Don’t underestimate the food in Prague. It’s not as well known as other culinary destinations in Europe, but there are still some major gems to be had.
Out of all the cities I’ve visited, Prague remains one of my all-time favorites. The architecture is simply breathtaking, as are the picturesque bridges criss-crossing over the river from one side of the city to the other. As a bonus, it’s very walkable and very snackable. A lot of the foods on this list are smaller bites or street food that can be eaten while you’re walking, which means you can fit in a lot more than three square meals a day.
Trdelník (chimney cake)
One of the most iconic foods in Prague, chimney cake is made from strips of dough wrapped around a spit and roasted over a fire. You can find trdelník on just about every street corner, but I’d skip the ones in the tourist square near the Astronomical Clock. Not every vendor offers the option to fill your chimney cake with ice cream, fruit, or other toppings, so if you find one that does, I recommend stopping there.
I bought my first trdelník from a shop near Prague castle. It was filled with soft serve, kiwi, and strawberries! If your trdelník outing is less spontaneous than stopping by a random food stand, the Good Food Bakery has great chimney cakes and lots of options for toppings and fillings. Always make sure you get one fresh off the fire—you want to eat it while it’s hot, and they cool pretty quickly.
Chlebíčky (open-faced sandwiches)
Chlebíčky are aesthetically designed open-faced sandwiches, usually piled high with meats, cheeses, vegetables, and garnishes. They are beautiful to look at. Just take a look at this in-depth history of chlebíčky—vibrant colors and harmonious designs are just as important to chlebíčky as taste.
Sisters Bistro near Old Town is often applauded for their chlebíčky, though they’re not quite traditional. Sisters does a modern take on chlebíčky, inspired by the Scandinavian palate. The toasts here could easily be imagined in a shop window in Copenhagen, featuring smoked fish, rye bread, and pickled veg.
I wish I had time to try more chlebíčky during my brief visit to Prague. The meat and topping combinations are endless, and I’m sure there’s a lot I missed out on. The great thing about chlebíčky is that it can be eaten for breakfast, lunch, happy hour appetizers, or a snack between meals, so you can fit quite a few into your Prague itinerary.
Before going to Prague, my only concept of kolaches were the ones you find in Texas, savory pastries filled with breakfast food like sausage and eggs.
The original kolaches in Prague are… not that.
Kolaches are a sweet pastry filled or topped with fruit, like plum, and sometimes poppy seeds or cheese. Modern versions of kolache might include apricot or cherry as the fruit filling. Like the chlebíčky, I wish I had sampled more kolaches when I was in Prague. I only had one, chosen at random from a cart. The way I feel about kolaches is the same way I feel about strudel—each type of fruit filling is different, and it’s worth trying all of them.
Prague has no shortage of sweets, and palačinky is another one of them. They’re thin pancakes similar to French crepes, usually stuffed with fruit or jam and some type of cream and eaten for dessert. The traditional presentation is rolled into cigar-like tubes, but now you can see various crepe presentations throughout Prague.
Pretty much every country in central Europe has its own version of goulash. Czech goulash was the first I ever had, and remains my favorite. Unlike the Hungarian version, which is a soup reminiscent of Russian borscht, Czech goulash is much thicker. It’s more like a stew or a sauce, can be eaten with a fork, and stands up to the thick, starchy dumplings swimming in it.
I tried my first goulash in Prague at a very old, underground medieval pub (I wish I could remember the name). I really didn’t expect much, but I loved it. It’s the ultimate meat-and-potatoes comfort food. So hearty and filling, it really warms you up from the inside out.
In addition to goulash, there are a few more dishes in Prague that are characteristic of other countries in the Austro-Hungarian region—street sausages, schnitzel, and potato salad, to name a few. I skipped these dishes this time around in Prague and saved them for Germany and Austria instead.
Svíčková (beef sirloin in cream sauce)
A classic Sunday lunch or dinner in Prague, svíčková looks a lot like goulash to me, just in slightly different colors. Beef sirloin is smothered in a creamy vegetable sauce and served with bread dumplings. It’s the unofficial national dish of the Czech Republic.
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