If you were walking down Ujezd Street in Prague’s Mala Strana, or Lesser Towne, between the Church of Our Lady Victorious, where the famous statue of the Infant Baby Jesus is located, and Novy Smichov, you may never know this hidden gem of a restaurant was even there. Even though I have been there several times in the past, I almost walked right by it today on my way there for lunch, even though it is on the main street. Had it been summer time and they had their large front window open, or had their tables set al fresco it would have been easier to spot. But today it’s faded awning next to a praline shop gave it a look of a small convenience store if you had not given it a second look.
Luka Lu, a very unpretentious restaurant, where furniture hangs upside down on the ceilings and walls, a rainbow of colors within, and an assortment of pictures decorate the walls of this cozy, warm, and eclectic restaurant where the likes of Karel Gott, Joan Baez, and Lou Reed have eaten.
In their own words the owners of Luka Lu welcome you saying, “Some dream about flying. Some dream about a distant sea voyage…Some don’t dream at all….We dream about a quiet harbour. Our Dream is called Luka Lu (Harbour Lu).”
A dream it certainly is as you walk in the entrance and seaside harbour murals greet you and then blend into something else, as if you were in a colorful dream that changes at each turn. It is easy to find peace inside from the busy street outside as you are transported somewhere else.
The food itself is a dream as well with a fare of Balkan and Italian inspired dishes that keep bringing you back for more. The breads, soups, and pastas are all home-made and you can certainly tell the difference. The sauces are made ala minute and sometimes I get the feeling that perhaps grandma is working in the kitchen.
A new York Times review of Luka Lu goes on to say, ” Luka Lu entertains diners with upside down chairs dangling from the ceiling, cast iron bells on the walls and children’s shorts on clothespins. Then comes the hot, soft, homemade bread, the melting cheese stuffed peppers, the rich cevapcici meat patties and baklava, savored with a glass of wine from the Croatian Island of Korcula…” I more than agree with them. The warm homemade bread comes with two spreads, a tomato base and the other a cheese base. I love to cover two slices of bread with each of the spreads and wait until my soup arrives. Called “Beg” soup, it is a wonderfully home made chicken soup, and I love to dip the soft home
made bread with the house spreads into the soup and enjoy it that way, until I am forced to use the spoon to finish off the rest. The soup itself is basic containing what you would expect in most grandmothers chicken soups, and the wonderful thing about it is it actually tastes like my Grandmothers chicken soup.
We have had the peppers stuffed with the creamy Balkan cheese in the past, wich are “Dreamy,” but today we opted for the tomato salad with a light vinaigrette and sliced green onions. Our one entrée was a heavenly dish of Calamari stuffed with Prosciutto Ham and Balkan Hard Cheese lightly sautéed to perfection.
The other entrée was a wonderful home-made spaghetti tossed lightly in olive oil, garlic, and basil with shrimp and cherry tomatoes. I added a bit of the grated parmesan cheese and indulged in another dream at Luka Lu‘s.
The service here is friendly and efficient. The restaurant is often filled with locals and the occasional tourist in the know. Certainly not a tourist trap with the prices very reasonable and the value outstanding, this is truly one of our favorite restaurants in Prague. Next time I think I will try the Monk Fish.