So after last year’s Christmas lockdown, take-out boxes and a whole lotta eggnog, Christmas dining is back in 2021. We’ve been personally eating out on Christmas Eve for years now, for one simple reason: we can’t be bothered. Spending the special day in the kitchen, alternating between swearing and drinking, and then trying to avoid all talk of politics when the in-laws get in (add more wine) and listen to them talk about how „grandma’s potato salad wasn’t done like this“? (Is there any wine left?) Thank you but no, thank you.
Now, eating out on Christmas Eve means a clean kitchen, a visit to a few relatives in their messy homes, a nice dinner and then getting back to your squeaky clean, fragrant-candle-smelling home to give and get presents. And if you’re visiting Prague as a tourist, it’s honestly the only option.
Czechs celebrate Christmas Eve more than Christmas Day, and the city stops to a halt on Christmas Eve at about 4pm. Most restaurants and businesses will shut down for the day in the early afternoon. So if you don’t have a reservation for a Christmas Eve dinner, act now.
The traditional Christmas dish for the Czechs is a schnitzel made of carp with potato salad. Escargots are also a popular Christmas treat. Fish soup is common, as well as „kuba“, barley risotto with mushrooms. (According to tradition, Czechs are not supposed to eat meat on Christmas Eve, and fish and escargots don’t count.) That said, many Czechs ditch that tradition and have meat instead. We’re talking schnitzels, maybe duck or goose, and „wine sausage“ is quite common, too. And most restaurants open on Christmas Eve will probably let you choose between fish and meat.
Dining on Dec 25 and 26 is easier – many (but not all) restaurants will reopen for these two days, so there’ll be many more options. Retail will still be mostly closed for Christmas, though.
Giving dining advice for NYE this year is tricky: as of the writing of this, restaurants and bars are obliged to close at 10pm, but there’s a big BUT: the current state of emergency is due to end on December 26 and the new government isn’t likely to have it extended. Which means restaurants and bars can stay open later. But let’s not jump to conclusions here and see what the next few days bring us.
So while some restaurants already advertise their NYE menus today, it’s based on sheer optimism. (Or revolt.)
Enough chit chat, let’s get to it. (Or scroll down for coffee.)
The popular Bib-Gourmand awarded modern Czech restaurant in the Holešovice district offers a Christmas Eve menu that consists of four courses and gives you options between meat and fish options. Classics include escargots, zander, kuba, fish soup or duck. Prepare to pay CZK 1799 for the menu, incl. dessert.
The Eatery also has a NYE menu. It costs CZK 1999 and it’s again a 4-course meal, always with two choices. And it’s either steak or pheasant for the main course. The Eatery is classy and modern at the same time, with great wine selection, but don’t expect a raucous celebration: the restaurant is dimly lit and intimate.
Unlike in previous years, we’re sad to report that The Eatery will not be serving a New Year’s Day brunch.
Café Imperial is a classic Belle Epoque restaurant headed by Chef Pohlreich who’s one of the most famous chefs around here (he ran the Czech version of Kitchen Nightmares). Don’t expect avant-garde here but a trip down the Austro-Hungarian memory lane.
What’s good about their Christmas menu, served on 24 through 26 December, is that’s it’s all a la carte, which is great if you don’t want to commit to a full tasting menu or have restless kids. The menu includes Czech Christmas classics like fried escargot, fish soup, pike perch with mushroom kuba, or goose.
On NYE, they are planning a comprehensive buffet dinner with a la carte main dish from 7pm with live music. The price is CZK 3250 and 1625 for children. Here’s what’s on the menu: lobster Thermidor, venison terrine, foie gras crème brulée, roast beef, Parma ham, salad bar. A la carte mains: duck confit, rack of lamb, pike perch, dear or beef cheeks. Add selection of cheeses, desserts.
Next Door is literally next door from Café Imperial and shares the same chef and approach to dining, but the room is a bit more modern, although it tries not to be.
Again, we’re having a la carte Christmas menu served on 24 through 26 December: marinated trout, creamy fish soup, pike perch with light potato salad or grilled duck breast.
Their NYE buffet shares a lot with Café Imperial: starts at 7pm, has live music, costs CZK 3250 or CZK 1625. A la carte mains: duck confit, daily fish, boar steak, suckling pig cheeks, corn-fed chicken, the buffet looks similar to Café Imperial’s.
Bottega Linka is a casual Italian restaurant with a beautiful interior and a great selection of mostly natural Italian wines. It offers nice warm dishes, along with a salad bar. It belongs to the La Collezione group (think Aromi, La Finestra, Amano and all the Bottega bistros.)
On Christmas Eve, they have an a la carte menu that features escargots, seafood tarragon soup, Skrei cod with warm potato salad, chocolate cake with Xmas spices.
For NYE, they offer a la carte dishes for a 5-course meal, with an optional wine pairing at CZK 1050 (rack of dear, saffron risotto with BBQ langoustines, pigeon consommé, steak tartare with dried yolk and caviar). Call ahead to get the window boxes.
Aromi, the flagship restaurant of the La Collezione group in the Vinohrady district, offers a 5-course menu on Christmas Eve with scallops and lentils, barley risotto with mushrooms and truffle, creamy fish soup, fried sea bass with Béarnaise sauce, and Pannetone. The price is CZK 1790. Go to Aromi for a beautiful, classy dining room and a relaxed dining experience with pampering staff.
Amano is an Italian restaurant bordering between classy and hip/trendy. They offer Christmas lunch and Christmas dinner menus.
Christmas lunch is a tasting menu @990 CZK, wine pairing @1250 CZK – snails, saffron seafood soup, spaghettoni with crab and fresh tomato sauce, cod fillet with warm potato salad, veal cheeks with red cabbage purée, chocolate fondant with coconut sorbet. All these can be had a la carte, too.
And includes grilled langoustine with truffled honey, marinated tuna in pink pepper with burnt peppers sauce and grilled artichokes, pork cheek croquette, Barbaresco-glazed duck ravioli, turbot fillet with pomegranate and Romanesco, Veal Rossini with seared foie gras, spinach and white truffle. The menu goes for CZK 1390, with optional wine pairing at CZK 1490.
The classic restaurant and bar of the Alcron hotel are legendary, and now headed by Lukáš Hlaváček, a promising young chef with experience from some of the best Michelin-starred restaurants around the world.
They restaurant offers a Christmas buffer dinner with Czech classics and live music. CZK 3499 gets you the food and unlimited wine and beer. Kids between 6-12 y.o. pay CZK 1000. The bar opens at 7pm and offers canapés and food bar for CZK 1499, but drinks are paid extra. No kids allowed.
On Dec 26, La Rotonde has a Christmas brunch with loads of food (buffet and carving station) and unlimited wine and beer and live music. The price is CZK 1999.
And for NYE, you can either have a gourmet buffet dinner with live music and unlimited wine and beer for CZK 3999, or hit the bar at 8pm for cocktails and live DJ. CZK 1999 gets you access for the buffet and canapés and a welcome drink.
The cool and immensely popular Vietnamese/Asian restaurant in the Anděl area with bar seating around an open kitchen – and the most recent addition to Michelin’s Prague guide – may be closed on Christmas Eve, but they do have a NYE menu that consists of 10 courses and costs CZK 2,490 with an optional wine pairing for CZK 890. It starts at around 6pm and who knows when it’s going to end.
The younger sister of Taro in the Brumlovka area that serves cool Asian dishes to share is closed for Christmas, but will be open for NYE, and will serve a NYE lunch between 12 and 3pm, and NYE dinner! The lunch consists of six courses (includes the now famous rending on milk bread with truffle) and costs CZK 1590 with CZK 890 optional wine pairing, and the dinner consists of eight courses and costs CZK 2490 with again CZK 890 optional wine pairing. Given the size of the venue and the food, this could be pretty fun actually!
The restaurant of the Yalta hotel right on the Wenceslas Square that has recently changed ownership and concept to serve cool and modern interpretations of Czech classics (like their beef ravioli in dill sauce, which are amazing) has gained a lot of following.
The best-known artisanal distiller in the country, has only added to that following. They may not serve anything special for Christmas or NYE (yet), but they will be open on Christmas Eve until 10pm! This may be pretty cool.
The two Michelin-starred restaurants are both closed for Christmas and open on NYE but now only accept entries in their waitlist – they are fully booked already. Still, one can dream! (But you have to dream real hard – La Degustation’s wait list has twenty on it people already.)
The OG of good eating in the Karlín district will be closed for Christmas (they do offer Christmas bread and other eat-at-home offerings) but will offer a NYE menu for two: shrimp cocktail, escargot croquettes, steak with foie gras and truffle, raspberry macron and creme brûleé. Prepare to shell out CZK 1990 for the entire menu for two.
The modern Czech pub with a focus on all things dumplings in the Vinohrady district will actually stay open throughout Christmas Eve until 10pm and in addition to their standard menu will serve escargots, which will be available through 26 December.
The lively and casual French restaurant will be open for Christmas Eve lunch and have a menu based on escargots (served three ways), oysters and loads of seafood.
And for NYE they have a la carte menu of three items: beef tartare with caviar, 110-day dry aged T-bone steak, and grilled John Dory with Brussel sprouts and truffle sauce. Plus Crémant d’Alsace or Champagne at a great price.
The fancy dining restaurant will be closed for Christmas but will reopen for NYE and serve a 7-course menu for CZK 2690 (with an optional wine pairing for CZK 1190). The menu actually looks nice and features loads fancy ingredients you’d expect from a fine dining spot.
If you want to kick it up two notches with the gourmet experience on NYE, head over to Levitate, an avant-garde fine dining restaurant run by a daring young chef, for their Mystery Menu with wine pairing and Champagne as welcome drink. Prepare to pay CZK 9000 for the whole experience (prepayment of CZK 4500 requested).
Aureole is a swanky restaurant on top of a high-rise building in the Pankrác district (don’t panic – it’s just a short Uber ride from the centre). They used to serve great Christmas Eve dinners but apparently don’t serve one this year, offering a finish-at-home Christmas meal box instead.
However, they do offer tickets for their „NYE in the sky“ dinner. The tickets range from Black to Diamond (depending on the seating) and from CZK 6900 to CZK 8900. They include a 7-course meal with Champagne, midnight snack and toast, live music and a DJ.
The rooftop restaurant of the Aria hotel offers a Christmas Eve dinner menu for CZK 2900 that features either the classic carp and salad or beef fillet mignon with Perigord cause. Classic fish soup with roe, quail galantine the Cantaloupe melon for starters and plum jam ravioli for dessert. For NYE, they have a CZK 7700 dinner with live music, unlimited wine and beer, Champagne to start and to cheer for midnight, and a 7-course meal.
COFFEE IN PRAGUE AROUND CHRISTMAS
So morning coffee on the 24th will be easy: both Kafemat and onesip coffee, our two specialty coffee staples, will be open. Prepare to wait though. Bubeneč’s mazelab coffee will be open on Christmas Eve morning, too.
When everything seems to be closed right now, with one exception. The Miners in Železná, which is open every day over Christmas, with shorter opening hours (4pm on the 24th and 6pm on the 25th and the 26th.). We think you can also get your fill at restaurants that serve specialty coffee.
Only some of the Ambiente outposts come to mind: Myšák and Café Savoy in the centre, and Eska over at Karlín.
Many, but not all, coffee shops will reopen on the 26th, like Karlín’s Etapa bistro. See you there with circles under your yes and a mug in hand!
Categories: Vinohradský Parlament
Tags: David Petřík