Confession time: Czech food didn’t knock my socks off. That’s not to say I didn’t have some tasty meals in Prague, because I did. I’m just not planning a return trip specifically to enjoy any of the dishes again, like I am with the smoked cheese soup in Tallinn. Maybe I didn’t make the best menu choices or dine at the right restaurants, but after several days of stodgy local specialties, I was seeking out a little more variety. Here’s the very best of what I found to eat in Prague, Czech food and otherwise.
I didn’t expect to find excellent seafood in landlocked Czech Republic, but I guess stranger things have happened. Eager for something other than a hunk of roasted meat, I headed to Les Moules, a Belgian bistro serving up some truly spectacular mussels. As a jolt to my culinary senses, I opted for the spicy broth with lemon and cilantro and slurped up every last drop. Pommes frites and a glass of Stella were ideal accompaniments. The finishing touch? Chocolate truffles handcrafted on the premises and a frosty glass of Belgian fruit beer. By the time I finished, I was ready to plan a trip to Brussels!
Lobkowicz Palace Cafe
I enjoyed lunch at the Lobkowicz Palace Cafe on two separate occasions, once to take advantage of the 10% discount coupon that came with my museum ticket and again because the food was delicious. Of the dishes I tried, the chicken schnitzel was the standout, the meat light and juicy thanks to a crisp panko crust. Schnitzel originates in Austria and is perhaps a nod to the Lobkowiczs’ ties to the Hapsburg monarchy. Meals can be enjoyed on the terrace overlooking the Palace Gardens Below Prague Castle or in the brightly lit cafe. It should also be noted that the Lobkowiczs brew their own beer.
When I started planning my trip to Prague, I reached out on Twitter for restaurant recommendations. Several people responded that I simply had to visit Kolkovna Olympia for some excellent Czech food, specifically heaping platters of meat. I’d had my fill of massive pork legs and roasted ducks by this time, though, so I decided to try the “forest robber’s delicacy.” This turned out to be a delightful foil packet filled with tender pieces of roast pork (there’s no escaping it), onions, carrots, potatoes, thyme, and lots of buttery sheep’s cheese. Potato pancakes and a Czech pilsner rounded out the meal. It was good, though not as memorable as the foil packet of yak meat, chilies, and cilantro I enjoyed in Shangri-la, China.
Creperie U Kajetana
Just about every morning, I walked past this creperie on my way to explore Prague’s wealth of attractions, so of course I had to stop in for a bite. While I was initially most excited by the idea of crepes for breakfast, the trdelnik turned out to be the star. These traditional pastries are rolled and roasted on a spit until golden brown and crisp on the outside, while still soft on the inside. Dusted with cinnamon and sugar, they are as delicious as they are fun to eat!
The Golden Pear (now closed)
The Golden Pear (U Zlate Hrusky) is tucked into a quiet corner of the Hradcany neighborhood and reminded me of a cross between a classic American steakhouse and a French bistro. The dishes were expertly prepared and elegantly presented, and worth every cent.
My appetizer of baked goat cheese with marinated beets, arugula and pine nuts was the most vibrant dish of the night, though the creamy pear soup with cinnamon gnocchi was the most inventive. Several menu items featured the restaurant’s namesake pear, including the mouthwatering strudel I had for dessert. As for the main courses, the duck breast with port wine reduction was succulent and well-paired with an earthy barley risotto and roasted mushrooms, while the venison leg with bready Karlsbad dumplings and marinated cranberries was reminiscent of an American Thanksgiving feast. I left stuffed and more favorably inclined towards the national cuisine.
Are there any Czech specialties or Prague restaurants you recommend?