A “krčma” was a tavern in the Middle Ages that offered lodging and meals. It was set up in areas where markets took place and where people gathered; it was often part of a “týn” or fortification where merchants paid customs fees and stored their goods.
Today the word “krčma” conjures medieval ambience and gastronomy. And tourists. But that doesn´t mean that the food isn´t delicious (think roast pork knee, grilled ribs, roast duck or goulash) – even if it is served in a setting that would appeal to the Hound. These are among the best in Prague, allowing for your very own Game of Thrones experience!
Dinner is coming.
This Krčma with a capital K is easily accessible, being hidden in a cellar just near the Old Town Square in the shadow of the unique renaissance St. Salvador church. Flickering flames of burning wood in the stove accent the pleasant and comfortable ambience. You can experience a sausage with black beer served in a cast iron skillet with Krčma homemade bread, as well as a feast for carnivores, 2kg of meat brought to you on a wooden cutting board. www.krcma.cz
Close to Old Town Square, but unless you know the way, it is not easy to find. Mlejnice, is tucked away in a narrow and winding Kožná lane means in English “mill room”. Here you really find yourself in a stylish ambience of an old mill. Both the beer goulash served in a loaf of bread and the pork knee roasted in beer are delicious. Mlejnice has another branch of the same name on Žatecká street near the Pinkas Synagogue in the Jewish Quarter. www.restauracemlejnice.cz
This pleasant place is slightly off the beaten path and it is further accessed via a corridor and a long spiral staircase. You will be amazed by the unique medieval fittings that are reminiscent of a former dungeon. You should not miss the pork knee roasted in caraway served with cabbage or deer saddle with various sauces. www.usadlu.cz
To avoid the crowds of tourists and busy taverns in the centre during peak season, head to Vinohrady. There the krčma U Parléře awaits you, just a few steps behind the museum. The enthusiastic owner welcomes his guests with a personal approach. And what´s more he supervises the kitchen and personally oversees the quality of food and service every day.
If you’re brave and self-confident, do not hesitate to order the royal platter for 4-6 persons weighing 5 kg and consisting of knee roast, pork ribs, roast duck, roast chicken, smoked pork, pickles, mustard and horseradish. www.uparlere.cz
Staročeská krčma (Old Bohemian Tavern)
This krčma is a secret surprise in Dejvice. Being off the beaten track you can enjoy old bohemian cuisine for very pleasant prices. The cosy atmosphere is underlined by perfectly stacked wood behind your back.
Go there after five o’clock, when the chef prepares local specialities on an open fire right in front of you. www.staroceskakrcma.cz
Krčma U Pavouka (The Spider Tavern)
In another underground krčma on Celetná street, you will be taken back to medieval times. Descend into the darkness of an old gothic cellar (this belongs to one of the most attractive in Prague) you will be surprised by lots of small flickering torch lights. On most evenings there is a historical fantasy show with a group of musicians playing live medieval music all night, sword-fighters playing as musketeers and belly dancers performing different techniques with swords, fire and snakes. You also have a chance to participate in that performance. www.krcmaupavouka.cz
U sedmi švábů (Seven Swabians)
The krčma is just few steps off the Royal Way – on the Jánský Vršek stairway. The clothing and manners of the staff suggest that time stopped in 1493. The whole hangout is immersed in darkness, illuminated only by bursts of flames in the fireplace and candles. The meals are authentic, prepared according to recipes from the 15th and 16th century. On Friday and Saturday evenings you will see swordsmen, dancers, fire-eaters and a beggar with medieval music. Before the dinner the Museum of Alchemists and Magicians of Old Prague is worth visiting, just few steps down the stairway. www.7svabu.cz
The Pub at the King of Brabant is one of Prague’s oldest pubs. It is actually a Prague branch of the famous medieval tavern in Dětenice (about 80 km northeast from Prague). The pub has daily program from Tuesday till Saturday. Already King Wenceslas IV and the hangman called Mydlář used to be guests here. An ancient building and cellar create an excellent ambience for this medieval tavern with original dishes. I recommend sitting in the underground room, where clusters of human skulls hang directly over your head. Try their excellent brew from the “mother krčma” in Dětenice. www.krcmabrabant.cz
To diversify the Middle Ages, it is sometimes good to go back further in time… It happens to you in one of Nusle tenement houses that you find yourself in a prehistoric cave, where you are greeted even by a mammoth right at the entrance. Its location in the suburbs provides you with a relaxed atmosphere and a personal approach of the staff. It is interesting that the basic dishes are identical to those I encountered in medieval taverns. It seems that the development of gastronomy stagnated for a long time!
A gem among medieval “krčmas” is located a little farther from Prague, about 80 km. You will enjoy not only the tavern with meat prepared on an open fire, but also a complete medieval package there. The way to Dětenice is easy to find – the signs will lead you there just from the Mladá Boleslav highway exit. Arrange a trip and you can spend a nice weekend in Dětenice, because there are a lot of medieval attractions to experience. There are medieval programs from Tuesday to Saturday, with Thursday reserved for vampires and Dracula. The medieval atmosphere is enhanced by an ancient castle brewery offering their famous homemade beer. On the next day after having a good sleep in a medieval hotel you can visit a baroque chateau and medieval jousting tournament arena. www.detenice.cz
What is your favorite medieval tavern in Prague?