As a first time poster on Chow, I wanted to use the oppotrunity to thank vanderb and others for the many posts about Prague in the past. We just returned from Prague (6 days) and Budapest (3 days - see our separate post), and we wanted to report on some recommendations from Chowhounders, and add our own. For reference, our own preference is that we desire great value in fresh, well-prepared, and tasty meals. We prefer to find solid values at pubs, local hangouts, and more casual spots where the experience and the value are self-evident. We have found over the years that our sweet spot for a great dining experience is in a middle-upper range, though as you will see below, our experience at Bellevue allowed us to appreciate a luxury meal. One of us will try anything, and the other eats no pork, red meat or shellfish.
Per vanderb, we made sure we ate at Lokal Dlouha. It was a fun experience, heightened by the separation, in two large rooms, of smokers from us non-smokers. With my beer, I tried the hot dog sausages with separate mustard and horseradish. Mmmm. I had a terrific beef goulash with bread dumplings, and, when I had trouble finishing the dumplings, the waitperson asked if I wanted more goulash sauce for sopping. My wife had a chicken with mushrooms special, plus a side of rice, that was really tasty. Our choice of Pilsner Urquel could be had with various levels of foamy head - called "sweet," "creme," or "slice." We skipped dessert there, but our total bill, with tip, was under US$50.
We also ate at U Tri Ruzi. This was our first meal in Prague, and we didn't realize how special it was to be able to get 4 different beers in a single restaurant/brewery. Most Czech spots have a single brew, Pilsner Urquell, and take it or leave it. As we were exhausted from travel, we ate from the beer menu, which included Camembert cheese, very delicious bread and mixed sausages. It was clear the quality was terrific, and we noted that we would return if we ended up with a hole in our eating schedule. It was an extremely friendly place, and the upstairs locations was fun.
Also owned by the Lokal ownership (Ambiente), we went to Pizza Nuovo near the Municipal Building. A great place to bring kids with fine pizza and a wide menu. Again, the only choice of beer is what size the Pilsner Urquell would be. We were struck by how many people seemed to be ordering fresh fish filleted at the table.
We also went to Cafe Slavia, which had issues relating to atmosphere. While clearly disclosed in their website and in reservation confirmations, the non-smoking section is in a dark interior room with no character. The rest of the L-shaped restaurant is on the street, with a wonderful river view, if you are a smoker. Dessert selections here were abundant.
Everyday breakfasts were at BAKESHOP, down the street from the Spanish Synagogue. Great coffee and terrific baked goods started 5 out of 6 days. We even had two lunches at this bakery operation. I loved climbing under the counter at the window so that more seating could be accommodated.
For fine dining in Prague, we went to Bellevue, which was one of the highlights of the trip -- fine European service, friendly staff, and delicious food. I had the ravioli carbonata starter, which was pasta that sensationally exploded in my mouth. The main dish was a deliciously prepared quail in a pastry shell. Dessert was a nougat magnum with sea salt and vanilla, to die for. My partner had two courses, a nicely prepared duck breast and an apple strudel dessert. While expensive, we would say that Bellevue was one of the finest meals that we have had recently, home (US) or away.
Finally, we had a great experience at Aureole (City Tower location). When we went to this restaurant, we were very wary as it is far from the center of the tourist district, accessible by car (we were with a local), and at the top of an office building. There was only one other customer group present on a Sunday night, and we were thinking about leaving. But as we watched a thunderstorm and lightning from our high perch, we made the decision to stay, which was fortunate. With a wide range of soups, starters and mains which had Asian roots and tastes, the delicately flavored food was a terrific gastronomical experience. There is another Aureole in Prague, but we chose City Tower, based upon the menu choices, which appeared to be less meaty-porky at this location.