If you live around the border between Vršovice and Vinohrady, there are quite a few options if you feel like walking for your dinner.
The best in the area is Mozaika, but it is a bit of an uphill trek, and a shade too pricey to visit on a very regular basis.
And some of these places have a big strike against them for achieving regular "local" status: They are more than 200 meters away.
I always run the list through my mind, but it is usually an empty exercise. It is rare that any of them can compete with my favorite local spot: Neklid Restaurant.
Neklid has so many of the important qualities of a great local:
1. It is pretty cheap
2. Pilsner Urquell, Gambrinus, and Primator Weizenbier on tap
3. A friendly, smiling staff
4. More than the usual Czech cuisine AND it tastes good
5. Less than 200 meters away
What kind of food is it? I'd call it ICI: Interpretive Czech-International. Anyone who has lived in this country for a while has tasted Czech versions of their favorite international dishes. This type of cooking usually bears little resemblance to authentic recipes from other nations. You might find lettuce lilting on your fajitas or frozen corn killing your curry.
Yes, Neklid has its own interpretations, but they actually taste good. Sometimes very good.
The chicken Caesar salad is a perfect example. It really bears little relation to a true Caesar. This one does not have romaine lettuce. It even has some cabbage mixed in at the bottom. But it also has succulent, well-seasoned and freshly cooked pieces of chicken on top. Lots of it. It also has freshly fried bacon that has not been sitting around all day waiting to be reheated.There are tomatoes, boiled eggs in quarters, croutons, shaved Parmesan cheese, and a rather ordinary approximation of Caesar dressing. It is very big and I usually find it difficult to eat the whole thing.
If this still doesn't sound appealing, then how about if it is only 119 CZK? And what if I told you that the Pilsner Urquell is less than 30 CZK? Half a liter of Gambrinus is only 23 CZK. They also have Hoegaarden.
Another favorite is Neklid's grilled steak with soy sauce (Neklidná roštěnka na grilu se sojovou omáčkou). It comes with a wasabi cream drizzled on top, a bit of pure wasabi on the side, and some pickled ginger, the kind that comes with your sushi. Roštěnka is not the best cut of beef, but it is usually tender and easy to cut. Maybe it sounds like weird ICI cooking, but this is a great-tasting steak. It is one of the pricier items at 155 CZK. Potatoes are extra -- all are 30 CZK. The fries are good.
On a recent visit, I had the steak tartare with fried Czech bread (Tatarák - klasika, 4 topinky). The raw beef is excellent -- hand ground and bright red, with no visible fat.
portion, but only costs 139 CZK. You season it yourself. The mound of meat is surrounded by tiny glass bowls filled with egg yolk, chopped onion, paprika, pepper, mustard, and whole garlic for scraping across the fried bread (topinky).
For those concerned about eating raw meat, I have been eating this dish on a regular basis for years and have never had a single problem. V thinks my brain is already full of holes, which may afford an immunity to the human variant of mad cow disease.
V ordered the vegetarian fajitas (Fajitas se zeleninou, fazolkami, tortillou a salsou - vegetariánské). Not your classic version by any measure. They bring out a hot iron plate, though not really sizzling, with green beans, carrots, eggplant, and white beans, along with flour tortillas, sour cream, and salsa. Relatively healthy and very filling for 129 CZK.
I also like their chicken wings (Pikantní kuřecí křídla se zakysanou smetanou), eight for 115 CZK, which have a variation of sweet Thai chili sauce on them. As near as we can tell, the bottled sauce is mixed with honey and soy sauce. It tastes pretty good, but not a major culinary achievement, either.
On another visit I tried the grilled pork steak with onion rings, red and white shredded cabbage and tartar sauce (Steak z krkovice na grilu s cibulovými kroužky a majonézovou omáčkou) for 129 CZK. It was a very juicy, a little fatty, but nicely seasoned with salt and pepper. The chef really knows how to season meat. I'd have it again.
V got grilled vegetables with honey for 74 CZK. There were red peppers, zucchini, eggplant, tomato, and onion. She liked it.
They also have pork ribs for 115 CZK, which look good, but I still haven't tried them.
Neklid Restaurant is not much to look at. The furniture is plain and generic. The blond wood paneling gives the place a cheap feeling. But Neklid is cheap in a good way, and there's a wealth of good things to eat there.
I wouldn't say it is the kind of place to go far out of your way for. Don't cross town just to go to Neklid. But I'd definitely say it is worth traveling more than 200 meters to go there.
Praha 10 - Vršovice
Tel. 777 718 787
For reservations in English: 775 974 682