Lucerna's new cafe bar: Go for the history, stay for the cocktails

A hipster little sister to Prague's venerable Hospoda Lucerna and Lucerna Music Bar, the new venue offers an affordable coffee break in the city center.

Elizabeth Zahradnicek-Haas

Written by Elizabeth Zahradnicek-Haas Published on 08.03.2024 16:00:00 (updated on 14.03.2024) Reading time: 2 minutes

A recently published round-up of all the once-beloved, now-shuttered bars and cafes from the early days of the Prague expat scene presents a perfect opportunity to compare the smoke-choked haunts of yesteryear to the sleek coffee temples of today.

Both have their merits, and I’ll leave you to debate them. But for those longing to reconnect with a certain 1990s bohemian vibe or who tend to shy away from coffee lists that read like an Italian crossword puzzle, the newly opened Lucerna Cafe Bar has both history and refreshing simplicity on its side.

First, the history. The cafe, which soft-opened late last year and is now officially up and running, is located at the Vodičkova entrance to Palác Lucerna. The heritage-protected late art nouveau building, one of Prague’s most iconic spaces, was built by one of the country’s most preeminent families in 1907 – engineer and entrepreneur Vácslav Havel was also the grandfather of the late Václav Havel, the playwright and Czech president.

Lucerna Music Bar
Lucerna Music Bar

Lucerna houses the oldest continuously operating cinema in the Czech lands and a concert venue that has hosted Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong, The Beach Boys, and Lou Reed. One of Prague’s most photographed artworks, a David Černý sculpture of St. Wenceslas riding a dead horse, hangs beneath a glass dome skylight.

But for many, the space is best known for its nightlife particularly Hospoda Lucerna, the pub where one goes to warm up for a night at Lucerna Music Bar, whose lineup of indie bands and weekend 80s and 90s dance parties has drawn multi-generational crowds since 1995.

These time-worn venues now have a hipster little sister: Open for all-day breakfast followed by late-night cocktails and eats, Lucerna Cafe Bar bridges the gap between pub and club culture.

The new space’s interior is the work of Czech design innovators. The main attraction, an LED-panel bar, changes colors dynamically throughout the day. It's the work of design duo Spectoda, who have previously crafted everything from chandeliers made from waste hoses to light shows for Prague Pride. Statement gold light fixtures resembling vintage phonographs accent the minimalist black tables.

Bar design by Spectoda. Photo:

The playlist is curated by Kamil Šír, a veteran of the Czech music scene and organizer of the Rock for Churchill festival who has brought everyone from George Ezra to the Pixies to Prague. The mix syncs up nicely with the music bar next door and the cafe's evening DJ offerings.

A menu of breakfast and brunch standards served all day until 5 p.m. runs the gamut from eggs benedict to avocado toast and bagel sandwiches.

From 5 p.m. to 11 p.m., burgers, pulled pork sandwiches, quesadillas, and nachos are bolstered by a drinks menu with a wide selection of no- and low-alcohol libations, and signature cocktails: a pumpkin spice margarita, Italian espresso martini, and a chocolate Manhattan.

The cafe’s location is perhaps its biggest draw. Connected by a staircase to the pub downstairs, visitors can hit all the Lucerna hotspots in one night. The large windows also offer a view of passing trams and tourists.

For some the venue will serve as a nostalgic beacon (in Czech, “lucerna” means lantern) to the past, for all, it's an affordable coffee break in the center of rapidly gentrifying Prague.

Lucerna Cafe Bar exterior. Photo: Šimona Němečková
Lucerna Cafe Bar exterior. Photo: Šimona Němečková
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