Rio’s Vyšehrad: A historical panorama

In the 10th century, Czech royalty headquartered itself at Vyšehrad. Today, in the middle of this fortified settlement, you’ll find a restaurant which reflects the historical atmosphere, as well as enlivening it with Franco-Italian cuisine.

Vyšehrad is one of the most commemorated Czech sites, and it has maintained its magical and mysterious atmosphere to this century. When you’ve had enough of the ubiquitous histories of Vyšehrad and the lovely, panoramic view of Prague, head for Rio’s Vyšehrad. This café-restaurant was opened in November of 1992 by Raimond Rio Spunda (known to his friends as Rio) in the former rectory beside the Saints Peter and Paul Cathedral. Shortly before, the great flood had erased his restaurant of the time, Rio’s Beach Club, at the Štvanice tennis facility. (Plans call for reopening in the fall.)
The interior of the restaurant includes two stylistically distinctive areas that are the owner’s work. “Clients have to make an effort to get here, so everything must meet their desire for high quality. The ground floor is for our more demanding clients, while the café upstairs is more casual,” the owner comments. The ground-floor dining area conforms with the refined, historical style of the Vyšehrad tradition, while the inviting café upstairs, with its hues and trimmings of sand and ocean, recalls the Mediterranean area. Between May and September, guests can while away the time in the spacious summer garden, with its unbelievable capacity of two hundred. This vast terrace is surrounded by a historical wall dating to the eleventh century, and in the summer is host to grilled specialties. The venue’s charming atmosphere is enhanced by the cathedral chimes, the second largest set in Prague after the Loreta.

While Italian and French dishes dominate the menu, Czech specialties are also present. Several times a year, the team of chefs is reinforced by colleagues from France and Italy, who come to share new recipes and experience. “We strive for an individual approach. When a guest wants something that’s not on the menu, we accomodate him,” Spunda explains. In the restaurant’s intimate ground-floor ambience, visitors will find appetizers that include nine variations of carpaccio, including two vegetarian types and eight styles of tartare, from the traditional to French with cognac or Mexican with salsa. For something lighter, you can order from the generous selection of fresh salads.
The daily offer of fresh fish, imported from France and Scandinavia, is a matter of course. “We serve salmon and bluehead, for example. Both of these fish, once boned and marinated, take on a pleasant aroma and lovely color when smoked,” Spunda says, stressing the merits of the restaurant’s smokehouse, which operates year-round. Grilled-meat dishes include lamb chops with beans and onions and tasty beef steaks named after Bahía Beach in Brazil. “We also prepare Creole dishes, from the Seychelles or Mauritius. We try to dress up the basic menu with varied offers, in order to please even the most demanding diners,” explains the owner. If you can’t resist having dessert, treat yourself to cre`me mascarpone, tiramisu made according to a house recipe, or honey-dew melon with Curacao.

The wine list, which is rotated by season is crowned by a red 1982 Bordeaux, Chateau Lafite Rothschild Premier Cru Pauillac. Also available are more affordable wines, such as the 1999 Italian red Mille e una notte, Donna Fugata, or a 1996 French St. Emilion, Cha^teau Cheval blanc. But the wine list isn’t limited to just France and Italy – you can drink to your friends’ health with glass from the Czech Republic, Chile or South Africa.
The unusual experience of a visit to Vyšehrad after dusk is also an attractive option. The lighting on the cathedral and walls is among Prague’s most impressive displays. Despite the growing number of visitors, the restaurateur claims that Vyšehrad is still an under-rated location. “This place has the potential to become the Czech Montmartre,” Spunda claims.

Rio’s Vyšehrad
Štulcova 2/102, Praha 2
tel.: 224 922 156
open daily 10-24
All cards accepted

LIMELIGHT – A bar for all seasons

Photo: Dorothea Bylica

This combination wine bar, shop, and tasting cellar is just the ticket for passers-by in Prague 1 who feel like a little classy indulgence. In addition to an impressive selection of choice labels from South Africa to Australia, this elegantly-appointed venue boasts a well-stocked humidor, a daily selection of French and Swiss cheeses, fondue, paté and other specialty snacks. By-the-glass prices are suited to the connoisseur and the modest tippler alike, and the renovated cellar can also be reserved for group tastings, with your own sommelier presiding.

Monarch Vinný Sklep, Na Perštýně 15, Praha 1, tel.: 224 239 603,


Photo by: archiv

Located in a typical cottage in the foothills, in which there has been a pub since the 19th century, the Domov interior is luxurious – fireplace, leather chairs, and large, solid tables, placed unusually far apart, thus evoking a sense of privacy. Czech-style specialties include grilled lamb chops on string beans with a mustard-tarragon sauce and mashed potatoes. Meat is grilled in several ways, and for private parties whole animals can be prepared. The fish on the menu is served fresh from a large tank in the basement, and guests can even catch their own. The wine list and the menu are both well balanced, despite the advertised Czech cuisine, and include such entrées as ostrich medallions. According to the owner, diners can order almost anything in advance, including items not on the menu – perhaps oysters. For a table near the fireplace or a weekend dinner, reservations are a must.Domov
Ještědská 149, Liberec, tel.: 482 771 251
Mon-Thu 11am to 11pm, Fri-Sat 11am to 1am, Sun 11am to 10pm
Visa, MC, EC,,
How to get there: From Liberec take the road leading to Ještěd.

Photo by: P.Poliak

MY PLACEEva Štěpánková,
owner of Ryor, a cosmetics firm

“One of my favorite restaurants is Na Farkáně. Unusually fine cuisine and a resourceful menu with a picture of each dish make this eatery especially fascinating. The Easter banquet menu borders between fantasy and typical regional dishes. Also tempting are the autumnal wild game feasts, with their unmistakable ambience, even though they last but a few days. Our foreign partners also appreciate the high quality of the food served there. The desserts are also highly original. Dishes at Na Farkáně that I and my colleagues like very much include roast duck with various types of cabbage and different kinds of dumplings. Pleasant service is a tradition at this restaurant.”

Na Farkáně - Na Farkáně III/32, Praha 5, tel. 257 220 253, open daily 11:30-24

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