Earlier this week I wrote about all of the vegan products we were able to find in Prague’s organic shops and health food stores. Today’s post is all about the restaurants. Well, not all of Prague’s veggie restaurants. Just a couple we managed to dine at during our three day visit. Oh, and one ice cream shop, just for good measure.
Country Life, Prague
Country Life has several locations in Prague, with the most convenient location for tourists being their central restaurant that’s just a short walk from the old square. Everything in the restaurant is vegan, making it a breeze to pile your plate high with their healthy, housemade fare. They have a large pay-by-weight-buffet, with a salad bar, as well as some hot dishes. Here you’ll find a variety of vegetables, grain salads, bean dishes, seasoned tofu, and tempeh. If you’re really in a rush, you can grab one of their packaged sandwiches or burgers for takeout. The selection is best in the early afternoon, but prices do go down near closing time when they allow customers to fill a takeout box for the equivalent of just a few dollars.
We hit up the buffet and loaded our plates with a mix of healthy eats…
I went a little overboard during our first visit and ended up with a bowl of vegetables/beans/tempeh, a burrito, bread roll AND dessert. My generous tray of food cost about 130 Czech Koruna/Kč ($7.40 USD). My combination of buffet selections had a very home cooked, hearty feel. Nothing fancy, just good old fashion whole foods. The burrito, which was stuffed with brown rice, soy cheese, seitan, veggies, beans and spices, left with me in a takeout box. The dessert…we’ll get to that in a moment.
John exercised a bit more restraint than I did and ended up with a much more reasonable portion of food for lunch.
The next day, I returned to Country Life for another burrito. I had several of these during our short stay. Priced right at 47 Kč ($2.67 USD), I found them easy to eat on the go or pair with a salad to make a filling meal. They helped keep me fueled up for our many hours of walking around beautiful Prague.
Now, on to the sweet stuff. Country Life has an impressive dessert case full of vegan treats. They’ve got some familiar stuff like cookies, fruit tarts and pie, but also have a selection of interesting items that you don’t see everyday, especially in their vegan form.
On our first visit, I chose the Kokoska, a traditional Czech dessert. This multi-layer creation was pretty darn special. The bottom was a biscuit, topped with a light mousse cream, and a center of fruit filling. The lower half was covered in chocolate and the top was adorned with a nest of shredded coconut. It was like no dessert I’d ever tried before. The crunchy biscuit, toasted coconut, light mousse, and sweet fruit filling made for an awesome combination. All this for just 25 Kč ($1.42 USD). It was almost too good to be true!
I was super impressed and a little shocked when we returned to Country Life only to find a new selection of vegan desserts behind the glass. There were some repeats but one daily special that caught my eye. This time it was the kremrole se soj šlehačkou. Translation: Horn with soy whipped cream.
This was another completely new to me indulgence. I’d never had a dessert quite like this, vegan or not. Biting into the horn was a fun experience. The pastry was light and flaky, and the cream was thick and, well, creamy (fancy that!). When I bit down, the filling shot out in all directions. An explosion of goodness. The chocolate drizzle on top only made the horn sweeter, and thus, even better. If Country Life’s pastries were available in the US, they’d rival some of the top vegan bakers. Again, the price was just right at 20 Kč ($1.14 USD)
I already mentioned Country Life’s vegan croissants in my last post, but they are worth highlighting again. So. So. So. Good. You can find these in the Country Life health food store, which is right beside their central restaurant location.
Praha 1, Czech Republic
On our first night in Prague, we were craving a nice, fancy meal. We headed out in the direction of the Lehka Hlava restaurant, also known as Clear Head. Unfortunately for us, the place was packed and we were turned away. We offered to wait but the staff didn’t make it seem like there was any chance a space would open up for us that evening. I’m not one for making reservations but this is a rare case when it’s actually necessary. A bit crushed, especially after seeing the restaurant’s stunning interior, and taking a peek at their menu, we headed outside. Just as we were walking away, one of the staff members pointed us in the direction of their sister restaurant, Maitrea.
Lehka hlava – Clear Head
Praha 1, Prague, Czech Republic
We arrived at Maitrea to find it was also buzzing. After just a little over a year in business, this restaurant has already established a great reputation and is becoming quite popular. Thankfully, there was one table free on the lower level. It was squeezed into a tiny nook but, at this point, we really didn’t care where we were sitting. Even at what was probably one of the restaurant’s less desirable tables, we were delighted to be off our feat. We instantly relaxed into the cozy vibe created by the lighting and decor. Okay, enough raving about the atmosphere, back to the food!
I was in the mood for something light and fresh, which lead me to order the green leafy salad with papaya, udon noodles, ginger, fresh coriander, red onions, peanuts, and sweet chili dressing for 140.00 Kč ($7.97 USD) . It was just what I needed. I was delighted with the ripe, fresh papaya, which was more tasty than what I’m used to. The only downfall was that it wasn’t peeled, so I had to eat it separately from the salad and discard the skin. The udon noodles paired perfectly with the greens, dressing and nuts, and restored my interest in this thick and squishy delicacy. This was the kind of dish that makes you think, “This is great. I wonder if I could recreate this at home?”
I didn’t attempt to recreate the dish ingredient for ingredient, but did decide to add some papaya to my next homemade salad. I put a large, green skinned papaya into our cart while shopping at the Tesco supermarket. I didn’t pay much attention to the price per kg until after it was rung in by the cashier. It turned out to be about 100 Kč ($5.69 USD), and made for an expensive treat. Oops! Oh well, it was worth it.
John had less success with his Maitrea order, but was hungry enough to clean his plate anyway. He had the meatless Kung Pao with vegan “chicken“ pieces, spring vegetables, peanuts, and rice for 145 Kč ($8.25 USD). It turned out to be covered in soy sauce, which overpowered the rest of the ingreidents. Sad face.
John’s brother, Steve, had the Thai eggplant with tofu, fresh coriander, coconut milk and rice for 150 Kč ($8.54 USD). This somewhat spicy dish turned out to be a hit. The lemongrass, black sesame seeds, and fresh herbs made for great flavours.
Still a bit hungry, Steve tacked on a bowl of corn and sun dried tomato soup to his order. It was a bit salty, but he was happy for the extra veggies and left satisfied with the meal.
Týnská ulička 6
Praha 1, Prague, Czech Republic
Hájek & Boušová
While the Hájek & Boušová ice cream shop can’t really be classified as a restaurant, I didn’t want to leave it out. If you find yourself craving an icy dairy-free treat in Prague, and you’ve had your fill of Country Life (they’ve got vegan ice cream too!), it’s worth seeking out one of the Hájek & Boušová locations. They don’t carry soy ice cream but do have gelato made from fresh fruit. I tried the blueberry and strawberry gelato and found they were so jam packed with fruit, it was kinda like licking scoops of frozen fruit smoothies. Yep, that good.
They tricked me on the price though. There was a sign promoting 13 Kč ($0.74 USD) scoops but these premium fruit flavors will set you back slightly more at 20 Kč ($1.14 USD) each.
Hájek & Boušová
Praha 1, Prague, Czech Republic