Many of us living in Prague get our fresh vegetables, meat and other goodies from the farmers’ markets. They do a heroic job of staying open in all sorts of weather, and we love ’em, but January is the one month when they don’t run.
So what exactly are we supposed to do until they get back into full swing in February? Don’t resign yourself to Albert’s gloomy aisles just yet. There are still a few places where you can shop for fresh, good-quality food while supporting local businesses.
The best place to go year-round if you want to buy a large amount of cheap, fresh fruit and veg, or anything even remotely exotic. Holesovice trzniste is what I call a proper market. The fruit and veg market is found in Hall 22, where there’s a huge choice of fresh vegetables and fruit from all over the world. Some of it is ridiculously cheap, and it actually tastes of something. Hallelujah!
These farm shops sell traditional Czech and Moravian produce from small and medium-sized producers. The selection isn’t huge, but you can find everything you’d need for a Czech dinner, from sausages and bread to cheese and honey – plus a few bottles of fruit brandy. This is a good place to try if you like your food to taste of something, want to support local farmers, and want to avoid artificial flavours and dodgy additives.
As well as stocking locally-produced treats like Autentiste natural wines and Jordi’s chocolate, this small chain of shops has a small selection of veg, dairy and a meat counter if you want to pick everything up for dinner in one stop. They also stock Pasta Art’s fresh pasta (the same ones sold at the farmers’ markets) and Doubleshot coffee. Some things are on the pricey side here, but generally you get what you pay for.
I’m putting this idea out there even though personally I’m not a fan of ordering fresh veg or meat online – since a lot of places, usually big supermarkets, will just send you the stock that no-one would want to buy if they’d actually seen it.
I was surprised that this seemed to also be the case when I tried Freshbedynky.cz, which, though its a great concept and the food we had was full of flavour, it was expensive and some of the fruit was soft and mouldy when it arrived. Maybe I was just unlucky… There’s also Rohlik.cz which I haven’t tried, but the website has a good selection of organic and farm produce, and they can apparently even deliver within an hour.
Prague doesn’t have a great selection of (non-farmers’) markets, but there are a couple of others you might find interesting. There’s the historic marketplace at Havelska – most of the stalls sell tourist souvenir tat, but there are a few where you can pick up some good fruit and veg. at the other end of the spectrum, there’s the new luxury food market at Dlouha 14. They have some great deli meats, wines and baked goods, but unless you’re loaded it’s not really one for the weekly shop.
There are of course also lots and lots of small specialty shops, butchers and delis all around the city, and I can’t list all of them here. If it’s just good quality, locally-sourced (though not organic) meat you’re after, I like the no-nonsense Maso Jiko chain and the trendy but excellent Naše Maso. If you’re searching for organic fruit or veg, try the Country Life shops (but avoid the restaurant…)
If you have another favourite stop for fresh/farm produce in Prague I’d love to hear about it!
Psst – have you signed the petition to save the much-loved Naplavka riverside farmers’ market? The city is, for some unknown, crazy reason, thinking about moving it and making it smaller. Not cool!