Over the last few years a slew of new restaurants dedicated to vegan, vegetarian, and raw cuisine – not to mention festivals like Prague Raw Food Festival and Veggie Parade – have hit the Prague market. Here, five of our favorites, but please don’t overlook one of the most talked about in recent years Plevel, featured in our most recent Dining Out article. Veggie lovers will also want to see our review of Letna’s Vegtral and this older article about Vegetarian Options in Prague.
This unpretentious addition to Vinohrady’s fiercely competitive dining scene quietly opened at the beginning of the year. The food – an Indonesian fusion of vegan, vegetarian and meat-based dishes – is delectable; the staff friendly. And, as if that’s not enough, the (chilled) table water’s free! Oh, Javánka, where have you been all my life? The setup is cafeteria-style efficient – order and pay at the counter and then grab a seat. The food’s whipped up in the back kitchen and garnished by the front room staff. This constant buzz of activity gives the bistro a cozy, familial vibe that is sorely lacking at many Prague restaurants these days, where a greater emphasis is (mis)placed on gimmick rather than service with a smile. I would expect no less from a team that includes one of the former co-owners of Cafe Medúza, a popular neighborhood fixture that sadly closed three years ago.
From vegan opor (118 CZK) and tumis tempeh stewed in soy sauce (118 CZK) to traditional Javanese soup with slices of turkey meat (98 CZK) and beef rendang (138 CZK), there’s a little something for everyone. But don’t fill up! The Prague Pie Hole keeps the dessert cooler stocked with the most succulent creations. A slice of peanut butter or walnut pie, for instance, will cost you 45 CZK. So. Worth. It.
It’s a bit of a hike to get here. After maneuvering Nerudova street’s steep incline, you must then scale a winding, Rapunzel-like staircase of nearly 60 steps before reaching the wood-beamed dining room. Putting aside its tourist-centric location, LoVeg has a unique spark not normally found in a neighborhood known for serving overpriced fried cheese. Despite opening at the tail end of last year, the guest book has already attracted Hollywood glitterati, with Woody Harrelson recently dropping by not just once but twice. The actor’s entourage reportedly booked the restaurant’s top floor, which boasts vaulted ceilings, bean bags and a small terrace overlooking the tiled rooftops of Malá Strana. (Romantics: there are two tables out there, allowing for a semi-private, awe-inspiring dining experience.)
While the all-vegan menu seems reasonably priced for the area – 125 CZK for a hummus sandwich and 95 CZK for a small salad – the portions are tiny, though the homemade lemonade (50 CZK) is, I must admit, well-endowed and very good. LoVeg prominently advertises on the street level a 125 CZK “daily” menu that includes a soup and main course, which I so wanted to take literally. But alas, I stop in on a Saturday and was dismissively informed by my waiter that that menu only applies on weekdays. How I wish restaurants would stop using this ploy to lure guests. I find it not only misleading, but tacky marketing.
Hidden in the tangle of streets bordering Národní třída, Estrella is not exactly on the beaten path, but this two-room space seems to have developed a steady stream of dedicated clientele since debuting in 2012. The location used to house an upscale Italian restaurant and wine bar before going vegetarian. Its simple, hobbit-hole décor of arched walls and salt candles hasn’t changed much over the last two years, even if the cuisine underwent a radical makeover. The menu is brief and includes such staples as risotto with wild mushrooms (177 CZK), thai curry (187 CZK), grilled goat cheese salad (157 CZK) and a much-raved-about tofu-beet burger (167 CZK).
I was looking for a snack and asked the waiter for a bowl of creamy roasted pumpkin soup with ginger. It sounded amazing. But the soup, along with a string of other dishes that I failed to keep track of, was not available that day. Huh. Well, that didn’t leave many options. I ended up with a quesadilla (147 CZK) stuffed with spinach and sun-dried tomatoes and a thimble-sized glass of mildly warm ginger lemonade (52 CZK). The quesadilla, by the way, was an indeed a good snack, though people expecting to quench ravishing hunger pains may want to stick with the burger, as Estrella’s quesadilla is more of an extravagantly priced starter.
Simple, authentic, paper plates – there’s a certain coolness factor associated with street food, and the Thai Box, located in a wooden hut behind the Kotva department, has got the basics covered. Not only is its menu filled with dishes that sound like they could be named after a Katy Perry single (“Ladyboy,” “Bangkok Dangerous,” “City Jungle” and “Taxi Man”) but all its meals are sugar-, gluten- and meat-free. I was a bit suspect when ordering the pad thai (aka “Thai Night,” 130 CZK), however, digging in with my wooden fork at one of the foldaway tables lining the sidewalk, I have nothing but gold stars to award. Barring the always reliable farmers’ market food booths, there are so few genuinely good street cuisine choices in the city that when you find one it’s best to pounce. Bottom line: This cute little Thai Box is like a teeny slice of Bangkok in the center of Prague.
A grandmotherly log cabin, a tree growing out of the roof; a huge flower-filled summer garden and a bowl of refreshing avocado cream soup. Are we even in Prague anymore? Yup, though, with the exception of the occasional passing tram, you’d hardly know it. This Serbian hideaway is a real find. While its cultural offerings are extensive – specialties include wedding cabbage with six kinds of meat (179 CZK) and rolled veal with mashed potatoes (259 CZK) – Jelica features a lengthy raw menu, too.
In addition to the avocado soup (79 CZK), essentially a pureed salad with a hearty side of cucumbers, celery and coriander, the kitchen also whips up an artful presentation of raw spaghetti (149 CZK) made from zucchini and seasoned with wild garlic as well as lasagne (179 CZK) and gourmet pizza (219 CZK). I washed everything down with a pint of glorious unfiltered Schremser organic bio beer (49 CZK). It occurred to me that drinking a calorie bomb probably canceled out my healthy lunch, but when it comes to this Austrian lager I couldn’t help but order another round. Turns out the greens didn’t really hold up. I was starving a few hours later, making me wonder if I’m really cut out for this type of diet.
Where do eat vegetarian, vegan, or raw? Share the veggie love.