One of my favorite things to do while on vacation is finding a great, affordable place to eat where preferably there are no tourists. Of course that is easier said than done in some places but I really do enjoy it when I find one.
One night while in Budapest we were trying to find a restaurant recommended by Rick Steves. He usually does a good job but this one was just too posh for us. It looked like a bunch of yuppie urbanites might frequent it. Not what I wanted to take my family to. But right next door we found a great pub/restaurant. It wasn’t very busy but the food was great and affordable. The only down side (and that’s true of all the restaurants we went to in Central Europe) there are no non-smoking sections. This restaurant is called Franz Joseph and it had a wonderful ambiance. It was decorated with an ecclectic selection of antiques. It is located at Nagymezo u. 12 Even tough it was a pub I didn’t feel uncomfortable taking my children there. It had a great selection of Hungarian dishes and some pasta dishes.
Because it was Thanksgiving and we had just returned from a trip to the baths, we were starving. I had a delicious chicken with sesame seeds, my husband couldn’t live without turkey so he had a stuffed turkey breast, my son had a great fettucine with salmon and my daughter was adventuresome and ate chicken with honey and apples. Every thing was delicious. We tried eating there again the next night but couldn’t because the kitchens close at 10. We found another place nearby that was open, the food was okay but it was modern and didn’t make an impression. My daughter did love their white hot chocolate though.
Finding a non-touristy anything in Prague was difficult. So many places around Old Town cater to tourists that you must get out of there to find a great place. I found that it is so much cheaper to eat a big lunch and then have a stand up meal for dinner. This is especially true when traveling with children. It just adds up much faster. For dinner we try finding a pizza place, sandwich shop or try eating something we buy at a supermarket. This saves us money and keeps the kids happy.
Near Wenceslas Square we found a true gem. U Balbinu on Jungmannova street has a simple and affordable lunch menu featuring Czech cuisine. Their dinner menu is much longer but it is also quite a bit more expensive.My husband had the Bohemian Kulajda soup- white dill and mushroom soup with cream which was delightful and very different than anything else I’ve ever tasted. The price was only 29ck. My son had a chicken noodle soup and I had the lentil with sausage soup also both excellent at 29ck. What a steal.
The decor is really cool. There are several beer distillery kettles and the old fashioned chandeliers add to the stone decor. The back room has some quirky pictures of a guy doing all kinds of outrageous things and since it was written in Czech I have no idea what it said. The main dishes all cost between 79- 189 kc most of them in the lower end. So you can get a really nice meal for about $5. Several of the meals include a strudel for dessert. The only down side is that there aren’t many dishes for kids but they were able to give my son a dish of rice.
I had Beef with garlic, spinach and potato dumplings. It was excellent and at 79ck a steal. My son had the Spice meat mix, rice and strudel. It was also very good and it included at dessert for only 89ck. My daughter had the Pork roll with homemade dumplings and studrel. It was the most expensive at 99kc. For a picky eater to eat the whole thing it was a compliment to how good it was. The dumpling was perfect dipped in the delicious sauce that accompanied the meat. What a find. The best part of this restaurant was there wasn’t a tourist in sight. It must be a favorite with locals because it was busy.
On our final day in Prague we ventured outside the tourist zone and went to Vysehrad. It is a great park with lots of ruins and one of the most beautiful churches I have ever seen. It was rather cold so we were almost alone looking at the city walls built by Charles. On our way out of the park we walked a couple blocks to a small restaurant. I can sincerely say we were the only tourists there because they didn’t have an English menu or even spoke much English. Thankfully one of the waiters helped us out. The decor was different, it had skeletons everywhere.
It is Restaurace USrtaka near Vysehrad. They have menus for 95Kc and dinners for 85 or 89Kc. That was about $5 per person. They made my kids some chicken nuggets and fries. I had Hovezi peceke which is a meat dish with a dill sauce and dumplings. My son had a pork steak and my husband had a meat dish with carrots. We had the Kvetakovy krem which is white dill soup which is very good.
So on your next trip get off the main road, look for a place where the locals eat. Try something that you have no idea what it is and just enjoy it.