I find that Czech friends and foreigners alike are often surprised that I can survive here as a vegetarian. “How do you manage to feed yourself? Czech food is so meat-centric?”. Quite well really! Certainly within Prague it is no problem at all, though in smaller towns and villages eating out often involves smažený sýr (fried cheese) or risotto. I’m vegetarian, not vegan, but I don’t eat meat or fish (which is really meat, isn’t it?).
I’ve mentioned one or two of these places before, but here is a non-comprehensive list of my go-to places in Prague.
Yes, this is the same Govinda you find all over the place in Europe – the Hare Krishna group that runs vegetarian restaurants, usually with set menus. 95Kč will get you the small menu plate which always includes soup, some sort of salad (rice or bean), rice or bulgur with vegetables and sauce, There are three locations in Prague. One very near Palladium mall in the centre, one in Prague 8 and the newest one, which appears to be a separate business, in Prague 5 across the street from Smíchovské nádraží. I’m partial to the one in Prague 5 as I find the food is fresher plus you get tea or juice included with your meal.
These vegan buffets can be found all over Prague, including in the food courts at Nový Smíchov and Galerie Butovice malls. It is amazing how busy they are. Food is sold by the 100 grams, usually between 19 and 22Kč, though if you come after 8pm it is usually discounted by up to 50%. It’s a little expensive if you need a big meal, but as a small meal on the go it is perfect.
For somewhere a little nicer, this is a great option. These restaurants are somehow related but have a different menu. Maitrea has a fantastic cozy lower floor eating area. Reservations are recommended on busy nights. The food is all original, well prepared with some “re-engineered” Czech specialties such as goulash or svíčková.
Polévka is Czech for soup and is a good option in many cafes and restaurants. This small restaurant near na plavka specializes in soups and always has some vegetarian options on the board. Economical and including bread with every bowl of soup. Be warned, it is very small and very busy at lunch time.
For a change of taste I sometimes go for the all you can eat Indian buffet at Indian by Nature. There are several locations in Prague but I am partial to the one near Hradčanská, the food seems fresher and the service friendlier. 125Kč gets you all you can eat, there are veggie and meat options was well as salad and naan. Drinks are extra of course.
There are many, many other restaurants. Some I’ve forgotten and other great ones I have yet to experience. Happy Cow will help you locate new places to try!
Here again there are many good options. Specialty store such as Country Life and Rozmaryna are great for a good selection of organic and bio products. Every weekend there are farmer’s markets all over town including my favourite at Na Plavka. Don’t forget the six day a week year-round market in Holesovice, found in the Vietnamese market area at the Pražská tržnice tram stop. It is less touristy and has a great selection of fresh local produce.
Good luck and dobrou chuť!
The Czech people quite enjoy being “in the nature” and when a friend invited me to drift down a river I had no choice but to say Ano! On a sunny Saturday morning I took the bus to Beroun, a small city 30 minutes from Prague. We then headed to our starting point and campground at Camp Kobylka on the Berounka River about 100 kms from Prague.
At 10am on a Saturday in August the campground was packed with families and groups. Beer was flowing freely already. After a quick setup we picked up our rental canoes. At 100Kc per person per day it is quite an economical rental. The canoes were not exactly what I was expecting, being more like a cross between a canoe and a kayak.
The fact we needed a waterproof barrel for our things made me hopeful there might be some excitement!
We offered some vodka to the river and the remaining vodka to each other to get the trip underway.
Our destination was a pub and campground 13 kms downstream where we would be shuttled back to Kobylka. After a few minutes of trying desperately to get the boats to travel in a straight line we settled into a rhythm and headed downstream.
It was very beautiful.
And very busy, we were never out of sight or earshot of groups of other canoes and rafts. Water etiquette dictates calling out “Ahoooooooooj” as you encounter others on the river and we were kept pretty busy.
Lunch was at a riverside pub, one of many we encountered. I was learning that, when it comes to canoeing, getting into the nature also involved quite a bit of civilized food and plenty of beer.
There were a few small rapids and weirs along the way, but nothing our robust canoes couldn’t handle. Most of the time the water was no more than a meter deep and often much shallower. Despite taking our time and stopping to raft together with others we were down the river in five hours or so. Safe and only slightly wet.
After another round of beer we shuttled back to our camp, had a nice outside meal at the pub and watched the sunset. I will be back, hopefully for a longer trip and with larger rapids. And maybe slightly less beer.
Some days it seems my brain works something like this: “sleepfoodfoodfoodfoodworkworkfoodfoodfoodfoodsleep”.
You get the idea, food is pretty high up my priority list.
For those of you new to Prague, or just looking to try something different, here are my personal picks:
For a great relaxing tea room try Čajovna Durama at Trojanova 4. No pressure, nice environment (non-smoking), free wifi and fantastic masala čaj. A very close second are any of the Mama Coffee locations – always a pleasant atmosphere with free wifi and a selection of snacks too!
Natures perfect food: Pizza! After trying many pizza slices I’ve settled on Kebab Star & Pizza at Národní 18. 45Kč gets you 1/4 slice (not a pathetic 1/8th slice) of fresh and crispy delicious pizza.
I’m a vegetarian and when I am feeling particularly hungry I head to one of two Govinda locations (Soukenická 27 or across from Smíchovské náměstí). 95Kč gets you the set menu meal and for an extra 10Kč you can have free seconds! Come 30 minutes before closing time at the Soukenická location and get a discount.
Special occasion? Friends in from out of town? Try Maitrea or its sister restaurant Lehka Hlava (Light Head). Maitrea is located just off of Old Town Square at Týnská ulička 6/1064. Fantastic food and a very beautiful atmosphere. Even the non-vegetarians in the group will rave about it! Maitrea has managed to take traditional Czech cuisine and reinvent it as vegetarian food. Expect to pay 200-300Kč per person depending on your tastes. Reservations recommended for busy times.
For those times I have a craving for something sweet Kumbál Kavárna a Mléčný Bar at Heřmanova 408/12 in Praha 7 is an easy choice. A fantastic selection of desserts awaits and the prices are low enough to justify two or maybe three pieces if you just can’t decide.
This should be enough to get you started and I will add more places as I come across them….