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Dec 8, 2009 01:09 AM

SF: Cafe Prague - Czech, please

The Mission Street location has four Czech beers on tap - Czechvar, Krusovice (light and dark) and Pilsner Urquel. The dark Krusovice in a large glass mug had a nice touch of molasses or brown sugar to it.

The Szeged Goulash, Hungarian Pork and Sauerkraut Goulash, was cubes of tender pork, topped with mild saurkraut, three 'dumplings' and lots of sour cream sauce.

The dumplings were more like thick slices of jelly-roll shaped bread. They reminded me of steamed Chinese buns. They did the job of mopping up the gravy.

The 'pork and dumplings (boiled bread)' photo on this blog is similar to what the dish looked liked. The dumplings looked exactly like that. The goulash had lots more gravy

I thought it was a pleasant dish. This may be the first time I've had Czech food so I have no comparison. Looking this up on the web, there didn't seem to be any caraway seeds in it as these recipes suggest

There's a cozy shabbiness about the place. It is what I would imagine a neighborhood cafe in Prague to be like.

The walls are painted red. A reproduction of Monet's "The Boating Party" covers one wall ... with some odd additions to it. There are large windows covering two walls. There is a bar with six seats and six tables covered with faded flower tablecloths. Red candles on each table softly glow. A stone angel reclines on the bar. Soulful Czech music played softly in the background. In back there is a beer garden or beer yard ... a little patio with a few tables, some planters and statues.

The woman server was very nice. I liked the place and won't mind stopping by again tor try some of the other dishes. I've read the soup is good.

They have a website, but no menus on it. I'll put the brief dinner menu in the first reply

When I finished eating I said to the waitress "I'm ready for the check".

The minute the words came out of my mouth all I could think was ... sheesh... now what will I get? Did I just ask for a date?

Cafe Prague
2140 Mission St, San Francisco, CA 94110

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  1. The Financial District location has long been on my list to try ... and when the Mission location opened that was added. I wasn't rushing there though because menu pages only liists the lunch menu and it didn't llook like there were many Czech dishes on the menu.

    The dinner menu has the soups and salads ... both organic ... but is mainly Czech dishes. The signboard outside said goose, but it wasn't on the printed menu.

    Appetizers 7
    Steak tartar with garlic country bread
    Grilled Polish sausage with saurkraut
    Bratwurst, saurkraut and Dijon mustard
    Salami plate
    Cheese plate
    Sweet potato
    Garlic fries


    Large organic Mixed Greens 6
    Spinach Salad topped with bacon and egg 7
    Salad Nicoise 7
    Caesar Salad croutons 7

    Organic soups Bowl 5.5

    Organic Tomato with gnocchi
    Split Pea with bacon
    Organic chicken with oats

    Czech Specials
    Goulash paprika served with dumplings 13
    Szeged Goulash with dumplings 13
    Sauerbraten (Svickova) served with dumplings 15
    Shnitzel with mashed potatoes and veggies 14
    Fried cheese with mashed potatoes and veggie 13
    Roast pork and cabbage with dumplings 14
    Filet of sole d'ore with mashed potato veggie 13
    Roast duck, cabbage and dumplings 15

    Apple strudel with whipped chream 5

    The Czech dumplings have me intrigued. Wikipedia mentions them and the fried cheese

    Here's a recipe

    The svickova is a bt different than sauerbraten

    I don't know how true this is, but there are a few yelp reports that the bread at Cafe Prague is from Tartine.

    1. I remember walking by there the other night thinking about how nice a big bowl of goulash would be on a chilly December night. I'm also curious to see how their preparation of steak tartare differs from the french preparation.

      1 Reply
      1. re: vulber

        If you go, maybe you can do some sleuthing to see if they are really using Tartine bread

        The soups are high on my list next. I read they are really big and can be shared by two. I'm guessing the tomato with gnocchi soup is some sort of Czech dumpling that they list on the menu as gnocchi because people are more familiar with that term. It gets a quite a few thumbs up on Yelp.

        However, what really has me curious is the chicken soup with oats. I'm not turning up any thing like that on Google.

      2. I saw dumplings just like those in the picture all over Prague. Was the food very heavy - I mean, of course it's substantial food, but was it the kind that makes you not want to eat again until the next evening? I found some of the food in Prague, in places frequented by laborers, to be that way. Which I'm sure was the point. Not terribly delicious, but not bad, and stuck with you on cold days.

        Side note: does anyone know what that corner used to be? I peeked in once right before it closed and it appeared to be some type of weird sushi bar-cum-hooka joint? And I think it was called Water? I've never been able to find anything about it online. The only thing that deters me from czeching (sorry) this place out is the pervasive smell of urine that always emanates from that alley. I would imagine the patio would get the worst of it....?

        3 Replies
        1. re: mariacarmen

          this space used to be called Country Station, and was a sushi house. i believe it was owned by butoh dancers, which might explain the idiosyncrasies of the former restaurant.

          1. re: augustiner

            Interesting! thanks. read some reviews on Yelp, people seemed to like the sushi there . . .

          2. re: mariacarmen

            I didn't answer. When I looked at the dish, I thought I'll never finish all that ... especially with all that gravy. However, I mopped up every last bit and didn't feel sluggish afterward. I'd say it is more substantial than heavy.

            I didn't find the 'ambiance' different from any other restaurant in that area. It was December so I only took a look at the patio and ate inside.

          3. These are the nicest people and I'm developing a real warm spot for Cafe Prague.

            I stopped by just before Christmas to try the soup. I was running late and wanted to get back over the bridge to beat traffic, so I asked if I could take out the soup. They said yes, but while they are set up to do take out for meals, I don't think they get a lot of to-go soup requests.

            They didn't have the gnocchi for the tomato soup so I just ordered the chicken with oats since I was curious about it.

            I had some expectation on how this works due to this recent topic where I tried something similar at home ... making New England-style clam chowder with oats rather than cream or milk ... oats act like a thickener such as potatoes and disolve. In fact, if oats were not listed, my guess would have been the thickener was potatoes.

            Oatmeal as soup thickener

            The bread that came with it definately wasn't Tartine but some sort of foccacia. It may be the sandwiches that use the Tartine bread. Like everything here the sandwiches were substantial, using thick slices of bread.

            The soup was good though not great and a little on the salty side for me, but I don't eat a lot of salt. There was lots of shredded chicken and veggies. it was quite satisfying and hit the spot on a cold day..

            Wihile waiting for the soup, I saw lots of tasty dishes on the tables. The tomato soup does indeed look great. A cup of soup will get you what most restaurants consider a bowl. A bowl is a really large turrin. For about five bucks this is one big meal ... and don't forget the soups are organic.

            The salads are also HUGE. Seriously, unless you are commited to it, two would be filled by the salads.

            Anyway, they decided to put the soup in a few styrofoam cups and since I had to wait while they figured out what to do, they didn't want to charge me for the soup. It was like haggling with my grandmother about who would pick up the check. I finally just left the price of the soup as a tip on the table.

            I definately will be back to try more of the menu. If I lived in the nabe I know I'd be a regular.

            1. I was updating my Eastern European Google map and Chowhound lists and noticed someone marked the Mission St. location as closed. Is this true? There are reports as recent as June on yelp and no indication anywhere that it closed. Don't see anything on Chowhound either. Unless I hear otherwise, I'm changing the Restaurant and Bar database record to open.

              I would call to confirm, but I ain't paying the phone bill from Guatemala.

              6 Replies
              1. re: rworange

                The closure of the Mission Cafe Prague was announced in March. That address is now home to Sycamore.

                1. re: Melanie Wong

                  Thanks. I wish they would restore who last updated the Restaurant and Bar database. It is difficult to know if someone reliable updated the info.

                  Another score for search, if there's a post about it on Chowhound. My search turned up nada.

                  1. re: rworange

                    I don't know that the closure was reported here. I read it in other food media and hit the "closed" button on the Restaurants & Bars page and let that show up on which pages had a link.

                    1. re: rworange

                      The Bay Guardian's Best of the Bay 2010 with a time stamp of 07.27.10 - 2:16 pm lists Cafe Prague at the Mission address. Oops.

                  2. re: rworange

                    it is indeed true. very sad, although can't say i was too surprised, as there never seemed to be anyone in there, and they never really seemed to put too much effort into making the place look nice.

                    i have heard good things about the sycamore, though

                    1. re: vulber

                      like? they need to somehow deal with the urine smell in that alley. i'm sorry, but not being a particularly squeamish person, that even keeps me away.