Radisson Blu Alcron Hotel
Czech Republic 11000
Tel: 420 222 820 038
The city's best seafood restaurant is in the Radisson Blu Alcron, a stately New Town hotel where many journalists, artists, and world leaders stayed during the city's interwar golden age. Reservations are essential, as Alcron is only open for dinner on weeknights and there are just seven small tables in a single semicircular room. Plush burgundy and jade set a sophisticated tone, while vibrant Jazz Age murals enliven the background. Chef Jiri Stift sends out harmonious appetizer combinations such as seared scallops with porcini mushrooms and braised veal breast with langoustines. Main courses take it up a notch, including T-bone-size fillets of John Dory and a duo of steamed halibut and Brittany lobster. One eight-course menu is dedicated to lobsters, prawns, and crayfish. It all adds up to a pretty big wow for Eastern Europe, not least of which is the bill.
Open Mondays through Fridays 5:30 to 10:30 pm.
Czech Republic 11000
Tel: 420 221 426 880
Sorry, Moscow: The first Michelin star in all of post-Communist Europe was awarded to this restaurant inside Prague's Four Seasons hotel in early 2008. Chef Andrea Accordi's take on contemporary Italian and Continental cuisine occasionally reveals a pronounced Central European influence: Taleggio cheese is served with fragrant elder-blossom foam and the trio of foie gras includes a pan-fried version served with Czech black beer. Accordi also takes advantage of the finest ingredients from around Europe, such as Alba truffles, Challans ducks, foie gras from the Périgord, and Manni olive oil, the world's most expensive. The extensive, predominantly Italian wine list appeals to big spenders, listing Super-Tuscans separately from mere Tuscans. Even the bread service is remarkable: a big basket of fluffy focaccia, crisp grissini, sliced pumpkin-seed rye, rich raisin-walnut, and on and on. The ho-hum interior with wood-paneled walls is straight out of a country club, but there's a postcard view of Prague Castle from the terrace.
Czech Republic 12000
Tel: 420 222 713 222
Located on Vinohrady's linden-lined Manesova Street, a kind of gourmet ghetto with interesting restaurants, cafés, and bars, Aromi is an ode to owner Riccardo Lucque's home region of Marche. The menu skips across the whole of Bella Italia for inspiration and changes seasonally, but you might find Neapolitan seafood, pumpkin risotto, linguine with tuna meatballs, and the best lamb tagliata between here and Trieste. All that and a wine list that sweeps from Sicily to Piedmont keep the bustling exposed-brick dining rooms filled to capacity. Despite the discerning clientele, this is an informal trattoria in the great Italian traditionyou may be seated between the U.S. ambassador and a crowd of students out on the town. Dinner here is a whole-evening affair, but leave enough time at the end of the night for a plate of Marche cheeses, served with crispy bread from Sardinia and orange marmalade made by Riccardo's mother.
Czech Republic 15000
Tel: 420 257 218 277
Hidden on a hillside-facing side street near Náměstí Kinských (Kinsky Square), just south of the Malá Strana district, Artisan Restaurant & Cafe serves artisanal cuisine in an unpretentious atmosphere—a rare combination in the Czech lands. Menus vary with what's in season but remain along the lines of cipollini onion risotto, moules marinières with garlic toast, jerk chicken with plantains, and great steaks and braises; breads and pastas are made in-house. In warmer weather, the gardenlike outdoor seating area can feel like a dinner party in a friend's backyard, while the dark wood and open spaces of the indoor dining room can feel fancy enough for a meal before Václav Havel's latest premiere at the nearby Švandovo Theatre.—Evan Rail
Open daily 11 am to 11 pm.
80 Rašínovo nábřežíí
Czech Republic 120 00
Tel: 420 221 984 160
On the top two floors of Frank Gehry's Tančící dům (Dancing House), one of Prague's modern architectural masterpieces, you'll find a culinary chef d'oeuvre: Céleste restaurant. The two formal dining rooms and two terraces have excellent views of the river and Prague Castle, but it's the food that takes center stage. Chef Gwendal Le Ruyet studied with Alain Ducasse in Paris, and his focus on first-rate ingredients shines in dishes such as baby artichokes with Larzac sheep-milk cheese and mushrooms sourced from Bohemia's Šumava forest. Main courses include classic fare such as an extremely tender Anjou squab or pan-seared turbot with langoustines and periwinkles. Desserts—perhaps a sparkling grape cup topped with a dusting of carbonated candies similar to Pop Rocks—finish the meal on a whimsical note that's reminiscent of the dancing of Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers, which is believed to have inspired the Dancing House's playful facade.—Evan Rail
Open Mondays through Saturdays 12 to 2:30 pm and 6:30 to 11:30 pm.
Czech Republic 11800
Tel: 420 296 826 107
Restaurateur Nils Jebens is best-known for haute cuisine stalwarts Kampa Park, Square, and Hergetova Cihelna, but this, his newest destination and the city's only real steakhouse, is probably the most fun. Just below Prague Castle, this cellar dining room has exposed brick arches and multilevel seating platforms that help create an airy, spacious feel (there's also an elevated outdoor terrace). Though most come for steaks (tender filet mignon, juicy entrecôte, rich rib eyes, and perfectly charred T-bones) and bar classics (Buffalo wings and Caesar salads), there's also a superb wine list, trumpeted by floor-to-ceiling displays of Rhône, Languedoc, and Burgundy vintages. (The house Frankovka from Hort is surprisingly good for a Czech red, and nicely priced at $20.) Even vegetarians will do well here, as Cowboys' meatless portobello mushroom burger arguably upstages its beefy cousin.
Czech Republic 18600
Tel: 420 224 842 700
We love the new Hilton Prague Old Town, but we've never been fans of the chain's original location, with its out-ofOld Town location and Communist architecture. But for traditional Bohemian cooking gone large, the main Hilton's CzecHouse restaurant is the hands-down winner. Look for tender svickovna smetane (beef tenderloin in a sour-sweet cream sauce) made from the great 19th-century Czech cookbook author Magdalena Dobromila Rettigová's recipe. Beef goulash made with dark Krusovice beer is also a local fave. The space is airy and well-lit after a 2006 redesign shook off almost all remaining traces of the hotel's pre-'89 decor. The restaurant's wall of fame puts culinary achievements into context with images of Czech athletes, from Olympic freestyle skier Aleš Valenta to running legend Emil Zátopek.
8b Na Kampe
Czech Republic 11800
Tel: 420 296 826 102
When the floods of 2002 washed away what was then an eight-year-old hot spot near the Charles Bridge, in an odd way, they did the place (and owner Nils Jebens) a favor. The major renovations that ensued turned out to be a huge success. Now, diners will find dining room chairs that look like garden rakes and whimsical light fixtures (the decor is more subdued in the salon). The riverside garden terrace is also bigger and better. The best views in town continue to attract celebs passing through (Matt Damon while filming The Brothers Grimm, for instance), as do reliable Euro dishes, such as beef carpaccio (surely the unofficial national dish by now); olive oil–poached cod with sea urchin risotto; and seared venison with parsnip, figs, peaches, and foie gras.
Tel: 420 222 325 325
In the well-touristed heart of Prague, within walking distance of the Charles Bridge and Old Town Square, it can be a real challenge to find a decent meal. Which is why the new La Finestra in Cucina—five minutes from both of these landmarks—is such a welcome addition to the city's restaurant roster. More importantly, this cozy Italian-style steakhouse with a Soho vibe (exposed red-brick walls, oak parquet floors, open white-tiled kitchen) serves some terrific food. It's run by Riccardo Lucque, who opened the very popular Aromi in the Hradcany district two years ago. Chef Tomas Cerny features well-aged Piemonte beef from Italy (for brasato al Barbera) and Dutch veal (for chops and saltimbocca). Stopping by for lunch on a rainy Saturday, I loved my maccheroni alla amatriciana, with crispy strips of guanciale and a tomato sauce punchy with red peppers. A succulent veal chop came grilled just pink and accompanied by delicious olive oil roasted potatoes and creamed spinach. Spicy panna cotta with melon "caviar" was an ideal dessert after this hearty feed, and the excellent wine list offers some great pours by the glass, including a nice Moravian Sauvignon Blanc and several fine Chiantis.—Alexander Lobrano, first published on Gourmet.com
Open Mondays through Saturdays noon to 11 pm, Sundays noon to 10 pm.
Czech Republic 11000
Tel: 420 222 316 265
Effectively called "Pub," Lokál brings the concepts of local, seasonal, and from-scratch to oft-overlooked Czech pub fare. Standard dishes like sausages, stews, and dumplings take on an almost haute cuisine quality, as in the fried cheese, a schnitzel-like cutlet cooked until crisp on the outside and gooey and melty on the inside, or the rýžový nákyp, a rustic rice pudding stuffed with cooked plums and raisins and accompanied by a sweet fruit coulis. Given that the owners are better known for such high-end destinations as La Dégustation and Café Savoy, this might not be such a surprise, though the similarly sharp service seems almost out of place in this homey dive. While there are plenty of domestic wines and fruit brandies available, the beer selection is limited to draft Pilsner Urquell, served as either a classic pour, with an inch of foam; a so-called snit, with about half foam; or as mlíko (milk), a glass of 100 percent white foam. Have more than one: It does a body good.—Evan Rail
Open Mondays through Fridays 11 am to 1 am, Saturdays noon to 1 am, and Sundays noon to 10 pm.
Czech Republic 12000
Tel: 420 222 520 288
When the well-loved Café Atelier changed hands in 2005, chef Rudolf Dolezal jumped ship and landed at this recent arrival with perfect timing: Like his old post, Oliva serves excellent Mediterranean cuisine at moderate prices. The menu changes frequently, but you can count on at least one variation on foie gras (sautéed with chanterelles, perhaps) among the starters, fresh fish specials, and hearty traditional fare—beef, lamb, or rabbit—given a lighter, French-inspired refinement. But don't forget the eponymous olives: Six uncommon types are listed on the appetizer menu, and the three little bowls on the table are for comparing Greek, Spanish, and Italian oils from boutique producers. Though the decor is polished—olive-green walls, spot lighting, and a shimmering veil of hanging beads—jeans and a t-shirt will fit in just fine.
Czech Republic 101 00
Tel: 420 271 726 548
Osteria Da Clara, a nine-table Tuscan-style trattoria, has made a super-size impact on Prague's dining scene by showing that an excellent dinner doesn't have to cost a month's rent. British-Czech chef Glenn Svarc spent several years honing his skills in Italy before returning to his homeland to open this extremely affordable restaurant with a playful dining room (mismatched chairs, U.K. lounge music). Fresh seafood dishes—perhaps a whole roasted bream—top out at about $20; other main dishes, such as pork scallopine with smoked mozzarella and grilled peppers, are about $15. Even the all-Italian wine list, which includes finds from small producers, is modestly priced ($12–$35). The restaurant's location in the residential neighborhood of Vršovice (or, euphemistically, "lower Vinohrady") will likely be a bit removed from your hotel, but the ten-minute cab ride from the center means that you'll escape the other tourists and find yourself among a crowd of extremely contented Praguers enjoying a night of simple pleasures.—Evan Rail
Open Mondays through Fridays 11:30 am to 3 pm and 6 to 11 pm, Saturdays 12 to 3:30 pm and 6 to 11 pm.
Czech Republic 11800
Tel: 420 257 530 522
This is the best place in Prague to indulge czarist fantasies and play at 17th-century aristocratic lifeor to stage a marriage proposal. The building, which dates from the 1600s, went through various incarnations before settling into its current role as the Prague Conservatory. Enter the gorgeously faded candlelit grandeur of the second-floor restaurant (the former student dining halls) via a spectacular sweeping staircase, and take your place for the nightly theater of formal service. Or, if it's summer, go for the terrace overlooking the Prague Castle gardens. The novo-Euro dishes are mostly very good and not priced to rip off tourists (this is just as much a locals' place). A head of roasted garlic arrives with the bread, then it's on to dishes such as mushroom- and truffle-stuffed quail with kumquat sauce, minted lamb seasoned with smoked salt, or seared tuna with tomato-olive compote (the menu changes three times per year). It's a dress-up evening, but not in the manner of grand-hotel dining roomsthis is decadent chic in a palace that has seen better days.
7 Na Perstynu
Czech Republic 10001
Tel: 420 224 211 916
Wine lovers will do fine with Czech whites from good producers such as Dobra Vinice, but the Czech lands are home to the world's first Pilsners, Budweisers, and Michelobs. Beer (a.k.a. pivo), by far the country's favorite beverage, regularly appears at breakfast, lunch, and even gala dinners. Since 1466, U Medvidku ("At the Little Bears") has been the city's pub of choice, though not until 2005 did it open a microbrewery that ages semidark lagers in old-style oak barrels. The downstairs restaurant serves the Czech version of Budweiser (Budvar) along with hearty fare—smoky Czech-style goulash that's less oily than the Hungarian original, massive broiled pork knuckles, and traditional beef tenderloin in sour-cream gravy. Just thirsty? Seek out the separate beer bar, which pours regional brews. But be warned: An evening here usually includes traditional Bohemian folk music, and you just might end up dancing.