In the throes of a Czech winter, when spending time outside (apart from sports activities) is not the most attractive option, visitors can always take time to sample some of the local cuisine. Many of the traditional Czech main dishes are just right for the cold weather – warming and filling.
EATING CZECH STYLE
Among the typical meals are a dish consisting of pork (or duck), sauerkraut, and dumplings; sirloin in cream sauce; potato soup with mushrooms and dill; goulash; and grilled sausage (usually a Prague street food, served with a slice of rye bread and a dollop of mustard). Many restaurants also offer food cooked in the famous Czech beer. On the sweet side, you can find dumplings with fruit filling, pastries filled with custard and drizzled with icing, crêpes, waffles, and the now-famous trdelnik, a hollow pastry once served with just cinnamon and sugar, but now generally filled with ice cream as well. (This is actually a Slovak dish, but definitely worth trying.)
For traditional Czech food, Prague, of course, offers myriad options. Prague food is rather astounding in its range, from small, limited-menu cafes to large restaurants. With this wide array, the question of what is the best Czech food in Prague is subjective. Why not taste-test a few restaurants and see which one you prefer?
ON THE GO
If you would like to grab a quick bite rather than have a sit-down meal, there are several stands selling grilled sausage on Wenceslas Square as well as on the Old Town Square. The sausages are large, and often, there are several types available. Just one of them ought to be more than enough to keep you going for the next few hours. On the Old Town Square, you will find a stand selling sizable slabs of roast ham, also a meal in and of itself.
The trdelnik mentioned above – with or without ice cream – is often sold at stands, or in hole-in-the-wall establishments. The pastry dough is wrapped around a heated metal cylinder and cooked from the inside out, then removed from the cylinder and served. A few years ago, a culinary genius had the idea to close one end of the pastry and fill it with ice cream. Boom! A new tradition was born, a new must-eat food in Prague, and tourists from around the world flock here to try the “ice cream doughnut”, as it is often called. You can buy them with Nutella, with ice cream, with ice cream and fruit… the mind boggles at the choice. Most of the places serving these sweet treats are located in Old Town, where tourist foot traffic is high. This is a goody that you can try every day of your stay in Prague, each time at a different location!
FOR A HEARTY MEAL
For a “real” meal, Prague has no end of choices. If you are a vegetarian or vegan, fear not: Vegetarian food in Prague is widely available. For that matter, so is vegan and raw. Not only that, but these dishes can be made to imitate traditional Czech meals, so you can still go traditional. For example, borscht (beet soup) is easily made to suit vegetarians and vegans.
For a unique dining experience, try eating at the Belcredi Bistro in the Hotel Belvedere. The restaurant is open from 11:00 a.m. to 11:30 p.m., and is located on the ground floor of the hotel. The à la carte menu contains such attractive items as sous vide duck pâté, veal hanger steak, tagliatelle with sun-dried tomatoes, and a pork sandwich with garlic. The dessert menu offers cheesecake, brownies with English cream, and cupcakes. Lunch is served from 11:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. on weekdays, and the menu changes daily. Items can include chicken wings, meatloaf, mixed salad with goat cheese, and parmesan risotto. Also, if you’re in the mood for a cocktail, you’ve come to the right place! (One cocktail contains bacon-infused Jack Daniel’s.)
The Belcredi, being on the ground floor, gives you a perfect opportunity to sit by the window and watch the world go by. It’s very convenient for public transportation (trams 1, 8, 25, and 26 run past it), and it’s an easy walk from Letná Park, just up the street.
Article written by Erin Naillon