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Consider yourself a foodie? Know your pinot from your cabernet? In search of umami? Central Europe’s hub of gastronomic delights awaits you, traveling gourmand. The Czech Republic, or Czechia as its citizens call it, is a country chock-full of taste sensations. And while people rave about Prague’s chic flare, the place the Czechs go for the best food and drink is South Moravia.
Characterized by a sub-mediterranean climate and glistening limestone white hills, the landscape is dominated by vines, cellars, and some of Europe’s finest restaurants. Here are six delicious South-Moravian tastes for the traveling foodie, along with the incredibly unique towns, and the well-situated establishments you can find them.
Sink your teeth into warm, hearty, traditional Jewish fare at the Hotel Tanzberg. A stone’s throw from the baroque Mikulov Castle, it’s a charming place to visit in the center of the city’s former Jewish quarter. Jewish culinary traditions are honored by celebrity chef Marcel Ihnačák, who puts a modern spin on classic staples. Lean cuts of beef are braised in a savory jus, complimented by bacon stuffing-like dumplings. The fresh herbs bring out the flavours and the cubed carrots add a new type of texture. Since it’s located in the heart of Czechia’s wine country, each plate pairs beautifully with a local full-bodied red—try the Frankovka in particular.
Not ready for a full meal? Or, perhaps you can’t decide on any one dish (they all sound good). If that’s the case, you’re in store for a treat. The same restaurant has a well-curated list of appetizers featuring drunken, caramelized onion-topped cheeses and fresh homemade bread. Each flavour is further enhanced by a purposeful dose of crushed nuts or stewed fruits, and rich vinaigrettes. Three to five plates can easily satiate two diners, and may be enjoyed with an affordable bottle of local wine, or a tasting whereby each plate is paired with a new varietal or vintage.
If historical sites, stunning castles, and gourmet international cuisine are your thing, you’ll want to continue east after Mikulov, onto the village of Lednice. When you do, you’ll notice that the landscape gives way to fairy tale castles and English gardens.
The town is dotted with a wide variety of dining options, from Italian to international cuisine. And, it’s becoming a bit of a foodie hotspot among the Czechs and well-informed travelers. Locals love the restaurants for the excellent service and high-quality standards. Foreigners can’t get enough of the Czech take on international dishes. Not to mention, these restaurants are primarily grouped near car parks and castles, so location is ideal for a little stopover. Many of the restaurants serve modernized versions of traditional Czech cuisine, like wild boar sausages, cutlets, and dumplings.
In Lednice you can indulge in typical Czech cuisine and not feel bad about it. Whether you crave stone-oven pizza or salivate at the thought of a good old fashioned cheeseburger—this is the place to be. In fact, it may claim the title of best burger in Central and Eastern Europe, thanks to U Tlustých. They offer several varieties and the Minaret Burger, named after the renaissance-era structure hidden in the royal gardens, is making a bit of a name for itself among burger connoisseurs. Beef and cheese goodness aside, the fries are perfect for dipping. The shape is unique to the restaurant and resembles an elongated scoop. If you’re a fan of mayo and frites—you won’t be let down here.
Health food in the Czech Republic’s second biggest city—Brno is simply divine. Brno has an atmosphere of renaissance-meets-modernity and menus are reflective of that. Heavy meals are not as popular here as you may expect. Instead, this is a city in Czechia for the Czechs—it has a trendy albeit low-key vibe to it. Take a stroll downtown and you’ll notice a farmer’s market, plenty of museums, beautiful vistas, and stunning architectural landmarks.
The food is equally noteworthy. Craft beers, lighter fare, and artisanal coffees are on offer. A favorite among locals is SKØG Urban Hub. Pop in for a coffee roasted on site, and stay for their made-fresh-daily delicacies like hummus, or a mushroom, olive and sun-dried tomato torte.
Wine lover? There’s a movement towards high quality wine production in the Czech Republic and the results are already award-winning. Not that bio-dynamic wines are the norm here, but many producers are taking up the gauntlet and returning to more traditional winemaking methods.
There is a sizeable producer who also swears by keeping wines natural—that means no added sugars and low sulphites. The quality is telling. The wine is smooth and goes down easily, with their reds leaving a pleasant aftertaste, often of dark cherries, plum, and black currant. The label? DRMOLA. Available in artisanal cheese shops, and local retailers, it’s worth picking up a couple of bottles and cracking them open during a picnic or after biking through the vineyards (a popular weekend activity among city-dwelling Czechs). The best cheeses to enjoy these with are typically aged and pair beautifully with the full-bodied reds that the region is famous for.
The food and drink options in South Moravia present something to suit each taste. The quality is consistent regardless of establishment and the service is some of the most genuine and hospitable you’ll find in Europe.