About a month from now, I'll be getting settled in a whole new city. I have actually been ready to uproot it all (cat included) for Europe for a while, but after 20 years in Toronto, and then meeting my Italian at the 18-year mark, I don't think I would have ever thought it would be for Prague.
The capital of the Czech Republic has all the makings of a Disney fairytale, mixed with the seedy bits you would expect in any metropolis. A maze of thousand-year-old cobbled streets, that lead to a Starbucks, or a McDonald's, more often than I expected. However overrun with American brands it may be for my taste -- yes, there is even a Hooters (insert horrified gasp here) -- there is much to love beyond the Burger King.
However this post is not about where the best pubs are, where one can eat quite well on the cheap. No surprises there. What I was amazed to find in Prague was the variety, if you are willing to spend a bit more. Here are some hot spots:
We start with the street food vendors in Wenceslas Square and Old Town Square -- who serve up hot wine and the traditional fare, so you don't forget that you are in the land of sausage, potatoes and goulash. And lest I leave out the trdelnik -- a rolled pastry dusted with cinnamon sugar. We found a grand selection of sweet and savoury snacks served up in front of the Palladium shopping centre (Prague 1) at the weekend.
For Thai that pairs excellently with a Pilsner Urquell, hit Lemon Leaf (Myslíkova 14, Prague 2) on the early side of any evening. He really enjoyed the Laab Kai, while I ate every last noodle of my Pad Thai.
PAUL boulangerie is a fancier chain of grab-and-go gourmet that is a bit pricier, but the quality is worth it. Mario frequents this joint for an upscale espresso and likes to make dinners out of their salmon sandwiches.
I stumbled upon Cake Café (Jungmannovo nam. 21, Prague 1) one morning and just thought it would be the best place for a tea date, or a long lunch. They've got the goods to satisfy either outing. Plus it's just a sweet stone's throw from Wenceslas Square and an easy escape from the crowds.
On the other side of the Square, you will find Soup in the City (Panská 1308/9, Prague 1). A comfortable spot for an afternoon nosh, before or after hitting the Mucha Museum. Try one of the satisfying daily soups (obviously) or tuck into a savoury quiche.
Mexican. Oh yes we did. The cuisine is actually quite popular in this town and we loaded up on fajitas at Cantina (Újezd 38, Prague 5). Yum. My theory is that this type of food goes really well with a Pilsner Urquell, but Conde Nast Traveler published an interesting feature on the phenomenon, which you can read here.
Another unexpected discovery, right next to a TGI Fridays, was Planet Sushi (Nádražní 110, Prague 5). Loved the fresh Khioki San Syake (salmon salad) and fun signature maki. As with all of the above, the service matched the friendly environment. For a real splurge on a special occasion, book a table at Mr. Sushi (Mala Štupartska 3, Prague 1).
My last recommendation should be for a pub (a roundup of those will come soon, promise) but it's going to go Italian. Just try a pie at Pizza Nuova (Revolucni 655/1, Prague 1) and you'll be with me all the way on this one. Having eaten my way around Italy this past summer, I can safely say perfection can be had in Prague.
Merchant's Yard Residence is conveniently located in a cozy 14th-century nook of Old Town. Just a skip away from Týn Church, as well as many low to lavish shopping and dining options around Palladium and on Pařížská Street. That medieval astronomical clock is not far away either.
While the price tag on our stay at MYR was infinitely reasonable, I felt like a wealthy local just popping in and out of my pied-à-terre.
Each suite offers ample space to spread out, while bathrooms are kitted out with deep soaker tubs and heated floors (one of my favourite things in the world).
WiFi is complimentary, and so is breakfast -- served every morning in the cavernous Vabene restaurant. All said, if we can't accommodate friends and family at our place in Prague 3, they'll be staying here.
Oh, and drinks! You need to know where to go for a drink. We found a gem of a bar in Jewel (Rytířská 529/3, Prague 1). Non-smoking, chatty vibe, good wines and a really good becherovka -- at least according to the Italian who is fast becoming a connoisseur on herbal bitters. Watch this space for more Eastern European insights in 2014!
All photos, except Mr. Sushi, taken with the HTC One Mini smartphone.
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