Perhaps unsurprisingly, Prague’s hippest local neighborhood is where we had our best foodie experiences in the city.
Where the restaurants in the center were heavy and drab, our meals in Karlin were lighter and creative. Where places on the beaten tourist track served up desserts too sweet to finish, Karlin served us fermented lemonades and hunks of salted butter we couldn’t get enough of.
Especially at our favorite restaurant, the one whose siren call drew us back again and again, week after week:
Eska is Prague for foodies. Local ingredients. Local specialties. And new, innovative ideas. Creative plating. Exceptional quality.
The interior is light and lofty with an industrial chic style featuring exposed metal ceiling beams and large metal hanging lamps over sleek light-wood tables. The dining room is two levels and two large picnic tables stand just outside the restaurant (though not fully outdoors, as there’s a roof overhead). Downstairs, on your way out the door, a small shop sells local goods including bread and their excellent butter that you can take for a home meal or picnic.
The atmosphere is a bright, cheerful one. But, of course, what really matters is the food.
It all starts with a hunk of salted butter on an ice-cold stone served with their house-baked bread – its crust always crunchy and crumb soft and light with an almost sticky texture. I’m normally not one to eat plain butter on bread, but here Chad and I finished every last bite at every meal. Both the bread and butter were so well crafted.
Next come the drinks. Ask about the fermented lemonades – a collection of lightly sparkling fruit or herb lemonades made in house. The colors are rich. The bubbles dance around your mouth. And the sweetness is light, never cloying. My personal favorite was rhubarb, but the flavors change daily and we liked everything we tried.
Finally, into the food we go. Smoked beef tartare. Potatoes in ash. Artichoke dumplings. They were all interesting, beautifully served, and appropriately filling. They were also significantly lighter, with more fruits and veggies incorporated, than most of the meals elsewhere in town.
For a modern take on Czech cuisine and a welcoming atmosphere, you can’t do better.
Address: Pernerova 49 (in the hip Karlin neighborhood)
Phone: +420 731 140 884
Hours: Monday – Friday 8 to 23:30. Saturday and Sunday 9 to 23:30.
Price range: Main courses average about 300 CZK (about $13 US at time of this writing).
Dog friendly? No, though we saw dogs occasionally in the limited outdoor seating area.
What (else) to do in Prague
Honestly, Prague isn’t my favorite city. So if you’re going to Czechia, I’d recommend getting out of the city and spending your time seeing what the rest of the country has to offer.
In particular, the Bohemian Switzerland national park is gorgeous. Hiking to the old abandoned mill in the forest was a highlight. We also enjoyed Karlovy Vary with its pretty riverside walking paths and candy-colored, elaborate homes.
Photos compliments of Eska, as my own photos were sub-par on this one.