Prague: A Dining Scene on the Rise

Fresh flavors and world-class chefs emerge from this historic town

BY VIRGINIA MILLER

Field chef Radeck Kašpárek
Field chef Radeck Kašpárek

Photo Credit: Courtesy of Field Prague

Spectacularly preserved Prague knows no shortage of stunning architecture, as one of the rare cities escaping much of the WWII devastation that swept Europe. It has lagged behind other European cities in dining, reflected in only two 1-star Michelin restaurants (La Degustation Bohême Bourgeoise and Field), and its restaurants that often feel dated. But Prague’s growing food scene is on the verge, even as the country’s wines, produced mainly in Bohemia and southern Moravia, are unsung and delicious.

Field Prague
Field Prague

Photo Credit: COURTESY OF FIELD PRAGUE

Aforementioned Field has a Michelin star, but it could easily grow to two. Its minimalist-chic dining room is the backdrop for tasting menus employing Scandinavian and French elements and serving rich courses like snails in parsnip puree, garlic, and bacon broth. Czech chef Radek Kašpárek drives the unique with lamb tartare in ball form covered in shaved gouda or goose liver accented with berries, peanuts, and tonka bean.

Field Prague’s pike perch, kohlrabi, horseradish, and quinoa
Field Prague’s pike perch, kohlrabi, horseradish, and quinoa

Photo Credit: Copyright Virginia Miller

Taro is an exciting sign of where the city is going. While Europe’s Asian populations are minimal compared to the States’, it’s a pleasant surprise to find a small but lively Vietnamese community here. Czech-born Vietnamese brothers Giang and chef Khanh Ta bring bright Southeast Asian flavors in non-traditional Vietnamese food fascinatingly interpreted via an Eastern European lens. Single counter dining wraps around the kitchen in full view of Khanh’s team preparing vibrant dishes like kohlrabi root filled with lemongrass cashew paste and dotted with pickled mango, fish sauce, chia seeds, and cashews.

Taro Prague Executive Chef Khanh
Taro Prague Executive Chef Khanh

Photo Credit: Vojtech Tesarek

Taro interior
Taro interior

Photo Credit: Courtesy of Taro Prague

Taro Prague kohlrabi root dish
Taro Prague kohlrabi root dish

Photo Credit: Vojtech Tesarek

But what of traditional Czech food? It’s hard to top Kuchyn, opened in 2018, next to Prague Castle and tourist throngs. Hidden inside the 1811 Salm Palace (now part of the National Gallery), the farmhouse dining room and picnic table-lined patio with its spectacular views deliver the moment you “get” Czech food. Kuchyn offers a rustic, soulful meal of gourmet excellence and quality ingredients. The staff guides you to the kitchen stove where you lift lids to decide what you want to eat from what’s being cooked that day. Think rabbit in mustard sauce, paprika chicken, pork schnitzel, Czech goulash, hearty dumplings, or the best potato cakes of your life. You’ll feel nurtured, forever craving Czech food you’ll be hard-pressed to find elsewhere.

Housed in a huge warehouse, Eska has been making waves since opening in 2015, akin to hipster pioneers in San Francisco or London with daily changing menus, house-baked goods, casual service, and local ingredients. Dishes can be hit-and-miss, though service is friendly and the wine list tight. Likewise, dated decor and plating at V Zátiši sets back what otherwise could be a refined Czech-Indian menu. Simple (cauliflower-apple-curry soup) or Czech dishes (pike perch filet with lentils, fennel puree, and dill-infused buttermilk) fare better than Indian dishes, which lack the soul of the best in India, London, or beyond.

Casa De Carli, Prague
Casa De Carli, Prague

Photo Credit: Courtesy of Casa De Carli

Some of the city’s gems appear straightforward, but delight, like the gracious service, elegant Italian food, and Italian spirits selection at Casa De Carli, or tiny, pricey Zdenek’s Oyster Bar, an oasis for creative seafood, such as Breton oysters dotted with kimchi aioli and seaweed or sea urchin in marsh nettle foam and hazelnut oil.

Casa De Carli Prague pasta
Casa De Carli Prague pasta

Photo Credit: Courtesy of Casa De Carli

Prague is a city on the rise, combining cultures in previously unexplored ways, and returning to its roots with understated pride.

Loader