Weekend in . . . Prague
Explore galleries, boutiques and exotic eateries so new the locals haven’t heard of them yet
The Zizkov district, where many art galleries have opened in recent years. Photographs: Michal Novotny/The New York Times
Design shop Pour Pour
Preparing a drink at Anonymous Bar
For people who haven’t travelled to Prague recently, the Czech capital might seem like a known quantity: a city with 1,000 years of architecture, cheap beer and often boring restaurants where the most unusual ingredients are the doughy dumplings.
But Prague is developing so quickly many locals still haven’t heard of all the next big things: flashy new art galleries, dynamically developing old neighbourhoods, great bars – beyond and including beer – and new restaurants with flavourful offerings from classic steaks and chops to Asian spice. In fact, so many new developments have appeared in Prague you could spend an entire weekend visiting only those places that have opened in the past couple of years. See Prague Castle, Charles Bridge and all the classic attractions. But finish out your stay with some of the vibrant newcomers.
1 Clean Up
Buildings – and residents – in Old Town have cleaned up nicely of late. In the once-decrepit Palac Dlouha, an Art Deco landmark, the new ground-floor shopping arcade includes Sisters, an airy bistro with gourmet open-faced sandwiches (25 to 49 koruna, or 90 cent to €1.80) that make perfect late-afternoon snacks. A block away, two-year-old Eterno Moderno offers vintage and new fashions, mostly for women, some made out of recycled fabric. Across the street, Kuraz stocks clothing and accessories from a variety of young Czech designers, such as knee-high stockings printed with insects, revolvers and other unusual patterns.
Across Wenceslas Square, the Room has been selling men’s wear from artsy Northern European brands such as Denmark’s Libertine-Libertine and Royal Republiq for the past two years. And just around the corner, Thomas’s Barber Shop offers a Scotch, cigar, hand-wrap, haircut and straight-razor shave for 1,600 koruna, or €58.
2 Opulent Oligarchy
Like many European cities, Prague has gone crazy for fancy hamburgers, and there’s nothing quite like the “oligarch burger” at the eight-month-old George Prime Steak: a juicy patty of imported aged American wagyu with foie gras, black truffle aioli, Brillat-Savarin cheese and – of course – ribbons of 24-karat gold, creating a juicy, smoky explosion of savoury flavours that is served only in the bar (990 koruna/€36).
The burger gets the most attention, but the real draws at this sleek chophouse are the rib-eyes, fillets mignons and strip steaks, including a 34-ounce porterhouse for two (1,950 koruna/€70), all sourced from the United States.
There is also a line of rare American whiskeys that arguably stops at a 22-year-old rye from Hirsch Selection (550 koruna/€20), since the rarest name on the list, 23-year-old Van Winkle bourbon, is usually sold out. Clearly, some oligarchs have good taste. Dinner for two without wine, 2,500 to 4,000 koruna/€90 to €145.
3 Cure Thyself
A few of the movers and (literal) shakers in London’s cocktail scene are Czech bar owners and bartenders; several recently returned to mix up concoctions in Prague.
The best newcomer is Bonvivant’s, a small speakeasy in Old Town that serves drinks prepared with their own house-made flavourings, including rose-hip-and-hibiscus bitters (cocktails, around 150 koruna/€5.50). After a highball, wander the cobblestone streets until you stumble across the two-year-old Anonymous Bar, which takes its design inspiration from V for Vendetta and offers similarly theatrical drinks, such as the St Marry’s Virus cocktail (175 koruna/€6.40), served from a giant syringe.