Whether you prefer a wobbly café chair or a hulking beer-garden bench, Prague´s outdoor eating and drinking venues beckon you to stop and sit a spell. A few hints and highlights:
The garden at Týnská literární kavárna is a welcoming spot: spacious, centrally located and populated by a young, international crowd. The historic Palác Adria, a 12th-century structure that has, through the years, been transformed into a multi-use space, is home to the Divadlo Bez Záradlí, which in turn houses a café—and the view from the terrace is lovely. Café John and George, roundabout the John Lennon wall, has secret-garden allure, despite its location, and homemade cake. Kid-friendly Park Restaurant & Café is a nice surprise in Vršovice with regular cook-outs and a picnics-to-go menu.
There are ten islands on the Prague stretch of the Vltava River; a few in particular bustle with activity come summer, offering riverside breezes and good eating. Dětský Ostrov (Children´s Island) is home to Rezavá Kotva (The Rusty Anchor) a nautical-themed “pirate” restaurant that serves steaks, fish and kebabs, hot off an outdoor grill, alongside tapas and Spanish wine. Riverside seating affords stunning views of Frank Gehry landmark Tančící dům, while live music adds to the festive atmosphere. On the higher end, Střelecký Ostrov Restaurant and Terrace is a tranquil place for a drink or bite, offering a unique riverside perspective of Prague Castle as well as pheasant, venison, duck, and other satisfying, wild game dishes and Czech specialties. The Žofín Restaurant and Garden Café on Slovanský Island is an open-air terrace near the historic Žofín Palace.
The prices at many of these establishments may be comparable to the million-dollar vistas, but for birthday/anniversary dining, or the occasional summer splurge, they can´t be beat. Perched high above the city near the grounds of Strahov Monastery, Bellavista boasts jaw-dropping views and decent Italian. Nearby Nebozizek is a funicular pit stop on the way up Petřín Hill. The food is less-than-memorable but it´s a great novelty spot for visitors. The bird´s eye view—and prix fixe menu—keep guests coming back to the summer terrace at Hanavský Pavilion. From its Letná vantage point, you´ll enjoy the best views of Prague at night. Up on the rooftop at Old Town Square´s Hotel U Prince you´ll find a sprawling and elegant terrace, specialty cocktails, hot-off-the-grill favorites, and breathtaking views of Prague´s steeples and spires. Mediterranean mainstay Kogo is an old favorite with a new garden. The Slovanský dům outpost´s just-opened patio woos with “luxury Italian furniture”. The Havelská location is similarly terraced. Indian Jewel, in business for only a few weeks, throws its hat in the ring alongside a growing number of tandoori restaurants in Prague.
The outdoor seating here sprawls across ancient Ungelt–just the place for people watching on a weekend evening–and the Mughlai cuisine is done right.
Sample the local vintage or an imported glass or two at one of the city´s wine bars—selected for both the wine list and open-air ambiance. Le Terroir´s pretty patio and impressive wine list lend to its continental charm. Enjoy Moravian wines in the cozy surrounds of Prague 2 wine garden Cellarius. Its position in the middle of verdant Havlíčkovy sady gives Viniční altán favorite-summer-spot status. The rooftop arbor overlooks the Nusle Valley and the wine list offers the best of Czech wine. Check out the panorama of baroque Troja castle complex while relishing a nice Muller Thurgau from St. Klára, Prague´s largest vineyard.
According to Data Servis, 2,500-3,000 beer gardens open in the Czech Republic every summer. The PragueBeerGarden website gives a nice round-up of venues, including the two biggies, Letná and Riegerovy Sady. Oft overlooked and worth the trip: U Viléma just a few blocks from the Hradčanská metro stop, toward Stromovka. The pebbled courtyard, ringed with greenery, is intimate and the waitstaff friendly. Populated by Czech families and neighborhood types, its festive communal tables fill up early. Don´t forget the lesser-known Vyšehrad beer garden, Hospůdka Na Hradbách, unique for its sizzling Balkan grill and none-too-shabby view. See Prague from a different perspective altogether at Parukářka beer garden in Zižkov. At the suggestion of the city´s most eminent beer scholar, and because the retro Staropramen sign had caught my eye many a time, I dragged a friend to 100-year-old U Kotvy last weekend. A quiet, faded beauty on Spálená, “At the Anchor” exudes the very things that draw us to outdoor tables and beer: rickety seating, shade, and the possibility of an endless afternoon.