It can be difficult to decide what to choose amidst the numerous specialties you will find on the menus of restaurants and pubs. All the more so since servings are often copious and one dish is usually more than enough. To help you choose and make your mouth water, the following text is a non exhaustive list of what you can find in your plate.
You will of course find typical Central European dishes, although several Czech specialties are worth tasting. The most famous is certainly the Prague ham (pražská šunka), a type of cooked meat stuffed with whipped cream. You can also taste various salads among which the Šopský salát, made out of tomatoes and cucumbers and covered with grated cheese. Don't miss the husí játra na cibulce, a serving of fresh goose liver with cooked onions.
Soup is a very common dish in the Czech cuisine. Among the most typical ones we can list the national soup (česká bramborová) made out of carrots, mushroom and potatoes, the cabbage and bacon soup (zelňačka) or the surprising tripe soup (Drstková).
Typical Czech dishes (česká národní jídla)
The basic ingredient is generally meat (beef, chicken, pork, duck, lamb...) served copiously with a side dish.
First of all there is the traditional Goulash. Although it originates from Hungary, there is a Czech version which has become an integral part of the local gastronomy. The Goulash is made of beef meat, beef bouillon, onions, sweet pepper, paprika and potatoes. It is an inexpensive and very nourishing dish which will delight those who enjoy eating a lot.
Beef is a particularly well-liked meat but it is also more expensive than other meats. Among dishes made with beef don't miss the Svíčková na smetaně (roast beef with cream and cranberries) and the Španělské ptáčky (beef stuffed with bacon, eggs, onions and pickles).
Breaded dishes are another important part of the Czech cuisine. Just about all food items get their breaded version. Breaded meat (generally pork and chicken) are available in most menus, but you will also find breaded fish, breaded cheese (eidam and hermelin being the most common options), and even breaded vegetables (mushroom, cauliflower...).
Fish is also a major item in the Czech cuisine, although it is less common compared to meat. The most frequent is the Carp, very much appreciated and usually served for Christmas with prunes, raisins and nuts (Kapr na černo).
They are generally not included in the price. The two traditional Czech side dishes are:
- the knedlíky. They can be made with bread yeast or potato yeast and their ingredients include flour, eggs and yeast. Served in slices, this food item replaces bread and can be served with all types of dishes, particularly those with a sauce.
- the bramborák. It is a potato pancake seasoned with marjoram.
Czech desserts often originate from neighboring countries' specialties (particularly from Austria). You will thus find several typically Viennese cakes, but also pancakes stuffed with fresh fruit and whipped cream.
A booklet with more detailed information and recipes of several Czech dishes is available at the Information center of Czech Tourism on the Old Town Square.