We asked two people, one Czech national and one Expat, about their favorite night out in Prague in terms of the following: their favorite place to eat, their favorite form of entertainment, their favorite night spot(s), and their favorite midnight snack. What followed were two alternative views on what kept them in the bosom of the so called Mother of Cities.
I would start my night with a meal at the Vegetarian Club Gouranga in Vinohrady. A couple of years ago Prague was just about the worst place in the world for vegetarians. People just didn’t get why you wouldn’t want to eat meat. Say you ordered a salad: you would either spend 10 minutes picking out bits of ham or chomping on something as insubstantial as a bowl of cut up tomatoes. The Gouranga’s menu won’t start a revolution – it mostly serves just soups and salads – but its cheap prices (about $1.50 for a soup) and what it calls its karma free food (I am not quite sure either) creates the kind of lively, communal vibe that I associate with city’s underground scene. Its the perfect atmosphere to prepare me for my second choice, a film at Kino Aero.
Kino Aero is always showing something different. A couple of years ago for example they ran a horror movie festival. But you are not talking Horror films in the Halloween or Friday the 13th mould. At Kino Aero my friend and I watched a 60’s American horror film about an Egyptian cannibal chef called Blood Feast, and a New Zealand horror film about killer sheep called Black Sheep.
With my thirst for blood sated I would head to the best club in Prague, 007 Strahov. I usually come here to watch heavy metal or punk bands, but the atmosphere is so good that I will come with friends who want to check out some small indie or ska group, and, if I am begged, a noise band. What I think puts Strahov above other places is that the bands that play are big enough to be well-known in the underground scene, but small enough in general to socialize in the bar afterwards.
A DJ usually prolongs the fun with a set – on Saturday its hip-hop- and I would stay for a few dances before finishing my evening at a Herna bar (24 hour bar). There is no particular one I go to – you can find two or three on almost every street. As long as it has draught beer, a juke box and as my late night snack, Nakladany Hermelin (a brie like cheese stuffed with spice and marinated in olive oil), I am more than happy to stay there until the early hours of the morning.
At the Bulldog Darts Bar, I would kill two birds with one stone. First I would stop at their restaurant to eat my favorite meal of goulash and bread dumplings and then, suitably stuffed, I would move into the games hall to play darts. I have to admit the Bulldog doesn’t quite have the intimate atmosphere of a Scottish pub- its set up more like a billiard’s hall – but it provides lovely dartboards, excellent beer, and players I actually feel confident of competing against.
After a few games of 501 I would head to one of two places. If it was a warm evening I would head down to Letna Park. Situated on a hill above the Vltava River, it has a huge beer garden where you can sit on picnic tables and drink good Czech draught beer, while looking down out onto the colorful roofs of Prague’s old town. My second option, the Lucerna cafe, is just as beautiful. To get there you have walk down the Lucerna Passage – a 1920s style mall just off Wencelas Square – and at the horse hanging upside down with his tongue lolling out and a soldier sitting on his stomach (one of David Cerny’s crazy sculptures) – take the stairs to the Art Nouveau cafe and bar of what is, as far as I’ve heard, Prague’s first cinema. Personally I come for the former. With its huge windows it is a great place to people watch while having a chinwag over a cup of coffee.
I would end my perfect night at the Globe cafe and bar. This is a proper Expat haunt – it is slightly over priced compared to other places in the city, but full of like-minded people to myself who just want to relax and have fun. Most of them I know through the quiz nights they hold on Wednesdays, the music nights they hold on Friday, and the films nights they hold on Sundays. I go intermittently to the first two, but I am always up for watching one of their fascinating film choices. This week they are showing a Czech drama called Haberman’s Mill.
Before I headed home I would buy a Smazeny Hermelin (fried cheese in a burger bun) from the food stall nearby at the Narodni Trida tram stop.