Prague has a ton of great spots to grab a good burger and beer. In fact, there have been several new openings over the last couple of months alone. Here’s a rundown of two recent additions to the city’s cramped burger circuit.
A cross between a tree house and a rustic Wild West dude ranch, complete with faux cowhides and stuffed buffalo heads on the walls, the only thing Joe’s American Grill is missing is a John Wayne impersonator.
This new Tex-Mex spot may have an interesting interior design, but it’s going to have to work a little harder on its exterior if it wants to usher in more diners. As it is, Joe’s sign along Vinohrady’s Mánesova street is a bit inconspicuous; the front entrance so well camouflaged – this despite a pair of green chalkboards still announcing its opening party – that I felt compelled to double checked the address in my notebook.
Descending down a winding, wobbly metal staircase, I found myself the only patron. In fairness, the place has only been open since the end of July and seems to be placing a heavy emphasis on its delivery service, which has already gotten some pretty high marks for swiftness and food quality. Frankly, after a month of binging on vegetarian and vegan fare, I couldn’t wait to get to Joe’s. The menu is quite extensive, featuring burgers, buffalo wings, steaks and a multitude of Mexican grill dishes.
Where to begin? I asked the waiter if I’d be overdoing things with a plate of wings (starting at 99 CZK for six pieces) followed by a burger. He told me he could easily finish both in one sitting, but I thought better of it and decided on the Jack Daniel’s Burger (179 CZK) and a side of fries (25 CZK). Seeing that a small cola was priced at an incredible (for an outer borough) 48 CZK, I opted for a half liter of Pilsner (45 CZK), one of the two lagers on tap. It arrived ice-cold, a delicious remedy for summer’s extreme temperature changes.
The burger – well-done with a strip or two of bacon drenched in Jack Daniel’s sauce – showed up shortly after and was satisfying but nothing exceptional. I was a little put off that the fries cost extra, especially given the price of the burger. And while it was filling, I wondered if perhaps the real star here was Joe’s vast burrito, quesadilla, taco and nacho selection, which seemed to trump the “American grill” offerings. A friend of mine popped in later to sample the beef quesadilla (189 CZK), reporting back that it was decent, but a bit on the small side for being a main course; the kitchen veering down the route of a fancy five-star (i.e. presenting artfully decorated tasting-size portions) rather than a cozy neighborhood cellar spot.
When considering dining options in the city center, Karlovo náměstí usually doesn’t make the cut. Heck, it probably doesn’t even make the list for many of you. But that may be about to change. U Čížků, a beer and burger joint with an understated 1950s-style flare, took up residency a few blocks from the top of Vodičkova street six months ago.
In addition to reasonable prices, U Čížků’s burger offerings, which all come with creative monikers, like Framer Willy, the Beaver and Blue Velvet, aren’t just your typical beef patty on a bun garnished with a wilted lettuce leaf and tomato, a display that has unfortunately become commonplace at many Prague restaurants these days. “Farmer Willy” (155 CZK), for instance, is loaded with gouda cheese, bacon and a fried egg, while “Blue Velvet” (165 CZK) is flavored with blue cheese, bacon and onions. (Minor gripe: The cook could have been a little more generous with the blue cheese.) A big portion of fries is also included with each burger dish. Even more attractive: A bottle of Heinz ketchup is left on the table to use as you see fit – a (shockingly) free amenity. It’s simple touches like this that make restaurants like U Čížků stand out.
It also helps that Maisel’s Weisse is on tap (along with six other lagers). This Bavarian wheat beer costs 40 CZK and nicely compliments U Čížků’s wide burger section, which includes a veggie burger (125 CZK) with eggplant, zucchini and mozzarella as well as a tomato burger (145 CZK).
Not in the mood for a burger? No problem. The menu has a sprinkling of steaks, salads and sandwiches for those looking for a quick nibble. Breakfast, that of the croissant, scrambled eggs and omelet variety, is served daily between 9am and 11am. The range of choices here seems like a good marketing strategy, though on the day I visited, a hot Sunday afternoon, I had the large dining room more or less to myself.
Who are you favorites in the race to Prague’s best burger?