If you’ve never been to the Czech Republic, you’ve probably never tried Czech cuisine. I’m not sure that there’s much international demand for it – the traditional dishes are all quite meaty and stodgy, and you definitely couldn’t eat them every day. (Of course, the Czechs still have the cheek to claim that British food is awful. Pfft!) Before I moved to Prague, I’d certainly never tried any Czech dishes, but after three years I’m something of a (vegan) svíčková expert.
This traditional dish pops up quite frequently on the daily lunch menus in places like Incruenti and Moment, but if you want to try this Czech classic , Vegan’s (formerly LoVeg) is the place to go. We had it on our first trip to Prague when we were just scoping it out as a place to live, and have been back for it again several times since. It’s one of those dishes that’s never going to be particularly refined: it’s just big, hearty food, and not the kind of thing you could eat particularly regularly. But it’s good when you’re in the mood for it, with the big dumplings, slabs of tempeh, a root veg sauce and a dollop of cranberry sauce.
There’s another traditional Czech dish on the menu there too – the old Bohemian feast, which is a mishmash of a few different things. How well those things go together is debatable, though. As you can probably tell just by looking, this was a dry plate. There was steamed buckwheat with spinach, plain polenta, puffed barley, baked millet casserole, and one other thing that was not listed on the menu and that I really couldn’t identify. The buckwheat, polenta and barley weren’t particularly flavoursome, and I wouldn’t order this again. Stick with the svíčková!
The traditional Czech dessert is much better: these plum dumplings are just beautiful! In the past I’m pretty sure they came sprinkled with icing sugar which was great for my sweet tooth, but they were still nice without that extra touch.
As if things couldn’t get any more Czech, just look at the view from the balcony! Yeah, that’s Prague Castle up there. It’s always worth booking ahead and requesting a table out on the balcony (weather permitting, obviously – it gets pretty cold here!).
Have I sold you on Czech cuisine? Would you brave the svíčková?
Thanks for the tip. It’s a struggle for me to identify non-meat dishes when travelling.
Do you use the HappyCow app? It’s a great way to find meat-free dishes on the road, it’s been a lifesaver for me!
I wasn’t aware of Happy Cow. Looks good. I was in Germany recently and every restaurant seemed to serve 20 varieties of sausage and not much else.
That sauce-y dish looks great
It’s definitely worth trying – I can’t manage it more than once a month though, it’s so hearty!
I went to Prague when I was 16, 11 years before I went vegan but I’ll have to head back to source some Czech eats!
The vegan scene here is amazing, so it’s definitely worth a return visit! (And the city’s nice too, of course.)
I’ve always wanted to visit the Czech Republic (it’s pretty high on my list of to visit countries if I can ever afford airfare across the Atlantic). I would love to try the food. Though, the dessert looks great. And anything in a root vegetable sauce seems pretty awesome.
I hope you make it over here, it’s a lovely place and Prague is very vegan friendly. It’s also really well-connected to other central European cities, making it easy to hit a few places when you visit.
I’ve tried svíčková once – I think it was at that restaurant you mentioned when I was in Prague. I liked it, but the sauce tasted a bit like carrot soup to me. I always like hunting down vegan versions of local dishes!
Yes, it’s fun when you can find veganised local dishes! One bistro here served vegan Czech Christmas dinner last year (fish and potato salad), and we were giddy!
The plum dumplings sound quite delicious, and what a beautiful view!
I know, we should really make sure we visit more in the summer months to enjoy the balcony!
I don’t think I’ve ever tried Czech cuisne, so I really enjoyed reading this! I’d love to try that tempeh dish.
It’s definitely fun to try!
I asked my Grandma what was some traditional recipes, (she is technically Slovak, not Czech) and she just said lots of meat, and potatoes… but claims my great grandmother was mostly vegetarian! I would love to know more, but 1) my Grandma doesn’t like cooking and 2) isn’t very good at cooking lol My father in law got a Czech cookbook, it’s small, not vegan, but maybe I’ll veganize a dish or two.
I’ve heard before that historically Czechs (and Slovaks, I assume) have been quite veggie friendly because during hard times people generally follow veggie diets and eat meat rarely, which makes sense. However, all traditional Czech dishes seem to be very hearty and meaty.