Many people embarking on a multi-centre holiday to the cities of Prague, Vienna and Budapest will be wondering what lies in store for them from a culinary point of view. Will they be able to eat well and how expensive will it be?
In Prague it is certainly possible to eat well for a very reasonable price and there is an excellent choice of restaurants to choose from. Menus often tend to include three national dishes – vepro, knedlo and zelo, or pork, dumplings and cabbage respectively. Cmunda is another local favourite, consisting of a steaming potato pancake topped with sweet, boiled red cabbage and spicy Moravian smoked pork. In Prague, what you wash your food down with is just as important as what you eat. The CzechRepublic has a long, rich tradition of brewing and is home to Pilsner Urquell and Staropramen, and there’s also a heated debate as to whether the nation originated the “real” Budweiser.
The history of Vienna is displayed in the dishes and descriptions that remain from the days of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Many Viennese dishes stem from the eastern European side of that former Empire. The Wiener Schnitzel is the dish most closely associated with the city, but it didn’t originate in Vienna at all. However, this meal consisting of a thin escalope of breaded veal is popular on many menus across the city. Restaurant prices can be high in Vienna but for those wanting a quick snack on the move, Vienna’s sausage stands or Würstelstände are ideal. The original Viennese sausage stands were created in the time of the Imperial monarchy to provide employment for returning war veterans who were disabled.
The coffee house culture is a famous part of the ambience of Vienna . It won’t be a cheap visit, but every visitor to Vienna has to sit down in a coffee house and sample a coffee with a slice of the infamous Sachertorte.
When asked about Hungarian cuisine, most of us would probably say “goulash” and then struggle to think of any other well known dish. Take a break in Budapest now and you’ll see how far the capital’s kitchens have come, with restaurants busy updating classics and creating fusion dishes. Prices can be very reasonable, although as in any city it is recommended to check the prices on the menu before sitting down in a restaurant! New variations on traditional dishes include goulash soup in a pot with pasta, chicken paprikash with homemade dumplings, and breaded carp with pasta and paprika sauce.
Like Vienna, Budapest also has a café culture and many of the cafés pride themselves on making everything from scratch and are therefore highly recommended.
When visiting the former great Imperial cities of Prague, Vienna and Budapest you’ll find many similarities in the cuisines but many differences too. Sample the local food and enjoy!