Tasting on Olomouc
In Olomouc, you can bet your bottom dollar that I enjoyed some Moravian wine, which accounts for 96% of the country’s supply. Traditional Czech food tended to be affordable, thanks to the population of university students.
The currency in Czech Republic is the koruna (Kč), and at the time of writing, the exchange rate was about 24 Kč to US$1. All businesses are listed from most budget-friendly to least within each category.
- Coffee & drinks
- Grocery stores & farmer’s markets
Coffee & drinks
On the night of my arrival, my Couchsurfing host Jan, another guest Lewis, and I went to celebrate Jan’s birthday at the pub across the street from his flat. He even put on a parrot onesie to celebrate the occasion. I enjoyed a 0.3L mug of unpasteurized lager for 19 Kč. It was a little bit sour, which made the taste more interesting than your typical European light-colored beer.
Šnyt Mikulda is where we got to hear Jan’s story about taking a selfie in his parrot onesie in front of a group of right-wing anti-immigration protesters in Germany and being confronted about it. Fun times!
This cafe is where I hung out with a couple and two young kids whom I connected with through Couchsurfing. Jan and Eva were heavy travelers before having their adorable children, and they hope to continue when their kids are a little bit older. I enjoyed an iced coffee for 45 Kč while we chatted outside on a warm September afternoon.
Café La Fée
My host Jan took me and Lewis to have breakfast on my first morning in Olomouc at Café La Fée. It has a cute backyard seating area that fills up quickly. I ordered a istretto (32 Kč), which was super small. But I don’t think my taste is refined enough to appreciate it, so I will avoid ordering another one. For food, I got the vegetable galette (73 Kč), which had gouda, tomatoes, bell peppers, green onions, and tomato sauce. The wait for the food to come out was super long because there were so many customers, but the galette was very tasty!
They don’t have an English menu, but Jan was happy to translate it for us. The staff speaks English pretty well.
Fellow Couchsurfing member Kristi invited me and Lewis to meet up with her at her father’s wine cellar Radovino. It’s about a 30-minute walk west of city center or a 10-minute bus ride. (We opted to walk since it was nice out.) When we arrived, Kristi’s dad and a friend were sipping on burčák at one of the tables outside. He figured out that we were looking for Kristi and went upstairs to fetch her. She was making some snacks for us and joined us shortly after her dad brought some 0.25L pitchers of burčák for us to drink. It was a beautiful way to watch the afternoon turn into evening.
As the day grew later, more members of the neighborhood came by to either buy burčák to take home or enjoy it at the wine cellar’s outdoor seating. For a liter bottle to take home, you’d pay 72 Kč, unless you bring back a bottle, then it’s 5 Kč off. To enjoy it on-site, it costs 76 Kč for a liter, 38 Kč for 0.5L, and 19 Kč for 0.25L.
Kristi showed us the indoor seating area for special events, as well as the wine cellar itself. Both were quite cool because the temperature is kept constant downstairs for the wine to stay happy, but they turn on the space heaters in the event space when they have reservations.
I hope her father’s business does well, and I’m so grateful that she had us come enjoy Moravian burčák together.
Olomoucká Vinná Společnost
Olomouc Wine Company seems to sell its products at a stand in the Upper Square on special occasions. The weekend while I was there was during the European heritage festival, so they were selling both red and white burčák, either in 0.2L plastic cups (18 Kč) or liter bottles (70 Kč). Initially, I tried a little cup of the red one, and since it tasted nice, I ended up getting a liter to enjoy at Jan’s. They served it at room temperature, which wasn’t ideal, but I was able to try it chilled in the bottle after putting it in the fridge.
Make sure you leave the bottle cap slightly open: I didn’t realize that was the right thing to do, so after the bottle sat around for several hours, I noticed the bottom was bulging out. I slowly released the air to prevent an explosion.
Osa Cocktail Bar
Kristi invited me and Jan to join her at an Only English Olomouc event at Osa. The cocktail menu looks pretty standard, but what I really appreciated was the Havana Club rum they had in large quantities. This fact plus my desire for something local caused me to order a Cuba Libre (69 Kč) with Kofola instead of Coke. And it was delicious!
Grocery stores & farmer’s markets
A well-known German discount grocer, Lidl is also the cheapest place to get kitchen essentials in Czech Republic. I found Radegast 12°, which tastes the same as regular Radegast except it’s a little stronger.
I also tried some pre-packaged medovnik, but it was super dry even with a glass of milk handy. I suppose I’ll have to try baking it after I return home.
Just a few doors down from Jan’s flat is a shopping center with a Billa location in the basement. It was my go-to grocery store while in Olomouc. Among the many things I got there were many a drink, such as Kopparberg elderflower and lime cider for 30 Kč a can. Zlatopramen radler is Jan’s favorite radler, and Radegast is his favorite beer.
Some interesting desserts I hadn’t seen before were gingerbread with apricot jam (17.90 Kč) and an apricot sorbet popsicle in a chocolate shell (15 Kč). Both were good, but the popsicle was definitely my favorite.
In the frozen section, I found a bag of dumplings stuffed with powidl (45 Kč). You cook them in salted boiling water for 10 minutes and end up with a larger quantity of dumplings than you thought possible. They tasted a bit too doughy, but Jan’s roommate Lea made it all better by adding plain yogurt to the mix.
We couldn’t find shredded coconut or canned apples at Billa, which Lewis needed for his mum’s apple crumble recipe. So we went to the big Albert in shopping center Galerie Šantovka. While there, we got some grapefruit radler for 14.90 Kč and Marlenka’s honey milk cake snack with chocolate shell (26.90 Kč) that was quite delicious. I wish I could’ve gotten an entire cake!
On a Saturday night, Jan, Lewis, and I walked to Palacký University, where there was a student reunion going on. We watched the ending of a Czech film, probably produced by students of the school, and we also listened to some live music playing on the river. We had wanted to get tickets to the 30-minute boat cruise, but they had sold out by the time we got there.
I was getting hungry around 22:00, so Jan took us to Pivnice Doga, which is a pub directly connected to the university dorms. They had utopenec (35 Kč: pickled sausage) and tvaružek na topince (30 Kč: Olomouc’s smelly cheese on toast), and both were great beer foods.
I found Moritz on Foursquare, and it showed promise since it’s both a gastropub and microbrewery. It takes less than ten minutes to walk from the center, and boy, is it worth the trip! So much so that I went twice in two days. Every lunch order comes with a soup of the day and your choice of 0.2L of Kofola or their house unfiltered beer. (Of course, I got the beer both times.)
On a Monday, I found the beer garden and got the roast pork in cholent (99 Kč), which they made with pearl barley and beans. It came with some pickles, pea soup, and a basket of rye bread. Very filling and comforting for not many korunas.
The next day, I tried going into the restaurant, but the woman handling orders told me to wait at the front, then proceeded to ignore me. So I went back out to the beer garden and tried several times to flag down a waitress before my goulash (99 Kč) order was taken. I have no clue why it’s busier on a Tuesday than Monday. The soup of the day was sausage and beans, and while hearty, it was too salty. The goulash came with knedlíčky and was mostly made of sauerkraut. There were just a few pieces of beef, which was enough for me. No bread today, which was okay, and I got the house beer again.
The ingredients seemed to be of higher quality than the ones used at Pod Limpou, and the lunch menu options are cheaper. I had the same waitress both days, and she didn’t speak English. But I used enough pieces of Czech for her to understand me. I wondered if there were a way to buy their house beer and take it home.
After doing some grocery shopping, Jan took me and Lewis to his favorite traditional Czech restaurant in Olomouc. They charged 30 Kč for a liter of tap water, which I didn’t think wad justified. The sirloin with gravy and steamed bread was all right, but the beef was really tough (125 Kč). The gravy was the best part. I also learned during this meal that it’s easier to cut up knedlíčky into small pieces to soak up any sauce than to use your hands to dip a whole piece in the sauce. (Thanks, Jan!)
Our waitress was from Slovakia, and I wasn’t sure if she spoke any English since she talked to Jan the whole time. They do have an English menu. I would much rather go back to Moritz anytime for the food quality though.