Best of Prague
I'll be in Prague for a week, and I'm looking for good food -- especially local specialties and local places. I'm happy with high-end, street food, and everything in between, and there's nothing I won't eat. I'm combing this board for suggestions, but since the search doesn't return things in order it's cumbersome to look for more recent recs.
I also love to check out local markets, so if you have any recs there, let me know.
Thanks for your help!
I'd recommend U Pinkasu which is on Jungmannova nam 16. It is a little bit hard to find - tucked around a corner. I think thats a pretty good place. They have outdoor seating and indoor seating - although for lunch I think they give a shortened menu for those sitting outdoors.
If you like cheap food, there are many many hotdog stands in the Wenceslas Square. Try the Prague sausage, it's only 2 euros. It's a dark red sausage, and it snaps when you bite into it. It comes with a hearty bread. It's probably not the type of hotdog that you're use to. It's got different animal parts in there! But hey, it's authentic, and it's not bad. Czech food is very salty, so drink lots of beer. A traditional meal is pretty heavy, salted smoked pork belly, bread dumplings, sausages. Again, very salty. There's a lovely vegetable market around that area. Ask a local. They have a lovely selection of fruits and vegetables. I went there in May 07. They have fountain so you can wash your goodies and eat and go. Get the cherry tomatoes! Beware of pick pockets in Prague. They act in a gang and will distract you and take your wallet. I saw them in action on the bus on the way to Prague Castle. If there's a commotion, hold on to your wallet.
I was there last summer and we ate at a place called Restaurace U Básníka pánve that was really good. It was traditional Czech food, heavy on the meat. It was in Vinohravy, and not in a tourist district at all. It was recommended to us by a local and you have to take the tram to get there.
Pizza all over the city was particularly good as I recall and good beer was really cheap!
Since I didn't get much of a response here, it was really up to my partner and I to do our own reconnaissance. I had looked up some old threads on Prague as a bit of a guide, but once we were on the ground there, it became quite obvious that those recommendations were from people who were also visitors and didn't know any better than we did. In fact, I suspect almost all of the previous posts on Prague are from non-locals. This was the first city I've been to in the last few years where chowhound really, truly failed me. So, consider this my main recommendation to other chowhounds looking for good food in Prague: you're going to have to follow your own instincts; posts here can't be trusted. (Keep this in mind as you read my post; I'm not a local either).
With that said, here's a brief rundown on some of the good and the bad. In addition to these, I would simply add that we stopped into a couple of Czech restaurants down various quiet side streets, and these were almost uniformly good. I didn't catch the names of all of them, but they seemed to be all over. Most of these places were very cheap, and you could get out with a full meal between usually 80-140 Kc (that's a little more than $3-5 as most posts on chowhound had suggested -- it's more like $4-7. I don't know if the prices have gone up or it's just the effect of the weak U.S. dollar). If it looks like a lot more, or if they charge more than 25 Kc for beer, then move on (and you should ALWAYS get the beer).
THE GOOD (places we luckily wandered into):
Stara Praha -- very good Czech food. I had an astonishing drstkova (tripe soup) here. Quite possibly the best thing I ate in Prague. The soup is thick and bursting with all kinds of dark, peppery spices and chewy tripe bits. If I didn't know I was in the Czech Republic, I might think this was a Sichuan dish (minus the Sichuan peppercorns). We also had something that was listed on the English menu as "pork knee" -- and that's pretty much what it was -- a chunk of bone-in pork, full of luscious dark meat encased in a chewy, slightly crackly rind. Completely excellent and cheap.
na šikmé ploše (3 Mikuláška, Praha 1) -- a little wine bar that we stumbled into. I wasn't very enthused by the red Moravian wines, but the whites (similar to German-style) were good, and the little cold dishes, though not excellent, were cheap and paired well.
Diana - svět oříšků -- this seemed to be some kind of chain, I noticed outposts in several locations. Whatever, they sell all kinds of nuts, candy, bulk spices, and little pastries, which I got several times for breakfast. The pastries were excellent and amazingly cheap.
Klasterni Pivovar -- surprisingly good, we only had a couple of dishes here (including an exceptional klobasa and pivo), but it was a relief, especially at the end of the week, after several experiences with...
THE BAD (all recommended on chowhound):
Pizzeria Grossetto -- this is better than 95% of the pizza places in the U.S., but yet it seemed completely unexceptional. Maybe I'm just too obsessed with pizza, but if you've been to any really transcendant pizza places, this won't make much of an impression other than simply competence.
Pivovarský dùm -- dry, tasteless food, comedy-of-errors service (lots of mixups). The standard Czech ales were very good, but the rest of the beer menu, full of odd flavors (but to no particular good effect), is to be avoided.
Černý Kohout -- I hesitate to post this one at all, but here goes. I looked up a bunch of information on this place, and without exception, all of the English reviews (including several on chowhound) were positively glowing. What happened? It's a lovely little restaurant, the owners were very sweet, the service was excellent, and the food was beautifully plated. It was also overcooked, oversalted, and utterly, completely tasteless. All of the meat dishes were dry and tough from overcooking. I don't think this was an isolated mistake, since it was a problem with every single dish we ate. I feel terrible writing this, since as I said the owners were very sweet. But the food was just not very good. If you're reading this, chances are you've seen stellar reviews for this place elsewhere. Don't believe them. Avoid.
Thanks for posting this. I just came back from Prague and found good food hard to come by. The recs on this board weren't much help to me either. I'd had a tripe soup as you described in the States at a Czech restaurant and was looking forward to trying it in the homeland, but never found it on a menu. I'll add my experience soon too.
I think prices have gone up. It's becoming more touristy and the locals know they can raise prices. I recently made a stop in Prague after hearing so many rave reviews about it being both cheap and awesome. I was only there for a day, so I was not on a chow-hunt, but I found just about everything to be way more expensive than I thought it should be. Everywhere we looked seemed significantly more expensive than what we were getting in our Berlin home base. Prague seems to be tough to navigate as a tourist...the language is very challenging and the locals are good at gaming the tourists. It's hard to find hidden gems.
We travelled by train which was probably more expensive than by bus (we did not check bus costs, though) but probably more enjoyable since there is more room to move around than on a bus.
I was travelling in a group of 5 but a 6-person group ticket was actually cheaper than 5 individual tickets. As a result, on our ride to Prague we actually had a compartment to ourselves which was very nice. For the ride home we had regular seats.
Hope that helps...
I just returned from Prague also, and had a better experience than expected. We travel a lot, and love the local favorites, not the big, well known tourist places. That said, we spent a couple of weeks in Central Europe, and weren't crazy about the traditional old-style (heavy!) food--but discovered some real gems. Read my post linked here: http://www.chowhound.com/topics/423505 for more on a spectacular meal we had in Prague at La Degustation.