Best Czech

Marta's

The circa-1919 structure that houses Marta Runza's Czech & American Restaurant is a cozy backdrop to the labor-intensive Czech food she prepares from scratch -- dishes like succulent sauerbraten, served with a pileup of tender spaetzle to soak up the homemade gravy. The same painstaking detail elevates Runza's slowly simmered Hungarian goulash, her rolled flank steak, the pan-fried pork schnitzel, and her chicken-liver dumpling soup. On the side, choose the Czech-style yeast-and-flour dumplings, shaped by hand, boiled until firm, and sliced like bread. But Marta's culinary masterpiece is the roasted duck, bronzed outside and buttery within. On the side, a juicy tangle of sweet-tart sauerkraut makes the perfect go-with; and while Runza doesn't make the kraut from scratch, she does doctor it with her personal blend of spices and a heap of lovin'.
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