We have one rule whenever we travel: we visit the main sights early in the morning or late in the evening to beat the crowds, and see the other, more local things during the day. When we visit a city, we prefer to see how people live there today, and not necessarily how they lived there in the past. And Prague is no exception. Especially during the high season, we recommend getting up early, seeing the sights before all the other people get to see them, and then just walk and explore the surrounding districts. And the Karlin is a place you should not miss if you travel like us - it has a great local feel and great places to eat and drink. That is why we sometimes visit it with the guests of our Prague Foodie Tour and that is why we think it is worth a visit even during the off-season.
You know what they say: ”The best Czech wine is… beer.”
Of course, this is disrespectful of the beautiful Czech and Moravian wine production that we are so fond of, but the undeniable fact is that the Czech beer culture is one of the strongest unifying themes in the Czech national identity. While ”Czech Republic means beer” may sound as a cliché, it is mostly right. We Czechs actually do love beer and drink a lot of it. And the Czech beer culture is unique in several ways. Beer is to Czechs what wine is to the French - just walk into any restaurant and order their “house beer”, and it will be cheap and good. It’s the default beverage. A no brainer.
So you should have a beer in Prague. Make it several beers. Not having a beer in Prague would be a mistake even if you think you don’t like beer. Honestly, don’t diss beer until you had a tank Pilsner Urquell (more on that later) on a hot night. It might be a game changer. We know it has been for many guests of our Prague Foodie Tour. We’ve had many beer converts on our tours actually.
The following is a short guide to beer in Prague. Of course, this is in no way comprehensive or exhaustive - most travelers don’t spend more than three nights in Prague, so this mostly for them. The idea here is to get you introduced to the world of Czech beer and get some basic lay of the land, teach you what you should drink and where, what to look for and what to avoid in your Prague beer experience. So let’s do this! Na zdraví! (Which obviously means Cheers in Czech!)
In an ideal world, Hana would have been the first team mate we would have hired. We did talk about her joining us waaaay back when Taste of Prague was just Zuzi and Jan. But we don’t live in an ideal world, and Hana was not ready to leave the big law she was practicing at the time, just like Zuzi did a few years before. Fast forward five years later, and we are incredibly happy to welcome Hana to our small team. She will fit in like a glove - she loves food and other people’s company. She still does practice law a bit, though. (Remember, not living in an ideal world?)
There is something about Hana. She has a calming, soothing presence, and you just can’t help but feel good when she’s around. She’s a great listener with heaps of empathy, and when she talks, you listen. We also assume she hates being bored: she’s a well-travelled fan of food, wine and coffee, an avid skier who likes to bike and hike, and has a keen interest in architecture and urban planning. Oh yes, and movies. You know, the smart kind.
What we’re trying to say she’s busy. Or crazy. One of those two things. But never mind her schedule, she was super quick to give her tips for her five favorite places in Prague and five social media accounts, and not one, not two, but four (!) secret tips for Prague. But that’s just Hanna being Hanna. So here we go!
Confession: we’re not generally fond of writing posts about “cheap eats”. But hey, we were young and needed the clicks, right? We don’t like writing “Prague cheap eats” posts because: (1) it reinforces the assumption that you should expect cheap when you visit Prague. Look, we don’t like to see ourselves as primarily “cheap” and genuinely want visitors to spend money here, okay? And (2) we get lots of slack from the locals who want us to rate EUR 4 lunch specials. It ain’t happening, locals. Our bodies are a temple, capiche?
That said, we understand that some visitors to Prague may be on a budget and still want to eat well. Hey, we’ve been there. That’s what college is all about. Or you just have other priorities. Now, before you start readin’ (and hatin’), hear us out, because our definition of “cheap” may be different from yours, so we think we need to clarify our selection process:
First, it still has to be good. Sure, sausage croissants at Tesco may be cheap, too, but they will never make the list, because they are not great. Second, when we say “cheap”, we mean “great value”. So we are not hunting the cheapest of cheap foods per se, but dishes or experiences that will give you the biggest bang for your buck. So while some of our choices may be more expensive than other options, we still think they are “cheap”. Finally, we think global. This list may include things that are not cheap locally, but are cheap given the prices of similar foods and/or experiences abroad.
That said, we give our our selection of our favorite Ten Cheap Eats in Prague.
So the day has arrived and we are happy to announce the third itineration of what our moms, and the voices inside our heads, say is by far the best food guide to Prague - the Prague Foodie Map.
This version did not come easy to us. Originally scheduled “before Christmas”, it took us over half a year to finish. And let us tell you, a lot of things can happen in six months on Prague’s food scene, which has led to many, many, many rewrites. This was the first full version we wrote as parents, and in many way, the process showed. But at the end of the day, we feel that writing the guide as parents has added a completely new dimension that the guide lacked before. (And no, we’re not talking about sleep deprivation.)
It is time to let the secret out. Cocktail bars in Prague are way better than you have any right to think they are. Sure, you’re thinking “Hey Taste of Prague, shouldn’t I drink beer while in Prague?” Yes, you should. The beer culture of Prague is quite unique and exceptional, and the Czechs are famous for their beers and rightfully so. But Prague’s true hidden gem is its cocktail bars, and you would be seriously missing out if you did not have a drink or two while visiting the City of Thousand Spires.
What follows is a shortlist of what we think are the best cocktail bars in Prague.
Let’s be honest here: you did not travel to Prague to eat Italian. You want traditional Czech cuisine in its best form, and you want it right now.
But what are the classic Czech foods and where do you have them? Well, one way to find out is to book our Traditional Czech Food Tour, where we serve Czech classics that are close to achieving the impossible goal of matching the deliciousness that our beloved grandmas used to serve us when we were kids (albeit with a modern twist - don't expect tourist cliches from us).
Cannot join us for a few hours of serious overeating and fun stories about what these foods mean to us? Then there’s the Prague Foodie Map, the next best thing if you want to see Prague and its food and culture through our eyes.
Okay, enough with the shameless plugs. You want free stuff. Here’s a list of classic Czech foods and our favourite Prague restaurants for traditional Czech cuisine that remind us of our childhood. Before you follow these, beware: Czech food is delicious, comforting, very filling and addictive, so make sure you reserve enough time to walk off those calories. Yes, there won’t be many salads - or vegetables for that matter - in the list that follows. But you did not travel to Prague to eat salad, right? What? You did? We pity the fool.
When we started our Prague food tours in 2011, the hardest thing was finding a decent place for Czech pastries. Just like the chefs tended to cheat a lot with the ingredients under the Communist rule, pastry chefs were no different, and even the consumers had pretty low standards up until a few years ago (witness the popular “Hera means baking” campaign by a big margarine producer). We would literally have to buy pastries somewhere before the tour and bring them over to the restaurants we were visiting, bribing the wait staff with favors and smiles to let us serve them there, while the chefs and managers were refusing to bake their own on the assumption that Czech pastries were “too common”.
Which is a shame. The Czechs are famed to have been the pastry makers of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, with a long and proud tradition of baking and French-inspired pastry making. And the fact is that Prague is full of pastry shops frequented by locals. The problem is most of them are not exceptional. Prague still lacks places like Cedric Grolet’s Le Meurice in Paris, and while Prague has its star chefs and star butchers (oh yeah, we like our meat), we are still waiting for star pastry chefs to pop out (with, perhaps, the notable exceptions of Mr Skála and Ms Fabesová).
That said, Prague has some great pastry shops that will make you reasonably happy and quite unreasonably fat. So if you have a sweet tooth and are on the lookout for pastry shops and pastries in Prague, we are here to help. This is our guide to the best pastry shops in Prague. You live only once, right?
The Easter holidays are just behind the corner, so it's about time we talk about the sheer wonder and awkwardness of the Czech Easter holidays and arguably their most shocking aspect to foreign visitors: the famous "pomlázka".
Let’s be honest here: Pomlázka is a godsend if you run food tours in Prague (or any tours) like us. Just saw the waiter drop your entire order on the floor so you know you have 20 minutes to kill? Want to invigorate the group? Want to give a piece of information about the Czechs your guests will DEFINITELY remember? You whip out the good ole’ pomlázka. Works every time. Trust me.
Before I get to explain this old Czech Easter tradition, just bear in mind two things. (1) Tradition. Just like the Fiddler on the friggin’ Roof, you usually don’t mess with it. Until you do. So don’t judge, okay? Most Czechs have just grown up with it and never give it a second though, and only realize how strange and awkward that tradition is when they try to explain it to a non-native. And (2) the Dutch have the Black Peter, and that’s even worse. Yes, we’ll take a low bar if we can comfortably overcome it, and yes, we’re not strangers to diverting people’s attention to somebody else’s dirty laundry.
[Photo courtesy of Wikipedia.]
So the 2019 Michelin guide for Main Cities Europe is out, and the Michelin star restaurants in Prague have been given for the year to come. Which Michelin star restaurant in Prague is the best for you?
Here’s the executive summary:
Prague has two Michelin star restaurants: La Degustation and Field. La Degustation is set menu only, Czech food for foodies with an open mind. Field is a la carte, with international touches. Four Bib Gourmands in Prague: Sansho, a casual Asian-fusion restaurant, Eska, a modern casual Czech restaurant with fairly fancy dinners in a remodeled factory in the gentrified Karlin district, Divinis, an Italian restaurant run by a Czech TV Chef, and Na kopci, a local favorite that serves French-inspired joie de vivre big-portion dishes..
Want to know more? Can’t decide which Prague Michelin star restaurant is the best for you? Read on.