Using Restaurants with No Reservation
People who wander into restaurants without reservations are called “walk-in trade” and quite simply in Prague 1 that’s the same as loading 5 bullets into a revolver and playing Russian roulette with it. Restaurants in the Old Town and especially Mala Strana (Lesser Town) can be absolute stinkers for extracting the money out of unsuspecting diners and I reckon you’ve got around a 1 in 6 chance of encountering issues during any part of the meal.
I’ve spent years trying to educate people coming here on the best way of handling restaurants in this part of town and there are some simple rules:
Read the reviews. Pick a few places before you come here, do a bit of research so you’ve got a few solid places to go to.
Make reservations. The restaurant website may offer a reservation system so take advantage of it or visit the restaurant off-peak to see if you like it and make a reservation at the same time.
Follow the crowd. Popular restaurants in the city always have people in them.
Look at the menu. All restaurants will display a menu outside or in the window. Take a look and see what takes your fancy before you commit to going in. Pay particular attention to items on the menu that may be priced per weight etc or in the case of duck, per quarter.
Getting a printed/itemised bill is the law here. It may look old-worldly and authentic to see somebody work a bill out on a piece of scrap paper but warning bells should be sounding.
Count your change: if paying with high value notes and remember if you want to tip then give the money straight to the waiter, do not leave on the table.