Written by Briana Francois, (Vanderbilt University) Student Correspondent CET Prague, Spring 2017
Like most other people, I love to eat! Generally, people wouldn’t consider Prague to be a foodie city and, to be honest, I can’t really argue with that. Still, although Czech food was first described to me as “meat and potatoes heavy,” Prague has a lot more to offer than beef goulash and schnitzel. As a vegetarian (and avid eater!) in Prague, I want to impart the knowledge I’ve learned onto you.
To begin with, I’ve noticed some differences in restaurant culture. People make reservations for everything. My friend and I went to a coffee shop to study one day, and the only free table was one that was reserved for later that day. We worked there until the time of the reservation, then we had to leave to make room for the person who made the reservation. I’ve been about 50/50 getting into places without a reservation, but for a Friday night dinner in a popular area, I would definitely opt for making a reservation. During lunch, many restaurants have lunch specials. If you order off the lunch menu, you can generally get your meal quicker and cheaper than you would ordering off the normal menu.
If you’re going to get traditional Czech cuisine as a vegetarian, you can be pretty sure there won’t be many options for you on the menu. Generally, you can have smazeny syr (fried cheese) or a salad. As a self-proclaimed smazeny syr connoisseur, I think the best place to get it is U Staré Pošty. I ate smazeny syr there on my second day in Prague, and I still think it’s the best I’ve had!
Vegetarian restaurants can be found all over the city. A fellow vegetarian and I had a plan to grab a vegetarian lunch every Wednesday before Czech class, so, by the time our program ends, we can hopefully try them all. We’re still working on it, but some of my favorites have been Maitrea and Estrella. Maitrea is in the middle of old town and has a really cool atmosphere. I had their lunch special, but I was excited to see they also served vegetarian versions of traditional Czech foods.
Estrella is a smaller restaurant. When we tried going the first time, we couldn’t get lunch because we didn’t make a reservation (see what I mean?). We learned our lesson and made a reservation for the next week. When we finally had lunch there, I had my favorite vegetarian meal so far.
When we couldn’t get into Estrella the first week, we ended up at Mama Coffee. Mama Coffee is a chain with more than 20 restaurants around Prague. Their coffee is tasty (though I recommend a lemonade, yum!), and they also serve breakfast and lunch. Their menu is entirely vegetarian and vegan. You can study at Mama Coffee and then grab a great lunch to reward yourself. I may or may not know that from experience.
Finally, when we had our CET trip to Cesky Krumlov, the CET staff recommended Laibon to us. It’s a vegetarian restaurant in the city and there were so many meal options. We went towards the beginning of my time in Prague, so I saw a foods like burritos, chili and quesadillas, that I missed from home. Since some of the meals in Cesky Krumlov are provided, there’s only a couple of times you have to get food on your own. One of these times must be at Laibon. You won’t regret it!
Prague has proven itself to be very vegetarian friendly. I feel like I have a more restaurant options here than I usually do at home. At this point, I only have a month left in Prague. It’s hard for me to believe how fast this time has gone by. I plan on spending the rest of my days in Prague learning, exploring, and, of course, eating. Now, I just need to find a good brunch spot!