If you want to experience Prague before the revolution, come for a meal to Restaurace U Rozvarilu on the top floor of Bila Labut Shopping Center. The restaurant is a time capsule of Socialist Prague, when orange, red and dark brown were the colors of choice and prices were aimed at the proletariat. Grab a tray and join the queue. That's the easy bit. Read the menu posted on the wall. That's the tricky bit. It's in Czech. The lady ladling out big portions of sauerkraut, mashed potatoes and breaded deep fried chunks of difficult-to-see-what-it-is doesn't speak English. The only way out is pointing at food you may or may not recognize. You will be amazed at the size of the portions you get for your crowns.
Local Expert tip: Forget about cholesterol and calories
Nestled among pine trees in leafy Letna Park, Hanavsky Pavilion overlooks the winding Vltava River and offers the best bird's eye view of Prague's bridges and towers. Neo Baroque Hanavský Pavilion was built for the National Jubilee Exhibition in 1891. Once a shelter for visitors of the park, the pavilion is now a popular spot for weddings and romantic evenings. On fine days diners can enjoy the sun setting over the red rooftops of the city. Live piano music adds to the charm. The menu is a mix of international and local dishes; Roast duck with dumplings, cabbage soup with sausages or Wiener schnitzel with potato salad. All dishes are a pleasure for the taste buds. The restaurant is small compared to other places in Prague. It caters for 36 people inside and 80 on the summer terrace which is heated on chilly days.
Local Expert tip: Sit on the summer terrace and sip Becherovka, a traditional herbal bitters.
The Jáma Bar & Grill, near Palladium Shopping Center, is a pub with extraordinary cuisine and Czech beers on tap; Pilsner Urquell, Jihlava, Lobkowicz, ?erna Hora, Kla?t?r or Rychtar. Choose from the daily lunch specials chalked on the wall or come back in the evening for the a la carte menu. Great place for sports lovers who can watch football matches on the big screen. Besides Tex-Mex specialties and great burgers, you can also sample Czech staples such as goulash with dumplings or potato pancakes. But you can ignore all this and go straight for the palacinka se zmrzlinou a ovocem, the Czech version of French crêpes, filled with ice-cream and fresh fruit.
Local Expert tip: No free seats left? Share a table with the locals.
Locals are common and tourists are rare at Ferdinanda, thanks to its location just far enough from action, but still close enough to one of Prague's secret tourist's sights; Infant Jesus of Prague in the Church of Our Lady of Victory. As you enter the basement of Frerdinanda a mannequin wearing a Ferdinanda T-shirts greets you. Next to her you will see a black chest with Frozen Cats. Seating is around bare wooden tables and benches. Choose from Ferdinanda's lunch menu. If you can't read Czech, the staff will explain in almost perfect English. Whatever you order; Schnitzel, Prague sausages or goulash, the portions are huge.
Local Expert tip: Sample Ferdinand beer brewed in their own micro-brewery
Bellevue means French dining with a breathtaking view, that's so spectacular it will give you goose bumps. The multicourse tasting menus includes crisp roasted duck in honey-lavender sauce or grilled suckling pork chops with mustard sauce – true adventures for the taste buds. The sommelier offers a special wine list that features classical French to local wines grown in the vineyards of Moravia. The interior of Bellevue is a delightful blend of modernity and tradition. The soft mauve and beige shades go well together with the crystal chandeliers, the classic furniture and the crisp white tablecloths. On warm sunny days, diners can enjoy their meal al fresco while taking in unrestricted views of Prague Castle across the Vltava River.
Local Expert tip: Ask for a table near one of the huge windows for the best view of Charles Bridge and Prague Castle beyond.
Celeste Restaurants's circular dining room atop the Dancing House offers sweeping, views of Vltava River and Prague Castle. In summer, tables spill out on to the terrace. The French chef Gwendal Le Ruyet makes every meal a culinary adventure. Seafood lovers will appreciate the turbot fillet with warm seaweed and crisp apple salad. Fregula pasta, risotto style, with asparagus, parmesan cheese and herb oil is a pleasure for the vegetarian palate. A Pinot Blanc or Riesling Grand Cru is an excellent choice to accompany your meal. Finish the French way with cheese followed by champagne mousse with basil cream and fresh strawberries.
Local Expert tip: Sip before-dinner cocktails on the summer terrace on the top floor of the Dancing House when the sky is ablaze with the setting sun.
U Maltezskych Ryteru is located in a medieval building that once served as a hospice for the Knights of Malta. Candlelit tables are tucked away in stone and brick Gothic vaults. This is a place only possible in Prague. The short menu lists cold and hot starters and about five or six main courses which always include fresh fish, salads and two vegetarian dishes. U Maltezskych Ryteru is famous for its mouthwatering local cuisine and excels in venison chateaubriand served with a prune, cranberry, walnut sauce. Finish your meal with home-made apple strudel with generous scoop of vanilla ice-cream and doused in eggnog.
Local Expert tip: U Maltezskych Ryteru is tiny and extremely popular, so book well ahead.
Nebozizek Restaurant surrounded by woodland is half-way up Petrin Hill. Sit for the best panoramic views in the glass conservatory, heated in winter, or retreat to the main building where the pianist plays most nights. Some of the Czech specialties are worth the climb up. Start with Becherovka, a traditional herbal bitters made in Karlovy Vary. The venison goulash served with crusty homemade bread is feast for the eyes and palate. Duck breast with sage is an all-time favorite. Czech cuisine is heavy on meat but Nebozizek surprises vegetarians with a choice of three delightful dishes. The restaurant is popular with tourists and locals who come here for wedding receptions.
Local Expert tip: Hop on the funicular railway to get to Nebozizek. After your meal, stroll down along romantically moon-lit winding paths
Sit in the Baroque dining room or on the summer terrace with a corner view of Prague Castle. The candle lit dining room is the perfect setting for a romantic meal. Crystal chandeliers, bowls of shining fruit and colorful flowers in elegant vases set the tone. Classical elegance combines with tantalizing dishes prepared by Martin Blazek, Chef de cuisine. The two- or three-course lunch menu is different for each day of the week and might include creamy carrot soup followed by beef medallions in peppercorn sauce or vegetable risotto for vegetarians. Sunday brunch features English style breakfast but also tapas, Caesar salad and vegetable skewers. Be sure to taste the apple strudel, one of the best in Prague. Palffy Palace is always full of happy eaters who know good value.
Local Expert tip: Come to Palffy Palace for the fixed-price lunch on weekdays or for the brunch buffet on Sunday.
Chef Marek Purkart of Mlynec Restaurant believes in a climate smart menu, in other words do not expect fresh strawberries in December or pumpkin soup in spring. Dining in Mlynec Restaurant is a pleasure for the taste buds and easy on your wallet. The menu ranges from warm Prague ham with red lentil purée for starters to roast duck with dumplings for the main course. The special Sunday Roast menu is much recommended. Nothing can rival the roast leg of lamb doused in coriander-mint sauce followed by orange cheesecake. The wine list includes Czech wines along with a good selection of international wines. Sunday lunch includes an unlimited number of selected drinks such as Moravian wines, soft drinks and fresh orange juice. Mlynec means dining in style in an elegant interior or on the summer terrace with breathtaking views of Charles Bridge.
Local Expert tip: Savour traditional Czech cuisine prepared by chef Marek Purkart who won the prestigious Bib Gourmand award, meaning excellent value for money.