U Fleků, Tourist Trap or Tasty Treat?
U Fleku, located in the bustling and tourist-heavy city of Prague, is one of those places that can be a real hit or miss experience. But it’s all about knowing what to expect and what to avoid.
U Fleku is a large, traditional looking Czech pub which also is home to their microbrewery serving up some of the best beer in Prague. When you enter the bar, it feels like going into a medieval castle. It was originally built in 1499, so the bones of the building are incredible ancient making it the oldest brewery in Prague. The dark wooden ceiling beams, medieval traceries along the walls, thick glass windows and long tables and benches make the entire places feel like you're stepping back in time.
There are eight halls (rooms) to choose from, but the one you really want to visit is the 'Akademie', which contains many pieces of original decor from the 1500s. Everyone sits at communal tables, and there is always live music being played by an accordion or tuba player who will wander around from room to room, entertaining the customers.
The downside to this place is over the years it has become somewhat of a tourist trap. When we visited, I was tired and jetlagged and without my wits about me, we over looked some classic tricks of the tourist-baiting trade. The servers, who deal with demanding and rowdy tourists day after day, can be very surely. Then there is their traditional welcome shot they "give" you when you come in. Customers would assume upon being given this without ordering it that it would be complimentary but if you drink it, it will cost you. Although it won't break the bank, that one shot will cost you more than an entire pint of beer. Don't be afraid to turn them down right away when they approach you with the shot. Simply ask for a beer, with a Czech please and thank you and you'll let the waiter know that you know what's up and you're also a polite customer not there to give them a hard time.
The pub is known for their dark, thick and heady lagers which are the perfect antidote for sore feet after a long day of sightseeing. Their black beer is their speciality so be sure to give that a try. A lot of people who are opposed to "tourist traps" still come here because the beer is just that good. Cheap and fantastic! If you're here in the summer, don't miss sitting outside in their awesome beer garden.
The restaurant also offers up some delicious authentic Czech food. If you're not super hungry, try the cheese plate, complete with local Czech cheese, olives and a few slices of bread - goes well with their beer. Their homemade garlic soup is also a favourite if you happen to visit in the colder months. If you're up for dinner get a plate of Goulash with soft and moist bread dumplings or the 'Fleck's Treat' complete with a little bit of all the different meats on the menu served with sauerkraut and bread and potato dumplings.
So despite the few waiters who are looking to take advantage of unassuming tourists, it’s worth checking out. Keep your wits about you and never drink anything you didn’t order. Nothing in this life is free.