If you like "comfort food" then Czech cuisine is right up your alley! While it has a reputation for being bland and heavy, the truth is Czech food can be quite tasty, with its whole-food (and whole-fat) ingredients and rich sauces. Some of it, like the goulash below, can even be spicy. And with rare exception, no Czech meal is complete without a delicious beer and mouth-watering dumplings to sop up the always-present sauces. So build up your appetite walking Prague's cobbled streets and have yourself a wonderful Czech meal!
Classic Czech Dishes
Almost all Czech dishes are centered around meat - with dumplings and often cabbage served with it. So, you can have roast duck with cabbage and dumplings, roast pork with cabbage and dumplings, beef goulash with dumplings, or "svickova" - beef with a creamy vegetable sauce - with dumplings, often served with whipped cream on top - yes, I did say whipped cream on top of a piece of meat. Actually, this meal, when done properly, is quite good. Traditionally, svickova is supposed to be made from filet mignon, but usually in most restaurants it's not. Rather, the cheapest cut of meat and a too-sweet sauce are what you'll get. But there are a few places that get it right, and then svickova is positively delicious!
The combination of pork and cabbage and dumplings is so common that the Czechs refer to it in a kind of acronym form: "vepro-knedlo-zelo" for "veprovy maso, knedliky and zeli. This is a cheap and usually rather good staple found in many pubs.
Czech goulash ("gulas") is not what you might be used to, It's not a stew served in a bowl, but rather chunks of beef cooked in a dark brown sauce (that is sometimes a little spicy but usually not) served on a plate with bread dumplings.
And speaking of dumplings, they are not what you might expect, either. Where I come from in the US, dumplings are a mushy, watery flour concoction. Czech dumplings, on the other hand, are dry and are not meant to be served alone as a side dish. Rather, they are always combined only with meals that have a hefty sauce with them. The dumplings are like a filler to soak up the sauce. While a few restaurants offer dumplings as a side dish, if you are not in the know about what you're ordering, ask your server if dumplings go well with your choice of a main dish. They will tell you straight if not - the Czechs are proud of and picky about their food, especially their dumplings, which come in many varieties, including: bread, potato (not to be confused with what usually translated as potato pancakes, or "bramboraky"), bacon, Carlsbad and fruit, just to name a few.
Prague Restaurant Tips
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