Treat Yourself Tuesday: Gluten Free in Berlin, Krakow, and Prague

Happy Tuesday! I’m dedicating my second #treatyourselftuesday to my biggest treat of the summer: my trip to Europe. Click here to read Becky’s fabulous blog and learn more about why she believes in the power of treating yourself every week. Happy to be linking up!

We celebrated my last summer of “freedom” (aka no grad school) with a week and a half of vacationing and adventuring. The trip was incredible, and thanks in large part to my exhaustive (anal?) pre-research, I got to treat myself to some of the local cuisine safely and gluten freely.

1) Stop number one: Berlin! The most surprising thing about Berlin, for me, was just how much of an international city it is. People like to compare it to Brooklyn–the city is stuffed to the gills with hipsters from all over the world, cute coffee shops, clubs, hole-in-the-wall bars, and brunch places. But if you’re looking for German food, German culture, or even German people, Berlin isn’t the place. That said, it is a fascinating city and definitely one I hope to come back to.

Late night at one of the cute local bars in Prenzlauer Berg
Late night at a cute local bar in Prenzlauer Berg

Due to the influx of trendy ethnic food and English speakers, it was super easy to navigate around the food scene. We had fabulous tacos and margaritas at Santa Berlin, which clearly marks all of their gluten free options right on the menu. A great, affordable choice for a dinner out–just be prepared to wait a bit for a table.

Tacos and margs!
Tacos and margs!

Since we had so many sights to visit, Berlin was a great place to grab groceries and store them in our Airbnb kitchen.

Healthy breakfasting at our Airbnb home!
Healthy breakfasting at our Airbnb home

We stopped by LPG Biomarkt (there are a bunch of locations around the city) for groceries and it had a GIANT gluten free section. Their bread and granola lasted me all the way to Prague.

2) From Berlin we hopped on a quick flight over to Krakow. I wasn’t quite sure what to expect, but Krakow was a truly lovely little city and a pleasure to explore. In addition to a finding a shocking number of gluten free eats, some pretty magical things happened in Krakow: J and I celebrated our second anniversary and I officially accepted a new job. Can’t really complain! Onto the eats…

We got to the city late and were pretty ravenous, so we followed our hostel’s recommendation to a salad bar called Chimera. While it wasn’t a salad bar in the traditional serve-yourself American sense, the food was fresh and plentiful… and they had gluten free cake on display! I knew good things were in store. The next afternoon, we had amazing potato latkes with mushroom sauce at Cafe Mlynek, a vegetarian joint in the Jewish district.

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Our anniversary dinner at Pod Baranem, however, absolutely blew me away. I had done some research on this one and it exceeded all expectations. The gluten free menu was extensive, the service was absolutely impeccable, and the traditional Polish food was DELISH (and very reasonably priced)! I didn’t take many photos since we were busy celebrating but these pierogies were probably the best thing I ate in Europe.

Pierogies--filled with beef, cabbage, and potato! NOMS.
Pierogies–filled with beef, cabbage, and potato

Don’t skip Restaurajca Pod Baranem if you’re in Poland!

3) Our last stop in Europe was in Prague.

Beautiful Prague by night
Beautiful Prague by night

I was last in Prague 14 years ago, and it was such a treat to be back in such a magical city–especially since we got to visit my wonderful great aunt on her home turf.

J, Mom, Dad, Aunt V, and me!
J, Mom, Dad, Aunt V, and me

Finding food in Prague was a little bit tricky–the city just hasn’t seemed to embrace the gluten free trend the way that Krakow and Berlin have. Regardless, I dragged the crew to Švejk Restaurant U Karla, where I treated myself to a traditional Czech goulash with dumplings and a Celia Lager (my new favorite gluten free beer).

GF goulash and dumplings
GF goulash and dumplings

Overall, I had a fabulous time in Europe–the trip was a treat in itself, filled with lots of gluten free treats!

The BEST gluten free beer!

I’ve been a bit radio-silent on the blog front recently–for several reasons. Life has been pretty hectic recently: I moved, accepted a new job, and am starting grad school in a couple of weeks. On top of all of that craziness, I just happened to have a 2 week international vacation on the books. On top of THAT, part of the vacation (and the impetus for it) was my very dear friend’s wedding in Israel.

Still with me? To recap: new home, new job, new school, and a huge trip to a potentially war-torn area of the globe.

Putting aside all of the crazy new and exciting life things for a minute, let’s focus in on my vacation adventures. First and foremost, clearly I am home and safe. Thankfully there was a cease-fire in effect the entire time we were in Israel, so everything went off without a hitch. And we had a wonderful time during the first two thirds of our trip, which we spent in Berlin, Krakow, and Prague.

Barring a few mishaps and challenges, I ate and drank my way through Europe and Israel like a gluten free queen!! While I’ll chronicle my eating adventures in at least a couple of upcoming posts, I wanted to shout out my most important discovery: I found THE BEST gluten free beer. Hands down. I was diagnosed with Celiac at 21 and I’ve tried em all: Dogfish Tweason’ale, Omission, Glutenberg, Redbridge, Bard’s, New Planet, Trader Joe’s NGB, Estrella Damm Daura, etc., etc… and this one takes the cake.

To back up: J and I spent our second anniversary exploring the beautiful little city of Krakow.

Sunset in Krakow's main square
Sunset in Krakow’s main square

I was a little bit nervous to be somewhere slightly off the beaten path–which generally makes it tricky to find things that I can eat. Boy, was I ever wrong! This gorgeous little city was bursting with gluten free gems. When I saw this sign I knew good things were coming my way.

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Show me the beer!

Enter: Celia Lager, from the Zatecky brewery in the Czech Republic. (Sidenote: it is apparently brewed in a castle. Yes, a magical castle that brews gluten free beer. I want to go to there!) The beer was light, crisp, refreshing, and tasted GOOD–none of the metallic, sour, or vegetable-like edge that other gluten free beers have.

Apparently I was so excited I forgot how to pour beer.
Apparently I was so excited I forgot how to pour beer.

It even got two thumbs up from J and from my dad–I sometimes bring in ringers to see if something actually tastes good or if it just tastes good to me since I can’t really remember what gluten-ous foods taste like.

Ladies and gents, this one is a winner. I found it again in Prague and happily slurped down another bottle. So here’s the challenge: while the delicious treat is all the rage in the UK, the interwebs seem to be telling me it’s not available here in the US. Why oh why, Celia?? We need you here–big time!

Do they need a spokesperson? I think I would do an excellent job!
Do they need a spokesperson? I think I would do an excellent job!

Does anyone know where I can find this wondrous beer stateside? Have you ever tried it? What’s your favorite gluten free beer?