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What: A beloved sweet, palačinky are thin Czech pancakes. Akin to French crepes (but made with a different batter and cooking method), they are typically served as sweet snacks or dessert, often filled or topped with some combination of jam, fruit, sweet cheese, ice cream, whipped cream, and occasionally nuts. Their most traditional presentation is to be rolled up, like dainty cigars, but as they’ve become more widespread they seem to be arranged on the plate a number of ways, folded into a triangle or piled into an artful—but delicious—mess.
Where: Our palačinka is from Kavárna Slavia (Smetanovo nábřeží 1012/2, Praha 1, map), famous historical meeting place of Prague’s intelligentsia. With a beautiful reconstructed Art Deco interior and enviable position overlooking the Vltava River, just across the street from the extraordinary Národní divadlo (National Theatre), Café Slavia attracts its fair share of tourists, but among the long “international” menu you’ll find a handful of good Czech classics. Especially if you can score a riverfront table, it’s not a bad idea to stay put for a few hours here — there's live piano music every evening, a rarity in Prague.
When: Mon-Fri, 8am-midnight; Sat-Sun, 9am-midnight
Order: Pictured is the satisfying “Slavia” palačinka (129 CZK), one of the more traditional varieties offered here. Inside was just the right amount of Quark creme (a sweet, fresh curd cheese), and on top a scoop of (raspberry) ice cream, a pile of whipped cream, sliced strawberries, and powdered sugar. The pancake itself was pleasantly soft and chewy, a nice complement to the fast-melting sweetness spread over it. Perfect with a cup of coffee.
Alternatively: Palačinky are almost everywhere, and any of Prague’s lavish historic cafes—such as Café Louvre (Národní třída 22, Praha 1, map) or Grand Café Orient (Ovocný trh 19, Praha 1, map)—would make a lovely setting in which to try one.
Got a sweet tooth in Prague? You'll also want to learn where to find ovocné knedlíky (fruit and cheese dumplings), buchtičky se šodó (sweet dumplings in custard sauce), koblihy (Czech doughnuts), and rakvička, a sweet biscuit commonly found on dessert menus.
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