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Prague is no longer the undiscovered, inexpensive “Eastern” European city it used to be, and prices definitely reflect the Czech capital’s popularity. City centers aren’t usually the best places to find a cheap meal, but that doesn’t mean an affordable and authentic Czech meal—complete with a yummy local beer—can’t be found.
Here are three of my favorite pubs in central Prague:
U Jindrišské veže
Jindrišská 26, Prague 1
Near Wenceslas Square, “At the Jindrišská Tower” offers plentiful plates of Czech pub grub. Pictures of old Prague line the walls, while outside, the historic Jindrišská Tower looms overhead. Dark wooden tables sassily covered in beer tablecloths fill up quickly for their “smažený sýr,” ” tatarská omácka” (fried cheese with tarter sauce), and “kurecí prsa na žampionech” (chicken breast with mushrooms).
Beer fans take note: They offer tank Gambrinus (tank beer is supposedly the best), plus the well-known Pilsner Urquell and Kozel dark, one of the most popular dark brews.
Provaznická 3, Prague 1
At the other end of Wenceslas Square, right near one of the Mustek metro entrances, you’ll find U Provaznice (translated as “At the Rope maker’s wife”). Look for the wooden statue near the entrance—legend has it you should touch her breasts for good luck. A small space (keep walking around the bar towards the left for more tables in the back), it’s often packed, but the waiters are usually of the friendly sort.
Go there for their great “vepro, knedlo, zelo” (pork, bread dumplings, and cabbage) or “smažené veprové rízky” (pork schitznel). The low ceilings, brick accents and light wood tables offer a cozy atmosphere.
Dlouhá 33, Prague 1
Run by a well-regarded local restaurant group, Lokál is the place to go if you want Czech atmosphere without the traditional ambiance. Confused? This new restaurant, opened in the fall of 2009, recreates the Czech pub experience in a modern way. Here you’ll find a typical pub menu and long wooden tables spruced up with modern lighting and design.
It’s a small menu. Go for some “svícková hovezí pecene na smetane” (beef tenderloin in a cream sauce) or “guláš z hovezí kližky” (beef goulash). Prices are shockingly low for the location and evidence of its upscale nature can be found in its decent wine list and competent service. Close to Old Town Square, Lokál has quickly become a favorite among the locals.