Vegan Dining in Prague

By Joanie Terrizzi

"You were in Prague?" a friend asked me. "You must have had a hard time finding vegan food.When I was there 13 years ago, I survived on bread and tomatoes." Well, many things have changed in the last decade or so, and I was delighted to let my friend know that one of those things is that a plethora of vegetarian and vegan restaurants have sprouted up around Prague's beautiful and history-filled streets and alleyways. I was even able to buy soymilk at the corner store! While traditional Czech cuisine trends stewy, hearty, and meaty, many of these veggie restaurants boasted lighter fare, and some even offered non-meat versions of traditional dishes. There were several locations of the Loving Hut chain, as well as a chain of Indian restaurants (Dhaba Beas), and several raw food restaurants — though I'll have to admit that I tailored my travel schedule around hitting as many of the unique cooked-food vegetarian restaurants as I possibly could in my five days exploring this historic city. Some were so delicious that they drew me back twice! The following is information on the restaurants I visited.

Slezske 62

More of a cafe than a restaurant, Moment boasts rotating daily specials from around the world. I grabbed food to-go for a flight, and was treated to a gluten-free lentil quiche and raspberry chocolate cake — both of which were incredible. The staff at Moment were less English-friendly than at other restaurants I tried, though they had enough language skill to accommodate my needs.

Nerudova 36

Easily my favorite restaurant, I made the trip west of the Vltava River twice to be able to sample more of this delicious menu. On my first trip I fancied something on the lighter side (it was a hot day and LoVeg is located up a steep hill, nestled under the Prague Castle) so I ordered the Thai Coconut Curry with Jasmine Rice (just under $10). With the comforting, peaceful decor, and the diverse menu featuring vegan versions of traditional Czech foods, I knew that I would be returning. On my second visit, I was eager to try an authentic Czech dish and sampled the Classic Goulash with Red Onion and Dumplings. As I was nearly licking my plate, a waitress walked by with a fresh plate of vegan Svícková (vegan sirloin with rice cream, cranberries, and homemade dumplings), that I looked after wistfully, wishing I could have had just one more meal at LoVeg. Instead, I placated my taste buds with layered apple purée for dessert, thus having a filling and exciting several-course meal for $13.

Tynska ulicka 6, Praha 1

The most centrally-located of Prague's veggie options, Maitrea can be found just off the Old Town Square, behind Tyn's Church. The space itself is artfully designed, and I found the service to be both fast and friendly. On my first visit to Maitrea, I quickly grabbed food to-go, in order to catch a free walking tour. My elaborate and filling baked tofu, avocado, arugula salad and order of smoked tofu and spring onion sushi totaled about $13 and was more than enough food. With memories of the supreme deliciousness and the mouth-watering menu, I was prompted to return on another day to have a proper sit-down meal. I ordered the Thai Green Curry with Vegan Shrimp (approximately $8). The atmosphere was perfect for catching up on journaling and writing a few postcards. An English menu was provided, and both vegan and gluten-free items were clearly marked. The vegan options were limited, but mouthwatering.

Lehka Hlava (Clear Head)
Borsov 2, Praha 1

Closer to the Charles Bridge, this sister restaurant to the aforementioned Maitrea restaurant is one of the top-rated restaurants (vegetarian or not) in Prague. It serves artful fare in a stylish, cozy atmosphere. Each room has different themed decor — the "Heaven Room" features a star-speckled ceiling. Reservations are highly recommended here — this joint was hopping, even late on a weeknight. Lehka Hlava also offers an English menu with vegan and gluten-free items clearly marked (as well as those dishes that could be made vegan upon request). I had the Red Lentil Soup with Coconut and Vegetables, as well as the Thai Red Curry for approximately $11. The food was absolutely delicious — a great way to refuel after walking around all day.

Krymska 126/2 (Praha 10)

Set in a more residential area of Prague, Plevel was a sweet cafe, where I can imagine spending leisurely mornings sipping coffee and reading, were I not again taking my food to-go, in order to hop on a boat cruise along the Vltava River. While the menu is strong with both Western and fusion options, I opted for another taste of traditional Czech fare, ordering some sort of dumpling with cabbage and fake meat in it, prepared in a vinegar sauce. I was skeptical at first bite, but enjoyed each piece more than the one prior. I especially savored the desserts I ordered: a walnut rolled pastry, and what was essentially a sweet pizza-like apple pastry.

Joanie Terrizzi has been a member of The Vegetarian Resource Group since she was a young child. She is a librarian in a New York City public school.