Masné Krámy Budvar restaurant
Restaurant Masné krámy is one of České Budějovice's most well-known and popular eateries. 'Masné krámy' means 'meat stalls' and the building that houses the restaurant was home to the city's meat market since the original one was banished from the main square for hygienic reasons back in the reign of Charles IV.
Owned by Budvar
The building was reconstructed several times but functioned as a meat market until the 1950's when it was rebuilt as a restaurant.
The restaurant closed around the same time that communism ended in Czechoslovakia and stayed closed for more than five years while ownership of the building was negotiated. Restaurant Masné krámy in its current guise is owned and operated by the Budvar brewery.
Big and Popular
The entrance to the long low roofed building is from the end that faces Krajinská street. Inside there's a central corridor and the old meat stalls that ran along the sides and opened on to the corridor have been retained and make semi-private booths with seating for about eight people. There are also several places with smaller tables and altogether there's enough space for at least 150 diners in the restaurant. When I visited at 8pm on a Wednesday night there were only three or four tables left available.
With that many people, a tiled floor and masonry walls, you might expect the place to be noisy and it is. There's a constant bubble of conversation, laughter, chinking glasses and if there was any background music playing, I couldn't hear it. Not unlike the bustle you might expect from a busy indoor marketplace.
Good cop, bad cop
The counter is halfway along the corridor and there seem to always be plenty of waiters humming around. The one who brought my menu was curt, but it's probably not unusual to get a bit of attitude if you front up to a brewery restaurant, ask for a soft drink they don't have and then order mineral water. In contrast, the waiter who brought my meal couldn't have been nicer.
Good reliable meals
And the meal was very good. I ordered the Vídeňská roštěná, which is always the cheapest meal in the beef section of the menu, but from the tenderness, taste and presentation, you wouldn't have known it. I had fries on the side and they were well cooked and in a generous portion.
If I hadn't felt like the roštěná, I could have chosen from among the chicken dishes (138-154Kč) the pork dishes (129-146Kč) or had one of the other beef meals, the most expensive of which is the 200g pepper steak for 298Kč. Charles IV's mixed grill for 198Kč also looked good and the old standards Goulash and Svíčková were 118 and 129Kč respectively. Vegetarian dishes ranged from 78 to 99Kč.
The place to meet
From my friends in town, I had the impression that Masné krámy is the obvious choice when a group of people need to agree on a place to go out together. Everyone knows where it is, everyone has been there, and you can rely on good food and good beer. It's also the only place other than the brewery that serves the unfiltered and unpasteurised Budvar still with its live yeast culture.
Masné Krámy restaurant is open seven days a week from 10.30am until at least 11pm, except on Sundays when it closes at 9pm.
Restaurace Masné krámy
Tel. (+420) 387 201301