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Photo: Clemènt Morin

Food & Drink

Where to try the traditional Chlebicky sandwich in Prague

The traditional open-face Chlebíčky sandwich is a Czech specialty that are traditionally served on special occasions like birthdays and Christmas. These sandwiches are now making a comeback and is a must-try when visiting Prague. Here we list six great places that serves them.

Since the Velvet Revolution, Prague foodies have been thrilled to watch the city’s culinary scene expand to include more international flavors, from French haute cuisine to classic Korean bibimbap. But no one expected the local culinary renaissance would also affect a very traditional Czech snack — the simple open-face sandwiches known as chlebíčky.

A couple of the chlebíčky that are available at Sisters. Photo: Clément Morin

“Chlebíčky lie very close to the heart of every Czech,” says Hana Michopulu, a food writer and cook who opened the city’s first modern chlebíčky bistro, Sisters, at the beginning of 2014. “They are served on every important occasion: on birthdays, at Christmas, at the end of the school year, at parties and work meetings. I’ve even seen them at a funeral party.”

Ubiquitous they might be, but chlebíčky suffered the same fate of most Czech foods under communism: low quality and limited ingredients. Originally invented at the celebrated Paukert delicatessen in the early days of the 20th century, obložené chlebíčky — roughly meaning “garnished little breads” — are similar to smørrebrød or smörgås, albeit with distinctly Czech notes.

“The flavor was established during the twentieth century, when the supplying situation was often not very good,” says Michopulu. “So we use old-fashioned goodies like pickles, ham, salumi, cheese and mayonnaise and decorate them nicely. And we’re still grateful for this tradition, even now when we can get much more exotic ingredients.”

For the past century, the single chlebíček recipe most appreciated by Praguers is just a simple slice of buttered white bread topped with potato salad, a thin slice of ham, half of a boiled egg and bit of mayonnaise. At Sisters, the renaissance simply started by raising the level of those classic ingredients from the low standards of the communist era. That meant using bread from an artisanal baker, gourmet mayo, high-quality butter, and high-grade, real Prague ham.

SIsters are taking their Chlebíčky to the next level. Photo: Clément Morin

The next step in the chlebíčky renaissance involved creating new recipes, using ingredients that were not available before 1989, such as seafood, goat cheese and foie gras.

“What I found was that some customers wanted the good old varieties, made with the best ingredients, whereas others wanted newer flavors like beets or prawns,” says Michopulu.

Today, new flavors can be found at more and more chlebíčky shops in Prague. The original Paukert deli on Národní boulevard may have closed, but Paukert’s new location in bustling Karlín includes updated recipes like roast beef and avocado, as well as smoked mayonnaise in its traditional recipes.

“Jan Paukert invented them in 1916, and we’re still making them,” says Paukert Bistro’s owner Jan Šuchma. “We’re trying to keep the tradition.”

Michopulu has since sold Sisters to new investors, but like many Praguers, she can’t seem to get over the city’s favorite open-face sandwiches: her latest cookbook is actually dedicated to them.

“I never meant to change chlebíčky,” says Michopulu. “I just wanted to make them in the most delicious way possible.”

Here are 6 places where you can get an excellent Chlebíčky in Prague:

The Chlebíčky at Sisters. Photo: Clemènt Morin

Sisters

The renaissance in Czech open-faced sandwiches started at this airy, Old Town bistro at the start of 2014. Today, you’ll find unique breads with unusual toppings, including smoked potatoes with Prague ham, wild boar with rose-hip sauce and a dill-and-wild-mushroom chlebíček inspired by the classic kulajda soup.

Sisters

Dlouhá 39, Praha 1, Prag

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Mon – Fri: 8am – 8pm, Sat: 8 am – 6 pm, Sun: 8 am – 4pm

Chlebicky at Jan Paukert. Photo: Clemènt Morin

Jan Paukert

The original Paukert delicatessen on Národní street may be long gone, but the tradition lives on at this new location in trendy Karlín. Classic chlebíčky with cold cuts and egg salad compete with new-school toppings like roast beef and avocado. All are freshly created throughout the day, making this modern bistro a popular spot for a quick bite between meetings.

Jan Paukert

Rohanské nábřeží 15, Praha 8, Prag

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Mån–fre: 7.30–21.30.

Lahudky Zlaty Kriz

Just steps from Wenceslas Square, this old-school classic deli sells bottles of spirits, draft beer, wine, cakes, pastries and more than 90 types of classic chlebíčky, making it a favorite downtown stop for a quick snack, as well as a preferred caterer for parties and family celebrations.

Lahudky Zlaty Kriz

Jungmannova 34, Praha 1, Prag

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Mån–fre: 6:30–19, lör: 9–15.

Chlebicky at Prima Chlebicek. Photo: Clemènt Morin

Prima Chlebicek

What looks like a hole-in-the-wall corner bistro in the residential neighborhood of Vinohrady offers sandwiches that go beyond the traditional ham, potato salad and egg: seasonal varieties include such toppings as Hungarian sausage, duck breast and roast pumpkins. Easy walking distance from the Náměstí Míru or IP Pavlova metro stations.

Prima Chlebicek

Londýnská 69, Praha 2, Prag

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Mån–fre: 7.30–18

Chlebicky Letna

The up-and-coming neighborhood of Holešovice north of the river from Old Town and Karlín has plenty of new attractions, including this popular deli offering over 20 kinds of chlebíčky. Perfect for picking up before a picnic lunch in Letná park overlooking Old Town or a stroll under the trees of the former royal hunting grounds now known as Stromovka.

Chlebicky Letna

Milady Horákové 42, Praha 7, Prag

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Mån–fre: 7:30–19, lör: 8–14.

Chlebicky at Liberske Lahudky. Photo: Liberske Lahudky

Liberske Lahudky

With branches all over the city, you’re likely to bump into a Libeřské Lahůdky delicatessen at some point during your stay. The branch at the edge of the quiet Petrská district on bustling Na Poříčí street, close to the Florenc metro station, offers a variety of classic sandwiches, including a killer version with anchovy cream and an anchovy-fillet “eye,” if you dare.

Liberske Lahudky

Biskupská 1, Praha 1, Prague

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Mån–fre: 6:30–19, lör–sön: 8–18.

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