Prague is an enormous, bustling metropolis with pockets of history and culture that you can see in the very architecture and shops surrounding you. It’s a city that, as of 2015, contained 1.259 restaurants. So it would be presumptuous to claim that I know the best restaurant with the best food, given the multitude of options I surely didn’t even get to try. But I’m going to make the claim regardless because Lokál is a gastronomic find worth writing about.
Arguably there are fancier venues with more impressive layouts or neighborhood histories. Lokál is a chain restaurant, and it’s most definitely casual dining. It has a very pub-like feel to its service, and the many tables lend it the laid back air of a cafeteria or German beer garden. But it also makes Lokál a perfect place to meet up with friends for a game of cards – there were always open table when I visited, so you never had to feel bad about parking your group for extended periods when taking a break from walking around the city, or regrouping to make plans for the evening. Another advantage is the patronage that seems to commonly frequent Lokál. It wasn’t uncommon to meet other foreign travelers there. In my experience they were often friendly and willing to push a couple table together, or share what they knew about the different menu items and places worth visiting around the city. A funny aide – they often project silly drawings or jokes on the walls like the ones below.
The price and quality of food are far and away this restaurant’s best quality, all things said. Perhaps it’s because I’d arrived following a trip in much more expenive countries, but the affordable menu really made an impression on me. It also means that even for students and budget travelers, you can afford to order a couple of different dishes and try foods that you aren’t certain you’re going to like. That’s half the joy of traveling to new places, and because thing are cheap, you can always order a sure thing as well as a novel Czech dish. Servers were always happy to make suggestions, and the menu itself had local classics and fare demarcated in the margins. The dishes did change while we were there – the same things were new always offered, but there were staples you could always get.
My recommendations can be easily summarized in one word: dumplings. Both the bread and potato dumplings are delicious, especially if you get on of the local meat dishes to go with them. The fried cheese is often a recommended item for those that want to try a Czech dish. This is very dense and rich, but delicious. If that doesn’t sound good there’s an entire section of the menu entitled “Specialties of Lokal,” just be sure to ask for an English menu (Dlouhááá), or share one off another table (they sometimes run out).
Finally, if you’re of age, Lokál has an excellent selection of alcohols (including absinthe, for those interested) but without question the beer is the obvious choice. Cards are given out that mark what you’ve had – a way of keeping tab – but are also useful if you like to remember what you’ve tried and a liked – an excellent idea as they offer so many different kinds.
So while I’d encourage you to try the delicious sweet and savory street food Prague has to offer, and to stop in at some of the more authentic restaurants and themed bars, when it come to the most enjoyable experience with the warmest atmosphere – not to mention very late hours — Lokál is the competitive choice.