Prague’s Vinohrady and Žižkov are two up-and-coming culinary neighbourhoods full of quaint cafés and charming watering holes. Since living in the area, I’ve tried to spend as much time as possible café hopping, and sampling some of the tasty treats and comfortable ambiance on offer.
Café Pavlač has become my Sunday staple. It reminds me of the kind of cafés and bistros found in my native Los Angeles. Featuring a bright dining room, and a menu which serves breakfast, salads, soups, pastas, and sandwiches, it’s an easy choice for breakfast, brunch, lunch, or dinner. The couscous salad with endive and the warm lentil salads are my favorite. They are both hearty but healthy options without being too heavy. Their classic egg dishes served with bacon, sausage, and toast make me nostalgic for the breakfast diners I enjoyed back home in the States. For dinner, the fettuccini with prawns and sun-dried tomatoes is one of my go-to’s.
Pradelna Café at Jiřího z Poděbrad is better known between my friends and I as the “soup place” because each day they serve three scrumptious soups for just 42 crowns per bowl. Common favorites of mine include the cabbage soup, leek soup, and pumpkin soup. For a quick lunch, I pair it with a refreshing matcha banana smoothie. A little secret about this place is that if you ask nicely, you can actually get two half bowls of two different kinds of soup for the price of one. For soup fanatics like myself, this deal is one of the best in the area.
La bohème is a coffee shop oriented towards experimental and innovative coffee creations that has made me reevaluate everything I thought I knew about coffee. The coffee menu is more extensive than many restaurants in the area, and can seem quite daunting at first read. Espresso combined with mango puree and coconut milk is one of my favorite beverages on a hot summer’s day. The coffee counter is more of a laboratory than common espresso bar, covered in odd looking tools and gadgets used to brew the hot beverage in a variety of different ways. The airopress brews the coffee in a special way that releases the espresso’s sweetness, while the pour-over strategy creates a bold, full bodied flavor. The high ceiling interior is a lovely spot to sit and read a good book, but my gripe with this place is the lack of good wi-fi. Each customer is only given a one hour wi-fi code after they have ordered a beverage, so in order to keep my internet working, I was forced to re-order each hour – which, I suppose, is the point...
Moment café in Vinohrady is a vegetarian café that serves burgers, sandwiches, salads, breakfast, and desserts that are healthy and affordable. Each menu item costs 100 crowns or less. The falafel burger with tahini, pickled cucumber, arugula, and mango sauce is my favorite lunch item, and for on-the-go, they offer nicely portioned tofu wraps and sandwiches.
La Caveua at Jiřího z Poděbrad has become my daily study spot, because their wi-fi, good coffee, calming music, and tasty sandwiches on homemade bread make for a lovely Parisian café. On Thursdays, the café invites local musicians for its weekly jazz night, where I can enjoy a glass of good wine and cheese platter. My favorite desserts include the cheese cake and fruit tarts, and I always get a piece of the homemade chocolate covered toffee.
Prague 2 and 3 have a certain charm that I have not been able to find anywhere else in the city. Sometimes it seems like new dining establishments open in Vinohrady and Žižkov on a weekly basis. I’m guessing that with increasingly adventurous palettes, and more disposable income, the inhabitants of this area are embarking on a culinary adventure far removed from classic Czech pub grub like fried cheese. For my part as an American foodie, it’s been a real pleasure to see and taste for myself the effects of this work-in-progress transformation.
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