Restaurants in Prague: General Tips

With the policy the airlines employ today towards luggage, I can hardly imagine that someone could pack enough food to sustain the whole trip to a foreign country. Sooner or later, one has to come to a restaurant. Prague has a lot to offer in this regard.

Eat like at home. Fast food?

McDonald's, source: archives of prague.tips

McDonald’s near Wenceslas square in Prague, photo: bkm / prague.tips

Of course, you can avoid risks and use the fruits of globalization. That means that we also have your already known hazards such as the fast food chains – the usual suspects like McDonald’s, KFC or Pizza Hut have a number of restaurants here. Locating one shouldn’t be a problem with a smartphone or other internet connection. If you somehow cannot use this method just head for the next shopping centre. But honestly, why eat the same food as at home?

Or perhaps pizza?

As perhaps in all the Europe cities, Prague has a great number pizzerias – and quite a lot of them make good pizzas or pasta. Of course, a huge disappointment is also possible. Just beware, one peculiarity of the Czech cooks making pizza is widespread use of Edam cheese instead of mozzarella.

Asian food? Or is it “Asian?”

Sushi, source: archives of prague.tips

Sushi, photo: bkm / prague.tips

There is also a great number of Asian restaurants in Prague. Or rather would-be Asian. The staff is Asians (mostly Vietnamese) in almost all of them but the food in the majority of such restaurants is not really Asian. It is mostly something that is twisted to suit low-price policy and European taste. There are good Chinese, Vietnamese, Thai or Indian restaurants but without a good tip from a well-informed local, it can be a bit hard to find them.

Kosher? What is kosher?

What is a real problem is to find a kosher restaurant here. Certified kashrut restaurants can only be found in the compounds of the Prague Jewish City. In general, other restaurants would not cook kosher food themselves but some can order such a meal from one of the kosher restaurants – but they must be asked for it in advance.

So why don’t you try out something different? Perhaps Czech food? I know, it’s a trial-and-error way but it can yield surprisingly good results.

Czech restaurants – what to expect

An luxurious restaurant, source: archives of prague.tips

One of the luxurious restaurant in centre of Prague, photo: bkm / prague.tips

As in other countries, “restaurant” can have many meanings. I would talk about restaurant where making and serving meals is the main business leaving aside bistros, grogshops and the like – as well as the luxurious restaurants.

First thing to note is that during the Communist regime until 1989, restaurants and the whole services sector were not tested by the market much. Sometimes you may encounter a “veteran” of that era – a waiter or a cook with negligible skill and rather rude manners. But the competition in Prague is great and such chance is rather unlikely.

The restaurants often have their permanent menu and also luncheon menu which is being changed daily. Luncheon menu has only a few items (4-8), it is usually cheaper (roughly CZK 80-110 per meal) and the serving is smaller though often a soup is also included in the price or at discounted rate. Such menu is available between 11 a.m. and 2 p.m.

Will they understand me?

Crucial question. Many restaurants do have their menus in English and/or other languages (mostly German and Russian). This does not necessarily mean that the waiters can speak any of those languages. In Czech restaurants (and not only there), the lack of language skills is perhaps the most tangible “heritage” of the Communist era. This problem is gradually diminishing but sometimes your only way to order a meal is to point a finger at the relevant item in the menu.

Smoking

No smoking in restaurants, photo: Matt Redmond, FreeImages

Quite many restaurants offer non-smoking areas, photo: Matt Redmond, FreeImages

Smoking is not prohibited in the Czech restaurants and there are both smoking (majority) and non-smoking ones. It is up to the keeper to decide but he has to put visibly the corresponding (yellow) sign on the front door. Quite many restaurants offer both smoking and non-smoking areas which should be separated by a wall. At least the law says so. Other restaurants have “non-smoking hours” at lunchtime and some even in time of dinner. Law which would ban smoking in restaurants is currently being considered by the Czech Government.

Vegetarian food

There were times where vegetarian menus were almost unheard of. In past few years, the restaurants started to offer at least one vegetarian food – but sometimes it contains eggs. Salads have become a common item on the menu recently thus there is also this option. In my opinion, however, there is still a long way ahead.

How to find a good restaurant?

If a restaurant keeper takes his business seriously, you can see it at the first glance. The restaurant does not have to be luxurious but it should be neat and clean and without an unpleasant odour – if it is not, how do you suppose it does look like in the kitchen? Quick look at the other guests could tell a lot as well. Second check should be the conversation with a waiter who should approach your table shortly after you sit. The menu comes as the third check. It is not a fail-safe method but by far the most reliable one.

Given time, everybody can find a restaurant matching his preferences in our city. It can be an interesting adventure sometimes. I would like to wish you good luck with searching the perfect restaurant for you.

Author: Pavel Janecek

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