If you want to taste typical Czech cuisine, a visit to Lokál is a must – it has everything and you can be sure that each dish on offer will be made with traditional ingredients. There are five Lokál restaurants in Prague, all offering the same menu:
- Lokák Hamburk – Sokolovská 55 (in Karlin district),
- Lokál v Dlouhé – Dlouhá 33 (near Old Town Square),
- Lokál U Bílé kuželky – Míšeňská 12 (next to Charles Bridge),
- Lokál Nad Stromovkou – Nad Královskou oborou 232/31 (on the edge of the park Stromovka),
- Lokál U Zavadilů – K Verneráku 70/1 (far from the city centre).
Each of the restaurants has a retro design. The wooden walls look as if they’ve been painted with silly little drawings like pubs used to have in the 1970s. Don’t be frightened – they may look a bit ugly, but they’re not, in fact, painted but rather carved into the wood and illuminated from behind. The same retro style is found everywhere else in the restaurant, from the old-fashioned way of wrapping cutlery in a paper napkin, plastic baskets for bread and serving soup in a tin mug to the dishes and the waiters’ uniforms. But everything is done absolutely professionally, in accordance with this very modern concept.
The beer served at Lokál is Pilsner Urquell – draught, straight from the tanks into the glass. There are three varieties:
- Hladinka (Creme Urquell) – a classic draught Czech pilsner, with a thick creamy head and a full, balanced flavour
- Šnyt (Slice) – with a substantial four-finger-high foam, which imparts a refined bitterness and velvety mouth-feel
- Mlíko (Sweet) – a rich and original all-foam speciality beer designed to give a hint of satisfying sweetness.
With your beer, you can enjoy wide range of small dishes such as Prague ham with creamy whipped horseradish, a number of different homemade sausages, and head cheese. You should try Krejcars’ sausage with homemade mustard or sausage made from ‘Přeštice’ pork. Other starters are available from the buffet – smoked beef tongue, boiled pork knee, goulash, and tripe soup are all good, as is honest chicken broth.
The main courses change daily, depending on what the chef has been able to get from the butcher: beef goulash, pork schnitzel, duck with bread dumplings and cabbage, beef in garlic with spinach and potato dumplings, or the well-known ‘Svíčková’. You can also taste freshly mixed steak tartar with toast. But you should particularly not miss fried cheese: many Prague restaurants offer this, but at Lokál, you’ll get the absolute best.
All Lokál’s dishes are worth a try and you won’t leave hungry, but don’t skip the desserts. Lokál has the typical range of Czech desserts, such as ‘Rakvička’ (a wafer topped with whipped cream), ‘Věneček’ (a glazed mini-profiterole with vanilla cream) and ‘Větrník’ (caramel-glazed profiterole with caramel and vanilla cream) – all incredibly sweet but to die for!
As I said, anything at Lokál will be great and typically Czech, but if I had to choose only one dish from each course, here’s what I’d order:
- starter: Krejcars’ sausage
- main course: fried cheese with homemade tartar sauce and buttered potatoes
- dessert: Větrník.
Lokál – along with Brasileiro, Pizza Nuova, Café Savoy and a few others – is part of the Ambiente Group. If you live in or have ever visited New York, you might know this restaurant’s ‘sister’ – Hospoda, the Czech word for ‘pub’ – which offers Czech food and beer and is part of the same group.