Suzanne Pergal introduces the delights and distractions of this upcoming Prague 7 neighborhood and its next-door neighbor Letná
Holešovice is the Brooklyn of Prague -- or maybe that's Žižkov. But one thing is certain: this former industrial district is becoming a hot spot.
Just across the river from the city center, it's a little grittier, a little more inconvenient to get to, and a lot roomier.
Like the New York City borough, Holešovice is now witnessing an influx of inhabitants, commerce, and connectedness with the rest of the city. This can be witnessed in the scaffolding and construction crews, the restaurants on every corner, and stuff that will make an extra trip across the bridge worthwhile.
Holešovice today contains a mix of old working-class elements and evidence of more recent growth, as evinced partly by its restaurants. Time-tested traditional Czech restaurants stand a block away from swanky fusion spots.
Next to the U Průhonu tram stop stands the unassuming Czech restaurant Zlatá Kovadlina ("Golden Anvil"). Don't expect the tourist treatment, but rest assured that English and German menus are available.
You'll be so full on 95-crown Svíčková or roast duck-with-dumplings that making use of the bowling alley in the back of the restaurant could be difficult. You might also be too full to try on clothes at the extensive priced-by-weight thrift store next door.
That block-sized area is a veritable gem.
On the corner of Komunardů and U průhonu you can go traditional and buy fresh farm-grown produce and flowers along with sprigs of mistletoe around the holidays.
At Přístavní and Komunardů, the elusive shop simply titled Bazar, is worth the trouble when you find it open. Be prepared to wade through a wall-to-wall antiques/kitsch mix and leave without a demolished wallet.
Keep it traditional and visit Pivní galerie, whose shelves probably hold every beer to come through the Czech Republic. Ask the shop owner for a recommendation and try something new. If all that beer causes your stomach to rumble, there's also a small restaurant.
Walk down U průhonu and you'll find dance club Mecca on your right and the newly opened Molo 22 on your left.
To avoid the cover charge, try going to Mecca on Wednesdays, and remember the party doesn't really get going until midnight so start off with a glass of Lambrusco at Molo 22.
If you like, get your culture in before a night of clubbing or hearty Czech food. Newly opened arts venues La Fabrika and DOX are in the same one-block radius. To pregame for the gallery, get a cappucino from the Long Tale Café on Osadní.
For an adventure, try out the gritty Holešovice nightspot Cross Club.
Visible from the southern entrance to the Nádraží Holešovice metro station, it's a cavernous space where you can almost get lost among the dim lighting and spinning mechanical parts that decorate the walls, tables, and ceilings. Kozel dark is on tap for a mere 28 crowns.
At Nádraží Holešovice, international and domestic trains await, along with buses around the city, including outings to the zoo and chateau at Troja.
When fair weather calls, venture out to the Letenské sady and Stromovka parks. Choose the former for great views of the city and its popular beer garden, or the latter for sprawling pond-side green expanses.
Not too far away stands the St. Anthony of Padova (Kostel svatého Antonína z Padovy) church on Strossmayerovo náměstí square.
From the square, head down Janovského to find the former location of the expat hot spot The Globe -- now the café and secondhand Czech bookstore Ouky Douky. If you're lucky they'll be serving cabbage soup that day. Wash it down with a Velvet beer.
On the other side of the square, you'll find "Czexican" food, crepes and a čajovna (tea room).
For practical purposes, this guide includes Letná, the district adjoining Holešovice.
On Milady Horákové, Letná's main thoroughfare, you'll find probably the best potravinys (grocery stores) in Prague, complete with gleaming inexpensive produce and curious Asian groceries.
Served by the 25 and 26 trams, the Letenské náměstí stop further up Milady Horákové is a block's walk away from Fraktal, Le Tram, La Bodega Flamenca -- all on Šmeralova street -- and Andaluský pes (Andalusian Dog) on Korunovační.
Experience the mojitos at Andaluský pes, the retro transport-themed décor at Le Tram, the cheap breakfasts at Fraktal, and tapas at La Bodega Flamenca.
Well fed and entertained, you can easily take the 53 or 54 night tram home. So take the time to go up river and experience the offbeat charm of Holešovice.
HOW TO GET THERE
Metro: Nádraží Holešovice or Vltavská (both line C)
Tram: Letenské náměstí, Dělnická, Strossmayerovo náměstí
RESTAURANTS, BARS & CLUBS
Andaluský pes (Andalusian Dog)
La Bodega Flamenca
Long Tale Café
Bazar (Jindřiška Puldová)
River Town Prague
Letenský sady (Letná)
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