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Pictures from Praha
Author: Kevin

When we were deciding the second destination of our Central Europe honeymoon it was a toss-up between Prague or Budapest. After fifteen minute Google searches and a rough surveys of friends/acquaintances for both cities it was still a draw. I eventually made the executive decision to go with Prague and I’m so happy I did since it’s such an amazing city. I haven’t fell deeply in love with a city since the first time I traveled to Los Angeles and I eventually moved here. I’ve got a serious crush on “Praha” as you can probably glean from the stories below.

We initially had the romantic idea of renting a car and driving around Austria, up to Prague, and over to Germany while checking out all the sites and getting all Sound Of Music-y. That idea quickly changed to “lets just take trains and not worry about international driving headaches.” We hopped a train from Vienna to Prague and arrived early in the afternoon. We quickly made our way to our hotel and then set out for the evening. The layout of Prague’s “Old Town” is a bit convoluted. Narrow crooked roads make up the bulk of the tourist area and it’s easy to get turned around, especially with our unfamiliarity between “ská”s, “cká”s and “kov”s. After wandering around lost for a bit, we eventually found our destination, Lehká hlava. Little did we know that this tiny restaurant in the back of a house built in 1410 (yeah, 601 years ago) was going to be the best meal we during our entire trip. The online reviews had heaped a lot of praise on this place so our expectations we’re pretty high before we even stepped though the tiny doorway. The vegetarian restaurant had all the vegan items clearly marked and offered both English and Czech menus. We started off with a couple glasses of wine and their homemade hummus with tortilla chips appetizer. For our main dishes we shared the sun-dried tomato couscous with bolognese sauce as well as the rustic salad with beats, sausage, potatoes and balsamic dressing. Both were gigantic and unbelievably good.

My mouth still waters at the thought of this sun-dried tomato couscous.

Really, how can one go wrong with a salad containing sausage? Impossible. Because the meals were so filling we skipped dessert. And after consuming what was probably one of the best vegan meals I’ve ever experienced, we were greeted with a bill just slightly north of $30 USD. Needless to say, we put this on our list of places to visit a second time. Leaving the restaurant we then proceeded to spend the rest of our evening taking in the gorgeous Prague scenery.

The next day we woke up and had a breakfast consisting of various fruit and dried cereal from the hotel continental breakfast and then made the trek up the hill to St. Vitus Cathedral overlooking the city. On our walk up, we noticed Gopal, a Krishna vegetarian restaurant, so after visiting the cathedral we stopped there for a quick bite.

Gopal - Only One Way (but hold the dairy)

The restaurant offers a single meal, of which, most was vegan. Experienced in what usually comprises a “Krishna” meal, I was surprised that it ended up being more flavorful than I had anticipated. It was potato/veggie curry with rice and a side of sweet coconut with an extremely hot red pepper base. It was strange to have a spicy dessert, but as a lover of all things spicy I could appreciate it.

Paid a little bit of "vegan tax" as you can see from the unfilled compartment.

After a quick trip back to the hotel to rest we decided to visit one of Prague’s less traveled museums, the Prague Museum of Communism. After getting a serious history lesson, their take on the Communist Revolution/Velvet Revolution, and a Stalin candle, we walked over to Lehká hlava’s sister restaurant, Maitrea. A few of the menu items were the same at both restaurants, but all of Maitrea’s main dishes were completely different. We had the sun-dried tomatoes pesto with nachos to start and went with the Paella ‘a la Barcelona and the traditional goulash with seitan for the main course. Both dishes were excellent, but didn’t wow us quite like those at Lehká hlava. For dessert we decided on the carrot cake made from millet and coconut. Looking back, that sounds about as bad as it tasted. I guess when I think “Carrot Cake” I automatically picture the amazing carrot cake from Veggie Grill, which this was not. It tasted more like eating a plate of shredded carrots and millet with a semi-sweet coconut frosting.

For our last full day we planned to visit a few of Prague’s art museums and relax. I saw on Happy Cow that there was a Country Life located nearby which got me nostalgic. I hadn’t been to a Country Life in over 10 years and remembered it fondly. For those who are not familiar with Country Life, it is a chain of vegan buffet restaurants run by Seventh-Day Adventists. They were the O.G. “vegan” restaurant and you’ll still find Country Lifes all over the world. I remember initially hearing about them when I first went veg, so they’ve been around for a long time. The Country Life in Prague was attached to a small grocery store filled completely with healthy food. We grabbed a handful of items for our trip back to Austria the next day, then headed over to the restaurant for lunch. They offer a huge select of items from pizza to fresh vegetables to fake meatloaf and everything in between.

Country Life buffet bounty. The pictured dessert was "odd". It tasted like walnut cake with merangue topped with straight coco. Pretty much 100% dessert fail, but the rest was great.

I learned how to cook vegan from a Seventh-Day Adventist, so I recognized a few of the items from old recipes I have. All their items are heavy on the fruits/vegetables and completely void of oil and sugar. It was interesting going back to a Country Life and seeing how far vegan restaurants have come since the ’90s.

For our last night in Prague there was no question we had to go back to Lehká hlava. Despite the temptation to order the exact same meals, we branched out and tried the pasta with smoked tofu, spring vegetables, and tomato salsa as well as the oriental stir-fry with smoked tofu. Once again, both were excellent and once again our meal barely tipped $30 USD.

When returning to back home we both agreed that Prague was the highlight of the trip. The city is absolutely stunning and the vegan food can’t be beat. Vegan or not, spending a few days visiting the city should be at the top of anyone’s European vacation plans.

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