As you may know, Dan & I love a food tour. We find them as a great way to experience a lot of local dishes without doing much of the legwork, and we do them on almost every trip (see our tours in Kuala Lumpar, London, Mexico, Paris, Siem Reap, Singapore, Venice, the list goes on… ). Yes, we really do love a good food tour.
When visiting Prague, we found Prague Food Tour via a Google search before we left home and took its evening Delicious Food Tour on our second night in Prague. Prague Food Tours is owned by couple George and Leona, both natives of Prague, and this particular tour took participants on a walking tour through central Prague, stopping at four locations over the course of four hours, and eating and drinking a lot! Since the tour is four hours and the owners/guides are Prague natives, we also received a lot of information about Prague and we were welcome to ask questions! We met in the early evening in central Prague and dove right in to the “food” portion of the tour!
Stop 1 – Café Imperial. Our first stop was at one of Prague’s oldest and most famous restaurants, Café Imperial. Café Imperial is a grand café reminiscent of something that you would find in Paris or in an old European novel. The waiters are dressed in upscale suits and the restaurant is decorated with the most beautiful tiles. This restaurant definitely captures Prague’s golden age.
At Café Imperial, we really moved right into the “food” portion of the tour and had basically a full meal. We were not prepared for that, but the food was quite enjoyable! To start, everyone was offered a beverage of their choice. I choose a glass of red wine from the Moravia region of the Czech Republic (in the southwest of the country). Moravia is known for its white wines, but it does produce some reds (mostly light bodied), both of which wines can be found in restaurants and shops all over Prague. This was my first foray into Moravian wine, and I was happy with my choice. While a bit lighter than I like my reds (par for the course with Moravian wines), this one was well done, and I wish I had written down the name of the bottle for reference!
Upon receiving our beverages, we were served our first course, a mushroom soup with a poached egg and dill. Apparently this is a traditional soup, and I loved everything about it (I love dill & mushrooms so I’m not sure how this could have gone wrong…). However, even Dan, who does not like mushrooms, enjoyed the soup a lot! The soup was also quite photogenic. Needless to say, we all finished our soup.
In addition to being a decadent looking cafe, Café Imperial is known for serving high-quality traditional Czech food and for our next course, everyone was offered their choice of steak, rabbit, or another meat (that I cannot recall). We all went with the beef steak, which was served in a traditional gravy sauce with a bread dumpling and cranberries (who knew cranberries are popular outside of US Thanksgiving?). To eat this dish, we were instructed to mix the cranberries the other ingredients to your liking and eat it all together. While not terribly excited about this dish, it ended up being something I would order again! The beef steak was very tender and it paired very well with the gravy sauce and the cranberries (I used them all). The bread dumpling was just ok in my opinion, but I am not a bread dumpling fan (I knew this before going) so that is certainly not a comment on Café Imperial.
After leaving Café Imperial, we walked about a 10 minutes through a gorgeous part of Prague, during which time George gave us some Czech history and pointed out some of Prague’s fanciest restaurants.
After our stroll, we arrived at Lokal, a traditional Czech beer hall.
Stop 2 – Lokal. As a traditional beer hall, Lokal specializes in beer and pub food, and Lokal has several locations throughout Prague. I had actually planned to eat here a few nights later, so I was excited to stop here on our food tour and free up another dinner for more delicious food in Prague! Fun fact, it is also one of the longest bars in Prague (see the video below)!
Lokal serves Czech beer in the 3 traditional ways: Hladinka, normal beer, Šnyt, half beer and half foam, and Mlíko, mostly foam and a tiny bit of beer. To maximize by beer, I ordered the Hladinka of pilsner; Dan went with the darker version. The beer was quite tasty.
Just after we ordered our beers, Lokal brought out our second dinner. Seriously, it was like a second dinner. Be prepared.
First course, Prague ham served with a room temperature Czech white cheese with some sort of oil on the cheese. We were instructed to eat the ham with the cheese in one bite, and this was actually a good combination! The cheese almost whipped and it did not have a strong flavor. I was also pumped to try Prague ham, as I had been hearing about it this entire trip!
Our second course at Lokal was one of my absolute favorite Central European foods, fried cheese! The fried cheese at local was a soft white cheese battered just enough so that the exterior was hard but the interior was warm and soft. I LOVED this dish and really wanted to go back for a second friend cheese before we left (sadly, that did not happen!).
Our third and final course at Lokal was probably everyone’s favorite dish of the tour (and possibly our time in Prague) – steak tartare! Steak tartare is a thing in Prague and its served at a lot of restaurants, including pubs! Lokal’s steak tartare is a mix of steak, olive oil, and onion served with crisp bread fried in lard (yum!) and a clove of garlic. Its traditional and delicious to rub the garlic on the bread and then smear the tartare on top. This dish was truly excellent and you should not go to Lokal without ordered this dish (and the fried cheese!).
While our food tasting at Lokal was done, we did have one last tasting – Communist Coca-Cola. Because the Czech Republic was under Communist rule for a long time, it did not have access to Western products, such as Coca-Cola, so it made its own! This was pretty common in Communist countries, and I tried a similar Communist Coca-Cola in Slovenia several years ago. The Czech Republic’s version is called Kofola; it tasted like a very sweet Coca-Cola. Think Coca-Cola with sweet-tarts.
Stop 3 – Bonvivant’s. Bonvivant’s is an old school cocktail bar with an emphasis on handcrafted cocktails. Indeed, Bonvivant’s takes cocktail making very seriously. You will be hard pressed to find a better cocktail in Prague. Unfortunately, for tourists anyway, Bonvivant’s is closing this location and moving to a new location in Prague’s suburbs. We visited on one of the last evenings. In any case, Bonvivant’s was awesome and probably worth a trip to the burbs if you have a free evening.
At Bonvivant’s, we enjoyed three handcrafted cocktails made with three different Czech liquors. Our bartender, who could not have been older than 20, guided us through the cocktails, giving background on the liquor and the recipe. We also had the option to taste the liquors straight, which I skipped!
Our first cocktail was made with a traditional Czech clear liquor, but I cannot recall its name to save my life. I did have a tiny taste of this liquor straight and it was extremely strong! That was the end of my straight liquor tasting. This first cocktail came out an orange color and was reminiscent of a Negroni. To my relief ,the final product was not strong like the straight drink, and it tasted very good!
Our second cocktail was made with one of Europe’s most notorious drinks, Absinthe. I recall having this in Prague in 2004 (back when it was illegal almost everywhere else) and it being very, very strong and having a licorice flavor. This time around, it was mixed into a berry cocktail that only had a slight licorice taste. Vert tasty, in my opinon! This cocktail was also downright beautiful.
Our final cocktail was made with a traditional Czech liquor called Becherovka. According to our bar tender, this liquor is popular in the Czech mountains at ski resorts at Carlsbad. To make this drink, Becherovka is mixed into a hot cocktail and then poured into these adorable cups – the handle is a straw! This cocktail was small and strong, yet quite delicious. We enjoyed it so much that we purchased Becherovka and similar cups to bring back home and recreate the drink!
We left Bonvivant’s happy that we were able to experience it in central Prague, but a little sad that it was closing and moving to the suburbs. In any case, our next stop was just across the Vltava River, about 10 minutes away on foot.
After crossing the River Vlatava, we arrived at our last and final stop of the tour, another classic café, Café Savoy.
Stop 4 – Café Savoy. Café Savoy is another restaurant that feels like a café from Prague’s Golden Age serving traditional Czech food. In fact, the ceiling dates to 1893. Café Savoy is an ideal spot for breakfast or lunch and often has a long waiting line (its very popular with the tourists). We were seated in the back of the restaurant and started with our choice of beverage. I went with a white Moravian wine, as I had not tried a 2016 white Moravian wine since arriving in Prague. As expected, it was a bit on the sweet side but well made (I don’t like sweet wines).
After our beverages, we were served one of Prague’s most famous dishes – the open faced sandwich! Small open-faced sandwiches are very popular in Prague and they are served everywhere, even at our airport lounge. This particular sandwich was served on white bread topped with potato salad, Prague ham, a slice of hard boiled egg, a pickle and, chives. V. tasty!!
Next, we were treated to two types of Czech desserts. One, two hard biscuits with a bit of a coconut flavor sandwiched around chocolate. Two, a cream puff type pastry filled with a cream center. Both desserts were quite tasty and the best way to end our food tour.
STEAL OUR TOUR
Prague Food Tour: We took the Delicious Food Tour for 98 euro/person. The tour was definitely worth the money and was more than enough for dinner and drinks. Be sure to book in advance, as the tour is limited to about eight people and it fills up in advance.
Café Imperial: Na Poříčí 1072/15, 110 00 Petrská čtvrť, Czechia. Open daily 7h – 23h. During lunch, you should be fine walking in for a table. I would suggest making a reservation for dinner, especially with groups. While there did not seem to be a strict dress code, I recommend dressing smart to fit the locale.
Lokal: Dlouhá 33, 110 00 Staré Město, Czechia. Open daily 11h – 1h (00h on Sunday). There are a number of other locations throughout Prague, but this is the original. You can make reservations online here. However, I am not certain they are necessary except for large groups.
Bonvivant’s: Sadly, this location has now closed (the rent was too damn high). Bonvivant’s is relocating to a new location in the suburbs of Prague. Definitely Google Bonvivant’s for there new location, as these cocktails are worth a detour. If Bonvivant’s is not open on your visit or its new location is too far in the suburbs, check out Parlour near Wenceslas Square. Parlour makes craft cocktails to order based on your flavor preference. Parlour: Krakovská 15, 110 00 Praha 1, Czechia. Open daily 6h – 1h. Reservations for up to four people can be made by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org .
Café Savoy: Vítězná 5, 150 00 Praha 5- Malá Strana. Open Monday – Friday 8h – 22h30, Saturday & Sunday 9h – 22h30. Crowded with tourists, but you can reserve a table online via its website. Casual attire. Free wifi and credit cards accepted
ON A BUDGET
While I did think the tour is worth the cost, if you are on a strict budget Prague is filled with inexpensive and delicious food! Try these butcher shops that I reviewed for a fancy, authentic meal and a lower price.