Prague has never been a sandwich city on par with Philadelphia (cheesesteaks), New York (pastrami on rye), or New Orleans (muffuletta) although thanks to its booming food truck scene homesick expats can regularly tuck into everything from gourmet grilled cheese to a pretty good Reuben.
Maybe the Czech Republic isn’t a major sandwich player because Czechs prefer their sandwiches open face, as in chlebíčky those handheld vehicles for potato salad and ham that are the hors d’oeuvre of choice at office parties and social events.
On the more colorful side of the local sandwich scale, I’ve recently discovered the sabich. In Prague, falafel is probably the most well-known Middle Eastern sandwich offering. But after spotting an online video of its pita counterpart being made at a Vršovice café, I knew I had to try it.
A stuffed pita pocket sold from street carts in Israel, the sabich, according to Nofech Pâtisserie owner Avi Ben Perez has its roots in Iraq where it is considered a breakfast staple by the Jewish community who eat it during the Sabbath (some sources suggest that the dish takes its name from sabah the Arabic word for morning).
The Nofech version of this Iraqi-Israeli hybrid is served in a puffy locally-sourced pita filled with lightly fried eggplant, hardboiled egg, three varieties of Israeli salad, pickles, tahini, and hummus.
About those salads: the sabich is dressed with a zesty combo of cabbage, parsley, garlic, lemon, and black cucumber, a garnish of finely diced cucumber and tomato, and a spoon of briny red onion-black-pepper-vinegar relish.
A shot of homemade harissa has a satisfying warming effect that brightens the sandwich’s cooler elements, though an unspiced sabich is also available.
Eating one is a messy, squishy, flavor jolt of an experience but at just 89 CZK it’s also one of Prague’s most healthy and filling vegan lunches, made even better with a side of fresh-squeezed pomegranate juice.
Traditionally, a sabich can incorporate falafel, but at Nofech it comes without—don’t miss their falafel, though: oven-baked and egg-free it’s not your typical chickpea fry up and pairs perfectly with the house matbucha, a Moroccan tomato-chili dip.
The small Kodaňská Street grocery-café also sells a selection of Kosher and Mediterranean wines, ajvar and olives, challah bread, and fresh deli salads to go including its signature chummus and baba ganoush.
As for the place’s sandwich pedigree, it does have a connection to one of the world-famous sandwich cities mentioned in the lede. Co-owner Jeffrey Zamoff, who hails from Philly, will make you that city’s beloved egg-and-cheese with a Nofech twist: order it with shakshuka, tahini dressing, or a dash of harrisa or schug, a herby green hot sauce, for a fiery start to your day.
Open Mon-Thurs 6:30am-7:00pm; Friday 6:30am-5:00pm