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"This is a beer pub not a restaurant," we’re told as we enter U Jelínků. This is a small and traditional hospoda in the Nové Město, or New Town, in the centre of Prague, where you have two choices for beer: large Pilsner Urquell or small Pilsner Urquell.
Time stands still in U Jelínků while the world continues to move forwards. The walls are stained yellow with old smoke, the décor dates to the mid-1900s, the štamgasts have been there for decades, and have a whole shelf reserved for their unique beer glasses, and the waitress who brings us our beer has worked here for 43 years.
The pub was opened sometime in the 1920s – no-one knows the exact day – by Mr Jelínek. The current owner is the founder’s great-grandson, who still personally opens the pub every day at 8.30am. It is a local pub, with the odd curious tourist, and has always been renowned for the actors and musicians – The Werich – who used to meet there in the 1950s. They gathered here because it was just around the corner from Supraphon, the most famous recording studio in Czech since 1932, where all these musicians would have made their records.
Jan Werich was one of Czech’s most famous actors, working in films and plays all over the world, and who owned one of Prague’s theatres. He was known for his political satires, often against the communist regime, and his love of life, which involved drinking at U Jelínků.
This is the bar where time stood still. It feels like it hasn’t changed much since Jan Werich’s day, which is what makes U Jelínků special. And the beer is still one of the freshest beers in the Czech Republic, something that's been constantly excellent through generations of drinkers. If you come here on Friday night, it still has the kind of atmosphere you can’t find anywhere else in Prague; an atmosphere of old, enjoyed today.
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