Ahh, the beautiful city of Praha. Full of mystery, magic, and drunken debauchery. But, what about the food scene? Czech cuisine hasn’t always ranked alongside other European greats such as France and Italy. However, recent advancements in the culinary scene have certainly put iton the foodie map. Below are 8 must-eat Foods in Prague (and a few that should stay in the kitchen).
Round bowls (or “wheels”) of puffy pastry dough overflow with sweet fruit jam and cheese. Some are topped with spices such as cinnamon, nutmeg, and poppy seed. While you can find them just about anywhere, they are most popular at weddings and church suppers. Recommended spots for Kolaches: Cafe Cafe and any farmer’s markets in Prague.
The king of all Czech meat and gravy dishes is most certainly Svickova. A tender sirloin steak drenched in a double cream gravy sauce, it’s topped with cream (smetana) and cranberry sauce. Herbed bread dumplings (houskové knedlíky) are the perfect vessels for sopping up the excess gravy sauce. Recommended spots for Svickova: Restaurace U Jindrisské Veže and Cafe Louvre.
3. Pork/Chicken Schnitzel
Ok, ok. While the Viennese claim Wiener schnitzel, it is a prized Central/Eastern European dish. Each country serves up its own version. However, the plate is a hearty Czech favorite. Tenderised meat is pounded into a thin slab, breaded, and fried in butter. Need I say more? It’s paired with a side of delicious Czech potato salad. Recommended spots for schnitzel: Cafe Savoy and U Slovanské Lipy in Zizcov.
4. Lemonade (Citronáda)
Czech lemonade is a game changer. It’s chocked full of herbs, forest fruit, and sometimes veggies (yes, veggies!) Popular ingredients include ginger, mint, carrot, red currant, raspberry, and elderflower. It can be found on most menus and is extremely affordable at just 50-65 CZK ($2.50USD) for a half litre.
5. Fried Eidam Cheese (Smaženy Syr)
When the words “fried” and “cheese” come together, you know it’s a match made in culinary heaven. A common street and pub food in Czechia and Slovakia, it consists of Eidam cheese deep fried with flour, egg, and bread crumbs. You can usually find it served with a side of mashed boiled potatoes and tartar sauce for dipping. Recommended spots for fried cheese: U Houmra and Lokal.
A fluffy yeast bun is generously filled with creamy farmers cheese, the buchty is one of the must-eat foods in Prague. It is usually consumed in the morning for breakfast or for an afternoon snack with a cappuccino. Tip: If you plan to order these as you should, “buchta” = 1 pastry, “buchty” = more than 1 pastry. Recommended spots for buchty: Antonínovo Bakery (most locations only speak Czech so just be aware) and Bakeshop in Old Town.
Did you know the Czech Republic consumes more beer per capita than any other country in the world? Consumption clocks in at 161 litres of beer per person each year! On average, a pint (550ml) costs about 35-40CZK ($1.50USD). Pair it with a side of Prague ham and whipped horseradish cream. You’re welcome in advance. Recommended spots for Pilsner: Lokal or Prague Beer Museum.
If you’re looking to end your trip on a “sweet” note, Czech pancakes should do the trick. These crepe-like delicacies are rolled and topped with fresh jam, fruit, cream, and nuts. If you prefer a savoury route, you can also top with cheese, spinach, salmon, and other meats. If you’re visiting during the Christmas season, you’ll find them at most Christmas markets. Recommended spots for palačinky: Blín Prague or Cafe Louvre.
What to Avoid:
It may come as a shock to some, but avoid the trusty tredlnik in the first place. The scent of warm bread and cinnamon drenched in Nutella and who knows what else is enticing, but as a matter of fact, it’s actually *not* a traditional Czech dessert.
Originating from Hungary, it has become a popular treat throughout most of Europe these days. Delicious? Yes. Overpriced and touristy? Also yes. Try it if you must, but it shouldn’t be at the top of the list.
2. Nakladany Hermelin (Pickled Cheese aka “stinky cheese”)
If the name alone doesn’t allude to an unpleasant experience, then I don’t know what will. It is a bloomy rind cheese similar to brie but pickled in a big ole’ jar of spiced oil and garlic. If wet cheese is your jam (no pun intended), you may be able to power through the weird consistency and potent flavour. Otherwise, it’s not recommended.
3. Carp (fish)
What can be referred to as “trash fish” in other cultures, Carp is not only a prized cuisine, but the centrepiece of a Czech Christmas dinner. Not to mention, they keep the prized fish extra fresh for a special holiday presentation, the flesh of the bottom feeder can taste rather muddy to some people. It all comes down to personal preference and taste, but if you want to partake in Czech traditions, eat it in addition to a side of potato salad.
So now that you’re aware of the top 8 must-eat foods in Prague, you’ll need to brush up on your Czech! Knowledge of cuisine coupled with some useful phrases will help you communicate with waiters and locals alike:
1. Prosím pronounced pro-seem (Multiple meanings of “You’re welcome”, “Please”, “Here you are”)
2. Ano (yes)
3. Ne (No)
4. Jedno pivo prosím pronouced yed-no pee-vo pro-seem (“One beer, please”)
5. Platit, prosím pronounced plat-yit pro-seem (“The check, please!”)
6. DeKuji pronounced Day-koo-yee (thank you!*formal*)