And other recommendations for when in Prague
This most recent trip to Prague to celebrate Christmas with Emily was different in that we did not travel outside of Prague, nor did we do anything ‘new’ beside visiting the Christmas markets. Part of the reason for this was that the trip was very fast in comparison to our past visits; it was only six days, compared to 8-10 days. The other factor was that this was our first excursion as a family of six since our vacation in England back in 2019. Jacob had not visited Prague before, and Emily was happy to show him the sights- especially the best places to eat.
We arrived late on December 22 following a 16-hour travel day commencing after Sami’s last final of the fall semester. This meant that by the time we met Emily at the Vaclav Haval Airport and dropped our things off at the AirBnB, the dining options were limited. McDonalds, which I actually find good in Europe, was Jacob’s first meal on continental Europe.
The morning brought what would become our typical morning fare: brunch. We headed to Marthy’s Kitchen in Nové Město for brunch. Seating was very limited, and the place seemed popular, so it was a good thing that Emily had made a reservation, especially being a large party. We were quickly seated, and our drink orders taken in short order. We ordered a variety of dishes; I opted for the pancakes with caramelized plums and mascarpone cream. The set of five small pancakes with were delicious and surprisingly filling.
For dinner that evening, Emily made a reservation at The Tavern in Vinohrady. We ate here in the summer, enjoying burgers and drinks al fresco on my birthday. The Tavern boasts American fare and modern cocktails. This is indeed what you get. On the menu are a variety of burgers, such as the Apoka Burger “for the end times,” as well as chicken and vegetarian options. I love the Urban Garden Burger along with a side of the jalapeno-cheddar fries with extra ranch. The herbed ranch is probably the best I’ve had, and that says a lot coming from California. And of course, dinner would not be complete without a drink or two. There is a great selection of cocktails. The beer and cider are also worth a try. Seating is limited, especially when the weather gets cooler, so reservations are a good idea.
Christmas Eve was an interesting experience in Prague. Many stores and restaurants in the city close in the early afternoon, which threw us off. Nevertheless, we were able to enjoy a good brunch in Staré Město. We headed first to Venue, which was where we had gone to celebrate Sami’s 15th birthday over the summer, however the line was long, and like many places in Prague, seating is limited. Fortunately, there is a sister restaurant, Jewel by Venue, on the other side of the block. While seating was still limited, the wait was much shorter, so we were able to be seated after about a 20-minute wait. The menu mirrored the main restaurant, but it was a bit more limited; Emily was not able to order her favorite red velvet pancakes. But there was still a good selection, and we were all able to enjoy a hearty brunch and drinks to match before finishing our grocery shopping in preparation for our Christmas meals.
Now for the titular food selection, What Not to Order at a Czech Restaurant.
So I learned a valuable lesson on this trip. Being from Southern California, I have become accustomed to having access to authentic cuisine from just about anywhere. This is especially true of Mexican dishes. I’ve had Mexican food across multiple states and countries, and other than the obvious Mexico and not-so-obvious O’Fallon, Missouri, I have not been able to find really quality Mexican food outside Southern California. So when we visited Meduzzy, a Czech restaurant in Malá Strana, why I ordered a vegetarianske burrito is beyond me. I figured it could not be all that bad. After all, there was another diner enjoying her burrito. Welp, I was a bit mistaken. The family went for more typical European fare- potatoes, schnitzel, roasted pork. The fried cheese and potatoes would have been a good choice for a vegetarian, but I had that at another Czech restaurant, and I thought it would be too rich for the late dinner. It would have been a better choice than the burrito.
I am not exactly sure how to describe what I ordered. The burrito contained a cheese sauce, vegetables, and sour cream. The cheese sauce was not like nacho cheese or queso here in the U.S. In addition, the vegetables were a mix of salad-type vegetables such as cucumber and grilled, but not like fajitas. There was also a rice mix, but the sauce tasted sweet somehow. I am sure the burrito could be considered delicious to some, but to one with So Cali expectations, it was not good. However, I would not say that Meduzzy was a bad restaurant. The beer was good, and Michael’s potatoes were delicious. The family enjoyed their food, including Nate, who had ordered a burger. I just would not recommend the burrito.
The following morning was Christmas Day, and we celebrated together as a family at Emily’s apartment. By the afternoon, many shops in the more touristy areas were opening. Jacob got his Christmas wish when we picked up McDonald’s for a snack.
The second day of Christmas, December 26 was also a slower day as many places were still closed for the holiday. That said, we were back to dining and touring with the family. We dined at a favorite dumpling house, Dim Sum Spot for dinner, and enjoyed a fancy dessert at Černá Madona in the Czech Museum of Cubism. This cafe and pastry shop was expensive, but the experience was fun and the selection of pastries beautiful, unique, and delicious. It was a fun treat for the family after an evening of ice skating.
On our last full day in Prague, we started the day at Coffee and Waffles before heading to run shopping errands. We met up for a hot lunch of pho at Phở Bar Národní 18. The pho was perfect for the drizzly afternoon, but there were some differences between the pho we get here in So Cal and what we had in Prague. For starters, the citrus served with our dishes was lemon rather than lime. We figured that perhaps it was harder to get limes in Central Europe or that they were out of season. Also, the pho noodles were wider than the thin noodles. Still the soup was good and filling for the chilly day.
In typical fashion, we indulged in a number of treats and coffees while out and about. Jacob tried trdelník for the first time. We stopped for a snack just below Prague Castle, and the kids enjoyed the churro-like cakes filled with cream and fruit.
It was a great time of fun and fellowship this past Christmas. As always, good food shared with family makes things even better. Unless you decide to order a veggie burrito at a Czech restaurant…