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Prague Food: the dishes you can't miss

Although Prague is one of the most visited cities in Europe, it can not be said that its gastronomy is well known outside the Czech borders. If you are curious to know what you will find in its restaurants, I have prepared a small list of its most famous dishes.

Joaquín Montaño

Joaquín Montaño

8 min read

Prague Food: the dishes you can't miss

Restaurant in Pragra | ©R Boed

When you prepare your list of what to see and do in Prague there is something you can not forget: to know its gastronomy. After all, this is part of the country's culture and will accompany you during the days of your trip. You should know that Czech food has many points in common with that of the rest of Central Europe, with a strong presence of meat and the custom of serving large quantities.

Pork, veal and chicken are the main ingredients of the food in Prague, with an important presence of duck in some of its most popular recipes. This means that it is not an easy destination for vegetarians, although they will also find their options. Most dishes are accompanied by sauces of different types and the ubiquitous knedliky.

1. Koleno (Pork knuckle)

Eating Koleno| ©Luke Porwol
Eating Koleno| ©Luke Porwol

If there is one dish present in almost all the best restaurants in Prague, it is the knuckle of pork. In fact, if you go on a gastronomic tour, this recipe is sure to appear.

Knuckle of knuckle is a real treat for meat lovers, as its flavor and a tender processing technique make this recipe an incomparable morsel, with a crispy exterior and a melt-in-the-mouth interior.

The main ingredient is obviously the pork knee, which is baked for several hours so that the meat is tender and falls off the bone easily. It is usually seasoned with onion, chilli, garlic, black pepper and other spices and served with horseradish, rye bread and mustard.

I recommend you try it at midday, as it can be too heavy a meal for dinner time.

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2. Schnitzel

Schnitzel| ©Bianca Bueno
Schnitzel| ©Bianca Bueno

Actually, this dish comes from neighboring Austria, as you may have noticed if you have taken a trip to Vienna. However, Prague has adopted the recipe with small modifications and today it is very popular in all its restaurants. Note that in many menus you will find it under the name of Řízek (in English, breaded).

One of the advantages of this dish is its versatility when it comes to its presentation. In Prague it is usually cooked with pork, although not far from chicken.

Its preparation is quite simple, as you only have to marinate a fillet of meat and then bread it and fry it with oil until it is golden brown.

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3. Česká Bramborová,

Česká Bramborová,| ©Mercado Calabijo
Česká Bramborová,| ©Mercado Calabijo

Soups are very present in Czech gastronomy. In the cold months, they are perfect to start a meal and, in addition, the number of varieties that exist will make you try a different one every day of your stay.

Among the most popular in the Czech capital is the Ceská Bramborová, to the point that many consider it the national soup.

The base of this soup is potatoes and mushrooms, to which vegetables and usually pieces of veal are added. However, as with so many other popular dishes, in each region of the Czech Republic you are going to find slight variations in the ingredients.

4. Chlebíček

Chlebíček| ©Juan de Vojníkov
Chlebíček| ©Juan de Vojníkov

Although much of Czech gastronomy is based on meat and its sauces, you can also find some lighter dishes to have as an appetizer. This is the case with chlebíček, slices of bread that are covered with butter, cheese spread or salad and topped with various ingredients.

Chlebíček are never missing at social events in Prague, from birthdays to parties at schools or workplaces. In fact, they can even be found at funerals.

Where to find them in Prague

In the Czech capital you will be able to find this dish in several stores all over the city. Here are just three of them in case you feel like trying some:

  • Sisters: this small shop in the old city is considered the place that recovered for the general public the sale of chlebíček, after a time when they could only be found in homes. In addition to the more traditional ones they offer some with more imaginative ingredients, such as smoked potatoes with ham or mushrooms.
  • Lahudky Zlaty Kriz: located very close to Wenceslas Square, this store is characterized by offering old-school chlebíček. This has made it a favorite for locals who often stop by to buy some of their favorites and eat them as a quick snack.
  • Chlebicky Letná: Letná has become one of the city's most thriving neighborhoods in recent years, with the opening of several entertainment centers and restaurants. One of the most successful is this popular store offering more than 20 different types of chlebíček. This is a perfect option for those who want to have a small picnic in Letná Park while enjoying the views of the old town.

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5. Grilované klobásy

Grilované klobásy.| ©Fredie033
Grilované klobásy.| ©Fredie033

During a trip it is not uncommon to try to eat something quick to continue visiting the tourist attractions of the city. This can happen in Prague after, for example, taking a tour of the Jewish quarter and lunchtime finds you on your way to the Old Town Square. The solution is simple and tasty: order a good Grilované klobásy in a small stall.

This food, despite the complicated name, is just a grilled sausage served with a delicious bread and accompanied by the sauce you like the most. Despite its simplicity, do not think that it is something similar to a hot dog, since the difference in the quality of the sausage meat and the touch that the grill gives it makes it much tastier.

During your tour of the city you will find many stalls that serve this dish. The most popular among tourists (and among many locals) are those located in Wenceslas Square and in the areas near the Old Town Square.

6. Smazeny syr

Smazeny syr| ©GALAXY 2018 A7
Smazeny syr| ©GALAXY 2018 A7

A dish present in both restaurants and street stalls is smazeny syr, one of the specialties of Prague's gastronomy. In a very simple way it can be described as a fried slice of cheese, although it is actually somewhat more elaborate.

Normally, to make this dish some Edam-type cheese is used, cut into a slice about 15 centimeters thick. It is then dredged in flour, egg and breadcrumbs and fried in very hot oil. When it is served, it is usually accompanied with salad, fried potatoes and a piece of bread. Sometimes it is also covered with the Czech version of tartar sauce.

The result will delight cheese lovers who will enjoy a crunchy, tasty and satisfying dish. Of course, according to the inhabitants of Prague, it is essential to eat it while it is still hot.

7. Knedliky

Knedliky| ©valcs
Knedliky| ©valcs

When you look at the menu of a restaurant in Prague, you will be struck by the number of dishes that include what they have translated into English as dumplings. At first, you might think of a kind of stuffed pasta, but in the Czech Republic they are a very different product.

The name of this food in Czech is knedliky and they are made with flour, egg, salt, milk and yeast. The result is cut into slices like bread and used as a garnish in numerous stews.

The taste of knedliky is very mild, but its texture makes it perfectly absorb the flavor of the sauce that accompanies dishes such as goulash or svíčková.

8. Svíčková

Svíčková| ©Matyáš Havel
Svíčková| ©Matyáš Havel

"Svíčková na smetaně" or directly svíčková is the name of one of the most popular dishes among the inhabitants of Prague and the whole country.

The recipe consists of a thinly sliced beef tenderloin marinated for a few hours to tenderize it and let it absorb the flavor of the added aromatic herbs. Then a thick and creamy sauce is prepared, with a taste with sweet, salty and sour nuances.

Although you will find it in any restaurant in Prague, or possibly even if you book one of the Vltava dinner cruises, this dish is considered in the country as a dish for special celebrations, such as weddings.

When it is served, several slices of knedliky should not be missing, which acquire the flavor of the sauce to round off the final result.

9. Goulash

Goulash| ©Dova
Goulash| ©Dova

When we hear about goulash we usually think of Hungary, the country of origin of this recipe. However, the Czechs have adapted the dish by eliminating much of the spiciness of the Hungarian paprika and adding some elements.

Thus, goulash in Prague is made with less vegetables and more meat, almost always beef. In restaurants you will find two types, one similar to a stew and the other with more broth that is offered as a soup.

It is often served in a bowl made of bread and, of course, accompanied by several pieces of knedliky.

10. Pečená kachna (Duck)

Pečená kachna (Duck)| ©Martin Sklenar
Pečená kachna (Duck)| ©Martin Sklenar

While most of the meat dishes you're going to be able to try in Prague are made with pork, veal and chicken, you may be struck by the number of menus advertising recipes made with duck.

During my visit to the city, the area where I was able to see these advertisements most often was in the places to eat near the Prague castle, but you can certainly find them in other neighborhoods as well.

The star dish with this animal is pečená kachna, that is, basically roast duck. The result is a very tender meat coated with a crispy crust and served with sweet cabbage.

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As an extra, a street sweet: the trdelnik.

The trdelnik| ©Tamorlan
The trdelnik| ©Tamorlan

When you walk through the city center (no matter if you have traveled to Prague in summer or in winter) you will notice a peculiar sweet smell in many corners. The reason is the large number of stores and stalls selling trdelnik, a kind of roasted dough cylinder covered with sugar.

Although they are very typical of the markets that are set up in Prague at Christmas, you can also find them when the heat is on. However, there are differences between the two seasons. Thus, when it is cold, the most typical is to take them alone or with hot chocolate, while when the weather is warmer they are usually filled with ice cream of different flavors.

The companion of all meals in Prague: beer.

Serving Beer| ©Gonzalo Remy
Serving Beer| ©Gonzalo Remy

Considering that the Czech Republic is the country with the highest per capita beer consumption, it should come as no surprise that every meal is washed down with beer.

The most popular commercial beer is Pilsner Urquell, whose brewery you can visit if you join an excursion to Pilsen. In addition, you will also find a large number of smaller or craft beers, which you can learn more secrets about on a tour of some of these small breweries and the many breweries in the city of Prague.

Are street food stalls reliable?

Street Stalls| ©timfilbert
Street Stalls| ©timfilbert

The streets of Prague, especially its squares, are full of street st alls offering fast food for visitors and locals. You can order anything from sausages to hamburgers, as well as other more elaborate dishes.

In general, you can eat there without any problems. Unless you see any obvious hygiene problems, the stalls are well controlled and safe.