Prague - trip report
We spent 4 days over last weekend in Prague, just as the sun came out! Got a few recommendations from CH, some from the guidebook and some just by chance as we walked past. Please excuse the spelling of some of the Czech names!
We arrived and went straight out for lunch. Unhelpfully I can't remember what the restaurant was called, but it was in the vaults below some sort of trendy design shop and posibly architecture museum in Praha 1 I think. My garlic soup was fabulous! I'm not sure my friend was so thrilled I'd eaten a whole bowl of garlic...
The first evening, we went to U Medvídků, Na Perštýně 345/7, 11000 Praha 1-Staré Město as I'd seen it mentioned in few posts here. There seems to be a bar/restaurant area and another big restaurant area with bright fluorescent lights and not much atmosphere. We had a beer at the bar then got a table in there too. My pheasant legs with red cabbage, white bread dumplings and bacon dumplings was quite delicious. My friend was quite pleased with her stroganoff. The service was friendly and efficient, and the prices about standard for Prague - incredibly cheap compared to London. This was also our first introduction into how incredibly smoky Prague is...
The next day we had lunch at Chudoba near Na Perštýně 345/7, 110 00 Praha-Staré Město. We were assured by the guidebook that Vinohrady was a cosmopolitan area with pletny of cafes and restaurants, but this seemed to be one of the only places open! This had a bar area and a restaurant area. We tried to get a seat in the restaurant, which smelled enticingly of garlic and pasta, but unfortunately we could only sit in the smoky bar. The menu was quite odd - salad of duck, spinach and jalapenos, anyone? - but I went for a pretty standard goats cheese salad, and my friend had a grilled trout with a side of garlic spinach. Not worth going back to.
Dinner was at Enotria, Opatovická 159/17, 110 00 Praha. A tiny Italian place in a bare brick vault that we happened ot pass while out exploring. We were the only people in there, and the waitress may have been doing her first shift! But it was lovely. I had an excellent meat and cheese plate and my friend had assorted bruschetta. Our pastas were great, as was the ridiculously cheap Italian wine. No room for dessert, but a very enjoyable evening.
The next day we went to the castle, and as the sun had come out we stopped at Villa Richter for a coffee and a bask. Sitting on the terrace and looking down over the vineyard is delightful, but it feels a bit like the siege of Helm's Deep as you watch the huge tour parties descending down the path towards you! We had to abandon our table when a large party of Americans arrived and needed all the space, but I did manage to squeeze in a pretty decent cup of coffee. I'm told it's great for dinner in the summer.
Then we stopped and had lunch at Hergetova Cihelna, on the river by Charles Bridge. This was a rather touristy place, with a menu that reflected that (champagne, foie gras burgers, chicken tikka masala!) but it was a nice place to sit in the sun and watch the people crossing the bridge. My duck rillettes salad was quite disappointing - tiny, with tasteless unripe figs, and pallid parcels of rillettes wrapped in something like a wonton wrapper and deep-fried. As expensive as one might expect for a tourist trap!
For our last evening, we wanted beer and traditional Czech food again. We had a couple of beers in a bar called Duende, Karolíny Světlé 30/277 11000 Hl.m. Praha-Praha 1. This seemed like quite a local place. The beer was good and cheap and they played Placebo, so I was thrilled to be back in my teenage years! We staggered down the road to U MATĚJE KOTRBY Křemencova 1738/17 11000 Praha 1-Nové Město and both had goulash. This was the thickest stew I've ever eaten, dense and brown, with chunks of tough chewy beef, and bacon dumplings. After all that beer it was one of the best things I've ever eaten! But by any other standards I'm not sure it was great. This was also the most revoltingly smoky place I've ever had to eat. It's amazing how quickly you get used to everywhere being non-smoking at home.
On our final day, we walked past Maitrea, Týnská ulička 1064/6 110 00 Prague 1-Old Town and were glad of the opportunity to eat something green. And it's non-smoking! It's a lovely space, with gorgeous carved wooden benches. Kind of hippy, as you might expect, but none the worse for it. My couscous risotto with red pepper cream was delicious - fresh and full of flavour. Also more than I could eat, which rarely happens. My friend's enchilada was also very good, with what looked like home-made guacamole and salsa. We ate dessert for the first time - a brownie for me and carrot cake for her. My brownie was chewy and rich and came with a strawberry and mint puree. I took half away to eat at the airport! Her carrot cake was made with millet and I'm not sure it was baked - the carrot strands were still whole and the millet hadn't really formed a cake as such. She also only managed half. A nice change of scene from the wood-panelling and beer.
All in all, a very enjoyable trip with some good chow. Prague has changed a lot in the 10 years since I was last there: there seem to be a lot more modern, non-traditional restaurants, and many of the "traditional" ones seem to cater very much to tourists. But it's still a fabulous and beautiful city, especially during the week when many of the big groups have gone home. I hope this might be helpful for anyone travelling there soon!
Getting ready to leave prague.
We did not get a chance to stop at Lokal, as others have recommended. But we found the Czech food at Mlejnice to be excellent and a good value. It is on a small alley just south of the old town square. Seems to be crowded too and couldnt get a reseration one night.
Also stopped by U Medvidk, which our apartment recommended as a trditional Czech pub. Didn't eat there, but the beer was good. It is a brewpub.
So much pizza and pasta in Prague. Crazy.
P.s. Pilzn is worth a day trip. Brewery tour was worthwhile and it is less touristy.
re: Bryan Gros
It's a pity... nobody that has been to Lokal can say that they liked U Medvidku or Mlejnice. These two places were where we went before Lokal was opened. But even in the last five to seven years, these two places have been stagnating and many new great restaurants are opening every day. These two places get so much of their trade from the Lonely Planet tourists. They are not so bad themselves but there are so many better places around.
Italian food (sorry, pizza and pasta) is very popular and is treated as a quick and relatively healthy lunch. Not so many people go there for dinner. Normal Italian food good for dinner was brought to Prague by Aromi and Finestra - much more high-end and much more tasty.
It probably has been mentioned in the other Prague threads. We recently took a holiday to Prague during the week of Easter. One of the simplest and tastiest places was most certainly Lokal. It was very affordable and by requesting them not to serve you the accompanyments to your mail allowed you to sample a variety of their dishes. I would certainly recommend anyone visting to make a trip to Lokal.
Nice report, and I amk very glad to hear that you had a good time!
However, as a Prague native I have to say that the Czech places you picked would not necessarily have been my choice. Am in a rush, but might jot down some simple recommendations later if that is of interest (of U Medvidku type places, nothing fancy).
Of all the major international travel guides, Lonely Planet is terrible for food recommendations - not just when it comes to Prague, in general as well. I live in Tokyo and absolutely despair when I read the amateurish restaurant recommendations in the Tokyo Lovely Planet. It's like the Loney Planet people have done everything right (travel to the best places in the country they write about, studied the basics of that country's history, being knowledgable about local customs etc) but completely forgot to eat or even consult local foodies about where to eat. The internet has been a real blessing for this sort of ting - lots of dedicated foodies out there with local knowledge and a willingness to share it.
My suggestions (being from Prague, I'm listing my favorite restaurants) would be:
Lokal (2 central locations http://www.ambi.cz/ambi_lokal_eng.php) for basic Czech pub food and very well tended Pilsner Urquell from tap
Ichnusa for Sardinian delicatessen and cooked food too http://www.ichnusa.cz/ it's very small, only a few tables, fills up quickly and takes no reservations
Cafe Louvre for breakfast http://www.cafelouvre.cz/en/ everybody goes there for working breakfast, personally not my favourite because quite busy, but arguably one of best breakfasts in town
I prefer Cafe Slavia, on the same street down at the river http://www.cafeslavia.cz/?akce=aktualne&jidla=&napoje=&lang=en very good food and ambiance, service not so much
Maitrea and Lehka Hlava http://www.lehkahlava.cz/en_novinky.htm both excellent vegetarian and non-smoking options
For meat lovers, there is the recently open restaurant Cestr http://ambi.cz/ambi_cestr_kontakt_eng... near the State Opera (upper side of Wenceslas Square) that serves all sorts of traditional and less traditional dry-aged beef. Other options available as well, but restaurant specialises in a Czech variety of cows.
For upscale fine dining, restaurant V Zatisi (please search this forum) and Essencia in the Mandarin Oriental hotel. Alcron restaurant (the smaller one) in the Radisson Alcron hotel is not half bad either and is specialised in seafood and fish.
If you need anything specific, leave me a message :-)
Nice report, but I'm most impressed by the diacritical marks in your text! Don't often see folks outside CZ tending to such details as haceks. (see, one belonged there over the "c").
And I certainly would not have abandoned my table because a "large group of Americans" needed it. Sadly, American tourists remain "Ugly Americans". Hopefully, I do not advance that perception when I travel.
re: Mayor of Melonville
Ha I should admit that I copied and pasted from the placemarks on Google maps...
It was more that they were a large group rather than being American - they were certainly very polite but a large group of any nationality is noisy, and it got rather crowded and they blocked out my sun!
That's awesome. We're here now and won't have gone to any of the same places. There really are a ton of options. We're staying just up the street from U Medvicu but won't get a chance to eat there. Plus it does very much seem to cater to tourists. After all the singing groups of teens in the Old Town Square got to be too much we've been setting our sights further afield. We have a gameplan for our remaining days!
I was astounded by how busy the main square was at the weekend! There was some sort of food market on and I had a big chunk of roast ham with caraway bread and sweet mustard, which was so good but cost about 200 Kc!
I'd say U Medvídků was about 50% tourists when we were there (based on a sample size of 8!) but it tended to be couples rather than tour groups.