Prague Without the Pork

How to go native without ever going native

By Laura Buccieri

In front of me are a Pilsner Urquell and a spicy tuna roll. I am at Yami Sushi, my pick for the best sushi place in Prague. As I wash down my roll with the Czech beer, I look across the table at a friend visiting from the States.

Looking confused, she bursts out, “This is just weird, I mean this is better sushi than I’ve had in New York. How is that possible? It’s Prague for God sakes! I expect the amazing beer, but the sushi, really?”

The cold hard truth of how I am living in Prague: in the four months I’ve been here, I’ve eaten Czech food only three times. No gorging on dumplings, roast duck or steak smothered in brown goo. While the native cuisine is tempting to many a foreign palate, I never adapted to the heavy sauces and meaty dishes.

Instead, like many young Czechs, I savor one of the biggest changes in post-communist dining: the plethora of international options that were nearly non-existent here before totalitarian rule ended in 1989. My daily fare consists of a steady rotation of burritos, bagels, fried rice, chicken curry, cheeseburgers, Pad Thai, couscous, and pasta; all of which paired with incredible Czech brews.

Here is my dining out survival guide for pork rib avoiders with nary a goulash in sight!

 

“But when Friday dinner rolls around, Zebra is the place to go. It is also off Old Town Square and has Chinese, Thai, and Japanese food. The smells of Pad Thai, wonton soup, and soy sauce will hit you as soon as you walk in.”

Friday:  As you will most likely arrive around lunchtime, proceed to Old Town Square. After hearing the Astronomical Clock ring at noon, let your ears lead the way as you follow salsa music down a set of stairs to the Mexican restaurant, Las Adelitas. This gem is hidden away from all the hustle and bustle of Old Town Square. It feels as though you are in an old wine cellar that has been converted into a restaurant pulsating with vibrant Mexican colors, smells, and charm.

If you speak Spanish, now is your chance to use it with the wait staff. Try the burrito de tinga or the burrito de cochinita, two outstanding choices. While both go very well with a margarita clasica on the rocks, a Czech Pilsner is never a bad choice either.

After your meal here, head across Old Town Square to Bakeshop. The walk is just long enough to burn off some of those calories from your burrito. This is American-owned shop serves everything from coffee, to yogurt muffins, to couscous and hummus.

During the day, the light pouring in from the shop’s store front windows highlights its minimalist and pristine decor. It shares the same atmosphere of a bakery from Santa Monica, California. Ordering at the counter, the workers will happily converse with you in English.

After your filling Mexican lunch, a yogurt muffin and an Americano will hit the spot just right. But when Friday dinner rolls around, Zebra is the place to go. It is also off Old Town Square and has Chinese, Thai, and Japanese food. The smells of Pad Thai, wonton soup, and soy sauce will hit you as soon as you walk in. Grab a Czech microbrew along with some Pad Thai and enjoy the flavors of Asia in Prague, including green tea ice cream.

 

Saturday:  Wake up and take the A metro line out to Vinohrady, a quaint residential neighborhood in Prague. To get your morning coffee fix, go to Kafe Kakao on Machova Street, near Namesti Miru. It is a family run cafe that caters to families with small children, as evidenced by the drawings done by the owner’s 3-year-old daughter on the wall and the strollers parked by the door.

Wake up for the day with a cappuccino and a berry cake. The Havlickovy sady park is right near the cafe, and you can enjoy the greenery of Prague as the city wakes up. For brunch, the place to go on a Saturday is Zanzibar. There is outdoor seating that overlooks a roundabout with a beautiful fountain in the middle.

If you are a Bloody Mary drinker, this is the place to get one, because a beer at brunch just somehow doesn’t seem as good. They serve many American breakfast items. A personal favorite is the eggs benedict, though offerings range from pancakes and waffles to salmon and eggs on toast.

If you are still around Vinohrady at dinnertime, go to Grossetos, an Italian restaurant in the shadow of Saint Ludmila church at Namesti Miru. When you walk in you are hit with the sight and smell of a wood-burning pizza oven that will make your mouth water. Grossetos has a huge menu with everything from pizza, to lasagna, to insalta mista.  Yes, they have a wine list, but also a long list of Czech brews that complement the acidity of the tomato sauce or the finesse of the pasta carbonara.

 

Sunday: There are two options for breakfast/lunch. Bohemia Bagel is quite central and has an American owner and the decor to prove it.  Your choices include everything from a bagel with cream cheese, to a tuna melt, to vegetable soup.

Or you can go to The Globe for a more formal breakfast. It is also popular with Americans, mainly expats.  Not only will you find a small bookstore at The Globe, but also drip coffee, which is a rare find in Prague. They have many traditional breakfasts choices, such as omelets, pancakes, French toast, and scrambles.

For dinner, go to Yami Sushi. It is very popular with Czechs and tourists alike, so be sure to make a reservation. While you have the option to stick to the typical spicy tuna rolls or rainbow rolls, Yami Sushi also has specialty rolls that their chefs invent which can be fun to try. Order over 5 rolls and your sushi will come on a big boat that they place in the middle of your table.

By the way, the choices of Czech beers need a table of their own.

Places Mentioned:

Yami Sushi – Masna 1051/3, Prague 1
tel.: +420 222 312 756
Hours: Tuesday-Sunday 12pm – 11pm
www.iyami.cz

Las Adelitas – Male Namesti 13, Prague 1
tel.: +420 222 233 247
Hours: Mon-Wed 11am-1am; Thu-Fri 11am-3am; Sat 2pm-3am; Sun 2pm-1am
www.lasadelitas.cz

Bakeshop – Kozi 918/1, Prague 1
tel.: +420 222 316 823
Hours: Monday-Sunday 7am – 9pm
www.bakeshop.cz

Zebra – Melantrichova 5, Prague 1
tel.: +420 777 873 333
Hours: Monday-Sunday 11am-11:30pm
www.zebranoodlebar.cz

Kafe Kakao – Americka 2, Vinohrady, Prague 2
tel.: +420 777 903 902
Hours: Monday-Sunday 10am-7pm
www.kafekakao.cz

Zanzibar – Americka 15, Vinohrady, Prague 2
tel.: +420 222 520 315
Hours: Mon-Thur 8am-11pm; Fri 8am-12am; Sat 10am-12am; Sun 10am-11pm
www.kavarnazanzibar.cz

Grossetos – Francouzska 79/2, namesti Miru, Prague 2
tel.: +420 224 252 778
Hours: 11:30am-11pm
www.grosseto.cz

Bohemia Bagel – Masna 2, Prague 1
tel.: +420 224 812 560
Hours: Monday-Sunday 8am-9pm
www.bohemiabagel.cz

The Globe – Pstrossova 6,  Prague 1
tel.: +420 224 934 203
Hours: Mon-Thurs 9:30am – 12am; Fri-Sun 9:30am – 1am
www.globebookstore.cz

Laura Buccieri is in the NYU Class of 2014, majoring in Anthropology and Creative Writing.  Her hometown is Atherton, California.

 

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Categories: Food, Spring 2013 Issue Number 1

Author:The Prague Wandering

The Prague Wandering is an NYU based study abroad webzine- the only one of its kind. It focuses on issues in contemporary Czech culture and the city of Prague, exploring beyond the study abroad bubble.

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