Adorable sidewalk cafes, bustling markets, and fresh, local ingredients. It must mean you are dining in Europe! But with so much on offer, how’s a traveller expected to know what to eat and where, especially on a tight schedule? Here’s our list of the most quintessential dishes you must eat when travelling in Europe.
Go pie crazy in London
Traditional British cuisine focuses on fish and chips and meat pies. But London’s badge as one of the deepest melting pots in Europe means the variety of dishes on offer certainly doesn’t disappoint. If steak and kidney pie with a side of stewed eels doesn’t float your boat, how about a classic curry? East London’s Brick Lane is home to a diverse Indian and Bangladeshi population and serves as a burgeoning hipster enclave, with funky shops and galleries. If you can handle the heat, dive into a spicy curry at Sheeba Brick Lane, often considered one of the top Indian restaurants in London.
If you are feeling particularly adventurous, head to M.Manze on Tower Bridge Road for the jellied or stewed eels – you’ll feel like you’ve stepped back into Jolly Olde England! They’ve been offering pies and mash since 1902.
Address: 136 Brick Lane, London E1 6RU
Contact: +44 20 7247 7824
Address: 87 Tower Bridge Road, London SE1 4TW
Contact: +44 20 7407 2985
Feel fancy in Paris
Not everyone has the budget for a Michelin Star dining experience at Le Cinq or L’Atelier de Joel Robuchon in Paris (If you do, go for it, but book ahead). That said, there are still quintessentially French dining experiences that us mere mortals can achieve while exploring Paris.
Track down some of the traditional, world-renowned French dishes, like cassoulet. Cassoulet is a rich, slow-cooked casserole, usually made with duck and beans. Head to Auberge Pyrénées Cévennes, near the Republique Metro stop, for a delicious interpretation in a classically French ambience which won’t break the bank. Don’t forget to wash it down with a glass of Burgundy! Afterwards, troll the cafes for a perfect Parisian macaron.
Auberge Pyrénées Cévennes
Address: 106 rue de la Folie Mericourt, 75011, Paris
Contact: + 33 1 43 57 33 78
Get melty in the Swiss Alps
It’s virtually guaranteed to be chilly, if not downright cold, during a day exploring the Swiss Alps. Why not warm up with a traditional Swiss fondue? Fondue comes in many varieties, including the most well known: cheese and chocolate. In Jungfraujoch, seemingly on the top of the world, sit down for a warming bowl of cheese fondue with a view at Crystal Restaurant.
Address: Eigergletscher, 3823 Eigergletscher, Switzerland
Contact: +41 33 828 72 33
Feast on steak in Florence
Being one of the more touristy cities within Italy, recommendations for great food are essential! Browsing the Mercato Centrale, or Mercato di San Lorenzo, is a must. When hunger strikes, just head upstairs for a modern day Italian-style food court, with loads of options available from pizza to truffles.
For a traditional Tuscan lunch, head to 100-year-old Trattoria Gozzi Sergio, just in front of the Basilica di San Lorenzo, and only five minutes from the Duomo. Order the ribollita, a Tuscan bread and bean soup, or splurge on a giant bistecca alla fiorentina, often served rare. The steak is enough for two or three people to share!
Trattoria Gozzi Sergio
Address: Piazza di San Lorenzo, 8R, 50123, Florence
Contact: +39 055 281941
Try perfect pasta in Pisa
Pisa is known for one thing: the Leaning Tower of Pisa. That means any seasoned traveller should know to avoid a meal on Via Santa Maria, in front of the tower. Instead, go a little deeper to find some quality eats. Check out the restaurants on some of the small alleys in the centre of town, closer to the river. Search for fresh pappardelle, a wide ribbon pasta, with braised meat, or the hearty bistecca alla fiorentina. Both are offered at Osteria La Grotta, in a rustic atmosphere with exposed stonework.
Address: Via San Francesco 103, 56127, Pisa
Contact: +39 050 578105
Take a bite of cicchetti in Venice
Often, many cities are described as “The Venice of The …” but there is no substitution for the real deal. After tasting roasted meats, steaks, and pasta in Florence and Pisa, you should be sure to leave room for fresh seafood in Venice. Or, take in a Venetian cicchetti. Similar to tapas in Spain, cicchetti are small bites, normally during aperitivo, the time between work and dinner.
While wandering the alleys and canals of Venice, look for people standing at the bar, drinking a glass of wine or an Aperol Spritz, and do as the locals do. Or, head to Cantina do Mori, a 15th-century wine bar known for its cicchetti. Ask for something special from their wine cellar and snack away!
Cantina do Mori
Address: Sao Polo 429, 30125, Venice
Contact: +39 041 522 5401
Get adventurous in Munich
A foodie’s dreams of Bavaria most likely include three things: sausages, pretzels and beer. In Munich, it’s possible to find warm pretzels on almost every street corner. But for a truly Bavarian breakfast, try the weisswurst. A soft, white veal sausage, it is normally served alongside a pretzel and a dollop of sweet mustard, but never after noon.
Before digging in, look at the locals sitting next to you to understand how to eat the white sausage. The skin is not meant to be eaten, and eating weisswurst is an art. And don’t feel strange ordering a wheat beer with your breakfast! Try this uniquely Bavarian morning meal at Weisses Brauhaus in the city centre.
Address: Tal 7, 80331 Munich
Contact: +49 89 2901380
Eat all the meat in the Rhine Valley
The Rhine River runs from Lake Constance in Switzerland, through Germany and the Netherlands before depositing into the North Sea. Some of the most picturesque portions of the Rhine are those that form the Rhine Gorge, between Mainz and Cologne. This Middle Rhine region is stunning, dotted with castles, fortresses and tiny wine-villages.
The menus here are all about the meat: schnitzel, bratwurst, and roast meat dishes, including the Rhineland style roast pork, slathered in an onion gravy. In addition to the typical German fare, have a glass of Riesling, a classic German wine, from one of the local terraced vineyards.
Find Asia in Amsterdam
Finishing off our recommendations for the quintessential European dishes, Amsterdam offers another attempt to redefine traditional Dutch cuisine in this top European cultural hotspot. Amsterdam is the perfect place to satisfy your cravings for Thai food or Indian curry. But if you have limited time, there is one Dutch eating experience that is a must: Indonesian rijstaffel.
Rijstaffel translates to “rice table”. A series of Indonesian dishes is served, along with rice, allowing you to taste all of the different flavours of classic Indonesian cuisine. Restaurant Puri Mas, in Central Amsterdam, offers authentic Indonesian food, including their famous rijstaffel, with servers donning traditional batik outfits.
Address: Lange Leidsedwarsstraat 37-41, 1017 Amsterdam
Contact: +31 20 627 7627