“Eat breakfasts like a king, lunch like a prince, and dinner like a pauper” – that’s my motto. I had been told that breakfast on the continent would be quite different than back in the States, less of an occasion; less opulent. Bread, jam, and coffee, perhaps.
Growing up, my mother would not allow us to go to school until our stomachs were filled with a hearty morning meal of eggs, cereal, and juice. I’ve been searching for greasy spoons – meaning breakfast diners oozing with the smell of bacon and eggs – all over Prague. So far with little success. It seems that US-style 24-hour diners and delis, or British style breakfast cafés, are scarce in the Czech capital. From what I can tell, breakfasts are the most “at home” meals of all in this country. To the extent that eating out for breakfast happens here, it is at over-the-counter bakeries – a cake and a tea; or a sandwich and a coffee; and, of course, the American fast food chains like McDonald’s seem to do fair business in this regard too.
The closest thing I have been able to find to a classic American breakfast is Bohemia Bagel. Started by an American expat, it’s one of the few places in Prague where I can find some comforts of home in the form of bagels and cream cheese, pancakes, and black drip coffee. My favorites include the fried egg, spinach, mushroom, and Swiss cheese bagel, and while my breakfast burrito back home may come from a taco truck, the one here is a close competitor. As a Jew, I like to think my extensive experience with bagels has given me some right to judge. So while the bagels at Bohemia Bagel may not be up to the same caliber as those I used to enjoy back in Brooklyn, they are still my most preferred in Prague. Paired with chive cream cheese and lox they induce a feeling of nostalgia for my neighborhood deli in Los Angeles. Free wifi and a relaxed dining setting make both locations of Bohemia Bagel (Malá strana and Holešovice) my favorite places to eat and study simultaneously.
Bakeshop, smack dab in the city center, is another one-stop shop for a tasty breakfast. It is set up to resemble a French café and bistro, offering fresh salads, sandwiches and quiches. Upon entering Bakeshop I am amazed by the endless mounds of croissants, cookies, brownies, breads, and meringues. In a casual fashion, ordering is done at the counter, and I’m pleasantly surprised at how happy and helpful the staff seems to be. The fluffy omelets are unlike any egg dish I’ve ever tasted, and even though that is probably attributed to the amount of salt and butter in them, I’m not complaining.
Café Savoy in Ujezd is at the other end of the spectrum in terms of dining. Their French Breakfast with homemade bread, fried toast, sausage, French fries, ham, eggs, blue cheese, croissant, fruit, orange juice, and café au lait is a stomach filler – and then some. The brioche French toast with caramelized sugar coating is hands down the best I have ever eaten. Each detail seems to be carefully prepared, even down to the homemade jam. In addition to the deluxe service, the restaurant offers a nice kids menu (including crayons).
Café Jen in Vršovice is an unassuming café which I was surprised to find out is the only all-day breakfast restaurant in the area. Eggs are scrambled with sour cream to add to their fluffiness, and the homemade honey granola is nicely paired with yoghurt and fresh fruit. The extensive menu of drinks includes a full bar and my favorite beverage, the Hugo – a Prosseco wine with elderflower and mint. It’s a neighborhood café/coffee shop where I enjoy watching locals passing through for a coffee, egg scramble, or a homemade cake or two. Even though the menu is primarily made up of breakfast items, the waitress tells me that Czechs and expats enjoy breakfast dishes all day long.
My fears of breakfast deprivation will no longer bring on Saturday evening nightmares. Across Prague I can enjoy breakfasts that cure my cravings for the sweet and savory; breakfasts that give me the all-day energy to discover more of what this incredible city has to offer.
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