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Unpretentious Czech dinner in Prague (and Brno if possible!)

Hi, everybody! I'm going to Prague and Brno in two weeks and would love to find places for dinner without pretension that serve regular Czech food -- nothing fancy or innovative. While cheapness is not a criterion, the places I am happiest with usually aren't expensive. Atmosphere is completely unimportant. I would love places that are not frequented by tourists, though I won't have a car to get to it. Any thoughts? Thanks!

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  1. I've been going to Dejvická Sokolovna since 1991 and it's still one of my favorite pubs to eat at in Prague. http://www.dejvickasokolovna.cz/

    1 Reply
    1. re: S_B_Russell

      Thanks for the idea. I don't drink alcohol but I assume the food is good!

    2. Oops. I should also mention Restaurace U Houbare. Honest Czech cooking plus it has my favorite beer on tap - Kozel dark.
      http://www.uhoubare.cz/

      1. In Prague either Lokal location (Mala Strana or Josefov, but I prefer the Josefov location), great honest Czech food, extremely well prepared. Although there are tourists here there are still more locals than tourists. I recommend a reservation if you want non-smoking. This link may also help you for Prague - http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/875192 .

        I also quite like this cafe near the castle in Prague, a great little local place but entirely smoking - U Zavěšenýho Kafe (Úvoz 6, 118 00 Praha 1). Their venison pate is particularily good.

        For Brno (where I live currently), it's tough to give great recommendations without knowing what part of the city you're staying in. If you can update with that I'll be able to get you some good recommendations, do you need lunch as well as dinner?

        Here is my ongoing thread in Brno, which needs some updating from the last few weeks. http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/783909

        1. I'll do my best to recommend a few places in Brno not knowing where you are going to be staying.

          If you are going for lunches use this website to find lunch menus (may need to use Google translate for many) - http://www.lunchtime.cz/denni-menu/brno/ . Every pub in town has a very reasonably priced lunch menu, outside the centre you'll need a Czech speaker to translate or you can try and see if the staff will translate... but they are often very busy and won't have time.

          Stopkova Pub - Ceska 163/5, just off the main square in the centre. Although a Pilsner Urquell chain pub, it has some of the best pub food in town.

          Baroko - Orlí 469/17, also in the centre. High quality Czech cuisine in a cellar atmosphere.

          Hotel Pegas - Jakubská 120/4, in the centre. Well known microbrew pub best known for it's gulas(h).

          Klobaskovy Bar - Veselá 3, in the centre. This place specializes in kolbasa (kielbasa) and beer, say no more.

          U všech čertů - Starobrněnská 7, in the centre. A new place near Zelny Trh (Cabbage Market) that has great pub food in a unique atmosphere.

          Bistro Franz - Veveří 461/14, north of the centre but walkable. Great reviews, lots of chatter about this place but I haven't had a chance to get there yet.

          Starobrno brewery restaurant - Mendolovo Namesti, walkable from the centre. Excellent pub food at the brewery, even if you're not interested in the beer. I haven't had anything bad, but the ribs are always very popular.

          Tanganyka Pub - Horova 1654/3, way outside the centre, but maybe will work for you. Best as a lunch place, does a very brisk business, always lots to chose from on the special's menu.

          Arka - Veslařská 46, again way outside of the centre in the direction of the resevoir in Bystrc. Again excellent pub food in a neighbourhood joint that is filled with regulars. Stand outs are the ribs and the halousky.

          If by chance you want to take a run at high end Czech in Brno:

          Pavilion - Jezuitská 687/6, near the centre. I haven't been yet as I don't normally go for high end Czech but this place has a good vibe and gets lots of press in town.

          Although you want Czech, the current title holder and two time winner of best restaurant in the Czech Republic is in Brno... Koishi (Japanese) - Údolní 326/11. Great place, excellent food and good (not great) service.

          7 Replies
          1. re: vanderb

            Thanks so much for you helpful suggestions in both Brno and Prague. Yes, we will be needing both lunch and dinner. In Brno, I'm staying at Pegas (Jakubská 4) and will be relying on public transportation. We would be happy to take public transportation to some non-touristed neighborhood that had a restaurant with simple and good tasting food. We don't drink alcohol but we can manage if there is smoking going on around us.

            1. re: vulpine

              Vulpine, you will be in Brno... we aren't a tourist destination except for a few weeks in the summer when a few bus tours get lost and end up here :-) If you hear foreigners speaking English or other languages in Brno they are either workers in the burgeoning IT industry that have emmigrated here, or are one of the 100,000 students enrolled in the roughly 15 universities in Brno.

              Pretty much every restaurant in Brno that is not advertising a foreign cuisine (Chinese, Indian, Italian, etc...) is serving Czech food to Czech people. The challenge here is not avoiding tourist trap restaurants (I can't think of a single one), it's finding a restaurant whose food you enjoy more than the one next door. Perhaps to clarify, when I mention "pub food" in my other post that really means Czech pub food or Czech food in general. There are only a few pubs in town that are not Czech and are classed as English or Irish in nature.

              I'm not trying to down play Brno, I love it here and hope you will too, but we are not on the regular tourist trail, so don't worry about touristed places.

              1. re: vanderb

                Thanks. I'm looking forward to going to a non-touristed location! I plan to be there on a Sunday and a Monday. Any good outdoor markets (vegetable, food, clothing, mixtures, or anything else) that you might recommend?

                1. re: vulpine

                  You'll find most shops, except in malls, are closed on Sunday and the centre of town will be very quiet. On Monday you can go to Zelný trh (Cabbage Market), which is about a 10 minutes walk from your hotel, for the daily produce market (7am - 4pm). The Zelný trh market has been running in the same spot for almost 1000 years, and while we are not at peak produce season for much in the Czech Republic, there will be a good variety of products brought in from around Europe.

                  One key thing to look for that is currently available locally is medvedi cesnek (bear's garlic). This local green looks a bit like Lilly of the Valley (but is not poisonous) is outstanding and one of the best local/traditional culinary ingredients I've found here. Buy a small bunch from a vendor and try it out, it'll likely cost you around 20 CZK (= $1 US/CDN).

                  Other than the Cabbage market you won't find much of interest for food shopping, Tesco, Spar, Albert and Billa have the market tied up pretty well. There is something like a flea market that operates near Vankovka shopping mall, but it's really not very interesting.

                  You can easily get walking directions to both Zelný trh and Vankovka from Google maps.

                    1. re: vanderb

                      Got back yesterday and thought I'd give a report on Prague and Brno. I really loved Lokal, and went a number of times to the outpost near my hotel on the Castle side (Misenksa 66/12). I also loved U Zavěšenýho Kafe near the Castle.

                      In Brno, there were not as many positive experiences. Maybe the novelty of the Czech classics had worn off by then. The restaurant in Hotel Pegas seemed a bit prosaic. More to my liking was Baroko. I was very happy with a place that I just strolled into, called Varna, at Solnicni 3a. It was the first place that offered seemingly fresh vegetables. (They had a side of grilled vegetables that was just perfect.) I tried to go to Bistro Franz on Ververi but it was too crowded. Nearby, and continuing with my efforts to find something different, I stumbled into Cattani at Veveri 6. It's a pasta place and made for a nice change. Veveri seems to be a lively street with many restaurants. So it would seem to be fertile ground for future explorations

                      Anyway, thank you vanderb for your excellent suggestions. They were a big help! I really appreciate your taking the time to enlighten me.

                      1. re: vulpine

                        I'm glad things worked out well and not at all surprised by your comments on the food... Anthony Bordain called the Czech Republic "the land vegetables forgot" which is true if you eat at restaurants a lot.

                        We've been trying to get to Bistro Franz for a while, glad to hear it's still very busy. The Vevri district, and street, is a very lively place with a lot of students living there; your impressions of it are spot on.

                        I'm also glad to hear another devotee of Lokal has been minted. If you ever want to try high end Czech food (one Michelin star), go to Degustation in Josefov district. It is across the street from the other Lokal location and is owned by the same people as Lokal. They have a Czech focused tasting menu at Degustation that is outstanding.

            2. Just got back from a week in Prague and concur w/ the Lokal suggestion. Basically elevated Czech pub food no pretension but very well done. And a great pour of Urquell.

              1. Dear Vulpine,

                In Brno please try AVIA in Botanicka street. Yes this is a strange setting for a restaurant, but check their cooking and report back.

                Prague is undergoing some changes right now. Lokal is good cooking at very fair prices, but I cannot stand the noise level.
                More upmarket but still very affordable is Konyrna.

                Enjoy

                1 Reply
                1. re: hblnk

                  Wish I'd gotten your message before I left. Next time I will check out Avia!