Prague - recommendations
I'm going to visit Prague for a week and would appreciate any suggestions about places to eat that either are spectacular and expensive or really great and inexpensive. Also if there are any Farmers Markets or similar markets, I'd love to hear about them. Any other recommendations about things to see and do would be appreciated. Thanks in advance.
I haven't been to Prague in a couple of years and things are changing so quickly there tht I won't comment on restaurants, but there is a large farmer's market every day on Havelska Ulice (in the Old Town, not far from Old Town Square). As I recall, there was also a fabulous Vietnamese restaurant right in the midst of the farmers market. Not too easy to find, since it's located at the back of an export-import shop, but the food is great and you feel like you're in an old noir movie walking in there! If you want a lovely experience and decent food and a spectacular view, go to the cafe at the summer palace on the side of the river that the castle is located on. It's in the palace garden and really beautiful - they also have stellar palacinky there! (crepes with apricots or strawberries, whipped cream and chocolate sauce). Have a wonderful time!
We were in Praha for 2 weeks in late April/early May. Most of the restaurants we sought out were Czech themed. Although many people speak some English and many restaurants offer English (or German) menus, you would be well advised to have a phrase book to decipher menus.
Had a lovely meal at "Koliba Praha", a Slovakian restaurant, near the red-line Roztyly metro station. Exit the station, follow the little path up the hill directly to the restaurant overlooking the station. My entree was a delicious lamb-filled ravioli-like potato pasta in a spicy red sauce. There is an outdoor terrace with beautiful views of the city and the Vltava, or indoor seating. The night we were there, a small "gypsy" combo played folk music. If you venture out this way, stop along the red line to walk through Vysehrad, an old fortress that has some great views of the river.
If you want obnoxious, drunken tourists, overpriced food, and impatient waiters who try to sell you extra items, then try U Fleku in the downtown.
U Suteru is worth seeking out, located on Palackeho near Vodickova in Nove Mesto. Great bargains on lunch specials but a little hard to find. The payoff is few tourists inside...they're all at U Fleku getting gouged.
Also for lunch, try Bredovsky Dvor on Politickych Veznu, one block from the Mustek metro station in New Town.
Pivovarsky Dum, at Ječná/Lípová, is also a great lunch stop with beer brewed on premises. Here's a link: www.gastroinfo.cz/pivodum. Menus are available in English and they have a non-smoking section out front.
We would certainly second the suggestion by the other poster, Bradbury, that a train journey to Plzen and the Pilsner Urquell brewery is a wonderful day trip. There is a small fee for the brewery tour (offered in various languages), but it is extensive and includes the cellars and a barrel tasting of beer.
Since our Czech language skills are marginal and we could not reliably understand spoken numbers, we found it helpful to have a pen and paper along when we dined out. When it was time to pay the bill, the waiter could write down the amount owed, and we would then write down the total amount that we wanted to give the waiter/waitress so as to include a tip. This won't be a problem at larger restaurants, but small pubs and cafes are not always English-enabled. At many restaurants, the waitstaff carry cash around with them in a small purse and make change for you at your table when you pay the bill.
Have fun, and remember to say "Prosim" and "Dekuji" and you'll get along fine.
Kampa Park was as good as its hype; we were lucky to walk in and get one of the tables right smack on the waterside (indoors but set very low by full-length windows) but that's because it was a relatively slow winter night ... you might want to call in advance in the warmer months. Continental/eclectic menu, pricey but not outrageously so, and excellent service. Probably the second-best meal I've had in Central/East Europe this year (after Vincent's in Riga).
What I would even more highly recommend, though, is a few visits to Cafe Savoy, a new-ish place in a lovely old building just across the river from the opera house. Very much in the classic Hapsburg "grand cafe" tradition, with lovely Art Nouveau details, full cafe/bar/restaurant/tortes menus, traditional silver-tray coffee service, etc. Just a wonderful place to while away a few hours with the locals (and a few clued-in expats and tourists) and their multiple newspapers, kids, and occasionally even dogs. Oh yeah, and the food's good too. :) Especially recommended on a long lazy Saturday afternoon while all the weekend-only tourists are running around standing in queues.
Also, if you're a beer fan, you can take the train about 90 minutes to Plzen and visit the Pilsener Urquell brewery. Good tour and good beer, though sadly the huge basement restaurant there is more about the quantity than the quality.