It’s great to see more places making an effort for vegetarians these days. Klášterní šenk, in the serene, green surroundings of the 10th-century Břevnov Monastery, is one such establishment. Mushroom soup – served in a plain bowl or in a bowl of bread – is a tasty treat, even if it’s the creamy pumpkin risotto it makes me come back. The Serbian Restaurant jelica is another favorite. Embroidered curtains and ceramic wall plates give the place a welcome touch of Yugoslav kitsch, and the stuffed zucchini and Balkan salads are incredible.
Once in a while I have a sudden craving for meat, so I go to Kantyna and treat yourself to a plate of pulled pork. It’s a trendy self-service style pub with amazing food, and for my money it also does the best pilsner in Prague.
Everyone knows how pretty the architecture of Prague is, but it’s functionalist art that holds a special place in my heart. The new art gallery, Kunsthallewhich opened last year in the attractive Malá Strana district, is set on the site of a 1930s electrical transformer station. The exhibits are different but all linked by an eerily compelling electrical theme.
I also love opera – but going to the famous National Theater is expensive. But you can cheat, like me, and get your cultural fix at Kino Aero, an independent cinema with an excellent sound system in the lively district of Žižkov. In addition to films, it screens performances from the Metropolitan Opera in New York.
Prague 6 is a diverse hub of calm and coolness, with neighboring Bubeneč and Dejvice neighborhoods being the cultivated choice. The farmers marketwhich takes place every Saturday (8am-2pm), definitely worth stopping by to buy some local blueberry jam, try smazenka (egg bread with fresh vegetables) or, if you can brave the smell, scrumptious disks of savory Olomouc cheese.
For cakes, the new gluten-free pastry Buchta is a revelation. It serves colorful cream flans and vegan macaroons. Whenever I’m in the area, I leave an hour free for Krkonosska hospůdka, a hidden mountain lodge style pub. Owner Dave is a friendly guy, serving Czech craft beers as well as his own very un-Czech lager, Bob and Dave. Bob is his companion and the brewer, and he tastes bitter and delicious.
Prague is much greener than visitors think. Stromovka is the largest park in the center, but I recommend going out a bit further for a walk in the wooded park that surrounds it. Hvězda, a star-shaped Renaissance summerhouse. It hosts an exhibition on the Battle of White Mountain of 1620 (won by the Habsburgs, ending the Bohemian Revolt), which took place nearby, and the cafe sells a lovely carrot cake. For even wilder nature, take a tram to Hlubočepy to explore Prokopské údoli, a limestone valley lined with caves and disused quarries. It is ideal for walking, cycling and fossil hunting.
by Al Capone, just off Národni Street, is a cocktail bar where I take all my visiting friends for a late drink. Popular with a younger crowd, I doubt you’ll find a cheaper mojito or white russian anywhere in town. To attend a live concert, Meet the factory is a good bet – that’s where I met my wife, actually. Owned by art rebel David Černý, this converted slaughterhouse is a creative space during the day, and at night turns into a bar with cool electro and American bands.
For a convenient spot in the Bubeneč district, you can’t go wrong with Art Hotel (double from €80 B&B) next to Sparta Prague Stadium. Posher – but actually cheaper – is the resplendent King Charles Shop (double from €40 room only, closed until August 31), a heraldic-style hotel under the castle walls of beautiful Vyšehrad.
Pavel Lagner has acted in many Czech films and television series and is the curator of the Gallery of Vaclav Spalawhich houses contemporary art