especially for weekend breakfasts. And they are expanding: their barista centre just next door will open to the public in September and their new bakery creates good cakes and breads, including gluten-free options, which is still rare here in Prague. We both have favorites on their recently changed breakfast menu: while Zuzi likes their home-made muesli with Greek yoghurt and fruits, Jan always orders their version of eggs Benedict. We love their home-made lemonades, and we never leave without tasting one of their cakes. And we absolutely adore their non-smoking outdoor seating area in the summer. 

PASTA CAFFÉ

Pasta Caffé has two branches: the one at the Vezenska street (in the Spanish synagogue building) attracts an eclectic mix of shady Czech businessmen and B-list celebrities, so it makes for an interesting people-watching session, and the location is fantastic. The second branch at Vodickova st near the Wenceslas sq is more for the regular folk. Both offer a nearly identical menu: they have recently revamped their breakfast offerings and their breakfast sets are a terrific value and consist of good-quality components. We love the soft-boiled eggs with Parmeggiano cheese or fried eggs with spinach and their granola with fresh fruits, for instance. Later in the day, they focus on lighter, pasta-based dishes and salads. They also offer a nice selection of Czech and Italian pastries if you cannot imagine your breakfast without a sweet ending.

LA BOTTEGA DI FINESTRA

This shop/bistro is a bit upscale, just like the sister restaurant next door, but their eggs Benedict are worth a visit alone. The few breakfast dishes they serve are all of very good quality, and they make full use of their own in-house bakery. The shop/bistro combo plays very well to the customer's advantage: all the ingredients are fresh and tasty. And you really can’t beat the location: both the Old Town Square and the Charles Bridge are just a few blocks away.

CAFÉ JEN

Dominka and Hanka, the Brno college friends who own Café Jen, love breakfast and are not afraid to serve it the whole day. On top of that, they offer really nice weekend breakfast specials that lure in people from the entire city. It is not just about the food: the small café (with outdoor seating in the summer) located in the Vrsovice district near the Grebovka vineyard and the hipster heaven that is the Krymska street has a welcoming, friendly atmosphere that is easy to fall in love with. If you want to have breakfast with the locals only, this is the place for you. 

LA GASTRONOMICA

This recently opened bistro that belongs to the small Prague empire of the restauranteur Riccardo Lucque (which also includes La Bottega di Finestra) has nearly everything we like in a breakfast place: modern design by the Edit! studio, high-quality a la carte breakfast dishes (incl. eggs Benedict, pancakes or fruit salads with mascarpone that are anything but healthy), charcuterie, cheeses and breads to choose from, a large variety of pastries, skilled barista (although working with what we think is a slightly inferior product) and a view of the TV Tower, enjoyed especially if you sit at the outside tables. What more would you want? Wines? Yes, they have them, too.

HOTEL JOSEF

Hotel breakfast? Yuck! Not at Hotel Josef, though. With their in-house bakery that offers a selection of nice breads and steaming hot croissants, a-la-carte egg dishes, self-service juicers and a wide selection of cheeses and charcuterie, we think their breakfast is actually a pretty sweet deal, although it may be a bit on the expensive side at CZK 500 per person. But they also have a really nice courtyard in the summer (with very weak wifi, though) and you can’t beat the location in our eyes. The downside: the eating-with-locals atmosphere is simply not there.

SaSaZu

While everybody knows SaSaZu as one of the best Asian-fusion restaurants for lunch and dinner, we always recommend their Sunday family brunch, especially if you are visiting Prague as a family. The concept is simple: you come between noon and 4pm, and in addition to the excellent Asian food, there’s an army of nannies and lots of X-Box consoles ready for the kids. The small ones can also prepare crepes and other dishes for their parents. And what about the adults? They can get a back rub from the Thai masseuse present in the restaurant. Combine this with a visit to the Dox Centre for Contemporary Arts and perhaps the ZOO and you have a family day to remember.   


Cestr's Beer Ice-Cream

Oh, the glory of the beer ice-cream served at the Cestr restaurant! We love it so much we even included it in our recent list of the best ice-creams in Prague. You see, some things divide, some unite. Cestr's beer ice-cream clearly falls within the latter category: our guests who do not like beer by itself love the ice-cream, anyway, saying they could easily consume beer in this form. First you get the notes of coffee and caramel, just like when you taste the roasted barley that makes the dark lager dark. Then a whiff of honey. And then it comes. The fantastic beer finish that stays in your mouth for a few moments more. It is fun watching our guests go throughout the whole tasting process.

When we first tasted Cestr’s beer ice-cream, we knew we would serve it to our guests. We actually have a confession to make: we bought an ice-cream maker to recreate it at home. We have used it twice, of course. An we failed: ours came out too sweet. And it has been collecting dust ever since. Until now. We have always tried to get the recipe, secretly, but never dared ask. But still, we have been keeping a mailing list of all of our guests who wanted to be sent the recipe when we finally get it. And that means nearly every guest who has ever joined the our Prague food and culture tour.

Source: Archiv Ambiente

Source: Archiv Ambiente

Well, the time has finally come. The Ambiente group of restaurants, the owner of Cestr (and some other restaurants and cafes in Prague) has published the recipe (albeit as part of a larger dessert pictured above) in its quarterly food magazine distributed within its restaurants, and we have the permission to reprint it! So without further ado, here’s the recipe.

Cestr’s beer ice-cream 

  • 400g (14 oz) caster sugar
  • 400ml (1.7 oz) 33% whipping cream
  • 200g (7 oz) honey
  • 1l (4.2 cups) Master dark lager 
  • 100g (3.5 oz) powdered milk
  • 2 yolks
  1. Put all the ingredients in a pot and slowly bring to boil, stirring occasionally. 
  2. Sieve through a fine sieve and cool down aggressively (either in an ice-cream maker or in the freezer: in that case, mix the ice-cream through every 15 minutes until it is firm).

Did you think it would be harder? We are sorry to disappoint. You can replace the Master dark lager with any dark lager of your choice, preferably from your local small or micro-brewery. Just ask at your local shop that carries beers... and enjoy! In Cestr, they serve the ice-cream with marinated plums, caramel mousse and malt biscuit crumbles. How will you serve yours?