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8 Traditional Czech Dishes to Try in the Czech Republic
In the Czech Republic, you can get a delicious restaurant meal complete with a beer or two for as little as $10 or so if you go to the right place. In Prague, steer well clear of the tourist hubs and look for local places serving typical Czech food.
There are lots of great restaurants close to every metro station. Walk a street or two off the beaten track and you'll have plenty of choice. Any Czech restaurant will offer most or all of the traditional Czech dishes I recommend.
There are so many great Czech foods that it is impossible to list all of them here. These are just a few of my personal favourites.
Also called goulash, this hearty Czech dish can be ordered in absolutely any Czech restaurant. It is a paprika-based beef stew with a rich, smoky sauce and tender, melt-in-your-mouth meat. It is commonly served with bread or potato dumplings and raw onion slices for garnish.
This is pretty much the most famous Czech dish, but also one of the most delicious. I recommend pairing it with a pint or two of Pilsner Urquell.
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2. Svíčková na smetaně
Svíčková is another highly popular and very common Czech dish. Svíčková is another beef-based dish, but it has a creamy sauce lightly flavoured with allspice and thyme. Svíčková is served with bread dumplings, and is usually garnished with whipped cream and a cranberry preserve.
Svíčková is extremely flavourful and just as hearty as goulash. As always, it pairs great with a pint of Czech beer.
3. Smažený sýr
Smažený sýr is the world's best comfort food. Served both in restaurants and from Czech street food stands, it basically translates as fried cheese - but it is so much more than that!
Smažený sýr is a thick block of Edam cheese, breaded and deep fried. It is either served in sandwich form or simply as is, often with a side of chips (french fries) or potatoes and tartar sauce.
This isn't a healthy option, but it is extremely tasty and should be tried at least once. It is also a go-to Czech vegetarian option, as most Czech dishes are meat-based.
4. Obložené chlebíčky
Obložené chlebíčky are a type of bread-based appetizer or snack. These traditional Czech delicacies can often be found at food counters in Czech supermarkets and bakeries or delis, and are a great way to take the edge off your appetite.
There are lots of different kinds of obložené chlebíčky. Some of the most common toppings are cheeses of all varieties, different cured meats and hams, hard-boiled eggs, pickles, and thinly sliced raw vegetables (tomatoes, cucumber, peppers, onion). Cream cheese and potato salad are other popular toppings.
These are also easy to prepare at home, so if you're visiting a Czech supermarket, buy a few supplies and try your hand at putting together your own chlebíčky. You can find some recipe suggestions online.
Bramboráky are potato pancakes, which I know that many Americans love! Well, the best place to get them is in the Czech Republic, where they are tasty, crispy and absolutely delicious.
The seasoning is often very simple - usually the Czech staples marjoram and caraway seed - but they are just perfect as a snack or a side; they are a common side in Czech restaurants. Try the Czech version if you get the chance and compare it to the American one. Czech wins every time.
6. Gulášová polévka
Translated as goulash soup, this is one of the traditional Czech dishes which really blew my mind! It's tasty and hearty, full of meat, vegetables and spices in a tasty paprika-based stock. It is lighter than goulash and full of chunky potato, peppers, onion and meat. It is flavoured with paprika, tomato and marjoram, and is a great choice as a starter if you have a large appetite.
Gulášová polévka is often the starter on set menus. I'd highly recommend getting a fixed-menu meal if you're willing to spend a little more on beer and tip, and want a varied taste of traditional Czech cuisine. Set menus are common in restaurants close to Prague Castle and the city center.
Trdelník are sold year round in the Czech Republic, but are specially common in street markets near Christmas. They are a sweet pastry cooked on a rotating stick and rolled in cinnamon sugar. Soft, fluffy and sweet, they taste as good as they smell.
If you're only going to try one sweet in the Czech Republic, I heartily recommend trdelníky. Top tip: try to persuade the vendor to spread nutella in the center for an even more delicious, melty treat.
Klobása are another hugely popular Czech dish sold frequently in America - but you haven't tasted this Czech sausage until you've tried one from a street vendor in Wenceslas Square. Served either with slices of Czech bread or in a bun, these sausages are juicy, flavourful and extremely cheap as a quick lunch on the go.
I recommend smothering it with ketchup and mustard and enjoying thoroughly while browsing the shops and streets of Wenceslas Square in Prague.