There are so many benefits to studying abroad in Prague, including the beautiful besides architecture, convenient public transportation, fun cultural scene, and exciting history, but one of the best aspects has to be how incredibly cheap it is. Because it’s so cheap — a multi-course “splurge” meal could set you back a whole $8 USD — you’ll find plenty of opportunity to dine out in Prague without breaking the bank.
Here is a definitive list of the ten Czech food and drink experiences you will inevitably have as a student in Prague.
10) The Embarrassing KFC Trip
For some reason, Kentucky Fried Chicken is everywhere in Prague. You’ll stubbornly avoid it for a while, determined to not be that American who buys unhealthy American fast food despite being in a foreign country with a plethora of amazing options, but you’ll crack. Eventually, a little bit of homesickness will hit and you will find yourself in the middle of a KFC, attempting to place your whole order in Czech so they won’t know you’re American. But there’s no shame in missing home, and once you taste the greasy deliciousness you’ll have #noregrets.
9) The “How Are Czech People So Fit?” Guláš
This will likely be one of the first things you try when you get to Prague, and it’s not a meal for the faint of heart. Guláš is one of the most well known dishes in Czech cuisine. It’s essentially a beef stew served in a rich sauce of tomato, garlic, caraway, paprika, and other spices, and it is very filling. So filling, in fact, that you will wonder how there could possibly be so many thin Czech people around when all they eat are heavy dishes like guláš with extra bread, dumplings, and beer on the side. It’s a conspiracy.
8) The Minimarket Rohlík
Don’t let the fact that they’re sold just a couple shelves away from shampoo and beer scare you off; everyone knows the incredibly cheap (around $1 USD or less) Czech minimarket pastries are a lifesaver. While most of the pastries are good, the rohlík, which is somewhere in between a pretzel than a croissant, is unique to the region and the perfect morning pick-me-up.
7) “They Make Wine Here Too?”’
Beer may be the star of the show in the Czech Republic, but you’ll quickly discover that Czech people are pretty serious about their wine, too. Whether you try their summer wines at a wine festival, taste a cup of spiced wine at a Christmas market or a café, or experience burčak straight from the barrel on an AIFS Fall trip to Moravia —a wine that is fermented for such a short time, it almost tastes like juice — you will be surprised by how delicious Czech wine can be.
6) The First Time You Eat Knedlíky and Don’t Actually Know What You’re Eating
When you first lay eyes on a plate of knedlíky, you will be convinced that the translation you looked up is wrong, because what you are looking at is most certainly sliced bread, not dumplings. Its spongey consistency, typically made of bread and other ingredients that are boiled or steamed, might seem strange, but once you see how perfectly it soaks up the sauce from your guláš (a match made in heaven, really) you will come to appreciate this classic Czech side for the singular charm it holds.
5) Klobasa at Václavský Gril in Wenceslas Square
Affectionately referred to as a tram dog, this Czech street food is a go-to choice for when you’re hungry in between classes, waiting for the night tram after a night of dancing at Lucerna, or just enjoying the sights and shops at the historic hub, Wenceslas Square. It might look like a hot dog, but Czech sausage has its own unique, amazing flavor (even the packs of Klatovská Klobása from Tesco are incredible) that you will start craving regularly. The stand is right next to the spot where Vaclav Havel gave a famous balcony speech in 1989, so be sure to take in the history while you’re loading up on kečup.
4) Your First Potato Pancake
Everyone knows the potato is one of the world’s most versatile foods, but did you know it could taste good as a pancake? Czech people sure do. The potato pancake (look for it on the menu as bramborák) is another staple in Prague and can frankly range a lot in flavor/quality, but when you find the right potato pancake, your life will be changed.
3) The “I Think I Like Beer Now” Pilsner
Or Staropramen, or Branik—when it comes to Czech beer, you can’t lose. It’s possible that initially you’ll only order this because it’s cheaper than getting water with your dinner (Yes. Genuinely. Google it.), but you’ll have to admit it goes perfectly with Czech food, and by the end of the meal you’re wondering whether you should order another.
2) Burrito Loco
You might not think of the Czech Republic as a place where you can get quality Mexican-style food, but think again: Burrito Loco will satisfy all of your fast food burrito needs so well that you won’t even miss your American Mexican-style fast food spots. Chipotle, who? And in a city that hasn’t standardized food delivery yet, Burrito Loco and its nearly 24/7 hours will satisfy all of your late night college student cravings.
1) The Smažený Sýr that Changes the Cheese Game
Whether on a sandwich or with a fork and knife, there is no wrong way to go when it comes to eating smažený sýr. Easily the best (and most wildly unhealthy) Czech food, smažený sýr is a large rectangle of cheese that’s breaded and fried to perfection. You will wonder how you’ve gone your whole life eating only the lowly mozzarella stick, and how the rest of the world hasn’t caught on to this pioneer of the culinary arts.
You truly can’t go wrong when it comes to the food in Prague. Whether you’re in Prague for a semester or visiting for a weekend, trying Czech food is a fun and important way to discover more about its people’s culture. Be sure to check out the Instagram account @tasteofprague for more ideas about where to go and what to eat in Prague!