During the summer tourist season, restaurants in The Czech Republic fill up quite quickly. It’s better to book early if you don’t want to be left standing in a queue or deciding on an alternative option. Traditional Czech restaurants and cooking are sought after by many.
Here is some food for thought around Czech gastronomy.
Traditional Czech cooking isn’t necessarily the healthiest, despite the quality and diversity. Meals are often prepared with a lot of sauce and salt for flavor.
Historically, Czech cuisine has been influenced by the former Austro-Hungarian Empire. Similar styles of cuisine can be found in neighboring countries.
For example, even if it is a Hungarian specialty, it’s impossible to talk about Czech cooking without mentioning the famous Goulash! A lot of Eastern and Central European countries cook this popular dish.
The Czech version of pasta is called “knedliky” (a kind of dumpling), served with pork or beef. My personal favorite is goulash soup! You can find the best served at Pivnice Stuparska, where the goulash is presented in a bread bowl.
The main course in a traditional Czech meal consists of meat (beef or pork, typically) with sauce and “knedliky,” potatoes (baked or boiled potatoes, galette) and sometimes red or white cabbage.
The dessert is usually a kind of pastry with different garnish “the strudel”, a meringue cake “rackvicka” or a tart.
Of course, all of these meals taste even better when paired with a Czech beer. Learn more about the Czech Beer Story in this article.
- Svickova: this meal is made up of marinated beef sirloin with a vegetable sauce (carrots, ham, cream, etc.), served with traditional “knedlicky”.
- Vepro knedlo zelo: one of the most famous Czech meals, contains fine slices of pork with cumin, and steamed cabbage. This meal is also served with “knedliky”.
- The carp: Czech people love carp, especially during Christmas, when it is the tradition. It is typically served breaded with potato salad.
- Traditional sauces: you can find three main sauces served on meals in Czech Republic, including: tomato sauce, dill sauce or horseradish sauce (close to mustard).
- The breaded cheese: The Edam and Camembert are often used in this traditional Czech food. It can be served with potatoes, French fries and tartar sauce. It’s possible to find other breaded food as well, such as; escalope or meatballs.
- Desserts: Among Czech specialties, you can find lot of pastry, especially during summer, like fruits filled “knedliky,” “zemlovka” a kind of apple charlotte with raisin. “Rakvicky” are small pastries, tarts, apple turnover, “strudels”, cream puff, etc.
- If you are a good tourist, you have already tried the “Trdelnik,” a Czech pastry with an intoxicating aroma of cinnamon and spice, which can be found in every touristy place in Prague.
Different kinds of Czech food establishments
- Pivnice or Hospoda: traditional brewery where you can find excellent beers, some hot meals when you want and it’s often frequented.
- Hostinec: A kind of tavern, with cheap prices and a nice atmosphere
- Restaurace: it’s a classic restaurant, close to the French traditional restaurant.
- Café or Kavarna: Tea or café house where it is possible to buy pastries or sandwiches
Some cheap places in Prague:
- Pivnice Stuparska: this is the pace where I bring my friends visiting me for a few days. The cheapest menu is delicious and it’s hard to finish it completely! It is close to the club “Chapeau Rouge,” nearby Old Town Square. Stupartska 9, Prague 1
- Lokal: it’s a restaurant franchise, around 10 in Prague. The food is good, cheap (100-120 CZK) and it’s typical Czech food. This restaurant captures that “Prague atmosphere” and is situated nearby the Roxy Club. Dlouha 33, Prague 1
- Lehka Hlava: here you can find a a 500 year old house with a sophisticated decor, this restaurant offers vegetarians something delicious. In four words: Lovely, unusual, dietary and economical! Close to the big club Karlovy Lazne. Borsov 2, Prague 1.
- Restaurant Nostalgie: traditional, discreet , offering high quality food, with Hollywood decor. Here you can find Czech food as well as other European cultural food. Close to Café de Paris, Rybna 3, Prague 1.
Formerly, hotels and restaurants were public establishments without much service etiquette. This has changed for the better in recent years. The tip culture, in particular, permits a friendlier wait staff. So never forget to tip when the service is good!
For restaurants that are well known and popular, be sure to book a table beforehand (especially between April and September and on the weekends)
The serving portions are often generous but not to worry, it is possible to take the rest away in a doggy bag. Sometimes they ask you to pay extra for the packaging.
If you are a gastronomy lover, or if you just want learn more about it, go to the Gastronomy Museum. It’s a very nice visit with tasting, working group and cooking lessons.
Don’t hesitate to try new gastronomic experiences, you will not regret it.
For the moment, I have never been disappointed with Czech food, but I’m not very demanding. The best point is that it is easy to find a cheap place to eat and have a good time (you can easily find a place where the average price is around 100CZK).