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How To Find Local Prague Restaurants

The sign outside the restaurant says, “Authentic Czech Cuisine”. Stay away from this place. The sign is a red flag that the restaurant caters specifically to tourists. It is an attempt to convince the tourist that the restaurant is an authentic ‘local’ Czech restaurant. It is not. A true local restaurant does not need a sign - of course the meal are authentic, what other kind of meals would there be? Are there restaurants in your neighborhood claiming to serve only authentic meals?

Restaurants for tourists should be avoided. They are overpriced and the food is rarely ‘authentic’. Tourist restaurants do not have to worry about customers not returning because everyday a fresh plane load of customers arrive with no idea how Czech food tastes. The chief is a 20 year old from Zimbabwe defrosting readymade meals from the supermarket. Who will be able to tell the difference? Take their money and never see them again.

Successful tourist restaurants are near tourist traps and make the foreigner feel safe and comfortable. Successful local restaurants must serve good food. Real authentic food is in restaurants that the locals frequent - a sign is never required.

How To Get Out of the Tourist Zone

Most of the tourist hot spots are squeezed in and around the center of the city but even in the center there are small local pockets. To find one of these local osasis's turn into a side street and walk five minutes away from the tourists. Magically the street becomes quieter, tourists fade and Czechs appear, flashy shops hawking souvenirs are replaced with post offices, bakeries, children running to school, mothers pushing baby carriages, and local restaurants.

If you want to be certain that you are at a local restaurant use the metro. Five minutes on the metro and you emerge in a Prague without tourists.

The metro system consists of three lines that intersect at the center of the city. Here is a map of the metro system:

Prague Metro Tourist Zone

I drew a red circle around the zone where most of the tourists are. You need to get out of the circle. Assuming you start from within the circle it is easy to escape. Walk around till you find a metro station - even by walking around aimlessly you will stumble into one within a few minutes. You will have found either the yellow, red, or green line but it doesn’t matter which one because all lines lead out of the circle. Get inside the train and stay in it until the station is out of the circle. Pop out and welcome to real Prague, any restaurants you enter is guaranteed to be a local restaurant.

Look For Glowing Beer Signs, That’s Where The Restaurants Are

Restaurants are quick to spot, look for the beers signs. A restaurant is always sponsored by one of the major Czech beer breweries. The breweries supply the restaurant with table cloths, coasters, mugs and a bright beer sign to display outside. Looking down a street you will notice glowing beer signs for Pilsner Urquell, Staropramen, Budweiser Budvar and a few others. Behind every sign is a restaurant.

Prague Pilsner Sign

Pilsner Urquell is the largest and most famous beer brewery in the Czech Republic. Because they have a reputation to uphold they make certain the restaurants serving their beer maintain a high level of quality in overall ambiance, cleanliness, and beer delivery. The brewery performs regular inspections of the tanks that hold the beer and the pipes that deliver it to the tap. If the restaurant fails to meet exceptions the brewery takes the beer, the table cloths, the mugs and the sign.

In my experience Pilsner Urquell restaurants rarely disappoint. Because Pilsner Urquell is the wealthiest of the major breweries they can afford to offer the best sponsorship deal to successful restaurants. In other words a Pilsner sign indicates a successful restaurant - Pilsner does not waste their time on failing restaurants which don’t sell thousands of litres per month. Of course Pilsner does not care wether the restaurant is a tourist trap or not - only that it sells plenty of beer.

The two other large breweries Staropramen and Budweiser Budvar also sponsor plenty of restaurants in Prague. Most of the time they are an indication of a good restaurant but they are not as tightly regulated. You might be walking into a restaurant that could not get the Pilsner sponsorship so had to settle with the next best offer.

Local Restaurants Don’t Bite

You will leave the safety of the throng behind. There won’t be a English menu. The waiter will not understand you, he will not smile, he will not guide you to a table. A leathery old men sits alone staring at his pint of beer. A group of men in green work overalls sit together at a table and huff down their large plates of goulash and dumplings. Good news - you are at local restaurant.

Tourists avoid local restaurants because peeking inside they get the uncomfortable sense of walking in on a family at the dinner table. It all looks too comfortable and too intimate. The hustle, efficiency, and dark lighting of a business is missing. It feels more like a home. Actually, it probably is a home. The family lives upstairs and you just walked into their downstairs restaurant. This is why restaurants names usually start with ‘U’. The ‘U’ means ‘at’. So a restaurant with the name U Bohuslavů means ‘at the Bohuslav’s house’.

Other then the initial uncomfortableness of walking in there is nothing to worry about. Czechs will not turn and eyeball as you shyly tiptoe to a table. And the waiter is not frowning because he is wondering what the hell you are doing there, he is frowning because he always frowns and the locals love him for it.

Have a look at what other people have on their plates. Point and say 'what she is having’. Ten minutes later you are eating and part of the family.

The Local Explore Kit includes a list of my recommened resaurants and how to find them.

Am I Being Helpful?

I hope you find this website helpful. I created the website because I love Prague, I enjoy writing about it, and I get a weird kick out of helping you make your trip to Prague more enjoyable.

I wrote a book about local travel in Prague. The book is my pride, my joy, my unbiological offspring. It was written with a passionate heart. If you find this website helpful consider reading my book. You will receive an entertaining book full of useful tips that will instil in you the confidence to wander the local streets of Prague. The book is also included in the popular Prague Local Explore Kit Bag.

Thank you,
Roman : Prague 2017

Prague Local Travel Book