Want to know the best food destinations in Europe? Travelling in Europe is a great way to experience a diverse number of cultures and, best of all, food. What’s the best cheap food in Europe? What’s the best street food in Europe? There are so many delicious dishes in Europe it can be daunting to try and taste them all. So what actually is the best food in Europe? To answer all these questions and more I’ve asked the travel experts for their top meals of Europe and must try European foods.
By Ella from Many More Maps
Norwegian Meatballs, or Kjøttkaker are a beloved traditional dinner served in Norway, and trying them should be something you should add to your Oslo itinerary! The meatballs are all-beef and slightly salty, served with a brown gravy and other traditional accompaniments such as boiled potatoes, peas and lingonberry sauce. It’s thought that meatballs first became a Norwegian staple way back in the 1700’s, and different variations have developed ever since.
What makes this dish so special is its hearty and familiar ingredients. This is comfort food at its finest, and a steaming plate is the perfect way to end a cold winter’s day. Each family has their own recipe, which means that you’re unlikely to find the exact same recipe twice and each place you try the dish will serve it ever so slightly differently. A big helping, served with all the sides, will set you back on average 140 NOK. Although it’s slightly expensive, the portion size and delicious flavours make it well worth it! If you’re looking for the best place to try Norwegian Meatballs in Oslo, head to Kaffistova.
Khachapuri in Georgia
By Emily, Wander-Lush
The Caucasus nation of Georgia is known for its abundant produce and fragrant spices. But its national dish is something a little simpler – a classic pairing of carbs and fat. If you’ve never tried khachapuri (Georgian ‘cheese bread’) before, prepare to be blown away. This is one of the most indulgent, delicious and moreish things you can eat in Europe.
Khachapuri comes in a dozen or so different varieties, each local to a different region. Adjaruli khachapuri from Georgia’s western Adjara is perhaps the most recognisable: it’s boat-shaped and served open with molten cheese, butter and an egg yolk on top. The exact origins of khachapuri aren’t known, but the original is thought to have come from the kitchens of Adjara.
When you visit Batumi, Georgia’s Black Sea resort city, you can try this indulgent bread snack at Retro or Laguna, two cafes that specialise in an old family recipe. One khachapuri is enough to fill you up for a full day – and best of all, it will only set you back 5 USD or less. Other variations include Imeretian khachapuri, which is stuffed with cheese, and Megrelian khachapuri, which comes with extra cheese on top.
Escargots in France
Pauline from BeeLoved City
French Cuisine is extremely famous all around the world. If you are a foodie, France will be your paradise! You will find loads of typical dishes in France but if there was only one you should try, that would be escargots! Snails were particularly popular during roman times. Back in the days, they were reserved for times of famine but since, it became quite a luxury delicacy.
I appreciate it can put off some people but it’s worth giving it a shot! Escargots usually come as a dozen, in a silver tray. You eat them as a starter. Most french families keep it for special occasions. It’s not a cheap delicacy! They usually cost about 7 euros in supermarkets and 12 euros if you are eating out. You will find them in many restaurants as a starter or part of a 2 or 3 course meal.
There are several recipes but the most common is the “Escargots a la Bourguignonne ”. The snails are cleaned, cooked and placed back in their shell with a creamy garlic butter. They are very tasty and, unlike you might think, not gooey.
Gambas Pil Pil in Spain
Joanna from The World In My Pocket
One of the best dishes that you can order when you visit the South of Spain is prawns pil pil, or gambas pil pil, in Spanish. The pil pil sauce that the prawns are cooked in is a mixture of olive oil, garlic and chili, and originated in the Basque Country. It is still unclear where the prawns pil pil recipe comes from, as both the Basque Country and Andalucia claim as theirs.
The prawns pil pil recipe is very easy to make, with fresh king prawns fried for a couple of minutes in the pil pil sauce. It is usually served with plenty of garlic on top and decorated with parsley. Alongside, it is accompanied by crusty bread which you dip in the sauce once you finish eating the prawns. This tapa is usually served sizzling, in individual terracotta tapas plates. Depending in which area you are in, a tapa of prawns pil pil will cost between 4 – 7 euros. It is always cheaper outside of the touristic triangle of Andalucia (Malaga – Granada – Sevilla).
I always order prawns pil pil when I go for tapas because there is so much flavour in this dish. In my opinion, you can’t have prawns cooked in any better way.
Malloreddus Alla Campidanese in Sardinia
Claudia from Strictly Sardinia
If you ever decide to visit Sardinia, you will have plenty of chances to eat one of the staple dishes – malloreddus alla campidanese. Also called gnocchetti sardi, for their shape resembles that of gnocchi, this traditional pasta from the region of Campidano in Sardinia is in fact completely different in flavor an texture from the more popular Italian gnocchi. It’s made with semolina and water, and occasionally a little bit of saffron, and it has a significantly toothier texture.
Malloreddus are traditionally served with a sauce that is made with tomato passata, onions, fresh Sardinian sausage (which usually has fennel seeds), dry Sardinian sausage, ground pork meet and rosemary and that is cooked for up to 3 hours. It’s served with abundant doses of grated Sardinian pecorino.
Malloreddus is the kind of dish that is never missing during a Sardinian Sunday meal. It’s best eaten at a local agriturismo, and can be found in good restaurants (though most will serve a variation of the original dish) where it normally costs an average of $15 USD.
Lohikeitto in Finland
Ayngelina from Bacon Is Magic
It is a hearty winter soup meant to give energy, which is why it’s devoid of green vegetables. The addition of dill reflects more modern access to food all year round. It’s most often found in small cafes and markets throughout Finland and can cost 5-25 Euro depending on its interpretation as many formal fine dining restaurants are now creating a high end version of home cooked favourites. Although most locals will say the best version comes from their grandmother, and every recipe is slightly different.
Afternoon Tea in the UK
Akid from Chasing Continents
The UK is respected for its history and culture, however the food – not so much. The nation has become a hot pot of cultures so much so, that even the British have a hard time deciding what British food really is. I mean the nations favourite takeaway switches between Chinese and Indian (though this year Fish and Chips won out). If you dig deeper into the roots of British food however, you can find some delicious dishes. Most are carb and meat options like shepherd’s pie, toad in the hole (a fancier bangers and mash), as well as the full English breakfast. They have their place, but for a more delicate representation of a British treat, I offer you the afternoon tea.
The afternoon tea is quintessentially British. Initially only for the upper-class of society, it has now become a fashionable event for couples, families and friends alike. To be honest you can’t go wrong with tea, cake and sandwiches! The beauty of the afternoon tea is its simplicity – a scone with cream and jam, bite-size cucumber sandwiches and a strong cup of earl grey. Its popularity has meant many venues are offering more daring options with trays of extraordinary deserts and sandwiches.
Afternoon teas have become so popular there are afternoon tea tours you can take around London. Afternoon tea is stereo-typically and wonderfully British, and treating yourself means you are partaking in a tradition going back to 1840.
Slovenian Pogača bread
Lori from Travlin Mad
Bread is life, as they say, and lucky for us bread lovers, good bread can be found throughout the world. But when it comes to the food of Slovenia, hearty rustic bread is elevated to new levels with their Pogača bread, as beautiful as it is delicious to eat.
But it’s the symbolism of Pogača (rhymes with focaccia) that makes this tempting treat so special, traditional pogača bread is their unofficial symbol of hospitality. There’s always some on hand when guests arrive, and a fresh round makes the perfect gift when visiting friends.
Pogača bread is made flat and thin and rises to about 3-4 cm in the middle. Its recognizable grid pattern is made with a knife before baking, then the bread is topped with generous sprinkles of cumin seeds and course salt. In Slovenia, you’ll eat it for breakfast, lunch, dinner, or a snack, but if you can find a local chef to show you how it’s made, it’ll be the most memorable experience of your trip to Slovenia!
Pierogi in Poland
Reshma Narasing, The Solo Globetrotter
Pierogi is one of the best dishes in Europe that you shouldn’t miss. One of the fun facts about Poland is that Pierogi is the national dish and an important part of the culture. The Polish love them so much that they celebrate National Pierogi Day every year on October 8th. There is also an annual Pierogi festival that happens in Krakow.
Pierogi originated among the peasants in Poland. After the 17th century, it spread to other classes of society growing increasingly popular, eventually becoming the staple food. What makes them unique? There are many varieties including sweet, salt and sour, which means you can have them for appetisers, main course and desserts too!
The most popular ones are potato, mushrooms, cabbage and meat mixed with onions and cheese, usually served with cream or Mayonnaise. If you want to try for desserts, I’d highly suggest you try Chocolate dumplings. Among fruit versions, Pierogi with berries are the best. I tried potato, mushroom, chicken and chocolate and loved them all. If you eat at one of the milk bars, they are very cheap, costing less than 5 Euros. Pierogi in famous restaurants cost more, around 25 Euros, especially those in touristy neighbourhoods.
Sticky Toffee Pudding in England
Kate from Have Diapers, Will Travel
One of England’s most famous desserts, sticky toffee pudding was first served at the Sharrow Bay Country House Hotel in the Lake District in the 1970s by Francis Coulson. His recipe for the dish was kept such a secret that the staff at the hotel had to sign a secrecy agreement, and the original recipe is kept in the hotel vaults to this day.
The dish is made from butter, flour and sugar, with black treacle and dates used to give the hearty pudding its rich, sweet flavor. The toffee sauce is made with muscovado sugar, as well as a little more treacle, and the entire dish is served piping hot, traditionally covered in lashings of custard or a big scoop of vanilla ice cream. It can be found almost anywhere in the UK, but I think the best place to try it is in a pub. It usually runs around £5.
The popularity of sticky toffee pudding comes from the fact that it’s a warm, comforting dessert that is the perfect food for bleak British weather. It’s lovely and warming on a cold winter evening, and a nice sweet end to a meal.
Bitterballen in the Netherlands
Cosette from KarsTravels
Bitterballen are a Dutch snack, which is eaten warm. The inside stays extremely hot, so watch out not to burn your tongue! The inside of the bitterbal is a ragout, containing beef or veal. This is refrigerated and then rolled into balls. The balls then get breaded and fried.
The bitterbal is a smaller version of the famous kroket, another Dutch snack. Origins of the kroket are in France. In 1705 a recipe was printed for croquets. It found its way to The Netherlands and the oldest recipes found here are from 1830. The bitterbal is named such since at first bitterballen where served with a bittertje, a strong alcoholic herb flavoured beverage. Nowadays bitterballen are served with mustard or as part of a bittergarnituur.
Its unique since it’s almost exclusively served in the Netherlands and Belgium. Prices when ordering are around 7 to 9 euros for 8 bitterballen. A bittergarnituur is about 10 to 18 euros. I love bitterballen for their crunchy exterior and the delicious ragout stuffing. Sitting on a terrace ordering bitterballen with a drink is a perfect way to try one of the best foods in Europe.
Moussaka in Greece
Chrysoula from Athens And Beyond
Moussaka is a delicious, hearty Greek dish comprising of aubergine, potatoes and minced meat covered in a layer of thick Béchamel sauce. The ingredients are all layered together in a casserole dish or terracotta pot and are baked to perfection until the top is crispy and golden brown. This is a classic dish that is served up in pretty much every Taverna in the country (costing around €10) and is often enjoyed as a family lunch served alongside Greek salad. It is without doubt one of the best dishes to try in Europe.
While Moussaka is known for being a traditional Greek dish, it is thought that its origins go back as far as medieval Arabic cooking with Arabs bringing ingredients such as aubergine and spices from the Levant to Greece and Turkey. In later years, Greek chef, Nikos Tselementes, decided to take the basics of grilled aubergine and meat and add a layer of béchamel (which he picked up from his training in France) to both modernize and ‘Europeanise’ the dish.
Pastel De Belem in Lisbon, Portugal
De Wet & Jin from Museum of Wander
The humble egg tart must be one of Portugal’s most iconic symbols, and has taken the world by storm over the last few years. These small bites of sunshine alone are reason to book your ticket to Portugal right away.
You can find a delicious egg tart at almost any bakery, corner store or gas station in the country. Tuck into one of these and you’re having a Pastel de Nata, and they are excellent indeed. But not all egg tarts are created equally. The most famous egg tarts in Portugal can only be found at the Pastéis de Belém bakery and must be on every Lisbon itinerary. The egg tarts here are called Pastel de Belém and have been trade marked. Have an egg tart anywhere else and you’re having a Pastel de Nata.
Monks started baking these beauties at their monastery, Mosteiro dos Jerónimos , just down the street around 1830. Later they opened the bakery, and they are still using the same secret recipe. There is nothing more typical to Lisbon to eat than a good, old Pastel de Belem. The flaky pastry crust holds the sweet, rich egg custard and the balance between textures and tastes are what make these egg tarts so good. Don’t fool yourself into thinking one will be enough….ever! At just over €1 each, you should definitely get more than one.
Amatriciana in Italy
Clotilde from A Princess Travelling With Twins
Amatriciana is an ancient recipe originally from the town of Amatrice, not far from Rome. It is difficult to accurately establish the original ingredients and procedure, probably every restaurant in the area will claim originality. “Pasta all’Amatriciana” is a popular dish throughout Italy and in recent years it has also become very famous throughout the world, unfortunately for a sad reason.
In 2016 central Italy was hit by a very strong earthquake. Amatrice, very close to the epicentre, was almost completely destroyed by the earthquake. An association of mainly Italian restaurateurs, but with some representatives from all over the world, launched an initiative to donate to the earthquake victims the proceeds of each plate of Amatriciana sold in their restaurants. This gesture made this delicious
recipe even more popular.
What makes it a dish so loved by Italians is the combination of simplicity and economy. Guanciale, Pecorino, tomatoes and pasta are all you need, with less than 10 Euros and just 20 minutes you can prepare a tasty and substantial first course for 4 people. But I recommend you use only bucatini not spaghetti!
Danish Stegt Flæsk
Derek from Everything Copenhagen
One of the best dishes in Europe is the Danish national dish – stegt flæsk. It’s a cut of pork loin cooked in a traditional method and served with potatoes and parsley sauce. You can substitute another root vegetable and vary the sauce, but a proper Danish kitchen will serve you stegt flæsk with potatoes and parsley sauce.
What makes stegt flæsk special is that the pork is served with a crispy fat that is removed in other cuisines. Keeping the fat on the pork loin creates a natural bacon-like layer of meat around the piece of pork. It’s neither smoked or salted and most popular around the Christmas season, however you can get stegt flæsk any time you visit Denmark. Some Copenhagen restaurants serve the entire Christmas meal in a five-course menu during the winter season. That’s a perfect way to try Danish stegt flæsk.
There are other restaurants and street food vendors that will sell stegt flæsk on a sandwich. That’s also delicious, but you really can’t go wrong with this unique Danish take on pork loin.
Tapas in Spain
Baia from Red Fedora Diary
A tapa is an appetizer and a favourite snack for many locals and foreigners. It’s a small portion of any meal from the Spanish cuisine and it could be warm or hot. Tapas became an integral part of restaurants and bars all over Spain.
The word “tapas” comes from the Spanish verb tapar, meaning “to cover”. Originally, they were served by bodegas and inns offering rooms and meals for the travellers. As in pre-19th-century Spain, few hosts can write and few travellers read, the venues offered guests a sample of meals available on a “tapa”, or the pot cover. Original tapas were simple snacks made from slices of meat (chorizo or ham) or bread. Customers used them to cover glasses of sherry to prevent fruit flies from flying over the sweet beverage. Therefore, restaurants and bartenders created a mixture of snacks paired with sherry.Over time, tapas became as essential as the sherry itself, developing through the country’s history by mixing new ingredients and influences. Depending on which part of the country you are travelling to, tapas can be a complimentary portion of your ordered drink. Unfortunately, Barcelona is an exception. The price at Barcelona’s restaurants ranges anywhere from 3 to 12 Euros depending on where you eat. When combined with several different types of tapas, it is a great and cheaper alternative for a full meal and a perfect introduction for Spanish cuisine.
So many great dishes and delicious European food. But which country has the best food in Europe? I'll leave that for you to decide! Let me know in the comments.
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Contiki – The day job. Group travel for 18/35 year olds and memories to last a lifetime.
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