Open until 23:00
You can walk by Dobra Trafika on the way to work for months and not notice it. Vinohrady's Korruni is a busy street saturated with hole-in-the-wall shops and interchangeable trafika stands selling phone cards, cigarettes and Blesk. Amidst this urban noise, even Dobra Trafika's finished wood block sign noting 'kavarna' is easily missed.
It was only by randomly popping in for bubble gum that I found it. And Bingo: the place is a leaf and bean gold mine, the kind of neighborhood joint that keeps you from moving. The first thing to greet you is a rack politely offering the largest selection of international print media anywhere below Muzeum and above Vienna. Only after purchasing a Guardian do you start sniffing the brown leaves to the left, following the scent to a six foot case holding a range of stogies from 20 Kc blunt wraps to 200 Kc Don Juans. More smells come from behind nearby glass: six rows of jarred tea leaves and tobacco in the form of fine cigarettes and snuff. Also on display are last-minute gift items like tea pots, candles, organic shampoo and jewellry that looks like it just arrived from New Mexico. The case holding sweets - including the golden mothership Medounik (honey cake) - sits under a large selection of liquers, hinting that there is more to Dobra Trafika than the two tables by the big window facing the street.
Follow the gallery/hallway into the back room and enter the smoky den of muted yellows low-frequency conversation, a class set-up of First Republic mementos, swing-era jazz, soft worn seats and scruffy wooden tables. Unfold the chessboard, pull out the pouch of Drum and wait for the ripped menu, which offers twenty Ebel beans from Java to Burundi, a full page tea list, and six beers. During the warm seasons the room opens out into a small enclosed garden with picnic tables, doubling your chances of finding a seat and making a nice place to suck on something from the fancy ice cream menu. The food list is limited, but for a quick café bite has all you need. Small salads, hot pita pockets (try the krabi) and mini-pizzas will hold you over for under 50 Kc. Nice staff; sophisticated crowd.
True to its name, the way out affords the chance to buy those items that led you in to begin with: a pack of gum, a Crocodile, some Petra smokes, and Blesk. Back out into the noise.
email the author, Alexander Zaitchik
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