Everyone always asks, “What should I have to eat? Do you have suggestions? What about beer? Coffee?” Where do the Landmark tour guides like to go? Here’s a helpful guide for some of our favorites.
**all of our suggestions are easily accessible by public transportation
*none of our suggestions will break the bank!
Czech restaurants around the Old Town Square
A standard go-to place for us is Lokál. Lokál is part of the Ambiente groupe — a rockstar in the hospitality game in Prague. (Several other places mentioned in this blog are also part of the Ambiente group. The people behind Ambiente know the industry and they know it well.) The ‘original’ (read: first) Lokál is on Dlouha Street in Prague 1. This Lokál location (and our favorite) serves typical Czech food and absolutely perfect Pilsner Urquell. Their Pilsner is ‘tank’ beer and their reputation for pouring a perfect beer is obvious once you have one. A few things that can be seen on the menu are řizek (schnitzel), gulaš (goulash), beef tartar, pickled cheese (which isn’t actually pickled — but rather marinated in a ja
r with oil & various onions/herbs/spices) served with brown bread, potato salad, beer cheese, and other Czech fare. Lokál isn’t gourmet so if you’re a meat, potatoes & beer type of person, this is the place for you. As a side note, this location is HUGE. It’s basically a shotgun-style design which stretches for a full block. Despite the super-central location, this spot is always crowded so it might be a good idea to make a reservation. As of this writing, there are 5 Lokáls in Prague so a perfectly-poured tank Pilsner is just a phone call away.
Krčma is just a few blocks from the excitement (or insanity?) of Old Town Square. It’s a bit of a hidden gem considering the location and great prices. Restaurants directly ON Old Town Square have much higher prices compared to any other restaurant with exactly the same food that ISN’T on the square. Venturing even just a street or two off of the main square will be much easier on your wallet. To enter Krčma, you take a few steps down from the street and enter a dark almost cavern-like room. There’s a medieval vibe to Krčma. Imagine candles burning atop layers of old melted candles. The walls are of wood & stone — it has a kind of fun energy to it. The food here isn’t much different than what’s already been mentioned. They have chicken, pork, black beer sausages, and fried Olomouc cheese (this is a cheese unique to the Czech republic — if you’re brave, go ahead & try it — or just Google it!).
As mentioned previously, restaurants located directly ON Old Town Square are, for the most part, on the more expensive side. This doesn’t mean that the food/decor/restaurant is exclusive, you’re just paying more for the location. One spot that breaks this mold is Mincovna.This is, in fact, located directly on Old Town Square but their prices aren’t indicative of the location. Mincovna is a fairly large space (two floors) so it’s a good central location for larger groups (*reservation suggested). Food and beer prices are just like any other standard Czech restaurant NOT on the square. Mincovna opened a few years ago so the space is clean, organized & modern. They offer tank Pilsner, sausages, beef tartar, duck, and more. They also do a really great homemade potato chip with garlic dipping sauce. We feel obligated to mention that the sauce is, in fact, very garlicky so if you’re sensitive to it, watch out!
This recommendation for Czech food is a little different. Why? Well, because it’s a butcher shop. Naše maso (our meat) is another entry in the Ambiente juggernaut. Located just a few shops down the street from Lokal (see previous), Naše maso is a tiny butcher shop that happens to offer a few hot on-the-spot options. Naše maso is always, always crowded (pretty much like any location under the Ambiente name). Expect to wait. If you’ve got a rental with a kitchen, consider picking up a few steaks or sausages for a quiet night in. The staff speaks English so they can help you with the Czech versions of cuts of meat that might be different for you. But, if you want something at the moment, we suggest getting their burger. What? A burger? We’re recommending their burger because it’s so damn good. Served on a kaiser roll (with or without cheese) with mustard and thinly sliced red onion, this burger is awesome. Note: this is how the burger is served — there are no options for mayo, ketchup, bacon, etc. Take it or leave it, basically. In addition to the burger, they’ll cook anything that you buy from them. So, that steak you want? They’ll make it for you. Sausages? Ok, no problem. Additionally, they have a few other hot options — meatloaf, sausages, hot dogs (the Czech version is bit different as it has more of a snappy bite), the occasional pastrami, etc. Be sure to check the sign at the entrance to see what is on offer that day.
Czech restaurants accesible by tram or a long walk.
Another great restaurant for Czech fare is U Bulínů. Located in Vinohrady and a bit ‘away’ from the hustle and bustle of the city center, you can find nice Czech food in a slightly more intimate environment. The menu at U Bulínů changes fairly frequently but they always have roasted duck as well as chicken, beef, pasta, and fish options. If it’s on the menu, try the braised knee of lamb. It’s fall-off-the-bone tender and you’ll likely take the leftovers back to your hotel for midnight snacking.
Are you up for an adventure? Want to hop on a train to medieval times? U krále Brabantského is the perfect restaurant for an evening filled with fun. To lead in, this place has char marks on the wall. What!? From fire. Real fire. Yes, fire. We’re talking from a fire-breathing man. They do a 3-hour medieval show complete with dancers, snakes, and fire….you can’t forget the fire. U krále Brabantského is nestled on a narrow side street on the downslope of Prague Castle. It doesn’t look like much from the outside but the interior is two floors of medieval darkness complete with skulls on the walls! The food (again, typical Czech — duck, chicken, potatoes, beer) is excellent considering the obviously tourist stamp on the establishment. When we went there we were skeptical of the super touristy nature of the place; we were pleasantly surprised — truly. As an added bonus, the entertainers (when beginning their ‘show’) go around to each table and ask which language (Czech, Russian, or English) the guests want and, in fact, the entertainers cater their language for each individual table. Big points for that one!
Before arriving in Prague, many of our guests do some food investigation. One of the big items in all of the guide books is pork knee (koleno). Pork knee is either boiled or slow-roasted — I’ve never seen a restaurant version boiled, it’s always served slow-roasted. So, if you’ve decided that you want koleno somewhere in the city center (Old Town/Mala Strana/Castle district), it could easily be 1,000 Kc or more. A little gem of a neighborhood pub with GREAT koleno is Karlínska Pivnice (just a few tram stops from Old Town). The local version is served with horseradish (křen), mustard, and brown bread. The cost of the koleno at Karlínska Pivnice won’t set you back too much — around the 300Kc mark. (By the way, a pork knee is BIG so this is perfect for sharing!) A cool feature of the restaurant is that they have a little window which is shared by the kitchen and dining room. This window showcases the roasting koleno as they spin around on a rotisserie. Trust us, after seeing them spin around in their roasting glory, you’ll kick yourself if you don’t order koleno!
Somewhere that’s a bit further away from the center is Břevnoský klášter. This is a monastery & church complex with some attached gardens. It’s quite a nice little area to walk around if you have the time. The restaurant on the property is Klášterní šenk. It’s an old-style farmhouse converted into a cozy restaurant. The decor & ambience are really inviting. To paint a better picture, if you like wood beams, this is your kind of place. There’s also a large (and functioning!) fireplace in the middle of the restaurant. The last time we were there it was a snowy day and the roaring fire was perfect. The fireplace also really adds to the overall charm of the place. The food fits the decor & atmosphere too: halušky (a kind of gnocchi made from potatoes), roasted rabbit, trout, duck with dumplings, & other similar fare.