When travelling, you perceive differences and new perceptions with all of your senses, including such a basic sense as taste. If you didn’t taste local cuisine, you’d deprive yourselves of a large part of experiences from your journey. The gastronomic industry in the Czech Republic is developing as rapidly as elsewhere in Europe. In towns and cities, you literally have an opportunity to take a seat and taste something on every corner. You can choose Czech cuisine in either the traditional version or a fashionable light style, Asian cuisine in all of its forms starting with cuisine from the Near East all the way to Japanese cooking or, for example, South American cuisine. Quality restaurants that cook meals from all over the world are not only located in the biggest cities of Prague and Brno, but also on a regional level like in the Moravian city of Olomouc and the south Bohemian town of Tábor, where you’ll find some of the best restaurants in the Czech Republic following global trends and developing them in an original way.
Czech stars from the Michelin GuideThe great news is that quality food is far from being cooked only in Prague. Good ideas for interesting dishes and a corresponding environment fly across the country. There are several reasons for this. Czechs do not want to be satisfied with what they have, but they are looking for new ways. They travel a lot, learn and bring their experience to the country. At the same time, it turns out that the Czechia can also be an interesting environment for skilled foreigners who like to settle here and cook their specialties or are looking for a new fusion of traditional and modern cuisine.
The rapidly growing interest in good food can be seen, for example, in the huge popularity of TV gastro series, whether of foreign or domestic provenance, which have a great audience. Even the great popularity of culinary literature. And finally, when there is no lockdown, even on the number and attendance of quality restaurants.
At first it was slow and a bit cumbersome. Even before the Velvet Revolution, the first Chinese restaurants appeared in the Czech Republic. Around 1989 and after that, pizzerias began to spring up like mushrooms. Then some pizzerias expanded the menu to pasta and other Italian dishes. Especially during the Yugoslav war, skilled chefs came here from the Balkan countries. Then the Czechs began to discover the first sushi, Mexican food, Thai or Korean cuisine. Today, Indian or Nepalese restaurants are a matter of course, as well as South American influences.
First Michelin star
Not so long ago, Vietnamese food began to gain immense popularity, especially thanks to the large Vietnamese minority living in the Czech Republic. The Vietnamese SAPA market on the outskirts of Prague has become a popular destination for Czechs, who go there not only to shop, but also to eat well.
All this has an impact on the emergence of new interesting restaurants, where they try to go even further and do not stick to one influence. They offer interesting fusions, they are not afraid to experiment.
The first Michelin star, not only in the Czech Republic, but also in the countries of Central and Eastern Europe, was awarded in 2008 to the then Italian restaurant Allegro at the Four Seasons Hotel in Prague. Two years later, two Czech chefs, Roman Paulus from the Alcron restaurant at the Radisson Blu Alcron Hotel and Oldřich Sahajdák from La Degustation Bohême Bourgeoise, who specializes in classic Czech cuisine from the end of the 19th century, received the Michelin star for the first time. In 2016, they were complemented by chef Radek Kašpárek with the Prague restaurant Field.
At the beginning of this year's free series about the gourmet Czech Republic, we will offer you some tips on interesting restaurants and bars across the country.
Large Jewish community has lived in the center of Prague for centuries. The traditional kosher cuisine is based on the King Solomon restaurant near the Old Town Square. The menu includes, for example, festive poultry broth with mace dumplings and pasta or lamb cooked with potatoes and sweet carrots.
The owners of Bistro Paprika moved to Prague from Israel and cook according to Israeli recipes. You will find a small bistro near the I. P. Pavlova metro station, there are only a few places and they are almost always full, because the local hummus, falafel or vegan schwarma is really famous. Recently, the owners opened a branch at the Anděl metro station, where there are more seats or they will be happy to pack your food.
Lukáš Vašek started like many gourmets: he never studied culinary or confectionery, but he wanted to try something new. He opened the Oh Deer Bakery bakery near Národní třída in Prague, where the so-called crobliha is sold, which is a donut made of croissant dough, which is fried like a Czech donut. A sweet, and above all colorfully decorated delicacy attracts everyone who likes to experiment. Try the variant with pistachio cream and raspberry powder or a combination of salted caramel and Rafaello.
Bakery art from Iceland
Davíd Arnórsson received the Cake of the Year 2017 award in Iceland and received the award from the Icelandic President. Instead of continuing his well-started career, David decided to move to Prague and present specialties according to traditional Icelandic recipes. Near the Újezd tram stop, Artic Bakehouse has a bakery, where it burns an oven every day and bakes sourdough bread or cinnamon snails with vanilla icing. In the bakery he also sells fried pastries with cardamom or donuts with raisins ástarpungar, which he offers as "love balls" due to difficult pronunciation.
Scandinavian cuisine also inspires Radek Kašpárek, the chef of the Prague restaurant Field, who again defended the Michelin star in 2020. Emphasis is placed on the straightforward and unadorned presentation of ingredients and dishes. The food in that restaurant attracts not only with taste but also appearance. Here you can taste bull's blood clay, pickled dried ants, grated dried fallow deer heart or bulls made from bull's Achilles tendon. Radek Kašpárek is not afraid of bold ingredients or recipes that use rediscovered ingredients from Czech meadows and groves, such as black root or turnip.
Japanese, Korean or Vietnamese restaurants can be found throughout Prague. There are also more cafes serving Vietnamese filtered coffee with condensed milk. Caféfin is famous at the Jiřího z Poděbrad metro station or Ca phe, where you can enjoy not only coffee, but also coconut pancakes or a traditional Vietnamese baguette. The Vietnamese community is also behind the establishment of the SAPA shopping and cultural center in Prague. On an area of 250 thousand square meters you will find an authentic Vietnamese place, where there is a labyrinth of streets and alleys, full of restaurants and cafes. Go to SAPA or book an excursion in English, the guides will introduce you to the most interesting places in the whole area.
Chef Přemek Forejt worked in the London Michelin-starred restaurant L'Autre Pied, he also cooked in the renowned Brno restaurant Koishi. In 2015, he opened the Entree restaurant in Olomouc. It will amaze you not only with the original interior, but especially with the style that the chef presents to his guests. It emphasizes the quality of local ingredients and also playfulness. The menu includes, for example, scallops of St. James with fennel, the food is called Do it yourself. The guest composes the food himself according to the attached plan and finally has a butterfly-shaped meal on a plate.
Moderna in Baroque
Eva Dlabalová and Petr Heneš run the Long Story Short design hostel in Olomouc, which the British daily The Guardian has included in its list of the ten best new hostels in the world. The owners have renovated the former Baroque fortifications, in addition to accommodation here offers breakfast or lunch in the bistro, which combines traditional Czech cuisine with modern style. The menu includes, for example, lamb knuckle, pearl barley, spinach, hazelnuts or cod with pea puree.
Belgian David Girten was brought to Ostrava years ago by love. He married here and opened the Lapeco bistro, which evokes the style of French and Belgian cafes. The breakfast menu includes excellent croissants, waffles and sandwiches. The chef also offers a special sandwich with butter, scrambled eggs, bacon and arugula, along with fresh or takeaway coffee.
Sweet and salty
Part of traditional Czech cuisine is a side dish called dumplings. It is usually served with meat and sauce, dumplings are made of potato dough or white flour and white bread. Dumplings are also prepared with various types of fillings. The owners of the Pilsen company Dumbplings Factory bet on the variety of tastes. Old Bohemian style is for example Jam and poppy or Blueberry and cinnamon, you can also have Limoncello. The dumplings also have a salty filling, such as the traditional Czech Smoked with Spinach, but also Curry or Dirty Dog BBQ.
Brno is the second largest city in the Czech Republic and you will find student bistros, extravagant classy restaurants and retro cafes. One of the mainstays is Bistro Franz, whose owner was inspired by businesses in Berlin and Paris. Soups, sandwiches and the daily menu are made from local ingredients. For breakfast, have a vege burrito with avocado or peanut porridge.
Only for meat
The owners of the Būcheck food truck, which is parked on Zelný rynek in the center of Brno, serve a good load of meat. They also have experience with how to cook and serve abroad and decided to offer something special. The menu includes roast pork belly with peanuts, hoisin sauce and coriander or the famous shredded pork or french fries fried in lard.
The Brno gastro scene cannot be without Asian cuisine, in addition to restaurants, there are also cafes and bistros. One of the newcomers is Cà Phê Cổ, which offers Vietnamese coffee with egg yolk or rice porridge with chicken and herbs. An interesting concept has 3F by Mori, where it relies on a combination of healthy first-class food, which you can eat directly in the company or have packed. They focus on Japanese and Korean cuisine. You can choose from a wide range of ready-made sushi sets, salads and other dishes, or you can have what you just want prepared. The minimalist interior was designed by the London studio Identity Design.
The Moravian town of Mikulov attracts tourists from all over the world not only because of its monuments, but also because of its excellent gastronomy. Slovak chef Marek Ihnačák worked at the Pied-á-Terre restaurant in London, and also cooked at Jamie Olivier's Fifteen, where he became a sous chef. In Mikulov, he runs the restaurant of the Hotel Tanzberg, its concept is based on Jewish cuisine and refers to the history of the Jewish community, which has lived here since the 15th century. For example, lamb cooks Jewish-style carp in white wine with roasted garlic, onions and mashed potatoes. The restaurant also has a large selection of Moravian wines.
A new Czech classic
The Goldie restaurant of the Nautilus hotel has become one of the best rated in the Czech Republic in recent years. According to gourmet guide Pavel Maurer, it is the 10th best restaurant in the country. Chef Martin Svatek relies on a fusion of Czech and international cuisine. It refers to classic Czech dishes, but prepares them in a light version, such as grilled venison loin with rosehip sauce with raspberries, roasted cabbage and marinated pumpkin and polenta.
There are a number of pleasant cafés and restaurants on the embankment in České Budějovice. Head from the river to the main square of Přemysl Otakar II. and on the way go to Solnice, which is a late Gothic building that won the title of Monument of the Year in 2019. There used to be a salt warehouse here, today you will find a restaurant with a brewery. It cooks Czech and international cuisine. Try, for example, South Bohemian kulajda with scrambled eggs and roasted mushrooms or lightly smoked pork ribs with "Jack Daniels" sauce and cabbage salad.