Who know that I could write so much about the food and drink experiences in Prague and the Czech Republic?! Definitely not me, until I started to write in my experiences about the city, and typed almost 1700 words just on restaurants, coffeeshops, supermarkets, and bars. So here ya go. If you are visiting Prague, coming to study here, moving here, or simply curious on how Ive been surviving these past three months, this is a fully detailed explanation, (BE WARNED) at some points this may come off a bit like an advertisement, [how can it not?? when I am daily in awe and shock at the food scene of this beautiful city & it is what I think about 95% of the time] Enjoy 🙂
Food & Drink.
The Restaurants : Why did I begin with this topic? Probably because I feel very very strongly about the Prague food scene and have likely gained a few pounds to prove it. Every time that I choose to go out to eat in Prague, I am happily satisfied. There are endless options, and (thankfully) not just Czech Food! As a formerly picky eater, I had a lot of anxiety of moving to a country known for its traditional cuisine of meat and potatoes (for example guláš, schnitzel, and kabobs). However, I quickly learned that not only does Prague do Czech food well, it also does every other kind of food exceptionally! Im not joking when I say that they have a strong showing for all food types like I have never seen in one city in America (Granted LA likely does have these and more options, but not all in close proximity and easily accessible). I have visited amazing Indian, Thai, American, Italian, and Mexican restaurants that have left me with fond memories of meals too quickly devoured. The best part about the Prague food scene is its AFFORDABLE! A few of my favorite restaurants include The Tavern, Las Adelitas, U Kokra, Cafe Savory, Eska, and Modry Zub. Also a very helpful resource when anticipating a trip to Prague is to check out the blog “Taste of Prague”, dedicated specifically on the best places to eat and drink in this city.
The Coffeeshops: My pride for the food of this city does not compare to how excited I was when I realized that Prague loves coffee!! More specifically, Prague loves cutesy hip coffee shops that are exceptional places to relax in or grab a chai on a rainy day [fyi i’m not a coffee snob (I usually like black coffee), but I really enjoy the experience of sipping on good coffee in a nice environment]. California’s coffeeshop culture is so present and up and coming, just imagine my surprise when I realized that my new city had endless options that are just as great as Verve and Molino’s (my home favs). Not only have I thoroughly enjoyed the atmosphere and decor of the coffeeshops that I visited while here (I wont get close to seeing them all), but they also have proven to ALL have good coffee, and most have good food (like soups and salads). This being said, the coffee culture is exceptionally good in Prague and made my semester much easier with lots of caffeine and a solid place to study. I am currently writing this blog from Kavarna Co Hleda Jmeno, and have already been here for 2+ hours drinking a chai and having Czech potato s0up. If you are in the city and looking for a good place to hang out, I would again suggest checking out the blog “Taste of Prague” The best guide to coffee shops in Prague , or my friend’s instagram account “Mug Diaries” (your welcome Joseph). You will not be sorry or go thirsty!
The Supermarkets: Dumb as it sounds, grocery shopping has perhaps been the cause of some of my most stressful moments while abroad (maybe this is a good thing? I have not been stressed about much haha) . However, after three months, I finally feel adept when searching down rows and rows trying to find foods that I don’t know how to say in Czech and hoping that I don’t grab the wrong item (easier than you would think). There are multiple good options for grocery shopping in Prague, including Tesco (my favorite), Billa, and Albert. I am a huge advocate for making the journey to the Tesco superstore on Andel, because it has everything you could possibly imagine and reflects American grocery stores. Tesco is by far my favorite grocery store because they have both food & home goods (think Target crossed with Raleys). I actually googled “when will Tesco come to America?” in anticipation of missing their good prices and brand items when I move back in December [answer: they already tried and failed in the form of ‘Fresh and Easy’]. Although I said that grocery stores have been one of my challenges while here, they have also been one of my greatest triumphs, considering it is the first time in my life that I have had the responsibility to grocery shop and cook for myself. It is such a feeling of success to shop intentionally with a recipe in mind, frugally, and to carry those groceries over into the kitchen and feed myself well. Such a minuscule accomplishment, but truly something that has empowered me throughout this semester and reminded me that I am capable of adulthood. I typically spend about $20 a week on groceries, and usually go for cereal, yogurt, yams, chicken, wheat bread, oat milk, peanut butter, bananas, tomatoes, kale, lettuce, carrots, brussel sprouts and eggs. I have no idea why I just listed off my grocery list, or how I just wrote the longest paragraph about grocery stores, but hopefully it is clear that the Czech Republic is not quite as foreign as one would expect when it comes to food options.
If you are still reading along, I will now clarify my stressful experiences while shopping in the supermarket. Likely my most embarrassing and biggest fail as a foreigner in this city thus far was one fateful trip to Tesco in the first month. I was feeling extremely confident in my ability as an adult, getting all sorts of things for the kitchen, such as spices, variates of vegetables, meats, sauces, and in general, items from all over the store were stuff into my rolling cart. Proud of myself for making frugal, grown up choices on foods that would be versatile in the kitchen and last me for the upcoming months, I loaded them onto the conveyer belt only to look into my purse and realize I only had 200 koruna. I had gone out the night before, and left my wallet with all my Czech currency and credit cards in my other purse at the apartment. Panicking I quickly grabbed stuff and conspicuously shoved it under the conveyor belt, in hopes of not being noticed by the cashier who was checking out the man in front of me. I did it quickly and quietly, putting down enough stuff that I would still get some goods for my 200 koruna budget (equal to 8 dollars). In context, checking out is always nerve wracking enough as a foreigner, because the grocer will mumble some Czech words to you such as ‘dobry den’ and ‘do you want a bag'(in Czech) and I am normally split between coming clean right then and letting them know i am american and have no idea what they are saying, or fake it and hope that a simple ano (yes) or ne (no) will be sufficient to not reveal my lack of understanding. Normally, revealing that you cannot speak or understand Czech to a grocer will earn you an annoyed dirty look, so you can imagine my anxiety as I approached the grocer on this particular trip. Knowing full well that my under the counter grocery stash would be a huge hassle, I approached the woman attempting to conceal my guilt. To sum it up, this story ended with her walking around the belt, pulling out all the items I had disposed of, and spending a few minutes yelling at me in Czech in front of everyone. Needless to say, she was not happy, especially when I could not explain myself beyond saying ‘sorry’, and I left the store empty handed and feeling the bitter taste of guilt and failure. Wow, a very dramatic story to take place at a grocery store, but a good lesson to remember that you should always double check that you have money BEFORE you start putting food in your cart.
My second stressful (much less detailed) experience while grocery shopping took place at Billa, when I learned that unlike most grocery stores, you need to weigh and label produce yourself. The check out counter does not do this for you, and you will end up looking like a very confused, dumb foreigner when you get to the front and get chastised in Czech, and STILL don’t understand what they are trying to tell you.
These two stories are VERY unnecessary for you guys to read and abnormal for shopping in Prague, however if one of you were ever to visit and find any aspect of the city discouraging, it may be a good reminder to hear that ya girl has struggled, of all places while in the grocery stores.
Bars: Let me be frank. There are many, many bars in Prague, and the drinking culture is quite prevalent. That being said, I am not a huge fan of just sitting around and drinking (to be expanded upon in another blog post), and do not have much experience at the Prague bars. I can tell you this much- Beer is cheap here, and enjoyed best at underground bars such as USudu or PoPos, or Beer Gardens such as Riegrovy Sady or Letna Park (if you are visiting in warmer weather). While I am not a huge fan of beer, it is a thing of pride for the Czechs and as was explained to us in our orientation, the locals drink often, but not alot. Throughout my time in the Czech republic I have had toured the Pilsner factory in the city of Pilsen, the Becherovka factory (a Czech specialty herbal liquor), the largest (or oldest?) brewery in Prague, and tried Burčak (a special sweet wine that is only available around harvest time). If you are visiting Prague I would recommend trying these unique beverages, maybe if only once haha.