List of memorable dining spots and cafes

Best Prague Restaurants in the '90s

U Zlaté Hrušky, on quiet Nový Svět behind Prague Castle, as it looked in 2023. I believe the restaurant has recently closed down or re-opened as something else. Photo by Mark Baker.
The mysterious home of Bella Napoli, one of the best early renditions of an Italian restaurant. Photo by Mark Baker.
The entrance to Jáma, how it looked in 2023 after the business was sold and before it re-opened under new ownership. Photo by Mark Baker.
The space that was once occupied by Chez Marcel has struggled to find a new winning formula. Photo by Mark Baker.

OLD TOWN

Andy's Cafe

Owned by the same people behind nearby Molly Malone's (see below), Andy's functioned as a kind of informal, late-night American diner, where you could sit down to a steak or burger in the wee hours, after a night out at nearby clubs like Roxy or Chapeau Rouge.

Barock

For a brief time in the early 2000s, fancy Pařížská street, which runs north from Old Town Square, was home to the city's best and most-popular restaurants, including this very nice, expensive but not extortionate place, decorated with big, glossy photos of celebrities plastered on the walls. Barock was the perfect spot to sample recycled international food fads, like giant capers, spinach and goat-cheese salads, and Chilean sea bass, a year or two after they’d passed their peak in Western Europe or North America. I'm not knocking it ... it was really exciting to see these items pop up on Prague menus.

Blatouch

Along with nearby Hogo Fogo, Blatouch was a popular student-oriented café situated on a quiet corner of the Old Town. This area is now mostly given over to tourists, but in the 1990s it was still a haven for legendary student hangouts. The main thing I remember about Blatouch was that it was extremely small and located on two cramped floors. Two decades ago, Blatouch decamped to bigger, greener pastures in Vinohrady.

Bohemia Bagel

Prague expat entrepreneur extraordinaire Glenn Spicker brought bagels to the city in the early ‘90s with this breakfast- and bagel-oriented restaurant, which later evolved into a small city-wide chain. In the early ‘90s, bagels were a huge deal and I can even remember traveling by train all the way to Budapest in 1992 just to try out that city’s new bagel shop (which was then making waves in post-communist Central Europe). After Bohemia Bagel opened, that kind of silly trip would no longer be necessary.

Café Nouveau

One of Glen Emery’s and John Bruce Shoemaker’s inspired inventions within the walls of the opulent Municipal House (Obecní Dům). Like the other venues they opened in that space in 1993, including the Martini Bar, Repre Klub and Thirsty Dog pub, the Café Nouveau closed in July 1994 when the two lost their short-term lease to manage the building. Good coffee, brunches, brownies – the Municipal House was so much better back then when it was genuinely popular with people who live here. These days, much of the complex feels like a sterile museum piece, where tourists gawk at the opulent décor and drink overpriced coffee.

Canadian Lobster

I confess I never once ate here, or at least I can’t remember ever doing so. In the early ‘90s, this sleek spot on Husova was probably the only place in town where you could eat lobster, though the knock on this place was the high prices.

Chez Marcel

A French-themed restaurant a couple of blocks off Old Town Square. It was a staple for my friendship circle in the early-2000s. Friendly staff, good food and a new wrinkle for Prague dining at the time: decent French table wine served by the carafe.

Country Life

This little shop on the busy corner where Melantrichova street bends toward Old Town Square was the go-to for salads. I still vividly recall the salads served in small cardboard cartons and sprinkled with chopped carrots, cabbage, and lettuce, with a salty, creamy soy dressing lathered on top. It was a lifesaver if you wanted to eat healthy.

Gulu Gulu

One of the most popular drinking spots on historic Betlémské náměstí (Bethlehem Square). Several bars operated out of this corner house over the years. I spent part of NYE 2000 here. Apparently the manager of the bar at some point carved a hole in the floor and ran a spiral staircase down to the basement (without the knowledge of the owner or a permit -- crazy times!) I fondly remember when my friend and talented Prague artist Stewart K. Moore created the art for the walls in the adjoining club, the "Bojj Keltic Bar."

Hogo Fogo

Bustling Czech student cafe on a quiet corner, a couple of blocks off Old Town Square. Hogo Fogo had its own crowd and lore, and to be honest I never really felt quite at home here.

James Joyce

The Irish bar of this name that opened along Liliová street in the Old Town represented another culinary inflection point. Unlike the other early attempts at Irish bars, the food here was actually great and the drinks were really good too. It was a can’t miss, always-crowded place. During the ‘90s, this stretch of Liliová was filled with Irish-adjacent bars and restaurants of varying quality.

Klub Architektů

Czech-run restaurant on historic Betlémské náměstí (Bethlehem Square), with an arty vibe and good food. The Architects’ Club was a dependable go-to and a tough-to-snag table. Whenever I walk past these days, I don’t see any signs of life, but it may still be carrying on.

Kogo

The coming of Kogo, near the Mustek metro station, sometime in the mid-1990s, heralded a big step up in Prague dining. It was run by Yugoslavs (or perhaps refugees from the Yugoslav war?) At Kogo, you could choose your fish at the door and they would cook it for you. They also had great grilled meats and pizzas. Kogo functioned for a time as the city’s “it" restaurant before opening a second, bigger branch at the Slovanský dům building. Both locations are still operating, but I haven’t been in at least a decade.

La Casa Blů

This little bar and restaurant opened up sometime in the mid- to late-1990s. It represented a big stride in quality Mexican and Latin American-style cooking, and a great place to hang out over beers. This restaurant made Prague history when it became the first in the city to ban smoking, several years before the country introduced a nation-wide indoor smoking ban in 2017.

La Provence

Very good French-style cooking in a hidden location just a hundred meters or so from Old Town Square. My best memory of a meal here was when the dancers would incongruously spring out onto the main floor and break into a “Can-can” in the middle of the evening. People still drool about their carpaccio and "Le Colonel" dessert.

Le Café Colonial

Delightful corner café in the Jewish Quarter, just a couple blocks away from Old Town Square. Friendly staff, excellent food, good beer. I lived for a time on Valentinská street and Le Café Colonial was just down the road from my apartment. It was my local for a few years.

Molly Malone’s

Confusingly, Molly’s is now the James Joyce, and the old James Joyce is either gone or something completely different. Molly's, which opened sometime in 1994 or 1995, was another excellent Irish pub. Decent food and a beautiful open fireplace in the dining room. It’s still going strong and I was just there the other week participating in a pub quiz hosted by Grant Podelco.

Monterey Mike's/Oscar’s

Two distinct restaurants with the same owner that flourished briefly in the mid-90s. Monterey Mike's was apparently located in the tower at Old Town end of Charles Bridge. Oscar's, a film-themed restaurant, was situated in the Týnský dvůr, behind the Týn church. I wish I had more to write, but I don't believe I ever visited either one.

New York Pizza

Thinking back to this short-lived but excellent pizza place on the Old Town side of Národní třída, it’s hard not to have the impression I'm imagining the whole thing. Groundbreaking pizza, hip setting, and one of those places whose very existence at the time seemed to confirm the fact that Prague had arrived. I can’t remember it lasting more than a year.

Orange Moon

Early Thai and Asian fusion joint on a small side street off Dlouhá třída got rolling sometime in the mid- to late ‘90s and carried on into the 2000s. The food was pretty good and the restaurant was often booked solid on weekend nights.

Opera Grill

A luxurious holdover from communist times located on tucked-away Karoliny Světlé. I ate here on at least one occasion in the 1980s (during communism) and distinctly remember the priceless Meissen-porcelain chandeliers, white tablecloths, dressed-to-the-nines waiters and pretty good steaks. The space has been abandoned and graffiti-covered for years now and I wonder whatever happened to it. Does anyone else have any memories of the Opera Grill?

Parnas

V Zátiši may have been the most expensive restaurant in the early '90s, but this was the table to book if you were one of the city’s movers and shakers. I only ate here once or twice, most memorably at a group dinner of the owners and editors of The Prague Post. Elegant interior, a mix of old- and new-world food and service, and an unforgettable table view over the river and Prague Castle in the distance.

Pizza Mikulka

This corner place on Benediktská, just off of Dlouhá třída, in the Old Town is my first recollection (early ’91) of an actual sit-down pizza place. The pizza wasn’t very good, and it was the first time I’d ever seen corn on pizza, but let’s face it, pizza is pizza. It was a popular after-work meal with Prague Post staff when the paper had its office just up the street on Dlouhá. There's still a pizza place there to this day, but I haven't been since the 1990s.

Radegast Pub

Whatever happened to Radegast beer? For a time in the 1990s, it seemed there was no stopping this very good, Moravian import. Radegast pubs sprouted up all over Prague, including this wildly popular, narrow pub – called simply “Radegast” -- on a quiet street behind Celetná. Good food, good beer, good vibe, just a stone’s throw from the tourist throng. Prague needs more places like this, although this particular pub is just a memory now.

Reykjavík

Highly visible seafood restaurant in the same Old Town spot where, coincidentally, a famous fish restaurant existed during communist times. In the 1980s, that fish place was one of toughest tables to book, but the venue lost its appeal for me in the '90s rendition when it looked more like a chain-restaurant wannabe. To be fair to the place, I know lots of fans of Reykjavík, particularly for their fish chowder.

Rugantino

The slow evolution of pizza in Prague was a decades-long transformation, marked by a new restaurant every couple of years ago that would push the bar ever higher. Rugantino, located a couple of blocks off Old Town Square, was the best in its class for a relatively long time around the turn of the 2000s. Among the many innovations here, the restaurant featured an open pizza oven at the front of the restaurant just as you walked in. The family owners were extremely friendly and personable. I took my parents here in 2012 on a visit and they absolutely loved it.

Red, Hot & Blues

Glenn Spicker’s New Orlean’s-inspired restaurant, just behind the Kotva department store, felt like a mirage from opening day. Prague appeared to leap-frog into some restaurant future before it was actually ready. I don’t even think a similar kind of restaurant existed in Vienna or surrounding German cities at the time. Nevertheless, Red, Hot & Blues stayed popular and running for several years. I remember in its later incarnation, they ran a video-rental store in the front room, where you could also buy American-style brownies and cookies. I walk past the space these days and scratch my head wondering how (and if) it ever really happened.

Safir Grill

An informal, window-service place on Havelské Tržiště with take-away shawarma and other goodies was probably the first real Lebanese in the city. Safir lives on in some of Prague's malls, including Nový Smíchov and Stromovka.

TGI Fridays

When this branch of the North American chain first opened on central Na příkopě street sometime in the mid-1990s, it signaled that Prague had matured to the point it could support these types of Western-style, casual dining establishments. Even the bottles of Heinz ketchup sitting unbidden at the tables was something of a novelty back then. For a time, the burgers and fries were the best in the city, and I came here frequently for a familiar taste of home. TGI Fridays still operates somewhere in Prague (I think), though this branch is now closed and the company's profile is much lower.

U Sixtů

A famous luxury restaurant on Celetná Street, just off of Old Town Square, from communist days and probably many years before that. I ate here a couple of times in 1991 with my girlfriend at the time, who absolutely loved the place. It was very much a holdover from long ago, with waiters dressed up in black tie who'd ferry iced Becherovka shots to the table to start the meal (followed by the inevitable appetizers of ham rolls stuffed with horseradish-flavored whipped cream). Unfortunately, the restaurant closed sometime in the 1990s and to the best of my knowledge, never reopened. It’s in a constant state of renovation every time I walk past.

U Vejvodů

In the early 1990s, I remember this historic pub as being cramped, dirty and impossibly crowded, but with great beer and a kind of hidden-gem vibe. Sometime in the 2000s, it was modernized and expanded beyond all recognition. It’s enormous now, with huge drinking rooms that are usually filled with annoying stag parties. I still meet up with friends here on occasion and marvel at what this pub used to be.

V Zátiši

Run by Indian restaurateur Sanjiv Suri, this was the first flash luxury place I can remember. It was only ever a splurge for me, and I only ate here a few times, but the food was always good. Lots of good memories about this place. I included V Zátiši in an early article on Prague that I wrote for National Geographic Traveler magazine. Sanjiv, I recall, was so proud of the article, he placed a framed copy on his office wall. I always wondered if I could trade in that review for a free meal.

Vietnamese Cultural Center (Que Hong)

This secret spot on Havelská Street in the Old Town feels like another distant dream. I remember being ushered into a quiet corridor and then into a tranquil dining room, where the staff brought large bowls of chicken soup. I can’t even remember now if there was anything else on the menu. I am not sure how Vietnamese it really was, but the soup was delicious and spiced in a way that wasn’t typical for Prague at the time. I only ever went there in 1991 or 1992, and I don’t know how long it lasted after that.

Zlatá ulička

Beautiful, welcoming coffee and cocktail bar located on a quiet bend of Masná street, where it meets Rybná. I would stop here for a coffee or a drink in the late-‘90s and early-2000s, long before the hood became popular with stags and late-night parties. I seem to recall it was either managed or owned by Yugoslavs, possibly new arrivals from the Yugoslav wars of that decade.

Without Orange Moon here, this small alley in the Old Town looks and feels utterly lifeless. Photo by Mark Baker.
Glenn Spicker's Mexican restaurant 'Agave' stands where Bohemia Bagel used to be. The food here is good, but the magic feels missing. Photo by Mark Baker.
The old home of Zlatá ulička, a welcoming coffee and cocktail bar located on a quiet bend of Masná street, where it meets Rybná. Photo by Mark Baker.
I still eat at upscale Cafe Savoy occasionally, but I much prefer its earlier, pre-Ambiente guise as a somewhat neglected, shabby spot with a laugh-out-loud breakfast menu. Photo by Mark Baker.

NEW TOWN

Angel Cafe

In New Town, behind the National Theater, the best brunch spot arguably to ever exist in Prague. The kitchen was led by the renowned Sofia Smith, and I remember many times showing up at the door and being discreetly greeted by "Matt" (whom I believe was her partner). It set a standard for brunch at the time and was influential throughout the city. The same location was later home to Tulip Café, another dependably good venue for brunch or dinner.

Automat Koruna

This stand-up cafeteria in the Palác Koruna building at the bottom of Wenceslas Square was a staple of communist-era Prague for a quick, cheap meal and a beer, but sadly it only lasted a year or two after the Velvet Revolution. Apparently, the real estate was too valuable to waste on such an inexpensive place. Since the Automat closed three decades ago, the space has been trapped in no-purpose purgatory. Over the years, several places have come and gone -- including an early incarnation of Dunkin' Donuts and a branch of the local "Pizza Coloseum" chain -- but nothing has stuck. I miss the old Automat.

Bella Napoli

I always got a slightly creepy, gangster vibe from this Italian restaurant, just across the street from Jáma and adjacent to a nightclub. That said, in the early 1990s this place had some of the best pasta and pizza in the city, plus a legendary appetizers bar, and was always a great meal. As with most of the places on this long list, I haven’t been there in decades. I wonder if it is still going.

Le Bistro de Marlène

A little out of the way, in Vyšehrad, but worth the trek for excellent French home-cooking. The kitchen was run by the owner/chef, Marlène Salomon.

Buffalo Bill’s

One of the earliest Tex-Mex restaurants, with a kitschy, over-the-top Wild West, Clint Eastwood-inspired interior. Lots of posters of Indian chiefs and (naturally) Wild Bill Cody on the walls. We came here only occasionally, but I remember the restaurant being especially popular with Czech couples or families. It was one of the first places to really embrace a distinctly North American theme and very much appreciated for that.

Café Louvre – Ganys

I had completely forgotten that this popular, old-school Prague café (in a grand “Viennese” kind of way) went through that weird phase in the ‘90s when it was called ‘Gany’s’ for some reason. It’s a pretty, Biedermeier-styled space that instantly takes you back to the 19th century, and it’s still popular today. I’ve met friends and eaten here many times over the years but have never had a truly good meal. Food-wise it’s totally average. No matter, I like the place’s big-city vibe (rare in Prague).

Cerberus

People swore by this splurge restaurant, though I don’t think I ever ate there. This was how Prognosis described it in their review in 1994: “The basics of Czech food elevated to an event. Rabbit in cream sauce, classic beef stew, and duck in rich gravy with liver hold no disappointments.” Sounds good to me.

Červená Tabulka

Smart, upscale dining in a funny-looking building (called the “domeček,” or “little house”) in a dead-end part of New Town. For a time in the early 2000s, it was the definite foodie choice, with a creative menu (lots of game and rabbit), plus decent French wine. I took my parents here on a trip to Prague and even rented out the restaurant one night when I threw myself a going-away party after leaving Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty in 2006. I’m not sure what’s in the space now.

Cornucopia

American-style sandwich shop and deli, which operated in the mid-'90s from a small space on Jungmannova. Cornucopia, for a time, was the only place to offer a full American breakfast and deli counter. Fans fondly remember the chicken salad, hot Reuben sandwiches, and homemade cheesecake and brownies. Like lots of places on this list, it was way ahead of its time.

Crazy Daisy

I have only the faintest of memories of this Czech-Western hybrid that began life in the New Town, near Lucerna, and eventually wandered out to Vinohrady, not far from the Flora metro station. My efforts to Google more about the place – which I distinctly remember eating at in both locations – is thwarted by the fact there’s now popular cocktail bar in town by the same name. Anyone have more details to share?

Delux

One of Glenn Spicker‘s greatest-ever inventions, though short-lived, got rolling at the end of the ‘90s. This club below the Bat’a building at the bottom of Wenceslas Square teased customers with decent Thai food plus dinner-time jazz entertainment. After 9 PM, the scene morphed into a dance free-for-all. When I think about Delux, a soundtrack of Moby, Macy Gray and Santana gets lodged in my mind.

Duplex

A glitzy disco on the roof of one of the buildings along Wenceslas Square. I faintly recall that — of all the places in the world where he could have chosen — this is where Mick Jagger decided to celebrate his 60th birthday. I remember this being a decent restaurant and far less sleazy in the 1990s than it would later become, and we would occasionally come here for dinner and then stick around for the music.

Deminka

An old-school Czech pub near the IP Pavlova metro station that went through something of an identity crisis after 1989 (is it a pub, restaurant, café or something else?) No matter, we loved this place, and in an era when no one had a mobile phone (or even sometimes a landline) you could simply pop up and expect to find a table of friends hanging out. It’s still around, and still something of an enigma.

Dolly Bell

Long-forgotten classic in a quiet part of Vyšehrad with a distinctive decor inspired by the Kusturica film "Do You Remember Dolly Bell?" (including chairs mounted on the ceiling). The knock on this place, and maybe what made it so fun to go to, was that it was allegedly owned or run by the Yugoslav mob. Lots of good gangster stories from those days, like people finding guns or diamond rings on the bathroom floor.  It's a generic corner market now.

Fakhreldine

Relatively high-priced Middle Eastern spot, not far from Wenceslas Square. Fakhreldine was one of the first restaurants in Prague after 1989 to offer Middle Eastern cooking, but I think the prices scared some people away. My recollection is that it had its fans but didn’t last long.

Fruits de France

Not a restaurant per se, but rather a fancy fruit shop, where you'd stare at the perfectly ripened peaches and plums and other goodies. Once you'd chosen something with your eyes (no touching anything with your own fingers), you'd ask the counter staff to wrap it up for you. A place where you might spend a day's wage on a couple of peaches and still feel great about it.

Gargoyles

Excellent restaurant from the the mid- to late-1990s located in the then-bustling quarter behind the National Theater that was far ahead of its time. Gargoyles brought gourmet food and tasting menus from San Francisco, but wasn't able to carve out a long-term niche. This was how Think Magazine described dining out here: "Somewhere between the King prawn in saffron cream sauce and the salmon wrapped in potato in a lemon cream fraiche, the question that was on the faces of my fellow diners was... am I worthy? Chefs Tommy Ponder and Matthew Cummings invite you to taste their 15 years of experience in some of San Francisco's most innovative kitchens in a unique, relaxed, and personal atmosphere."

 Ivana's Bean City

A short-lived Mexican-food pop-up that operated in conjunction with the Ubiquity night club in Slovanský dům around 1991/'92. The pop-up was started by Amanda Bouquet and Lori Wyant, who later went on to develop the successful vegetarian kitchen concept at Radost FX (see below). Lori is still in Prague and, together with her partner Dean Selby, own a successful restaurant, The Tavern, in Vinohrady.

Jáma

One of the all-time classics from the ‘90s and onward. Equally popular with foreigners and Czechs, Jáma had an awesome bar and a restaurant that featured part-American classics, like burgers and potato skins, and part-Mexican food, like big, stuffed burritos. The walls were plastered with classic posters of rock stars. I have so many fun memories from this place, including one of the most memorable nights of my life (but we'll save that for another post). I haven’t been there in years, but the business has been sold in the meantime and is under new management (so I'm not sure what it's like).

Le Patio

This restaurant chain was a bizarre crossover between a relatively high-end furniture store and a decent place to eat. They had a couple of branches around town. I vaguely remember one in Old Town, on Pařížská street. My favorite, though, was the branch just near the Národní třída metro station. A very good, borderline-excellent restaurant that for a time was manned in the kitchen by Sofia Smith.

Little Caesar’s

Younger readers and newcomers to Prague might be shocked to learn that the American chain Kmart once had a prominent presence in one of the most important department stores (Máj/Tesco) in the center of the city. Kmart arrived in late-1993 or early-1994. Anyway, on the ground floor of the building, near the tram stop, Little Caesar’s operated a modest takeaway pizza counter. I loved Little Caesar's and for a time it became one of my favorite places to grab lunch. Now long gone (both Kmart and Little Caesar's) and the building remains closed under long-term renovation.

Mr Pizza

An absolutely revolting pizza place on Revoluční, just across from the intersection with Dlouhá třída. Expats fondly remember that there always seemed to be a group of ravers half passed out on whatever at 4am in the back room with the disco ball. It either evolved into an equally seedy Greek restaurant -- or started out as a Greek place that became Mr Pizza. I can't remember now.

Na Rybárně

Fish-themed restaurant not far from Palackého náměstí (Palacký Square) and the Vltava river. It was a favorite with Václav and Olga Havel, who famously invited the Rolling Stones to dine here in August 1990, the night before the Stones played before 100,000 people at Strahov Stadium. Fans of the restaurant recall the crystal steins they served beer in and the photos of famous people who'd eaten here on the walls. The restaurant later closed down and housed a Vietnamese restaurant.

Palace Hotel (Salad Bar)

In 1992, this luxury hotel, near our old Prague Post offices on Politických vězňů, put out a rare lunchtime salad bar where you could fill your plate with hard to find salad items and vegetables for 45 crowns per plate (if memory serves). At the newspaper, we would file out at lunchtime and walk over to the hotel for what felt at the time like an absolute miracle.

Pizza Express

This marginal pizza chain operated several branches around Prague, but the one I remember best was located toward the top of Wenceslas Square, on the left side, looking toward the museum. Very salty, often burnt squares of pizza served in a small counter dining area that was one of the few places to actually use live plants to perk up the interior. My friend and former Prague Post colleague, Boris Gomez, once told me that looking at those little leaves of green while eating his pizza somehow cheered him up. Wenceslas Square was (and still is) a pretty grim place.

Pizzeria Kmotra

Maybe the best Czech-run pizza place to emerge in the early ‘90s, at least the coziest cellar space, was "The Godfather." Wildly popular in its day, nearly impossible to find a table, and with very passable pizza. This place is still going strong and still beloved, though not quite like it was back in the day. They have very good gluten-free crust so I still find myself eating pizza there once in a while.

Radost FX

Legendary expat-owned vegetarian restaurant and cellar nightclub. What to say about Radost that hasn’t been said a million times before? It was groundbreaking in every sense. The quality of the food here showed that vegetarian could be very good, and a lunch or dinner at the street-front dining room always felt like a treat. In the early- to mid-‘90s, the club hosted the "Beefstew" poetry-reading on Sunday nights.

Segafredo Café

This excellent Italian-themed café on central Na příkopě doesn’t pop up in many expat forums and sometimes I have the feeling I actually dreamed this one up. The food here was so delicious, and the fresh-baked bread they served so mouthwatering, I can still taste it all in my mind. Segafredo was the kind of place that I thought would find a local foothold and last forever, though it was probably dead and buried within two years.

Sports Bar Praha

Much-loved sports bar that was at the peak of its popularity when we opened the Globe Bookstore & Coffeehouse in the summer of 1993. One of the last legit businesses along this strip of Ve Smečkách, toward the upper part of Wenceslas Square, before the area became dominated by strip clubs and cabarets. A quick Google search reveals there’s another sports bar on this same street now, though I can’t remember if it’s in the same location.

Terminal Bar

A self-declared "Globe-killer" when it opened sometime in the mid-1990s, the Terminal Bar was an ultra-cool club and café with a strong tech bent (remember "internet cafes"?). They doubled in stuff like VHS movie, and later CD, rentals. The conceit at the time was that Prague deserved something more cutting edge than businesses like the Globe or other expat bars and clubs. I stopped by here often and for years had a membership card for the movie rentals (I probably still have that card somewhere). Terminal Bar still has a cult following, though it’s long gone and has been for many years.

U Fleků

Not exactly a 1990s' phenomenon, this traditional Czech pub has been in business since something like the 15th century. Still, we would occasionally stop by here for their home-brewed beer and overpriced but decent Czech food. I remember the Gypsy music, the terrace, and the convivial pub scene. I had visited here a few times during communism, so stopping in for a beer always felt like indulging in a bit of 1980s' nostalgia. For at least a few months, sometime in the early '90s, there was a broken payphone here where a one- or five-crown coin would allow you to call abroad for as long as you could talk.

U Govindy

The first Hare Krishna I can remember, along Soukenická in New Town. Popular with penniless expats, as you could eat as much as you wanted and pay on the honor system (whatever you thought the meal was worth). They later changed that policy to a fixed minimum amount, most probably because people weren’t paying enough money (or perhaps any money at all). The very presence of Hare Krishna in Prague in the ‘90s was baffling (both for many expats and Czechs). The group seemed to have sprung out of nowhere and would periodically parade through the city. I haven’t been to this place for ages, but I believe the restaurant and group are still there. U Govindy paved the way for vegetarian and vegan chains like Dhaba Beas, that are now just a normal part of Prague’s dining scene.

U Kotvy

Extremely seedy bar and restaurant located conveniently close to the night tram junction at Lazarská, near the Národní třída metro station. This was an occasional option when the plan was to drink until dawn and everywhere else had already closed. I only ever ate here as a way to sop up the beer. U Kotvy was the only place I ever witnessed in Prague where a bartender refused to serve a patron because he was too drunk. A friend of mine, obviously three sheets to the wind, staggered up to the bar and asked for a beer, only to be told “pane, NE …” (sir, NO …). We were all pretty surprised.

U Pinkasů

Another legendary Prague pub that’s been around for centuries, this was a go-to after-work pub for a while for The Prague Post staff when the newspaper had its offices in New Town. Two of my colleagues from that time (not naming names) were banned permanently from this place for some type of infraction, but I can’t remember what they did. It must have been egregious, as the pub was pretty raucous in its day. It’s now a tourist trap, but has a lovely garden in warm weather.

Velryba

Like Hogo Fogo and Blatouch, Velryba ("The Whale") was an immensely popular, smoky student café that appealed equally to younger Czechs and expats. The big wavy mirror above the bar was legendary. Velryba might very well have been the birthplace of the Globe Bookstore & Coffeehouse. This is where I first overheard my future business partners discussing their hopes to open a bookstore (and where I horned my way in and eventually became one of the partners). I told that story in an earlier post on this blog.

The old home of the beloved student haunt, BarBar. The Mexican food here is decent, but I rarely find myself passing by here these days. Photo by Mark Baker.
U Modré kachničky is still very good and makes for an excellent splurge when the occasion calls for traditional Czech food. Photo by Mark Baker.
Glenn Spicker's restaurant and tiny cellar jazz space, U Malého Glena, still retains a '90s feel. When 'Reflex' magazine wrote an anniversary piece on that decade in 2019, they logically chose this club and bar for the photo shoot. Photo by Mark Baker.
There was a time when just about every Friday or Saturday night either started or ended here at St Nicholas Cafe. These days, it operates under a similar name but seems geared more toward passing tourists. Photo by Mark Baker.

MALÁ STRANA/SMÍCHOV

Avalon

Located in the same building as Circle Line, Avalon was more a more casual, California style restaurant. I remember hearing good things, but I can't recall ever eating there myself.

BarBar

Beloved student bar and Malá Strana haunt that I remember best for its below-street-level location and funky interior sculptures and designs (reminiscent of the interior of Palác Akropolis). It survived well into the 2000s, and later operated (until 2023) as a branch of the Alebrijes Mexican-food chain. The food was good but alas the distinctive interior had long ago been gutted.

Café Savoy

Before the Ambiente chain took this place over and pushed it upmarket, this was a beautiful, but slightly neglected and still affordable café we often went to for weekend brunches and breakfasts. The breakfast menu used to crack me up. They offered both "American-" and "British-" style breakfasts, and for the American style they served pancakes (or waffles) with peanut butter (??). I suppose they simply assumed Americans eat peanut butter with everything at every meal.

Circle Line

Another legendary, early-'90s restaurant that brought the concept of high-end, Western-style dining to Prague. I didn’t go here often and have no personal memories, but friends from back in the day swore by it, espcially anything seafood related (monkfish or seafood towers). One of the chefs is still going strong at Paloma in the southern Prague suburb of Průhonice. What always struck me was the restaurant’s unusual location, below an archway of a little visited corner of Malostranské náměstí (Malá Strana Square).

Cowboys

A short-lived, high-end steak and burger joint on Nerudova, operated by the same people behind upscale Kampa Park. I ate there a few times and really liked it. I was surprised when it closed – but one takeaway from those old days, I suppose, is that nothing good lasts forever.

Jo's Bar

Glen Emery's groundbreaking bar, which opened in November 1992, owed its initial success not just to the vibe but to the fact they served Mexican food and cocktails. Burritos and tequila-based drinks were practically unknown in Prague at the time.

Kampa Park

The early haunt of the rich and famous, including Hollywood royalty who would occasionally find themselves in town working on a film back in the day, but with nowhere to go for dinner. The setting, along the Vltava riverbank, couldn’t be more picturesque. I ate here twice in ‘90s but can’t recall seeing anyone famous. I noticed recently the restaurant was still open (or perhaps had re-opened). It doesn't have nearly the rep it had back in the day, but I’m tempted to give it a try.

Knights of Malta (U Maltézských rytířů)

A favorite of former Prague Post editor-in-chief and legendary writer Alan Levy. He used to love to bring visitors here for a lavish evening out. I liked the vaguely medieval atmosphere, but was never that impressed with the food.

La Cantina

Generic Mexican restaurant in Malá Strana that’s still going strong and still inexplicably popular. La Cantina was a tough table to book from opening day back in the early ‘90s and introduced a whole generation of Czechs to the concept of the fajita.

Nebozizek

The nicest restaurant on Petřín Hill and still going strong.

Pálffy Palác

Possibly the best-loved restaurant of its day, from the mid- to late-1990s to the 2000s. Another favorite of the late Prague Post editor Alan Levy. Befitting of a baroque palace of a revered noble family, the dining room was more of a refined drawing room, with glass chandeliers and elegant, over-the-top decor. The outdoor terrace, in the garden, had an incredible view up to Prague Castle. The menu was daring for its time – with entrees like duck and rabbit – and the service was faultless. Alas, the building is now used as a school and interlopers (like me) hoping to glimpse the old dining room are chased away like common criminals.

Penguin’s

Popular during that relatively brief period in the early '90s when Czech hockey star Jaromír Jágr was playing in the NHL with the Pittsburgh Penguins (and won Stanley Cups), which explains the name. I remember going there a few times and that one of our editors at The Prague Post really liked it. I apparently thought enough about Penguin's that I wrote it up for inclusion in an early edition of "Fodor's Czech Republic and Slovakia" and described it as follows: "The emphasis at this popular eatery is on Czech and international dishes, served in an elegant mauve and matte-black interior." There you go.

St Nicholas Cafe

For a time in the late ‘90s and early-2000s, this was the go-to for meeting up with friends. Like many places, you could simply appear on a Friday night and be reasonably certain you'd meet your crowd at the bar. Good pizzas too. I once had a run-in with the owner, who refused to serve us drinks on an extremely cold night, about a half hour before closing time. That soured my experience with the restaurant, and I never went back. It closed a short time afterward.

U Modré kachničky

“The Blue Duckling” was a popular splurge back in the day for its excellent Czech food and traditional interior. A place to take the parents on their trip to Prague to see what the kids are up to (and to pick up the tab). I last ate here about a decade ago when my old high school girlfriend was visiting Prague with her own parents. We had a meal that I still remember to this day. Highly recommended.

CASTLE DISTRICT/HRADČANY

Malý Buddha

A popular vegetarian place — one of the first in the city — in the Prague Castle district. I only ate here on occasion, but it was a good place to stop for a meal after a long walk across Petřín or up to Prague Castle. I have faint memories of a small, candle-lit dining room and a vaguely Asian-themed menu. Still open last time I walked past.

U Zlaté Hrušky

An absolutely beautiful, traditional Czech restaurant that was also popular during the communist period. The location, in the quiet Nový Svět quarter behind Prague Castle, made the whole thing feel that much more exclusive. One of those places where you’d be offered a shot of iced Becherovka before they would wheel over the appetizers. Another good place to take parents on their first visit to Prague.

OUT OF THE CENTER (SOUTH & EAST)

Ambiente: The Living Restaurant

Somehow a kitschy, TGI Friday’s wannabe in Vinohrady evolved into the most innovative and influential chain of restaurants to emerge in the Czech Republic in the post-communist period. Over the course of 25 years, Ambiente went from a good-value, family restaurant to a diverse group of very good Czech restaurants to what it is now: a monopoly chain whose very success poses a threat to future restaurant innovation in the country.

Atelier

Very expensive, somewhat exclusive restaurant in Vršovice. I recall it was run by some French guys (or maybe not?). In the early 2000s, it was the only destination restaurant in this part of the city and a very hard table to book. I had a memorable Valentine’s Day dinner here, as well many other very good meals.

Baretta

A cherished neighborhood pizza joint in Nusle that’s still going strong and hasn’t changed much (if at all) since the early-'90s. We would occasionally cross town in the old days to eat there — but not in many years. The quality of pizza in Prague has improved so much, I wonder if anyone aside from the neighbors still eats here now.

Bumerang

A basement venue at the corner of Anglická and Londýnská in Vinohrady, and the first (and only?) Australian-themed restaurant in Prague. I recall heading over there in the 1990s, but it may have survived into the 2000s. I walked by there the other night and it was long gone.

Mailsi

Aside from the faux-Indian restaurant from pre-Velvet Revolution days at Lucerna, this Pakistani restaurant in Žižkov is my first memory of authentic (at least to European tastes) Indian-Pakistani cooking. I have many memories of combining a dinner here with a night out in the bars and clubs of the surrounding neighborhood.

Medúza

Beloved Vinohrady café dressed up like a spinster’s drawing room, with tables that were a little too high or too low and unsteady chairs. All that just added to the charm.  It was especially popular among women, but everyone and anyone dropped in at one time or another.

Modrá řeka

The part of Vinohrady just above the main train station has always been (and remains) a culinary desert. For a relatively short time in the ‘90s and early-2000s, this Bosnian-run restaurant offered the best family-style Balkan cooking in the city. It was a popular after-work meal when I worked at Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty when the radio station was located at the top of Wenceslas Square.

Na Zvonařce

This restaurant overlooking a high ridge in the neighborhood of Vinohrady has an absolutely beautiful terrace. The Prague Post gang used to come here for Friday-night beers, but I don’t think I’ve been back since 2000 or so.

Orso Bruno

Another one of those flash-in-the-pan Italian restaurants that in the late-1990s or early-2000s was briefly the hottest ticket in Prague. The location was odd, on a quiet, neglected, dead-end street, adjacent to the Florenc metro station.

Pálac Akropolis

The house restaurant of the famous music venue in Žižkov. Another very popular place in the 1990s, both because of the edgy, nightclub atmosphere and creative interior decoration. We met here many times in the early 1990s and I even attended a bachelor party here in 1992 or ‘93. A few years ago, I think all that distinctive interior design stuff was pulled out by new ownership.

Pizzeria West

This early pizzeria in Nusle might just win the award for the first truly innovative or western-style pizza place in the entire city. When it opened in 1991 or 1992 it was such a step above what the city had at the time, that we would often cross town for dinner here (something that would probably be unthinkable now). It was popular with Yugoslav refugees from the war and might have even been run by Yugoslavs. I vaguely recall that the place lost a lot of pop when there was a shooting in the restaurant.

Principe

Relatively fancy sit-down Italian on Anglická in Vinohrady that enjoyed a short-time vogue as the place where Prague's Italian residents actually ate.

Rudý Baron

Another short-lived restaurant from the early-‘90s, this was a Czech place in Vinohrady, on Korunní street, with a big airplane hanging from the ceiling (or at least a very active aviation theme going on — I can’t remember exactly). It was an ideal crossover venue in that it was equally popular with Czechs and expats.

U Knihomola

In the mid-‘90s, this bookstore/coffeehouse in Vinohrady was the biggest competitor to The Globe Bookstore & Coffeehouse. It was similar in some respects, in that we both sold English books and offered café-style food. I didn’t spend much time here as I was busy in my own bookstore, but I know lots of friends who really liked this place.

Wings Club (U Sloupů)

This space on Lucemburská, not far from JZP square, never really caught on in the ‘90s, but I remember it from the late-1980s, when for a brief period as “U Sloupů” it was home to Prague’s first privately run restaurant (under communism) and (briefly) the most-popular table in town.

OUT OF THE CENTER (NORTH & WEST)

Fráktal

I spent more Friday nights in this place near Letná than I care to admit. Fráktal got rolling sometime in the late 1990s and was seen as a kind of new-generation, successor establishment to the existing expat-run bars at the time. Was very popular among Czechs in the neighborhood as well.

Grosetto Dejvice

When the Grosetto pizza chain got rolling sometime in the 1990s, this far-flung branch (fairly close to where I live now) became destination dining. People of a certain age still love it, though pizza quality in Prague is now better than what they still serve here.

La Palma

It might be hard to believe now, but this Italian-themed joint in scrappy Palmovka was the go-to celebration restaurant for The Prague Post staff in the mid-1990s. The “pizza chléb” – chunks of pizza dough they’d bake into bread wedges and serve with the pasta – alone was enough to drag people onto the metro for the ride out here. The most memorable story from this restaurant (although I wasn’t there the night it happened) was when a waiter accidentally, tragically dropped a bottle of wine onto the head of one of my Prague Post colleagues and gave her amnesia. Thankfully, she survived and recovered, but to this day that remains one of oddest stories to ever emerge from ‘90s Prague.

The Globe Bookstore & Coffeehouse

The food — mainly soups and sandwiches — was never the strong suit here, but The Globe was essential in ushering in modern coffee culture to Prague at a time when most Czechs still drank “turecká káva” (hot water poured over coffee grounds). The “Rocket” coffee famously featured no less than three shots of espresso.

The Derby

Seedy, wildly popular for drinks, beers and pizza, the Derby occupied a communist-era saloon-type nightclub and reconfigured it just enough to feel fresh for the incoming horde of Gen-X expats. One of those ‘90s spots that deservedly lives on in storytelling and in the collective imagination.

U Cedrů

Lebanese-owned and -operated spot by the Dejvická metro station definitively elevated the bar for Middle Eastern cooking. Still in business and still very good.

U Zajiců

A long-forgotten restaurant on Strossmayerovo square in Holešovice that during communism catered to people with special dietary needs (low-sugar, low-sodium, etc). You can still see signs of its earlier incarnation by the decorations on the exterior, but no one these days would probably remember that. In the early ‘90s, it briefly reconstituted itself as a pub/restaurant, but without any defining characteristics. In more recent times, the space has been re-conceived as a branch of the DM drugstore chain. That renovation sadly destroyed the dining room’s beautiful two-story windows and ancient wood paneling. Alas, progress.

(Find a companion list of best bars and clubs in Prague in the '90s here.)

V Zátiši may have been the most expensive restaurant in the early '90s, but Parnas was the table to book if you were one of the city’s movers and shakers. These days, it rarely comes up in conversation as a place to go out. Photo by Mark Baker.
Fráktal, thankfully, is still hanging on. I love the terrace for an open-air weekend brunch in nice weather. I've spent more Friday nights in this place than I care to admit but haven't been in a few years. Photo by Mark Baker.
Cafe Louvre is still a great choice for breakfast or lunch, with a bustling cafe trade. On my last visit a year or so ago, I noticed the pool table in the back room was still going strong. Photo by Mark Baker.
U Vejvodů has been modernized and expanded beyond all recognition. It’s enormous now, with huge drinking rooms usually filled with annoying stag parties. Photo by Mark Baker.
Country Life has been a beacon of sustainable and healthy eating since the early 1990s. In addition to this venue, they operate a small chain around the city. Photo by Mark Baker.
Radegast beer seemed unstoppable in the late 1990s, and the best place to find it was at this excellent and beloved 'Radegast Pub.' These days it's just a long, white, empty building. Photo by Mark Baker.
There's nothing here to give passers-by a clue that this was home to Barock, one of Prague's best restaurants around the turn of the millennium. Photo by Mark Baker.
The old home of U Zajiců, a long-forgotten restaurant on Strossmayerovo square in Holešovice. The only signs of its former identity are some elaborate decorations on the facade. These days, it's a DM drugstore branch. Photo by Mark Baker.
Klub Architektů was always a dependable go-to and a tough-to-snag table. I don’t see any signs of life here and I miss this place. Photo by Mark Baker.
To its credit, V Zátiší has managed to stay atop the Prague dining world for 30 years now. The one big change has been the prices. A tasting menu in 1993 cost about 350 Czech crowns. These days it will set you back nearly 2,000 Czech crowns. Photo by Mark Baker.
Pizza Kmotra is still going strong and still good. One of the few places from back in the day where almost nothing has really changed. Photo by Mark Baker.
Approximately where the phantom-like Vietnamese Cultural Center operated a hidden, word-of-mouth soup restaurant in the early '90s. Photo by Mark Baker.
Nothing illustrates Prague's ongoing issues with property ownership and redevelopment quite like U Sixtů, a famous luxury restaurant that's been undergoing near-constant renovation for decades. Photo by Mark Baker.
The old Rugantino's sadly is now home to a branch of a local steakhouse. Photo by Mark Baker.
The former location of Red, Hot & Blues looks forlorn now. The space has struggled in recent years to find a meaningful tenant. Photo by Mark Baker.
I couldn't resist including this old photo of the Radost dining room. I still fondly recall how special it felt to grab a table here. Photo by Mark Baker.

Comments

  1. Segafredo – yeah! I was working at Palac Adria at Squire, Sanders & Dempsey at the time and that was a splurge. Sometimes the attorneys would invite us secretaries for lunch (nothing fishy…they made American salaries and we didn’t!). And I definitely went there with my husband. I wonder if it really was as good as we remember 😀

    I believe penguin’s died in a fire (literally- can’t remember when it was, but there was a gas explosion there) – it was in Smichov?

    Grosseto Dejvice was the OG Grosseto!

    What was the Italian restaurant in the Narodni dum on Mirak?

  2. Hi, great effort! Just a note, U zlate hrusky was infamous in the 90s and 00s, because of their policy of “half-price for locals” – they had it written even, on a cute little sign hanging above the entrance, saying “Domácí polovic”. I thought it quite shameful, actually.

  3. Great article. Segafredos was one of my all time faves. Loved the duck and you could actually get a real cappuccino!

    Re u vejvodu, was known in my circle as ‘pod scaffolding’. I remember v rude waiters and svickova. Am sure that they lost the lease and had to move so the new place is actually next door, though memory is a strange thing.

    I also used to go to the Vietnamese soup place for what I now know as pho. They also did a mean spring roll. I think they got shut down after an immigration raid.

    Other places:

    Monterey mikes – just by charles bridge. Part of the weekend ‘lavka shuffle’ (james Joyce, MM and lavka)

    U Maliru – famously the most expensive restaurant in prague

    Mucha – one of the few places I would eat Czech food. Near staromak

  4. Very thorough, many many thanks! I’ll just add four Czech establishments/oddities frequented by, i guess, the first wave of expats from the very, very early 90s that are long gone now, but they were a lot of fun. I wonder if you’d remember any of those. Three were bunched up right next to each other at the far end of Jungmannka, not far from the international press trafika, one was called Šmak, offering over-the-counter ready-to-eat meals and beer, cheap and by today’s standards certainly ghastly, with the “upscale” Beskyd ‘steak bar’ right next to it, a narrow, dark place, where the grumpy middle-aged pingl with the bow-tie looked like he just wanted to murder you, and the a dank and dirty pub opposite (hosp?dka páté cenové skupiny, na zemi bláto, ve st?nách pukliny as Petr Hapka brilliantly put it in Bu?ty, Pivo, Nenávist) that was open until the morning. Never remembered the name, it was just the Pub Opposite (later a cocktail bar, T- something). And the last one was in Nekazanka, just off Na P?íkopech, No. 6 or 8 or 10, no idea, probably called U Mušketýra/Mušketýr (possibly U Markytánky), nice food, but the main attraction was, I think, that the staff was very nice/understanding/could stomach almost anything happening there 😉

  5. Definitely missing the night clubs on this list! Ubuquity, Repre, Tam Tam, Fashion Club, Borat, Bukynyr (and the other boat that sunk), Bunkr and others all need to be represented here!

  6. Great list! I visited a little later when Iron Door, Marquis de Sade, and Red Room were booming. Also Flambé was incredible dining and Luxor on VN was the spot to score a velky bag.

  7. Oh my gosh, Mark, you are so good at pushing the nostalgia buttons. Every time I open your blog my heart aches. Love this list — so grateful for it and for your contribution to posterity. Here are a couple of recollections about some of the places you mention:

    — Deminka: Martin Huckerby often paying the tab for hoards of thirsty Prague Posters.

    – Radost FX: Site of Prague Post Christmas party (1992??), attended by then-President Vaclav Havel, who was surrounded by women. A partly eaten pizza was on the table in front of them. I was starving, but sadly not yet drunk enough to ask “Pane Presidente, you gonna eat that?”

    — U Fleku: For at least a few months there was a payphone at U Fleck where a 5-crown coin (??1 crown?) would get you a call the United States for as long as you could talk. There was often a line down the hall to use it. Guessing that stopped when they figured it out.

    — Palac Akropolis: Absinthe!!

    • Oh, one more: The beer garden that lived behind giant wooden doors off Na Prikope — we used to call the waiter Pan Smutny….can’t remember the name of the place, but it was so much fun. Last time I was in Prague there was a sushi bar there, which made me cry.

  8. This was a fantastic trip down memory lane! So many places! Thanks for putting it together.

    I was sad to see that Rugantino has closed. They had the best pizza! When I worked at Bank Austria on Revolucni in the late 90s, one of the directors, an Italian, said that it was the only authentic pizza in town.

    There are only two notable places missing (in my memory) – Taz Bar, a wild dump right next door to Hotel Pariz. And, U Havrana near I.P. Pavlova. This place closed for one hour – 5:00 – 6:00am everyday. They’d just kick everyone out, clean the place and then everyone would crawl back in. I just checked and the place still exists (in basically the same form)!
    Those were the days ?

  9. New York Pizza was definitely around sometime during the first half of 1993. I was one of the very few exchange students in Prague at that time and I remember what a big deal it was when it opened. Strangely, within weeks, it was often a ghost town.

  10. At the Palace Hotel they had a bufe and three different sizes of plates. The rule was that you could fill up your plate. We came up with a construction where we made the plates bigger with several circles of cucumber slices.

  11. I made Jama my home base in Prague in 1994. I organized salsa contests and a notable drinking contest between some Russian mobsters and officials from Radio Free Europe. The Russians were expecting vodka but I switched the contest to tequila and beer and the RFE guys took the crown. So many raucous times I wish I could remember but the beer got in the way.

  12. Great list! Thanks, so many memories flowing back with some of these names. Hapoy you mention terminal bar, so special indeed! And akropolis : in the bar downstairs, there was a hidden small hole in the wall where you could put the light on and discover… A dracula like hidden and closed room… Czech creativity

    I remember few others that were personal favorites :

    Night life :
    Cibulka : an old farm in the forest on the south west, were happened some of the craziest parties i’ve ever seen. A piece of piece of alternative history
    Roxy : once the best club in town. Also in the 90s there was also a moroccan rzstaurant in it with veggie couscous where you had to take of your shoes before going in
    Disco letna (later called mismas) with a true czech atmosphere
    Solidni nejistota (which means something like “solid uncertainties”)
    Le Clan

    Great bars near staromestka
    Chapeau rouge
    Avant garde (100m from chapeau rouge, not sure about the name. Huge paintings, high ceiling, the first place where i took a czech beer

    Restaurant
    Planeta zizkov : in konevova street
    Modra terasa : at the top of the building above mustek session. Amazing views

    Mediteraneo : the best roftop garden near the castle, built in with a morrocan flavour. Never had the success it deserved

    Casablanca : near mustek, great morrocan food

    So many others but as you say, memories are fading

  13. When Tim and I lived on Rasinovo nabrezi, we went to Bistro de Marlene about once a week. Marlene in the kitchen serving classic French food, a lovely young married couple as waitress and host, Provençal patterned tablecloths. Can’t remember the little street it was on, just off the nabrezi, but before railroad bridge … 1996ish

  14. Absolutely wonderful and nostalgic list of spots I frequented. When I lived at Mostecka 3 I would hike up to this Czech pub near the castle. I can’t recall it’s name, but it was a popular destination for Czechs and expats. It’s had a unique vibe to the place. Also, add the bar Prace to list of places of cool places. It was decorated in old communist garb used as props. Thanks Mark recalling so many good memories.!

    • What about the Banana Bar in Old Town I think. In the basement was a French upscale restaurant i cant remember the name of.
      Walters and waitresses would dance and strip (to their underwear) on the counter. The (male) owner (and waiters) liked the boys. Really duk place. Surfaced in the mid 90’s.

  15. Veronika and I had our wedding lunch in Deminka 30 years ago…
    Radegast was our local when we lived across in Templova.
    U Cedru was the first Middle Eastern restaurant and it is great that it is still there. The second one, in 1993, was Ali Baba near Karlovo namesti. They also had a pita bakery on the premises. A first they hung a photo of President Asad (the father of course) on the wall. Then, Asad went down, and instead they hung the dwarf from 1001 nights. They had the Czech waiter dress as Syrians. When the fez of one of them fell and I giggled, he said, this is not for laughter but for crying… They closed within a year or two. I think the food was very good but just beyond the Czech horizons of the time.
    There was also a good and cheap Bulgarian restaurant near the radio building behind muzeum..
    Anyway, thank you for reminding me of some of those places. Alas, too late for the other places I did not have the chance to visit in real time.

    • Thank you for your comment. Deminka was hopping back then. I think the Bulgarian place was called Trakia or maybe Thrakia?

  16. Scarlett O’Hara’s…..was hidden in the pasáž through the courtyard in Malostrana, where one of the many old kino’s was located, can’t think of the name. It’s been replaced by McDonald’s and apartments.
    And as a side note, Sport Bar Praha was a #30 which is now the entrance to a hotel, the other sport bar on the street (not nearly as good or iconic) is further up the street.
    Did anyone used to frequent the non-stop at the bottom of Václavské Nám?stí on 28. Rijna, Batalion?

  17. Mark, thank you for this epic walk down memory lane, particularly as my wife and I (who met in Prague in the 90s) get ready to visit next week for the first time in years.

    You asked about Crazy Daisy, which I mostly remember for its large tree going in the middle in the dining room. We used to go there a lot in 1995/96. Thanks to finding an old ragged copy of Velvet Magazine, I found the Crazy Daisy address was Vinohradska 142.

    One other venue I recommend including: U Hynk? (Štupartská 6): this was a cosy atmospheric pub combined with a wine bar right around the corner from Týn Church and Chapeau Rouge. One of the ads in Velvet features both U Hynk? and The Derby, so they may have had the same owner.

    Speaking of The Derby, the listing in Velvet said it was “a great place to go when you don’t want to see everyone you know — just some of them.” Yep, that rings true.

  18. Mark, thanks for the time and effort to put together this list! I was only sad to see that my old favorites (especially Bar Bar and Chez Marcel) are only memories now.

  19. I’ve been on a nostalgia trip ever since reading your piece 🙂

    I’d include Czech-style food-to-go establishments, notably the Zlatý K?íž establishments, on Jungmannova, and Jungmannovo nám?stí just around the corner (although the latter closed a few years ago). They offer a good glimpse of pre-1989 Prague life, and in my early days in the Czech Republic, I used to stop by the Jungmannovo nám. branch regularly to grab a bit to eat on the way home — and revel in the frozen-in-time atmosphere. This snack usually involved the Czech snack par excellence, the chlebí?ek, an oval slice of veka loaf and a choice of toppings, including ham, potato salad, herring, egg, salami, cream cheese, tomatoes, or crab spread. The done thing is to consume your chlebí?ky standing up at a narrow metal counter that you share with other hungry locals. The Zlatý K?íž also doubles as a lah?dky, a sort of deli, although not as upmarket as it sounds. Even before it closed, the Jungmannovo nám?stí joint had changed little over time, and while modernised slightly, the Jungmannova eatery is a tribute to another era.

    A very similar place stood on Vít?zné nám?stí, by Dejvická metro station. Called the Ned?lní Cukrárna, or Sunday Sweetshop, this beloved local institution, in a prominent location, was a snack bar and sweet shop in one. Despite globalised fast-food outlets such as Starbucks nearby, the Ned?lní Cukrárna held its own, plodding on until it was finally ousted by a pizzeria, which opened in 2017. The savoury fare was nothing special, and the sweet shop section offered greasy, bland cakes and extremely watery orange juice from dispensers. But, like Zlatý K?íž, the Cukrárna was a fascinating throwback, with a counter service and local products stacked on shelves behind it. And then there was the interior design, notably the light fittings, which resembled giant ice cubes. I often grabbed lunch there on Sunday afternoons, and it cost next to nothing. I felt a genuine tinge of sadness at its demise.

    I first visited Prague in 1993, officially on a student field trip, although it was more of a holiday. Back then, I was struck by how many affordable eateries still existed on Wenceslas Square despite it being prime real estate. I tried my very first meal in Prague at the Jízera restaurant in a courtyard off Wenceslas Square, with a canteen, part of the same establishment, on the square itself. The restaurant was cheap and cheerful, and later on, when I moved to Prague, I’d sometimes eat in the canteen, which served chewy schnitzels and other generally unhealthy stodge, at bargain prices. Some years later, it moved upstairs and became a self-service joint before closing some years ago. The courtyard restaurant then became a pizzeria and is now Colosseum, part of a chain of local pizzerias. For many years, a branch occupied the Koruna Palác, at the very bottom of Wenceslas Square, a great spot for people-watching. Further down from Jízera was another canteen/butcher’s shop. The clinical, white-tiled interior looked distinctly off-putting, so I avoided it on subsequent visits before finally venturing inside during a visit to Prague in the second half of November 1999. Temperatures regularly dropped below zero during those two weeks, so I took the opportunity to join the local worthies, from homeless guys to students and purple-suited businessmen, and stock up on calories. I think I must have tried every conceivable kind of goulash during my stay. I didn’t want to look too closely at the meat in the goulash, but at least the meals didn’t break the bank. The canteen held out until about 2000. I think it’s now a sports shop.

    Lastly, I’d mention another cheap and cheerful place and blast from the past, although I discovered it only in 2008, while working at nearby KPMG. With net curtains, checked tablecloths and a school dining hall ambience, the Lidová jídelna T?šnov canteen opens on weekdays and serves hungry office workers from the global companies nearby. They start queuing at 11 am and can expect an entirely Czech menu of filling soups and hearty main courses.

    • I had them on my original list! I couldn’t think of anything interesting to say about Dynamo. Universal was ahead of its time.

  20. Such a great collection thank you for doing this! I lived near Hradcanska in 96-97 and worked at The Globe, I did art for weird Radost parties in some underground garage and sometimes got paid in beer 🙂 I had such a magical time in Prague. I am still close friends with Brad Delange – we both live in San Francisco now. It was a very intense time those years, being young and experiencing Eastern Europe. I had been to Russia for a semester the year before. What was the allure for Gen X Americans in the 90’s to go there? I’m shocked at how many people are on Expats in Prague – I thought I knew most expats haha obviously not at all. I miss sitting in the back of a cab, drunk, listening to the cobbles on the way home, hoping the driver is not going to rob you . I actually never had any issues with that – even though I did get chased through Letna one night at 3am, again trying to walk home drunk. We also almost got into a brawl at Jo’s bar with some US Marines one night. These photos really take me back, I wish I could experience that again.

  21. I was a little later, first visiting Prague in 2001, but fell in love with the city and have been here in some way or another since then. Some places I would like to add:

    Baaang.cz – out in Nusle, Prague 4. Had the most amazing carpaccio and steaks but the whole menu was great. Really friendly staff. They went downhill when the brewery forced them to serve Heineken as their main beer (the staff would go over the road and get me Pilsner Urquell in a bottle).

    Buon Giornio – just off JZP (now replaced with Il Capitano). They were an amazing family run Italian with great pasta dishes and the best pizzas in Prague (I have still not been able to find anything comparable since they closed). They had a loyalty card – stamp it 20 times and you got 10% for your lifetime – they closed the scheme but still honoured anyone with the card right until the end. They were so good and so cheap anyway I used to give them 20% tips just to make up for the 10% discount 🙂

    Kojaks – this was a great Mexican in Prague 2 just up from Museum. I used to live round the corner from them. They had an incredible 100+ A4 page menu which was as ridiculous as it was incredible. They eventually went downhill with the quality of their food (I had plastic lumps in one dish that they refused to admit was their fault) which signalled the end and then Western society eventually caught up with them and their name and they were forced to change it. They closed not long afterward.

    El Toro (Prague 3) – this was a brilliant steak restaurant in Prague 3 but they were forced to close when the building was being renovated. It is now PORKE.

    The original Mozaika in Vinohrady – This was one of the first new wave, fine dining restaurants. Once they opened you had to book about 2 weeks in advance. They eventually started serving Matuška in 0.4l glasses and that was the end for me. They moved on jumping on the late 00s burger bandwagon, closed that restaurant and I believe they now have a Burger place in Karlin.

    Black Cat What Cat (on JZP, now BeerGeek Bar) – served great cocktails, incredible fried anchovies as a beer snack but also had the most amazing home made brownies. You went for drinks, snacked on the anchovies and finished the evening with brownies. We were gutted when they suddenly closed.

    Chicken & The Watch (Seifertova) – an English friendly location with good food and a weird name. Closed a long time ago, reopened under various names but never re-established itself. Now lies dormant.

    There were a few others that I’m not sure are still going or not and I didn’t frequent them myself very much but many friends/expats did: The Pind (Indian in Prague 2 just off JZP), Taj Mahal (Indian just behind Museum I think), Retro (just off Namesti Miru, mostly a music club but the restaurant upstairs did great steaks), Pizza Corleone (just off Namesti Miru).

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About the author

Mark Baker

I’m an independent journalist, travel writer and author who’s lived in Central Europe for nearly three decades. I love the history, literature, culture and mystery of this often-overlooked corner of Europe, and I make my living writing articles and guidebooks about the region. Much of what I write eventually finds its way into commercial print or digital outlets, but a lot of it does not.

And that’s my aim with this website: to find a space for stories and experiences that fall outside the publishing mainstream.

My Book: ‘Čas Proměn’

In 2021, I published “Čas Proměn” (“Time of Changes”), my first book of historical nonfiction. The book, written in Czech, is a collection of stories about Central and Eastern Europe in the 1980s and early ‘90s, including memories of the thrilling anti-communist revolutions of 1989. The idea for the book and many of the tales I tell there were directly inspired by this blog. Czech readers, find a link to purchase the book here. I hope you enjoy.

Tales of Travel & Adventure in Central Europe
Mark Baker