Knedlíky or dumplings are the Czech side dish made from wheat or potato flour and boiled in water as a roll and then sliced and served hot.
Guláš (pronounced as “goulash“) Goulash (guláš in Czech) is a common dish in pubs. This dish encompasses a large variety of types, though the most common will be large pieces of beef in a thick, mildly spicy sauce. It is generally served with raw sliced onion and horse radish. (Though the Czech and English versions get their name from the Hungarian gulyás, this is more of a soup. The Czech version is closer to the Hungarian pörkölt.) A variant on this is pikantní guláš, which as the name suggests is spicy, though not really hot. Segedínský guláš contains pork, instead of beef, and cabbage.
Hovězí guláš – beef goulash – This classic Czech food is served with sliced bread (houskovy) dumplings. The meat is usually garnished with fresh onions and peppers.
Vepřový guláš (vepr-oh-vay) – pork goulash is a Czech food staple and is described the same as above but with pork meat.
Utopenci, pronounced “utopentsee” means “drowned”, and is a delicacy to go with beer. These are sausages that are pickled in vinegar, oil, onion, red pepper, and different spices. These are usually made by the house or beer hall itself.
Svíčková na smetaně (pronounced “svitch-co-va”)is translated as ‘Beef Sirloin with Cream Sauce’, and varies in style when making the home-cooked version compared to what you get in a pub. But even the quality and taste varies from pub to pub. Generally, the side of sirloin is marinated and then roasted with root vegetables and onions. After the meat is cooked, the vegetables and štáva (meat juice) are removed and pureed. The sauce is made from cream and flour. The meat is sliced and served with the sauce, bread dumplings, and a slice of lemon with whipped cream and cranberry sauce. Though the name derives from the particular of cut of meat, the term svícková can refer to the sauce and can be served with other meats such as venison and roasted hare.
Svíčková na smetaně is often referred to as the sweet cousin of Czech goulash. This dish is a cut of beef tenderloin that has been pot-roasted and is served in a cream sauce that is sweetened using carrots. It is garnished with cranberries and a scoop of whipped cream.
Vepřoknedlozelo or Vepřové is referred to as being the true soul food of the Czech Republic This dish consists of a pork base covered in dumplings and sauerkraut. Although it is can be a bland dish and high in fat, it is a popular favorite of Czech locals and seen on many menus in Prague.
Ovocné Knedlíky, (pronounced “ovotsne knedliky”) are fruit dumplings. They come in a several varieties. Houskové and bramborové – bread and potato – are the two most common of the other type of dumpling. Bread dumplings are more often served with sauces, which they are perfectly designed to soak up. The potato dumplings are often served as a side dish with roasted or smoked meat. Špekové knedlíky are made with fatty bacon, and are not so popular these days. Fruit dumplings (ovocné knedlíky) are filled with different fruits but more often plums, apricots or blueberries and served with quark or poppy seeds. Though sweet, they are often eaten as a main course.
Koláč – (read “Kolach”) are various forms of tasteful Czech cakes which are filled with different fruits, jams or curds.
Smažák are fried cheese (smažený sýr) fried in breadcrumbs served with a side salad.
Smažené žampiony are breaded and fried mushrooms.
Oplatky is a regional favorite, and are sort of overgrown wafer cookie. They are best when eaten hot of the griddle. Some varieties have chocolate and nuts in the middle, but you can have it any way you want.
Houska is traditional bread roll. The ingredients include wheat flour, water, yeast and salt. They are topped with poppy seeds, caraway seeds or sea salt. This rich, eggy, slightly sweet yeast bread exists in almost every Eastern European country. Typically, it is braided and can be made with or without raisins. Bohemians and Czechs call it houska. Jews refer to it as challah. The bread is similar to French brioche and is terrific eaten alone, or with butter or toasted. Leftovers are great in bread pudding and makowki.
Pečená kachna Bohemian Roast Duck Recipe is Bohemian-style roast duck served with bread dumplings and braised red cabbage. Duck or goose used to be far too expensive to be eaten every day so this was a very special occasion meal.
Biftek is beef steak that is generally cooked medium. If you want well done say “propečené” (propetchenay). It is usually served with chips “hranolky” and possibly with an egg on the steak “vejce” (vigh-it-seh).
Smažený kuřecí řízek is chicken fried in breadcrumbs and is very similar to a Wiener Schnitzel but in the Czech food style there is no cheese. This dish is commonly served with a cold potato salad “bramborový salát” or boiled potatoes “vařené brambory”.
Smažený vepřový řízek is the same as the above dish but, with pork (pork schnitzel).
Kuřecí prsa are chicken breasts that are served with anything but often a dish which can come with “bramboracky” which is potato that has been grated and then fried into small patty cakes.
Pečené kuře s brambory is roasted chicken with potatoes
Králík (kraaaleek) is rabbit, which is served roasted is a very popular, although rather exceptional item on restaurant menus. This lean meat is served in a range of recipes – in cream sauce (se smetanovou omáčkou), roasted with garlic (pečený na česneku) or prepared au naturel with vegetables and onion (na zelenině s cibulí).
TIP: Czech meals are highly adaptable, if you like the basic food but, for example, don’t like the sauce, just ask for it without the sauce. Use the phrase “bez omáčky” or (Bess omatchkoo) translated as “without sauce” as this is useful when ordering a steak etc.
TIP: Some other useful Czech Menu translations:
Směs (smee – ess) – possibly you will see “Kuřecí směs”. Basically, it means that the meat is in small pieces. Literally it means “mixed”.
Prsa – Applied to chicken only it means you will get the breast.
Piquant or Ďábelský or Pálivý (paa-livy)– The meal or the sauce is spicy or served with chilli’s.