The Ultimate European Food Guide: Move over Freshman 15, here’s your Europe 15.
Food is half the journey; discover the best of Europe’s culinary creations and where to find them on your next European adventure.
Whether we want to admit it or not, half of the reason many of us travel is to experience new foods and well… eat our way through an entire continent. Thankfully, unlike the Freshman 15, the Europe 15 is widely forgiven and it’s been proven that calories certainly do not count while you travel—at least that’s what you’re suppose to tell yourself, anyway. With a multitude of exciting, foreign and downright bizarre food and drink options out there, it can be hard to know what to eat and where to try it. Here are the top dishes and drinks you need to try while you trek your way across Europe. Side note: eating gelato on the daily is also acceptable; how else are you going to discover your favourite flavours?
Currywurst: It may sound a bit odd at first, but that’s because it definitely is. However, that doesn’t mean that curry and sausage don’t make an iconic pair. Look for Curry 61 and try this popular German fad.
Moroccan Food: In Germany? Really? YES! You better believe it. You’ll want to hit up a restaurant called Baraka for an authentic taste of this dish. Bring your stretchy pants because portions are very generous.
Prague, Czech Republic:
Tredlink: It’s hard to pronounce but you won’t mind once you dig into one of these spiral shaped, sugar coated treats; they’re the ultimate guilty pleasure!
Beer: It’s a given, but Prague has some of the cheapest beer in Europe and is home to Pilsner Urquell. Stay away from Old Town Square when scoping out spots to drink, the prices are significantly higher.
Goulash: A hearty meat and veggie stew with all the right seasoning. It’s typically a Hungarian dish but you can also find some amazing versions of it in Prague. Try it out at the well-esteemed Restaurace Mlejnice where they serve it in a freshly baked bread bowl.
Schnitzel: This might be an obvious one, but what’s not so obvious is where to find some of the best in town. Seek out Figlmüller for this classic Viennese dish. They’ve been around for almost 100 years and call themselves the “home of the schnitzel”. Forewarning: lineups will be long so book a table or go early!
Apple Strudel: A mouth water apple filled pastry that you will certainly want to save room for. Try out Café Sperl for a truly extravagant experience.
Langos: Picture a mini deep fried pizza-shaped dough covered in sour cream and cheese. This is a highly sought after Hungarian delicacy, but you can opt for different toppings other than the “classic”. Find it upstairs in the Great Market Hall.
Lake Bled, Slovenia:
Lake Bled Cream Cake: A one of a kind cake that can only be found in Lake Bled, Slovenia (the original version, anyway). After you’ve completed your walk around the perimeter of the stunning lake, you’re definitely going to be in need of a pick me up like this. Don’t believe the impostures, the original cake can only be found at the Park Restaurant and Cafe, which boasts stunning views of the surrounding area.
Vino and Pasta: Italy is known for both their wine and pasta. Whenever you go to a restaurant, ask for their house wine and house pasta (this applies to anywhere in Italy) and you’ll definitely culture your taste buds. Fun fact: Italians prefer their pasta al dente, which is slightly firmer than the pasta we eat in North America.
Caprese Salad: Simple, fresh and all you need for the perfect starter. Fresh basil and mozzarella are paired with juicy red tomatoes and the finest olive oil. Need we say more?
Limoncello and Grappa: Finish off your meal with what Italians refer to as a “digestive”; one is a lemon liqueur and the other a fragrant, grape-based brandy. Remember these are meant to be sipped, not taken as a shot!
Gelato: Oh gelato… Guilty of making our pants tighter and our trek up the stairs more exhausting than it should be. But when in Rome, it’s a no brainer! Try Giolitti for some of the best gelato in Rome and always walk out with two flavours (fun fact: every Italian has their two go-to gelato flavours).
Spaghetti a la Carbonara: A classic to say the least. You’ll know it’s authentic when it’s made with raw egg. Rome is famous for their Carbonara, so get it while you’re there. Where? Try La Carbonara, Roscioli or Ristochicco.
Trattoria da Romano: If there’s one restaurant that’s worth visiting while you’re in Venice, it’s on the nearby island of Burano. Featured on the Food Network with chef extraordinaire, Anthony Bourdain, Trattoria da Romano has an incredibly high reputation that closely matches the quality of their food. Forget the menu, you’ll want to order the seafood risotto and the seafood platter starter. It’s definitely on the pricy side, but it could be considered a bucket list worthy meal.
Cicchetti: If you’re ever in a hurry, these are a great snack to grab at one of many local cicchetti bars in Venice and are typically served for lunch or in the late afternoon. Think tapas, but italian style. Often times it’s fresh bread topped with seasonal seafood, cheese or meat. Ask the waiter to bring you what he or she recommends if you want an authentic Italian experience.
Sangria: Spain is well known for this fruity, wine-based alcoholic beverage that many North Americans have grown to love. You can get it at most restaurants or, if you’re on a strict student budget, opt for the tetra pack version from the closest convenience store (we highly recommend the former).
Fresh Fruit: Fruit is universal, but Spain happens to be one of the best places in Europe for finding the freshest fruit. Head to La Boqueria Food Market in the city centre and stand in awe of the rows and rows of fresh fruit.
Pivo: It seems that most of Europe has quite delicious beer, but that being said, you should also make it your mission to taste all of Croatia’s different beers; they won’t leave you disappointed. Again, beer in Croatia is very cheap.
Seafood Anything: Seafood in Croatia is incredibly fresh and seafood pasta is worth ordering in this region. If you’re in Split, check out Bistro Toc for their awesome seafood spaghetti. If you’re in Hvar, you’re going to want to find Konoba Menego; a cozy, unique atmosphere with some of the best seafood you’ll find in Croatia.
Full English/Scottish/Irish Breakfast: The UK takes pride in their hearty breakfasts, so when you visit, make sure you don’t miss out on the most important meal of the day. This will include eggs, toast, fried tomato, mushrooms, beans, sausage, bacon and if you’re lucky, black pudding (we’ll let you Google this one).
Fish and Chips: Make sure you ask the locals where to go because they’re sold everywhere but not all of them are the real deal.
Scones with Clotted Cream and Jam: High tea anyone? An indulgence, yes, but worth it? Always. Scotland (among many other cities in the UK) is a fantastic place if you want a delicious scone made fresh that day (always make sure it’s warmed up first). Recommended cafe: Mimi’s Bakehouse in Edinburgh.
Haggis: It sounds awful, once you find out what it’s made of it it sounds even more awful, but yet, this Scottish favourite tastes 100x better than you could ever imagine, especially when it’s layered on a hog roast sandwich. Try it at Oink in Edinburgh’s city centre.