Piping hot potato dumplings, freshly roasted pork neck decorated with creamy gravy, and sweet, dark red cabbage depict the classic Czech meal. Good, old-fashioned meat and potatoes plates such as this one can be found at any restaurant in Prague. Mixed grills — plates with several types of pork, chicken, beef and decadent sauces and gravies — are also a specialty in the Czech Republic. As delicious as this food may be, these meals are not options for individuals with dietary restrictions, such as gluten-intolerance and celiac, vegetarians and lactose-intolerant travelers. However, there are options for those with allergies dining out in Prague.
Most sauces and soups are thickened with flour and are therefore not options for the gluten-intolerant customer. To be completely safe, salads or dumplings are usually the only options in restaurants. But beware: many of the dishes and sides come with sauces and gravies, which are usually not celiac-friendly. It may be easier to dine in for celiac and gluten-intolerant travelers, however many labels tend to only be in Czech and Slovak. Tesco, the main grocery chain in Prague, has an international cuisine section with American and English products that is worth browsing. Health stores often offer gluten-free options, such as breads, cookies and cereals. Right now, gluten-free diets are not very common in Prague.
In traditional Czech restaurants, the vegetarian options resemble the gluten-free ones but have a bit more to offer. Pastas, although not as common, are usually available — just make sure they do not come with meat. Fried cheese, a Czech specialty, is sometimes on the menu. Vegetable sides are not very common, and when they are on the menu, they usually can only be ordered with a main dish — typically meat. To successfully order a bowl of mixed vegetables without a plate of meat accompanying it, have a friend order the side for you. Grocery stores and potraviny, the smaller markets along the streets, offer plenty of fresh fruits, vegetables and soy products. Tofu can be purchased from Tesco and most health food stores.
Dairy-Free or Lactose-Free Foods
For the most part, those who are lactose-intolerant should not have too many difficulties in Prague. But they should be cautious when ordering in restaurants, as many of the sauces might contain milk. Cheese is also very popular, and many dishes in Czech restaurants come with cheese either mixed in or on top of the meal. Luckily, grocery stores carry a lot of alternatives, including soymilk, rice milk, soy pudding and soy yogurt. Many of these products can even be found at Potraviny, an online market named after the small street markets.
Useful words to know:
Alergie – allergy
Bezlepková – gluten-free
Pšenice – wheat
Vegetarián – vegetarian
Sýr – cheese
Mléko – milk
A list of shops and restaurants for those with dietary restrictions:
Diana International Food
Sami Wong is a foreign correspondent. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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