I found Prague to be a great city for gluten free options. However, I didn't expect to be able to find a traditional Czech meal, full of schnitzels and pastries, gluten free. I am happy to say that I was mistaken. The Švejk Restaurant U Karla is a traditional Czech restaurant that offers and entirely separate gluten free menu full of all the traditional dishes I thought my son would be unable to try.
About the Restaurant
The Švejk Restaurant U Karla is located on a quiet street, next to the quite large Brewery U Fleků. We were a bit confused as to which was the right restaurant, until we saw the menu posted outside that stated there were gluten free options available. It's a short walk from the closest tram stop, and within walking distance of both the Dancing Houses and the Globe Bookstore.
We enjoyed checking out the objects on display, like the ancient accordion perched on the windowsill next to our table. If you want a souvenir to take home, they also sell beer mugs and other memorabilia on display in a case near the front door. The staff was friendly and knowledgeable, and the service was relaxed. Plus, there is a separate gluten free menu, so no searching endlessly for which dishes are safe to eat.
The Švejk Restaurant U Karla is the perfect place to soak up the ambiance of a Czech eatery. The restaurant is decorated heavily with wooden elements, giving it a beerhall feel. There's even a small enclosed card lounge near the front. Still, it's a family place, and our kids were welcomed with open arms. We were there for lunch, when the restaurant is less busy. Apparently in the evenings the staff dress in traditional outfits and the atmosphere is more lively.
It's unpretentious and laid back, which is perfect after a day of sightseeing o when travelling with children. No one minded their chatter, and the clientele ranged from middle aged men having lunch alone to college aged kids and a team of coworkers having a working lunch. I imagine at night the atmosphere would be more animated.
The Food and Service
The menu is full of traditional items, and is extensive. They have a gluten free menu separate from the regular one, and it offers most, if not all the same options. Appetizers, soups, large salads, meat dishes, vegetarian items, and desserts were all accounted for. It took us a long time to order because there was so much to choose from on the menu.
My husband ordered the beef goulash soup to start, and the boys ordered the appetizer size sausage with sauerkraut and mustard. We ordered mashed potatoes and rice as sides. The sausage was large enough to be the full meal for our three year old! I ordered the chicken schnitzel with grilled vegetables on the side, my husband ordered the meat platter as his main course, and we ordered a large potato pancake for the boys to share. It was so large we all ended up sharing it, and we couldn't finish it all.
When the orders came, everything that was gluten free came with a large toothpick that held a flag that said "gluten free" on it. There was no mistaking which items were perfect for my son! We ordered everything gluten free so that we could try as many items as possible, but it's nice to know that they have a method to minimise the possibility of a mix-up.
The food was what I would call comfort food, and it hit the spot on a cold winter's day. Nothing fancy, just hearty dishes full of flavour. Everyone enjoyed their meal and my boys tried a little of everything on the table.
For dessert, the menu again offered a variety of options. My son ordered the homemade cake, which was what I would call a coffee cake. I ordered the gluten free apple strudel and my husband ordered the regular one so we could compare. The only difference was that the pastry was a bit less "flaky," but honestly they were almost identical in flavour and texture.
Overall, the meal was an enjoyable one. It was great having an extensive menu of items to choose from that were gluten free, especially since they gave us the opportunity to try traditional Czech food. The service was friendly and knowledgeable, and the waitress asked us several questions and I felt confident that she understood the importance of keeping our son safe.
If you're looking for a fun restaurant in Prague to try traditional Czech food that also happens to be gluten free, this place is for you. The staff is very knowledgeable about cross-contamination, and pretty much everything on the regular menu is found on the gluten free one. The location is easy to get to, the restaurant is relaxed and fun, and the food and service were great.
Švejk Restaurant U Karla
- Křemencova 7, Praha 1
- Hours: Mo-Sa: 11:00-24:00, Su: 11:00-22:00