We like to joke that traditional Czech food is grey. And in truth, there’s not much color to it. Heavy in meat, salt and starch, it’s difficult to locate vegetables that have not been overcooked, covered in smoked meats, or loaded with cheese (i.e. the Shopska Salad- thanks, Bulgaria). Luckily, there’s been an influx of tourists and international residents in the last 20 years. Aside from the recent intrusion of outsiders, there is also a heavy dose of Vietnamese people from the days of communism. All told, non-Czech residents make up about 20% of the population. And that means a lot more choices for healthy, colorful food. Below are some gems I’ve discovered over the last month living in Prague.
Want a healthy cafe that’s not teeming with tourists? Where you can find happy staff in addition to local, organic and non-processed food? A place you can stay all day if you want and work? Bistro Zahrada (Garden Bistro in Czech) in the Venohrady district is your place. Friendly staff, a full coffee selection with dairy free options and excellent, healthy food, Zahrada has a limited menu of outstanding options so there’s no information overload. For lunch, try the couscous tebouleh, the special of the day which always comes with a mix green salad in a yummy vinaigrette dressing (chicken salad sandwich with pesto for me, which was excellent) or a lentil salad with ginger. The fresh ginger tea is always my go-to, but the Grain Coffee Yannoh is also a pleasant change from the typical caffeinated coffee. Cozy and intimate, it’s a place you can relax or type away on your laptop- it’s like your own sunny living room.
****4 stars: excellent food, organic health food store on one wall, superb coffee, quiet space, friendly staff, located in a beautiful neighborhood… decor is a bit plain
Other Colorful Options:
The Mint Market: On the weekends, this indoor/outdoor old market space has been turned into an organic local dream hang-out. Outdoors includes Vietnamese markets with clothing, food and accessories, indoors includes organic local farmers’ foods, soaps, unique handbags and gifts. You can also volunteer your time to chop vegetables for a homeless ‘Disco Soup’.
Lehká Hlava (or ‘Clear Head’) Restaurant: A famous Vegan restaurant in old town, this is a place that requires a reservation. Not being a vegan or vegetarian myself, I was initially skeptical, but was soon recommending it to anyone who would listen. Artist-made tables, funky booths, rare lights, fish tanks, bamboo walls and a starry night ceiling in one room, Lehká is an inspiring restaurant designed to ‘clear your head, entice your appetite and delight your soul’. Excellent food from ‘burgers’ to cucumber spaghetti and seitan gyros, finished with a ginger tea (served in a bowl) and slice of raw chocolate cake, Lehká is not to be missed…
*****5 out of 5 for decor, efficient (if not overly friendly) staff, excellent food and drinks