Dangle a piece of bábovka cake in front of my face and I won’t even flinch, cookies I can take’em or leave’em, but put a bowl of ice cream next to me and it takes all my willpower not to dive in spoon first. In the dessert department, ice cream delivers on a more consistent basis than any other sweet. I mean, really, is there such a thing as bad ice cream (except the freezer burnt variety)? Luckily, Prague has plenty of satisfying cold spots if you know where to look.
When I’m in a jam and need a creamy fix pronto, I’m not ashamed to stop at the nearest Žabka and grab a Magnum bar—you can never go wrong with an ice cream-Belgium chocolate combo. If you’re in a more ex-patriotic mood, then I recommend trying a Míša nanuk, an ice cream bar made of a blend of curd cheese, cream and sugar, all covered in chocolate and on a stick. This classic has been around since 1962, and is a good option for the health conscious—just look for the teddy bear logo. If ice cream sandwiches are your thing, then sink your teeth into a Ruská Zmrzlina. (Yes, it is a Russian product, and actually tolerated by the Czechs.)
Of course, fresh ice cream always tastes better. On a hot day, nothing slakes my thirst better than some vanilla soft-serve, though I’m rapidly becoming a convert of the typical Czech strawberry-banana sorbet soft-serve—maybe it’s from overexposure, since you can find it EVERYWHERE. A good place to check it out is at the beloved Ovocný Světozor. Stop by their central location in the Světozor Pasáž and you can also enjoy a shake, sundae, or scoop ice cream at very reasonable prices. Get it to go and savor your treat among the roses in Františkánské Zahrady just down the pasáž. Ovocný Světozor also has a number of other locations throughout the city; see their website for details.
For you shoppers who need more energy to find that perfect outfit, get a sweet pick-me-up at Fruitisimo. They’re located in six different shopping centers, including Palladium, Centrum Chodov, and Metropole Zličín. If you’re in the Štěrboholy area, stop by the Fashion Arena Outlet Center to see their továrna na zmrzlinu (ice cream factory) where the ice cream is handmade using traditional Italian recipes.
Fancy a French pastry with your ice cream? Paul offers the basics—vanilla, chocolate and strawberry—in soft-serve form. Au Gourmand boasts a wider variety with 14 scoop flavors. Both have various branches in the center.
Another place worth a mention is Vanille café, next to the Náměstí Míru tram stop. The café has just undergone a facelift and is looking quite sleek and modern compared to its former greasy spoon self. The ice cream is hit or miss—I’ve had a couple of great scoops and a few mediocre ones—but at 15 CZK a scoop and its convenient location, I would go back.
For you expats out there who crave hard ice cream with candy-brownie-cookie chunks, and are willing to pay 80 CZK a serving, Häagen Dazs (Karlova 20) is located en route to Charles Bridge, next to Friday’s. The Ben & Jerry’s off Můstek has mysteriously disappeared, but now many shops carry the small cup variety. I don’t think it’s a big seller with the locals though, so be sure to weigh up the freezer burn probability against the price before your purchase.
Even though I’ve written a whole article outlining the ice cream options in Prague, any expat who’s been around a while will tell you there are really only two places for getting topnotch ice cream in Prague: Angelato and Cream & Dream. I was looking forward to giving them each a fair taste—no cones or toppings, just neatly in a cup.
Cream & Dream (Husova 12), is a ten minute walk from Národní Třída, down what I like to call the “hanging man street,” after David Černý’s sculpture of Sigmund Freud. Firstly, decide what vehicle you’d like to eat your ice cream in because the prices vary accordingly—80g in a cup (35 CZK), in a glass dish (50 CZK), in a cone (40 CZK) and in a waffle cone (45 CZK). The décor doesn’t wow, but the ice cream sure does. Two of my favorite scoops there were the melon and white chocolate flavors. The former tasted just like a ripe, juicy cantaloupe in summer, and the latter had exactly the right level of creamy sweetness without coming off too rich or sickeningly sweet.
Next up was Angelato (Rytířská 27), located behind Můstek on the way to Ovocný Trh. Even though it’s in prime tourist country, I distinctly heard Czech (always a good sign) as I was spooning up my multiple scoops. The menu is very straightforward (35 CZK a portion, cone or dish) and it gets progressively cheaper the more scoops you get—that’s my kind of place! The inside is very cozy and welcoming, with a white-washed, angel motif, although the bulk of the seating is outdoors. They have all the usual flavors, and more adventurous ones, like Mojito or Parmesan & Fig. I could actually distinguish the fresh mint and lime and the grains of parmesan cheese.
Four scoops later, I couldn’t make up my mind whose ice cream was better, Angelato’s or Cream & Dream’s, but I did decide that both shop names befit their heavenly product.
While I still believe there is no bad ice cream per se, my taste testing around Prague revealed that some kinds are just so good they transcend our mortal taste buds. I can’t wait to do more research.
What’s your scoop on the best ice cream in Prague?
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