We’ve been traveling to the Czech Republic*** for years. Although early trips focused on the most traditional Czech food and beer we could find, in more recent trips we’ve tried to expand our knowledge of Czech cuisine. This includes not only typical Czech food in Prague but more contemporary cuisine, particularly outside of Prague. It’s what makes Prague one of my favorite European destinations.
In this Prague Food Guide, we will share some Czech traditional dishes, and provide a list of foods to try in the Czech Republic. In addition, we will recommend a few places to eat both traditional Czech Republic food, as well as more contemporary takes on typical Czech dishes. I also apologize in advance for some of these photos. Some were taken during earlier trips when we had no idea how to take food photos, with old cameras and iPhones.
***Recently, the Czech Republic started to use the name Czechia. I guess that means that this post can now help people find Czechia food. The Czech Republic was also once known as Czechoslovakia when it was joined with what is now Slovakia. So many of the more traditional Czech dishes could also be referred to as Czechoslovakia cuisine or Czechoslovakia food dishes. Some of this is really just nomenclature. That said, many of the Czech meals today are so very different from the traditional Czechoslovakian cuisine from the Communist era.
Czech Republic and Prague Food Guide
Most people travel to Prague for beer and typical Czech foods. But, when travelers stay a little longer, and, even better, explore outside of Prague, a whole new world opens up. Travelers learn that Czech Republic cuisine is not just beer and dumplings. Although, there’s some of that too! Because Czechs and travelers both can enjoy traditional Czech food and some amazing contemporary options. The food in the Czech Republic is full of surprises.
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What to Eat in Prague and the Czech Republic
I, like most people, probably think of three things when wondering about Czech Republic local food: meat, potatoes, and beer. Similar to the traditional cuisine in Ireland, this has been the case for Czech foods, or traditional “Czechoslovakia food”. And, when I am in the Czech Republic, particularly when it is only for a week, I want to find Czech Republic traditional food. I want pork, potatoes, and beer. They’ve all made our list.
Here’s our list of the best Czech food in Prague. When researching this post, it seemed a lot of Prague food posts focused on many of the same dishes I am happy to report we have a couple that other bloggers don’t have! For any Czechs out there, I did my best with the Czech spellings of these things to eat in Prague and the Czech Republic. But if you have a correction for me, let me know!
Chlebíčky – Fancy Open-Faced Sandwiches
More traditionally, chlebíčky were often combinations of potato and ham that topped bread. They’ve taken on a new, modern twist at Sisters, where they use all sorts of local and international ingredients to make some of the most beautiful little open-faced sandwiches I’ve seen. Chlebíčky actually translates to “garnished sandwiches” and are popular not just in the Czech Republic, but in Poland as well. The more traditional versions remind me a little of the Basque country pintxos found in Northern Spain.
The Czechs make some great goat cheese. Not only can you find it on those fancy open-faced sandwiches, but it makes a great bar snack. It’s cheap and delicious. We visited a goat farm where they make fresh cheese in Moravia, a few hours from Prague. We got to play with the goats, and then eat the cheese along with some crisp Czech white wine.
Pickled Cheese – Nakládaný Hermelín
If you love cheese, why not try some Nakládaný Hermelín or pickled cheese. The cheese is similar to camembert. It’s a classic Czech snack often found in pubs, which pairs perfectly with one of my favorite Czech beers, Kozel. The cheese pieces sit in a bit of oil, paprika, and other spices. Sometimes you can find the cheese sitting in jars behind the bar in Prague and other cities and towns.
Beef Steak Tartare
I have to say I think the Czechs do the best beef tartare I’ve had. I was never a fan of raw beef, particularly growing up in the US. But, once eating this a few times at beer gardens in Prague, I became hooked. The presentation varies among restaurants in Prague. Generally, though, it is served with fresh garlic and fried or toasted bread. Rub the bread with the garlic, and top the bread with the steak. Washing down with beer. Repeat until full.
Roasted Pork Knee – Koleno
Koleno is the Czech word for roasted pork knee, what is known elsewhere as either pork knuckle or ham hock. When done right, this is one of my favorite dishes to eat in Prague. It’ slow roasted so that it is tender on the inside, with crispy skin on the outside. Koleno is normally served with some bread, cabbage, and spicy mustard. It’s a huge chunk of meat, sometimes weighing up to a kilo. The Czech pork knee is a dish made for sharing. Even if the server doesn’t warn you it’s for two people…it really is.
Although dumplings are not a dish served on their own, they deserve their own mention. That’s probably because I love all things dumpling. In the Czech Republic, the dumplings are either flour or potato-based and are normally steamed or boiled. They can be light and fluffy but are just as often dense. They are the perfect accompaniment to the roast meats and stews that form the base for many Czech menus. Look for knedlíky (potato dumpling) or Knödel. Occasionally they can be served as a dessert along with fruit jam.
Czech Goulash – Guláš
Now, let’s cover some of the dishes that are served with all of these tasty Czech dumplings. Many people associate goulash with Hungarian cuisine, but the version served in the Czech Republic definitely deserves its own mention. The difference lies in that the Czech version is more meat-heavy, with fewer vegetables. Of course, it is served with a side of bread dumplings and often topped with freshly shredded horseradish.
Pork, Cabbage, and Dumplings – Vepřo-knedlo-zelo
Whereas I can’t eat enough goulash when in the Czech Republic, Eric favors the roast pork. I think this reminds him of some of his mother’s cooking. She often made roast pork, potatoes, and cabbage for Sunday dinner. I’ve seen reference to Vepřo-knedlo-zelo as the national dish of the Czech Republic. It could be. It’s easy to find on menus around Prague.
Roast Duck, Red Cabbage, and Dumplings
When I see roast duck on a Czech menu, particularly when paired with dumplings, I get a little giddy. For me, it’s complete comfort food, particularly when washed down with a cold Czech beer. We’ve also had a version of this with goose instead of duck, but that is a little more difficult to find.
All Things Sausage
This is another reason why Eric loves the Czech Republic. Sausages sausages everywhere. They are on bar and restaurant menus, but can also be found as Prague street food. At bars and restaurants, Czech sausages made me boiled in Czech dark beer and served with mustard. One the street, they can take the form of hot dogs in a bun.
Zelím a Uzeným
Here’s one more way that dumplings are mixed with pork. We found these as a common Prague street food. They are potato dumplings (almost like a spaetzle) mixed with smoked pork and cabbage. You can find it cooking in large vats out on the street.
When it comes to Prague street food this pastry that originated in Transylvania has taken over. Trdelnik is made my rolling a dough over a round wooden or metal mold. It’s then baked over an open fire until crispy on the outside. The best part? It’s then covered in sugar and chopped walnuts. When eating, it sort of peels apart like warm and sweet licorice. Going through all of my photos from our trips to the Czech Republic over the years, I can’t find a single photo of Trdelnik. I know I’ve eaten it, a lot. But, it seems that I tend to eat first, while they’re still warm.
Although more well known in Austria or Hungary, strudel could be considered a Czech Republic food. And, it is certainly a must-eat in Prague. You can find it at bakeries or on dessert menus. The best we had, though, was cooked by the mother of a family friend, made from apples from her garden. Good luck replicating that! Even without the local hook up, definitely try tracking this dish down.
Obviously, everyone knows that the Czech Republic is known for its beer, but there are other beverages to try. There is a big wine drinking tradition, particularly in Moravia, closer to the Austrian border. In the winter, look for Svarak, which is a hot wine. As for liquors, try Becherovka, and herbal liquor (I am not much of a fan) or Slivovice, a plum liquor from Moravia. More recent, there are some artisan gin producers who’ve come onto the scene. Look for OMG gin by the Slivovice distiller Zufanek, which is very tasty.
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Where to Eat Typical Czech Food in Prague
In this section, we will provide some recommendations on some of the best places to eat in Prague, with a focus on traditional cuisine. We will also recommend dishes to eat at each Czech restaurant. First, let me walk through a typical meal at a Prague beer garden.
At Pivovar Národní, enjoy a Czech famous food – a humongous roasted pork knee. It doesn’t get more traditional than pork knee in the Czech Republic. Crisp skin on the outside, tender on the inside, and as huge as can be. It’s a favorite typical Czech dish of ours, and one we try to have every time we are in the Czech Republic or even Germany.
Most pivovar, or breweries, serve a mix of Pilsner Urquell and Kozel, two of the most famous Czech beers. Pivovar Nardoni serves its own local draft beer. Not being a craft beer person, their unfiltered beer was pretty good. I was there more for a peek inside Czech national food. And, Nardoni might not be considered one of the best Czech restaurants in Prague, but it’s popular and consistently good. In addition to our pork knee, served simply with mustard, sauerkraut, and an enormous knife sticking upright, we tried one of the traditional Czech dishes that I had yet to try in Prague – the Czech version of beef tartare.
Normally, when I have eaten beef tartare it is artfully prepared by a chef and served ready to eat. Traditionally, the Czech version of beef tartare is prepared artfully, tableside, and in this case by our friend, Charlie. A raw piece of garlic is rubbed on warm toast and then spread across the Czech bread. It was more like beef jam than typical beef, and it was fabulous. I only wish I could have had this version of tartare one more time in the Czech Republic. This should be on any must eat in Czech Republic list.
Learn to Cook Czech Recipes at Home: The Ultimate Czech Cookbook
Recommended Czech Restaurants For Traditional Czech Cuisine
Pivovar Národní (Národní 8, Prague 1): Just a few blocks off the Vlatva River, and near the opera house, is the Národní brewery, with one of the best pork knees in the city, and a large beer garden in the rear.
Kozlovna U Paukerta (Národní 981/17, Prague 1): Almost directly across the street from Pivovar Národní, and popular during sporting events. They serve Kozel, the Czech beer with the goat mascot. They serve dishes inspired by traditional Czech food recipes, as well as western ones, with some amazing (and giant) ribs.
Lokál: Our go-to-place for good beer, a great environment, and reliable traditional Czech food. Lokál is owned by the Ambiente group, a local Czech restaurant company. There are Lokál locations all over Prague, and even one in Brno. But, our favorite is Lokál Dlouhááá, in Prague 1, Stare Mesto, Old Town. Find the non-smoking section in the rear. It’s probably one of the most famous Czech food restaurants in Prague.
Typical Czech Food Outside of Prague
In Mikulov, we tasted traditional Jewish cuisine at Chef Marcel Ihnacak’s Boutique Hotel Tanzberg. The Jewish menu suggests they are serving the recipes that were served in that neighborhood, decades before. I tried a traditional shabbat soulet, which from the name of the dish seemed to be a casserole served during the sabbath. It included hearty grains, white beans, tender duck meat, and tangy pickle pieces on top. It was one of the best things I ate in Mikulov.
While tasting Czech wine at Pod Kozim Hradkem in Mikulov, we ate a hearty, giant, stuffed goose, served with tangy red cabbage and soft bread dumplings. I love dumplings, whether they come in the form of Hong Kong dim sum or Italian pasta. But Czech dumplings are a little different, often made from either potato or bread rather than flour. A traditional Czech dumplings recipe has the ultimate goal of turning simple, cheap ingredients into hearty fare. It’s just another version of typical Czech Republic food: meat and potatoes. It’s just these potatoes are in dumpling form! It might be one of the lest famous Czech foods because it comes on the side the meat, but I crave it!
After tasting Czech beer in Plzen, I had one of my favorite traditional Czech dishes, roasted duck, red cabbage, and (more) Czech bread dumplings at Jdelini Listek. Eric can eat Czech sausage until the cows come home, but the simple and elegant duck was something to write home about! I searched for it on other Czech restaurant menus, but it was a little elusive. It is a great food to eat in Czech Republic – if you see it order it!
Yes, most of these dishes included traditional Czech food: meat, potatoes, some cabbage, and a side of beer. And, I loved it all, even if I could feel the kilos added to my mid-section each day. And, I loved learning about the Czech traditions
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When Czechs Eat Fancy Food
More recently, though, there has been a renaissance in the Czech food scene. As was explained to us by Jan, of Taste of Prague, creative Czech Republic cuisine was essentially banned during communism in the Czech Republic. Instead, the government issued standardized Czech cookbooks, so that everyone would be cooking the same cuisine. It’s only been recently that Czech cuisine has taken off. Chefs are offering unique interpretations of local Czech foods or using traditional Czech ingredients in more refined ways. This is the new Prague cuisine and can be found not only in the capital but in other cities around the country.
We ate at three lovely restaurants while in Brno, each unique from one another, but each also demonstrates the future of Czech cuisine. First, Chef Lukas Necas, of Simplé Family Restaurant, offered dishes that look more like artwork than Czech food, with a focus on traditional ingredients, like rabbit and offal. Unfortunately, Chef Lukas closed down Simple shortly after we dined there.
The highlight of our meal was a molecular gastronomy cucumber panna cotta. I’ve eaten meals with a focus on molecular gastronomy, including some of the tasty bites we tried at Can Roca in Girona. But, it was truly a unique experience to see it prepared in the center of the restaurant.
At Chef Jan Kaplan’s Pavillon, we had some of the most sophisticated cuisines during our Czech food tour, loaded with decadent ingredients. One of my favorite dishes was a wild “bear” garlic Czech soup. It’s simplicity lent some credibility to its flavor.
Another great meal in Brno, and the farthest thing from traditional Czech food we ate, was a high-end sushi and Japanese inspired meal at Koishi. Just watching the sushi chef prepare a platter for us made me feel I was light years away from the Czech Republic, even though the meal was paired with Czech wines.
Back in Prague, we tried an amazingly creamy foie gras at Manes Restaurant, with a view over the Vlatva River. They also served a duck crown, or essentially, an entire duck, carved tableside, on a wheeled cart. This could be one of the most elaborate dishes and some of the best Czech food in Prague. Even if it is not an every day Czech dish.
Although not at the level of London, New York, or San Francisco, the Czech chefs we met are making great strides and offering high end international and Czech cuisine at very reasonable prices. It’s definitely worth it to step away from the traditional Czech food and indulge in a tasting menu or two when traveling and eating in the Czech Republic.
Learn how to cook Czech desserts and Czech pastry: Kaffeehaus: Exquisite Desserts from the Classic Cafés
Check out our YouTube Video on Czech Food – What Czechs Eat:
Looking For Unique Food, Beer and Wine Tours in the Czech Republic?
Looking for a unique way to learn about traditional Czech food in Prague, or farther afield in the rest of the country? What about an interesting beer tour, or even a Czech wine tour? Here are our recommendations for Czech food tours to learn more about local Czech food and traditions. Most of these focus more on the traditional food of Czech Republic than the more contemporary Czech cuisine.
|Tour||Duration||City||Price From||Book It|
|Private Prague Bike Tour - Up to 15 People||1.5 Hours||Prague||$438|
|Bohemian Wine Tasting 4x4 Day Trip||7 Hours||Prague||$211|
|Prague Cooking Class & Market Tour||4 Hours||Prague||$157|
|Prague Food Tour With Local Foodies||4 Hours||Prague||$118|
|Mixology Bar Tour||3 Hours||Prague||$118|
|South Moravia Wine Trip From Brno||Flexible||Brno||$148|
|Pilsner Brewery Tour & Beer Tasting||5.5 Hours||Pilsen||$62|
Hopefully, this post and the recommended tours above can help you answer the question “What is typical Czech food” so that you can enjoy your trip to Prague and the Czech Republic.
*This post contains compensated links. Find more info in my DISCLAIMER.
Where to Stay in Prague
FAQs: Traveling to Taste to Food of the Czech Republic?
Where to Stay in Prague: Get more hotel recommendations here.
What to do in the Czech Republic: Drink Czech wine (yes, that’s a thing)
How much is food in Czech Republic? Prices in the Czech Republic, particularly in Prague are increasing regularly. It’s possible to order a Czech meal for about €10. But, the beer is so cheap it makes up for any prices over that!
PIN IT! Prague Food Guide: Typical Czech Food
You can also learn about Traditional Czech food by listening to our culinary travel podcast: Taking a Prague Food Tour – Czech Republic Foods. Or, check out our video on Taste of Prague:
Amber Hoffman, food and travel writer behind With Husband In Tow, is a recovering attorney and professional eater, with a passion for finding new food and drink destinations. She lives with her husband, Eric, in Girona, Catalonia, Spain. Together over the last 20 years, they have traveled to over 70 countries. Amber is the author of the Food Traveler’s Guide to Emilia Romagna.