Isn’t it weird how we never talk about Prague? It’s so close, it’s insanely beautiful, (a lot cheaper), and still I haven’t been in over 15 years and everyone I talked to was like, yeah, I really want to go, but… No but! You should go! Prague is amazing! I went for a way too short stint of two nights in August and had so much stuff on my to-see-list, I could’ve stayed a week. However, here’s an intro to the Prague of now.
First, let me give you a necessary tip – since Prague is so crazy pretty, it’s a hot spot on the list of many, loads, hordes of tourists who pile up on the Charles’ Bridge and in the narrow streets of the old town. You can totally avoid them, though – Prague is quite big, and if you still want to see the sight seeing highlights, opt for the hours later in the day – we went to Charles’ Bridge around eight and it wasn’t very annoying.
This is a list of things I did and enjoyed in Prague, there’s tons more, but this is a very fine start.
I was very excited to eat at Eska, and I wasn’t disappointed. As a part of a group of restaurants going by the name of Ambiente, Eska has its home in a former industrial building. Upon entering, you’ll find yourself almost in the center of the kitchen, bakery and little grocery store, the dining room is upstairs. The interior is very contemporary chic with Scandinavian design furniture and loads of white brick walls. Eska is going for the tried and tested local ingredients approach, combining what they find in the meadows and forests around in updated Czech classics – pictured here is my aromatic and delicious main, a pancake made from fermented potatos, topped with mushrooms, juniper and pickled pine needles. Before, we had potatoes in ash with smoked fish, dried egg yolk and kefir. All sounding rather simple, but the potatoes itself were already packed with flavor and combined in such traditional, yet contemporary way. Eska is also serving a very popular brunch – don’t forget to make a reservation – and looks like a prime spot to get your bread in Prague (it’s served with fresh made butter at the beginning of each meal and was such the reason I couldn’t try the mirabelle ice cream with kefir.) Karlín, the district Eska is in, looked quite interesting itself, as said, one needs way more time than we had.
Pernerova 49, 186 00 Prague 8.
Prague has too many coffee houses to count, many of them with a very old-worldly feel and displays of countless cakes. Next to them, the speciality coffee scene is thriving with places like EMA, a very cool coffee place close to the center, serving everything we caffeine lovers want and need as well as a choice of sandwiches, cakes and soups.
Na Florenci 1420/3, 110 00 Prague
Owned by the same group as Eska, Lokal has several locations in Prague, all of them classic Czech pubs whose interior and menu have received a bit of an update. We went to the one just behind Charles’ bridge, a good idea to tick that off your list in the late evening, and enjoyed a dinner table full of classic Czech pub food, sausages, chopped salad with a feta-style cheese (Šopský salát, germanized to Schopska Salat in the areas close to Czech republic, no joke), beef tartar, tomatoes with onions and – wait for it – fried cheese with homemade tartar sauce (Smažený sýr, ). Yes, they’re deep frying cheese over there, and combine it with tartar sauce made of onions, pickled cucumbers, lemon juice and mayonaise and it is heaven when enjoyed with a beer fresh from the tap. I also had to have the poppy seed noodle dessert.
The Ambiente group has loads more restaurants with many of them being really good considering it’s such a huge group. One of them that is as often recommended as Eska is Cestr, with a menu so meat-heavy, we rather went to Lokal, but I’d definitely come here to just eat sides (and dumplings), and basically everything from their extensive dessert menu.
Lokál U Bílé kuželky, Míšeňská 12, 118 00 Prague 1
A cute place serving good coffee, snacks and a range of aperitivo drinks, among them craft beer. Letka makes a prime destination after your extensive walk through the wonderful Letná Park from where you have a gorgeous view all over the central district, while every other tourist squeezes into the lines at the castle.
Letohradská 44, 17000 Prague
As said, Prague’s speciality coffee scene is on the rise, and Místo is definitely on the forefront of development. Not only do they serve very good coffee, but also an interesting breakfast menu featuring scrambled eggs, omelette, buckwheat pancakes and a lot more. As well as some delicious Czech pastries. Also, Místo is in the very pretty 6th district with its many villas and walnut trees.
Bubenečská 12, 160 00 Praha 6
We were lucky enough to be invited to stay two nights at the Emblem Hotel located in the center of the central district, just around the corner from the central square of the old town as well as the famous astronomical clock. Besides their super comfortable rooms, they’re offering a vast breakfast buffet with everything you could ever want to eat.
Platnéřská 111/19, 111 00 Praha 1
I realize, there are loads of spots still to be visited, the many bourgeois coffee houses like Café Imperial, Café Savoy and Café Louvre, the beer garden at Letná Park, all the other locations of Lokal, and the many more cafés. As said, I need, want, will go back.