Czech Food – Karbanatek

Czech Food – Karbanatek

You’ll find this staple of Czech cuisine on restaurant lunch menus and Chalkboard Menus plus also look out for it as humble pub food. As fried food, Karbanatek is not considered to be a very healthy option but it really does hit the spot if you are hungry and need something quick.

A tray with a main meal of fried karbanatek, puree potato and gherkin with a side salad and drink
What Karbanatek Usually Looks Like

What is Karbanatek?

Think of Karbanatek as like meatloaf but which is rolled into the shape of a large meatball, then covered in breadcrumbs and fried. The picture above is a pretty accurate presentation of what to expect. In my case I’d ordered it at something called a Jidelna (a cheaper place to eat lunch) but the ingredients are the same anywhere. If you see it described as “Karbanatky” it just means there will often be two smaller burgers.

How Is It Served?

In Austria, Germany and Scandinavian countries this meal is often called “Frikadel” and although the meat is prepared in the same way, the side dish can be varied. In a Czech restaurant it should only be served one way. In any kind of restaurant you’ll see this on a Czech menu listed as “Smaženy Karbanatek” indicating that it’s fried and the serving should be with puree potato (what Czechs call Bramborovy kaše) and a pickle (gherkin). In a pub-food setting you’d expect bread instead of potato but you still eat it with a knife and fork.

Karbanatek Variants

Not hugely popular but you do see “Brokolicove Karbanatek” which, as the name suggests is a vegetarian option. Watch out for the addition of “s nivou” to any Karbanatek option because it means that there is a particular type of blue cheese called Niva in the middle of the burger and personally I don’t like that flavour of cheese.

How Much is It?

sign on a restaurant lunch menu board advertising smazeny karbanatek
Karbanatek on a lunch menu board

I took this picture outside a restaurant close to Republic Square so it was still in Prague 1 in the New Town but considered to be slightly outside the main tourist area. As the meal is written in Czech it means it’s aimed at the Czech lunch market so it’s priced at CZK135. If it was on a menu for an evening meal then expect to pay 30% more and in a regular pub about 30% less.

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Tour Tips: Interested in Czech food? Here are some food tour operators with a good reputation.