When it comes to traveling there are few things I enjoy more than sampling a wide array of local cuisine in the city that I’m visiting.
Having been to Prague quite a few times I figured that I needed to start trying out the many different food tours offered in the lovely Czech capital to see which ones offered the best gastronomic experience.
Keep in mind that I’m not writing this from the point of view of a new or amateur traveler, quite the opposite actually, and throughout the tour I remained highly critical of the locations that I visited, the foods that were served, and the insight gained from the guide.
Before I get into an in-depth review of the experience I had I want to talk a little more about the tour company that I went with – Prague Food Tour.
A Quick Look at Prague Food Tour
Prague Food Tour was created by two Czech locals, George and Leona, that realized something was missing from the other tours available in the city.
Having travelled to Thailand, and quite a few other places, they realized that many of the tours being offered lacked the heart and local insight that would really make for a memorable experience for tourists looking to experience local Czech cuisine.
So, upon returning back to Prague, George and Leona decided to start offering their own food tours in Prague.
At first it was just Leona, with George working for a company in the city, and spending his spare time helping to grow the business but over time, as popularity and demand grew, George quit and both were able to dedicate full-time hours to the tours.
Today, there are two different tours available:
- Delicious Food Tour (96 euro per person)
- Scrumptious Food Tour (88 euro per person)
And there is also the possibility to have a tour created depending on your specific dietary needs and preferences.
The Delicious Food Tour is the one that I was lucky enough to go on and it takes you through the heart of the Old Town and visits a few restaurants, a unique bar, and lovely cafe.
This tour takes about 4-5 hours depending on the group and it’s also possible to enjoy the architecture and historic buildings throughout the city center.
The Scrumptious Food Tour will bring you to a hip neighborhood just outside the city centre where you’ll be able to enjoy some Czech pastries, pub food, and sample some contemporary cuisine.
This tour takes about 3-4 hours and covers a short distance on foot.
Both of the tours will allow you to sample a variety of different main dishes, snacks, desserts, and some local alcohol as well.
You might be thinking “man, these tours are expensive!” and i’ll be honest, they’re not cheap and it’s not surprising that it’s mostly an older crowd that I’ve seen on the many different food tours I’ve gone on but I would argue that they’re definitely worth it.
For the price you not only get to experience the local cuisine with a local guide but you’re also able to enjoy the different tastings with like-minded individuals, check out some of the popular tourist sights, and learn more about the history of Prague.
It can be hard to find local, accurate, and tasty cuisine on your own, especially if you’re just visiting the tourist areas, but with a food tour you’re able to enjoy unique insight into the food and drinks that are popular locally and that people from the country are fond of.
Now that I’ve covered some of the basic information about this tour and the different options you can choose from, let’s take a look at the experience I had.
Prague Food Tour: My Experience
Before the tour even started I was already panicking since I didn’t understand the directions of the meeting point.
I was supposed to meet George, the tour guide, in front of the Prague National Theatre but I wasn’t able to easily tell which side was the front so I was walking around it for 15-minutes in a panic until I finally spotted George.
After I met the group George asked us a few questions about whether or not we were hungry, were allergic to anything, and if we drank alcohol.
No one had any issues so the tour began and we started to make our way across the Vltava to the first spot on the tour.
During the night we visited four different places, which I’ll go into detail about in this post.
The Cafe Savoy
The first stop on the tour was the Cafe Savoy, a short 5-minute walk from the theatre.
I had passed the grand Cafe Savoy a few times before but I never ventured inside.
It’s not only the outside of the cafe that’s picturesque and impressive, the inside is equally as breathtaking.
After sitting down George gave us a quick history of the building and I learned that it is one of the most historic cafes in the city, having been serving the people for more than 100 years.
One of the most interesting things he said was about the ceiling.
The ceiling takes on a neo-Renaissance appearance and it’s very uniquely decorated – but that’s not the interesting part.
What makes it so interesting is the fact that it was covered up during the war and survived throughout the entire communist era until it was rediscovered during renovations in the 90s.
If it wasn’t for it being covered up it’s likely that the ceiling would have been removed but it was painstakingly repaired and brought back to its former glory by the owners of the cafe.
At the Savoy we were served the very popular chlebicek, or open-faced sandwiches, along with two traditional desserts.
The sandwiches were a bit messy and I was surprised to learn that they’re a very common staple in almost all aspects of Czech life from after work snacks to finger food at weddings.
Despite their difficult to eat without making a mess both of the types we were able to try were quite delicious and something easy enough to make at home.
The two desserts we had, a vanilkovy venecek (pastry with custard filling) and a laskonka (coconut meringue with a chocolate filling) were quite light, not too sweet, and paired very well with the sandwiches.
Unlike in Canada where typical desserts are full of creams or covered in sugar the two that I was able to try at the Cafe Savoy weren’t overwhelming at all or too heavy on the palate or stomach.
After chatting with the other people on the tour for a short while George motioned to us that it was time to leave and we made our way to the next venue.
The second place that George brought us to was a small, out-of-the-way bar a few blocks away from the Old Town Square.
Despite it’s somewhat hidden location Bonvivant’s turned out to be one of the best bars in Prague, especially for anyone looking for quality service and a unique drinking experience.
The interior was surprisingly small and sparsely decorated but there was enough seating at the bar for 6 people so we all sat down to enjoy a drink.
Immediately the bartender dove into the history of the first drink we enjoyed, the wildly popular absinth, and explained to us all of the unique intricacies of the green drink.
I had had absinth before, but never something like what was served at Bonvivants, and it turned out to be my favorite drink of the night.
The flavors were very strong and I could taste each distinct ingredient as the absinth swirled around on my tongue before I swallowed it.
The next drink we tried was a Czech take on a whiskey sour called a slivovice sour.
Slivovice is a popular fruit brandy, usually made from plums, pears, or apples, and in the sour drink I really enjoyed it – although I don’t like the taste of slivovice on its own.
Compared to just your standard whiskey sour I actually preferred the one made from slivovice and it definitely had a much more Czech taste and vibe to it.
The final drink was an Old Fashioned made with another Czech specialty, Becherovka.
Having travelled throughout much of the Czech Republic I had seen the logo for Becherovka everywhere but it wasn’t until this tour that I was finally able to try it.
These days it’s one of the most well-known herbal liquors that’s used in a variety of different drinks and I really enjoyed the flavor of it in the Old Fashioned that was served at Bonvivant’s.
There are actually so many different bars in Prague to choose from that for a first time visitor, or even someone living in the city, it can be hard to tell which ones are worth visiting.
Well, I would argue that Bonvivant’s is one of the best bars of the entirety of the Czech Republic – especially if you’re looking for somewhere that focuses on classic drinks with a Czech twist.
In the Old Town you can definitely find bars where you’ll be able to enjoy overpriced fancy drinks that aren’t traditional or made with any love at all
However, at Bonvivant’s you’re sure to be treated very well by bartenders that have a love of the Czech Republic, making drinks, and that are working tirelessly to make sure you’re pleased with the drinking experience.
After the drinking session at Bonvivant’s George lead us through the Old Town and we made our way to another popular place called Lokal.
This turned out to be my favorite restaurant on the tour and I even went back the next day with my girlfriend so that she could experience it as well.
Lokal is more of a traditional Czech restaurant and inside it was designed to remind guests of the old beer halls and restaurants that were prevalent during the communist era.
They don’t only specialize in beer, although it’s quite reasonable priced and even brewed on site, and it’s here at Lokal that’s it’s possible to enjoy some more very well done traditional Czech items.
At Lokal we were able to try some fried cheese, marinated cheese, Prague ham, and my favorite dish of the night – steak tartar.
The fried cheese, or smazeny syr, is a Czech specialty and it can be found all over the country.
I think some people eat it as a main course but fried cheese pairs very well with beer and it’s a great snack to enjoy while drinking a pint or two.
The marinated cheese, or nakladany hermelin, was something I hadn’t tried before and I also liked it very much.
It was a little spicy and also paired very well with the light beer I was drinking.
The Prague ham, or Prazska sunka, is popular throughout the Czech Republic and I had had it before.
At Lokal we were able to enjoy the ham with a whipped horseradish cream and I definitely would have liked to have been able to eat a lot more of it – it was delicious!
Finally, the steak tartar, or tatarak, was served and this was one of my favorite dishes overall.
The tartar is made fresh and is served with toasted rye bread that’s fried in lard along with a small piece of garlic that is meant to be rubbed on the toast before eating.
This dish was so good it’s actually why I brought my girlfriend back the next day and even as a picky eater she really enjoyed the tartar as well.
Overall, the experience along with the delicious food at Lokal made it one of the highlights of the night and I’d recommend anyone visiting Prague to take the time to visit Lokal for some cheap beer and tasty food.
The final stop of the tour was at the impressive Cafe Imperial, located just outside of the busy city centre Old Town area.
The Cafe Imperial is more of an upscale and fancy dining restaurant, so it’s not somewhere I’d likely visit on my own, but I was glad to get a chance to sample their menu and it was the ideal place to end the tour.
Not only is it a restaurant but it’s also a cafe – and one of the most popular grand cafe houses in Prague.
The famous writer Franz Kafka spent many days visiting the cafe and working on his literature and the composer Leos Janacek would also frequent the Imperial.
Similar to the Savoy, the ceiling at the Cafe Imperial is incredibly impressive and the Art Nouveau ceramic wall tiling that it’s made from has stood the test of time for more than 100 years.
It was here where the tour ended and together as a group we enjoyed one more sampling of dishes before parting ways.
Along with beer I was able to sample a starter soup along with a main course.
The soup was a dill soup with a poached egg and mushrooms, or kulajda in Czech.
To be honest, I’m not the biggest fan of mushrooms but the dill soup itself was amazing and I could barely even taste the mushrooms over the strong flavor of the dill and egg.
There were three options to choose from with the main course and I opted for the rabbit with mustard gravy and dumplings, or kralik s horcicnou omackou.
I’ve had rabbit before and I’m usually on the fence about it but the rabbit at the Cafe Imperial was perfectly cooked, very tender, and the mustard gravy had a light tartness which paired very well with the rabbit meat.
During and after the meal sampling the conversation continued with the tour group and with George, the guide.
Finally, it was time to part ways and by this time I was fairly drunk and ready to call it a night.
Throughout the night it was great being able to spend time with other like-minded travelers as well as learn more about the history and culture of Prague from George.
As a tour guide George was wonderful – he was well spoken, knowledgeable about nearly anything you might think to ask about the Czech Republic, and it’s clear to see that he has put a lot of time and effort into creating the tour.
At the end of the tour I thought it would have been a good idea to visit a bakery and deli for even further insight into the local food and culture but George was quick to inform me that those options are available on the Scrumptious Tour that they offer.
The personal touch that George was able to offer combined with the overall comfortable and welcoming feeling of both the tour group and the places we visited resulted in a unique and memorable experience that I won’t soon forget.
Let me end this by saying that if you’re looking for the best food tour in Prague that you won’t be disappointed by George or Leona with their Prague Food Tour excursions.