The Czech Republic has never been on my bucket list but I had the opportunity to speak at TBEX – Travel Blog Exchange which is a travel blogging conference and the conference is held in a different location every year.
Ironically I was speaking on culinary tourism at the 2018 European Conference and I was completely blown away by the food in the Czech Republic from 5-star restaurants, pubs, street food and even a luxury hostel. Everything was absolutely delicious.
If you’re anything like me, I travel to destinations specifically to indulge in the cuisine of the region because yea I’m greedy like that. Eating for my family is more of a pastime than a nutritional necessity, so it’s no wonder that food is often the highlight of family gatherings. I now plan trips based on the cuisine of the destination.
Related Article: Top Travel Blogging Conference for 2018
Food is an Important Part of Culture
Food is often a window into exploring a new place, the dishes that locals chow down on for certain occasions can tell you a lot about local customs and culture. Czech food has its own story to tell and I’ve rounded up the best Czech Cuisine into this guide of region-specific delicious dishes that will have you thinking there must be a black granny in the kitchen at every Czech restaurant.
Food in the Czech Republic is not exactly known for being the healthiest, but I assure you everybody will probably find a meal they will absolutely fall in love with because the food in the Czech Republic is not only savory but its mouthwatering.
Whether it’s the potato soup, the traditional roast pork with dumplings and sauerkraut, fruit-filled dumplings, or the apple strudel you will find something you love.
For such a small country, there is so much to see and do in the Czech Republic. Much like the nation itself, the food in the Czech Republic carries influences from all of the nations surrounding it. The Czech Republic has become a culinary mecca itself and I assure you the food in the Czech Republic will have you licking your fingers and planning your next food adventure before you even return home.
I will say the Czech’s aren’t big on veggies! I mean getting a salad was harder than getting United States Congress to pass a bill but I guess I didn’t come this far for a salad. Make sure you reserve enough time to walk off those calories because Czech food is delicious, filling and addictive.
Here’s my guide to some must-try drinks and food in the Czech Republic.
Typical Food in the Czech Republic
All about the Dumpling or Knedlíky
Now, lets to start off with the very basics of the food in the Czech Republic, there’s nothing more basic than a good ol’ knedlík, or dumpling. In fact, Czech dumplings are great, because they can be both sweet and savory and are perfect for soaking up all of the delicious gravy that seems to be prepared for every Czech dish. The only cardinal rule is to NOT eat them with your hands or to spread butter on them! Remember when in Rome do as the Romans.
The most popular is the standard bread dumplings seen sliced on plates across the country. Czech dumplings are not the same dumplings we are accustomed to in the states which is what I assumed. The base of these is generally slightly stale bread that is shaped and either boiled in a pot of water or steamed.
The dumpling looks fluffy and is often prepared as a side for dishes like guláš and svíčková, and they’re perfect for soaking up some of that delicious gravy that I still believe black grandmas are preparing in the kitchen. Also, don’t eat the dumplings dry because this is considered a sin — not to mention they’re kind of bland on their own.
Fruit dumplings are great as well if you prefer sweet over savory and they can be made with any number of different fruits and then they are encased in soft doughy goodness and boiled until warm and soft. Once your individual dumplings are finished cooking, they’re then plated and served up with all kinds of delicious toppings.
The most traditional way is to slather them in melted butter or sprinkle them with sugar and a pinch of cinnamon. While on a food tour I was told to add both and create what could have been the possible meal I’ve ever eaten!
To the meat of the matter
After covering one of the basics of Czech cuisine, it’s now important to get to the nitty-gritty: the meat! The pork or beef in the Czech is usually roasted low and slow in the oven and served up with dumplings.
The star of Czech cuisine has got to be pork because the national Czech dish consists of roast pork, cabbage, and dumplings. This dish, which is found in every “Czech kitchen” is really quite simple; however, when it’s done right, it is so good.
You’ll think it came straight out of your grandma’s kitchen – even if your grandma isn’t Czech! It consists of succulent and juicy slow roasted pork, served up with a gravy made from its own juices. As if that wasn’t hearty enough, it’s often accompanied by white cabbage, which for those of you who don’t know, is very much like the German sauerkraut, but a bit less sour and even slightly creamy.
The whole thing is then topped off with potato dumplings that provide something other than your fingers to soak up that extra gravy.
The next dish you will want to try with your newly improved Czech culinary skills is the Svíčková. Svíčková refers to beef sirloin, a quality cut of beef that is served covered in a savory vegetable cream sauce and topped with whipped cream, yes, whipped cream and cranberry sauce sitting on top of this all this deliciousness. It is served up with fluffy, white bread dumplings and a slice of lemon, just to add a little bit tang.
Most Czechs don’t prepare this dish regularly because of the sheer length of time it takes to prepare this meal but the sauce alone is enough of a reason to add this dish to your shortlist of things to try while deciding what food in the Czech Republic you should be trying.
Remember that since Czech dishes take so long to cook, most restaurants will cook up large batches each day, so you can have your favorites served up fresh and without the wait! Y’all know gravy taste better the next day anyway.
Think all Czech food are mainly beef/pork and potatoes? Trust me, they eat birds, too! In fact, one of the local favorites is the roasted duck or goose. The roasted duck or goose is often prepared for special occasions like Christmas or some sort of celebration.
Street Food in the Czech Republic
Sausages (klobásy, in Czech) are on every corner in the Czech Republic. Similar to hot dog stands in most major metropolitan cities in the United States. Sausage stands are very popular in the Czech Republic. I kinda consider myself a sausage connoisseur and OMG these were the best sausages I have ever eaten.
These stands are great for tourist who have been out drinking beer all night and is need of a late night snack to soak up the alcohol. There are a variety of sausages based on the type of meat and seasoning you prefer, but the sausages are typically served up on white buns with every topping you can think of from — ketchup, hot sauce, sauerkraut, and mustard.
There’s no better way to feel like a local than by grabbing a bite to eat at the nearest sausage stand.
Prague’s most famous pastry did not originate in the Czech Republic. Trdelník was originally known as Kurtsoskalacs and came from Transylvania but it is now a staple in the Czech Republic. These rolled pastries are dusted in cinnamon sugar or left plain and glazed with butter. Unlike most street food on this list, trdelník can be found throughout the city, in shop windows, and on street corners.
Fine Dining in the Czech Republic
Olomouc is one of the best-kept secrets in Czechia. It’s history and sight mimic that of Prague but without all of the crowds. Olomouc (pronounced OH-la-mootz), the historic capital of Moravia in the east of the Czech Republic.
Entree is the epitome of fine dining and can hold its own to any Michelin Starr restaurant in Europe. (Stay tuned for my next post because it will be all about the beautiful town of Olomouc).
Superb cuisine fused with modern cooking and Moravian tradition.
The restaurant has stunning interiors, polite and courteous staff and a wine list to die for are just a few reasons why Entree should be on your “to do” list. If you are visiting Moravia, it’s worth the detour. Michelin beware!
I love the open kitchen which allows guests to watch the chef perform his magic. The modern cuisine is from the hands of chef Přemek Forejt. The menu is divided into 4 parts – garden, water, land, and sky, and draws mainly on fresh and seasonal ingredients. The garden has purely vegetarian meals, the water is represented by fish and seafood meals, the land offers quality meats and the heavenly desserts.
Cuisine at Long Story Short
Entree is not the only 5-star restaurant in Olomouc. As I mentioned earlier while visiting Olomouc I stayed at a hostel and not just any ole hostel but Long Story Short is a luxury hostel that prepares the most amazing Czech Cuisine.
Long Story Short was once an old fortress in the city of Olomouc.
If you are looking for healthier options while still highlighting the Moravian culture. The food is prepared right off the grill and Eva, the owner has one of the country’s top chefs preparing all of the food at Long Story Short.
The Cooking Bar serves food based on Moravian heritage and all of the deliciousness you can ever imagine from seasonal toasts, salads, soups, beef, pork, and small bites along with their extensive cocktail menu.
Back in the old days, the hostel used to be a military bakery and Long Story Short is honoring tradition by preparing fresh pastries, cakes, and other Czech desserts in the same kitchen as the military cooks who once prepared dishes for the soldiers.
Cheese in The Czech Republic
Eva also introduced me something called Stinky Cheese or The syrečky cheese — which is aged under hunks of meat. This cheese is so much part of this region’s identity that when the European Union tried to forbid the product, the Czech government negotiated for special permission to continue to rot their milk in the time-honored Olomouc tradition.
Olomouc is the perfect alternative to the trendy and overcrowded Prague. Just two hours away from Prague by express train so if you are visiting the Czech Republic take the trip to Olomouc and indulge in some must-try food in The Czech Republic.
Beer in the Czech Republic
Beer is the national sport in the Czech Republic, so it belongs to this list without saying that I must talk about how to order a beer. The home of the original pilsner and the original Budweiser (exported to the U.S. as “Czechvar”), the Czech Republic is a beer drinker’s paradise, and the Czechs take their beer drinking seriously.
Beer is enjoyed with lunch, dinner, by itself, and it is not uncommon to see people drinking beer drank with breakfast. When visiting the Czech Republic it is essential to know just how to order a beer.
The Czech word for beer is “pivo,” so if you want to keep ordering simply saying “Pivo, prosim,” or “Beer, please,” will be all you need to say. This will bring you a delicious 10-degree lager, the most common beer in the Czech Republic.
Unlike the U.S., there will not be 5 to 10 choices of beer on tap. There will be three choices: a 12 degree and maybe a dark beer known as “tmavy.” When ordering beer in the Czech Republic you will order by degree. The degree is a rating not of the amount of alcohol in the beer, but the percent of sucrose extract by weight.
It’s confusing, but a 10 degree is usually about 4.5 percent alcohol while a 12 degree is about 5 percent. Unless you specify, the beer you are ordering will be brought in a large 0.5-liter glass. Saying “Male Pivo, prosim” will get you a smaller 0.33-liter beer.
Beer will come all night until you stop it. At most places, a tab will be started on a scrap of paper at your table, and when it comes time to pay, your waiter will tabulate your scrap and you will owe what they tell you. Be sure to tip, though the common tip is not much. If the tab is under 100 crowns, between 5 and 10 crowns will be plenty.
First Insider Tip for food in the Czech Republic
- Most pubs serve one of the major microbrews in the country: Staropramen, Gambrinus, Pilsner Urquell, Budvar, etc. A better beer experience may be had at a pub that serves less common brands. Do some research ahead of time to find out which beers to search for and which to stay away from.
Second Insider Tip for food in the Czech Republic
- Be careful. It is remarkably easy to spend an entire evening drinking beer and not realize it until you stand up.
This brings us to the end of our list of food in the Czech Republic. Hopefully, by this point, you’ve got at least a handle on the types of Central European foods. Dishes in the Czech Republic convey heart, realness, love of authenticity, and great food.
“Cheers and bon appetit!”