Where to eat
Menu in Czech restaurants
Being a vegetarian in Prague
Pubs & bars
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Menus have two sets of entrées, ready-to-serve (hotova jidla) and cooked to order (minutky). The first are generallytraditional Czech dishes - meats (pork or beef) in heavy cream sauces served with dumplings (knedliky). Side dishes of rice, potatoes or French fries are the most common and they have to be ordered separately. Every main dish is usually garnished with obloha (cucumber, tomato, lettuce, cabbage or pickles). Ready-to-serve meals, are only available until about 4pm. The usually more expensive dinner entrées including the cooked-to-order start some time after 4pm.
Meats and yeast-dumplings dominate the national lunch table. The traditional Czech dish is knedlo, zelo, vepro (roast pork served with sauerkraut and dumplings). Anotherclassic dishes are svickova na smetane (sliced beef sirloin served in a cream sauce with a garnish of cranberries and, of course, dumplings) or gulas (goulash served with dumplings and often garnished with onion slices). Fish, that is considered to be a special Christmas meal, is available in any Czech restaurant all year around and pond-bred carp or trout are really worth of trying.
Czech menus offer some very tasty appetizers, such as Prague ham filled with horseradish cream, cheese plates and hot soups. For dessert, most places serve palacinky (rolled crepes filled with either fruit or jam and topped with whipped cream and chocolate), ovocne knedliky (dumplings filled with plums or other fruit and topped with sugar, cream cheese and melted butter) or jablecny strudl (apple strudel, sometimes served with vanilla ice-cream or whipped cream).
The most famous Czech drink is beer and it is also thought to be the world's best. A half-litre mug is cheaper than a glass of soda or cup of coffee. The best-known brands are Plzensky Prazdroj (Pilsner Urquell) and Budejovicky Budvar (Budweiser), but just as good are Gambrinus, Krusovice, Radegast, Velkopopovicky kozel or Staropramen. In general, cerne pivo (dark beer) is sweet while svetle pivo (a light, golden-color beer) is bitter. Among wines, Moravian varieties are the best. The favorite Czech aperitif is Becherovka - a bitter-sweet herbal liqueur. It is made to a secret recipe in Karlovy Vary and it can be served as both, an aperitif or diluted with tonic water. Another typical drink is Fernet Stock - dark-color, very bitter herbal liqueur which tastes great mixed with tonic water. Both liqueurs are touted as having medical qualities. Water is not usually served automatically and must be asked for. The most popular brand of mineral water is Mattoni or Dobra voda (Good Water) - both carbonated.
The most common Turecka kava (Turkish coffee) is thick stuff that will leave your mouth full of grinds if you are not careful enough. Filter coffee - prekapavana kava - with milk is becoming very popular.
In cheaper restaurants, the waiter will leave a little slip on your table to keep a running tab. When ready to pay, just try to catch up the eye of a person with the big black wallet. Always check over your bill. Tourists sometimes get ripped off only because they don't look at the bill. Normal charges also include a few crowns for each slice of bread, butter, ketchup or milk. If a waiter tries to slap a 23 per cent surcharge on to your bill (it is 23 per cent VAT instituted by government), you are justified in complaining to management of the restaurant.
Tipping is not mandatory, but it's general practice to round up the bill to a reasonable amount or tip ten per cent (unless the service was awful).
The prices don't necessarily relate to atmosphere or the quality of the food. It is possible to have an excellent dinner in a mid-range restaurant, on the other hand it is easy to pay a relatively high price for an average meal close to a tourist site. If you have ordered from a menu without prices, ask beforehand how much the dishes will cost. When weights (100 or 150 g) are given for fish or meat, the price quoted is for that weight. If the item served weights two or three times more than the cost will be much higher. Credit cards The number of dining places excepting credit cards is increasing every day but it's better to make sure before you order a meal. Traveler Cheques and Eurocheques are excepted rarely.
Being a vegetarian in Prague
- Sharing tables with strangers is normal - in less expensive restaurants it's not considered rude for another party to join you at your table is seats are free
- People wish each other dobrou chut - when the food arrives it's
- There are usually no dress requirements - wearing jeans and shorts is fine for all but the most top restaurants
- Do not hold the door open for your lady upon entering - holding a door is considered to be very ungentlemanly in first in order to check out and prevent any trouble before woman follows
Although vegetarian dining was practically nonexistent until recently, it was surprisingly easy to be a vegetarian in Prague. There are many Czech dishes for those who wish to avoid meat on every menu. Typical pub as well as good restaurant menu includes smazeny syr (breaded and fried cheese served with tartar sauce and french fries). Smazeny kvetak and smazene zampiony (cauliflower and mushrooms breaded and fried served with tartar sauce) are other common deep-fried items of typical menus. Omelets are another great option. They are usually mixed with cheese (syrova omeleta), mushrooms (omeleta se zampiony) or peas (omeleta s hraskem). Just watch out that none of these turns up with pieces of ham in them, though. Often the cheapest and tastiest option is knedliky s vejci (diced dumplings fried with beaten eggs and served with a pickles on the side). It tastes even better with ketchup which you have to ask for. The Czechs aren´t as crazy about this tomato staff as Americans do.
Salads are still the weak side of Czech dining. In many restaurants you find rajcatovy salat (tomato salad), okurkovy salat (cucumber salad) or sopsky salat (mixed fresh vegetables served with shredded sheep's cheese). But don't expect nothing fancy. To get a really good salad dish we recommend you to visit any pizza place. Pizzerias are all over town and except big salad bowls they also offer pasta dishes and vegetarian pizzas. If you are a big fan of McDonald's Veggie Burgers then start thinking of another way of dining. Although there are about 15 McDonald's in Prague, you won't find this meatless burger on their menu. Guide to Vegetarian Places in Prague
Belehradska 120 (subway I.P.Pavlova) Prague 2
Tel.: (+420 2) 24 25 47 76 Open: Daily 11.30am - 6am
A large selection of meatless dishes - pasta, salads, falafel, spinach burgers, burritos, sandwiches. Daily breakfast and weekend brunch (served until 3pm).
Stefanikova 25/18 (Smichov), Prague 5
Tel.: (+420 2) 54 98 79
Offer vegetarian options (special dishes with soy meat). Inexpensive.
Malostranske nam. 7 (subway Malostranska), Prague 1
Open: Daily 11am - 2am
Mexican-American. The small, healthy, vegetarian menu includes bean burritos and quasadillas.
Govinda Vegetarian Club
Soukenicka 27, Prague 1
Tel.: (+420 2) 24 81 60 16
Open: Mon-Sat 11am-5pm
It offers a basic self-service vegetarian Indian meal - rice, lentils, vegetable, curry, bread - for a mere 50 CZK. Most of the ingredients are grown on the Krishna's organic farm outside Prague.
Salvatorska 4, Prague 1
Tel.: (+420 2) 231 70 23
Czech-Italian food that includes good vegetarian options.
Dlouha trida 4, Prague 1
Tel.: (+420 2) 231 13 76
Open: Mon-Fri 10am-22pm, Sat-Sun 11am-22pm
An attractive, cafeteria-style "soy restaurant" serving baked, filleted and kebabed soy, salads and side dishes including mashed potatoes, rice and noodles.
Country life (two locations)
Melantrichova 15 (near the Old Town Square)
At the corner of Vodickova and Jungmannova Streets
Good and cheap food. Also contain natural food stores.