During our time in Ostrava, a town in the eastern Czech Republic, we were fortunate enough to really dig into the local food and drink culture. During our brief visit, we were blown away by many Ostrava restaurants. From hip bistros to late-evening beer snacks, craft beer spots and underground cocktail bars, this town has an incredible food scene.
A Little About Czech Cuisine
Czech food is very Eastern European. Lots of meat, potatoes and bread. Vegetables, when they appear, are often in the form of pickled cucumbers or cabbage. What makes Czech cuisine so incredible though, is how they work these seemingly simple ingredients into such a wide variety of complex flavours.
Being the working-class city that Ostrava is, we weren’t sure what to expect prior to arrival. Quite often these industrial towns, with their predominantly blue-collar population, tend to stick to much simpler styles of food. They often don’t stray too far from the comfort zone the people understand.
Thankfully, like many of the cities and towns we know from back home, which mirror Ostrava’s industrial vibe in many ways, the culinary scene is making huge forward strides. People have left their comfort zone long ago and are embracing a progressive and occasionally experimental view of the more traditional fare.
Here are some of our absolute favourite spots to grab a bite to eat, a quick beer, or a classy cocktail while visiting Ostrava!
Our Favourite Ostrava Restaurants
Another small restaurant/cafe in the centre, Polivkarna specializes in often complex baked goods and fantastic soups. Unfortunately we were still quite full from some other samplings earlier in the day, all we could manage was a simple beef ball soup.
That being said, the beef balls were a delicious combination of ground meat and liver, which gave them an incredible depth. The in-house-made chicken broth was seasoned perfectly. If such a simple dish is any sign of the rest of their food, I need to get back to Ostrava with an empty stomach.
Bistro Boule za Ušima
Literally translated to “Boulevard behind the ears”, apparently the name represents the tingling feeling behind the ears when enjoying an amazing meal. This upscale spot was opened by a former lawyer who realized food was much more important than the courtroom. We agree.
Not the cheapest place around, but if you’re looking for a great place with everything from classic bistro food to unique takes on classic Czech cuisine, this is the spot.
Mery Jane Bistro
This tiny mother/daughter-owned spot was our first real shock of the food scene in Ostrava. Following days of dumplings and stewed beef (not complaining!), sitting down to something quite different was a nice touch.
With an interesting selection of classic dishes from across Europe, we tried the pancetta-wrapped chicken liver pate, with a cranberry compote and a house-made brioche-like bun. The portion was surprisingly large for such a rich dish, but the compote cut through perfectly.
Blink at the wrong moment and you’ll probably miss our favourite food in Ostrava entirely. We were introduced to this fantastic spot by a friend who was also in town for the conference. We were so blown away that we visited this spot several times during our stay.
This tiny, one table restaurant with only a handful of stools and one menu item per day, is not vegan friendly. Pork reigns king at this place. From juicy burgers to shredded pork, pulled right from whole-roasted, locally reared pig. Like most restaurants that focus on minimal menu items, they’re done with expert precision. The vegetables are grown from the owners garden, the ketchup is made in-house and they even bake the buns with pork fat inside. If you only pick one thing to eat in Ostrava, Vaše Prasátko must be the one!
Drinking in Ostrava
Pivnice u Rady – Straight-up Czech Beer
One evening we joined a beer tour of Ostrava and did a little pub-crawl of the city. One of the first stops was this place. Now, the beer was fairly standard Czech beer, it was cold, tasty and decently priced, but the ones we sampled didn’t really stand out above anything else we’d been drinking – it’s all been good!
That being said, our local beer-guide mentioned this place is where you’ll find the best tasting and most authentic Czech food in all of Ostrava. Though we ran out of time and were unable to make it back to give it a try, we did browse the menu a little and it looks incredible!
A few that caught my eye were the smoked beef tongue with horseradish, roasted pork knee, venison goulash, and pickled cheese. Writing this is painful, knowing that I missed the chance to try any and all of these fantastic treats!
HoppyDog – For your Craft Beer Fix
Although a lot of the beer we drank while in town was quite good, very few really stood out as amazing, at least not for me personally. However, that changed when we popped into Hoppy Dog.
Only a couple doors down from Pivnice u Rady, Hoppy Dog is a tiny little pub that offers a limited selection of some really fantastic craft brews. Their main brewery is southwest of the city centre, where they produce a range of ten really unique beverages. Specializing in IPA’s (India Pale Ales) and APA’s (American Pale Ales), they also produce a really interesting chestnut ale and a rather strong chocolate ale which packs a punch.
If you’re looking to sample some really well-crafted local beer, Hoppy Dog is a great place to start.
For Cocktail Lovers – U Gustava
Blink and you’ll miss this tiny, nondescript basement bar. A simple stencilled sign marks the doorway at the bottom of the steps along a side street a few blocks from Ostrava’s centre.
After stepping inside and passing through the curtains that keep all outside light at bay, you find yourself a dimly-lit room with simple wooden tables. The ambiance alone is worth stopping in but the cocktails are what will make it hard to leave. Using both classic cocktail ingredients and local specialties, including herbs and Becherovka – a traditional Czech liquor – you won’t find drinks like this anywhere else. In a country where beer can often be cheaper than water, it might be a little difficult to justify the prices for some of the drinks here, but this is one of those cases where splurging is a good idea.
So there you have it. A few of our favourite places to kick back with a cold beverage and some of the best spots to eat in Ostrava. Next time you find yourself in the far eastern reaches of the Czech Republic, don’t forget to give a few days to explore the great food culture of this lesser-visited city!