Looking to expand your culinary horizons this year? Or do you just want to take the plunge and try something new? Packed with delicious food from Europe’s awesome cities, we’ve pulled together a list of 20 things to eat in Europe in 2023. Eat your way around the continent and see how you like the sound of some of these famous dishes and more unusual delicacies. If you can tick off just a few of our tips you’re in for a tasty year ahead...
Never been to Eastern Europe before? Make pierogi your excuse to go. Pierogi are dumplings typically filled with potato, onion and cheese (or sauerkraut, cabbage and spiced meats) packed up into little dough parcels. These delicious, silky treats have been a favourite in Eastern Europe for centuries and are so loved that there's fierce debate about which country created the original recipe! They differ from Asian dumplings because they are cooked in boiling water, instead of steamed or fried. While traditionally eaten in savoury dishes, these pierogi can be sweet too, stuffed with fruits and berries. Today, you can try them in pretty much every Polish city including Krakow, Warsaw, Gdańsk, or Poznan.
Pintxos are small snacks eaten in Spanish bars and restaurants that resemble tapas but are traditionally eaten in northern Spain. These delicious mouthfuls are canapé-sized and consist of sliced bread topped with all kinds of tasty ingredients (think Spanish ham, cheeses, eggs, cod roe, spicy sausage, fish, omelette, prawns and more). The name comes from the word "Pincho" meaning spike (so named because of the stick holding the tasty morsels together). The home of pintxos is the Basque country - a community of a few northern cities with their own culture and cuisine. We'd recommend visiting the mountainous region of San Sebastian, a beautiful city to add to your 2023 bucket list where you can indulge in all types of pintxos at one of many authentic bars. You can even book yourself onto a pintxos food tour.
Love it or hate it - haggis is one of those things you have to try either way. The classic scottish dish is made of sheep's heart, liver and lungs, and is similar to the texture of minced beef. While the dish can seem daunting to try at first, a lot of people are pleasantly surprised by their first taste of haggis. Traditionally served with neeps and tatties (swede and potato), most Scottish pubs in Edinburgh feature the country's national dish on their menus. Seasoned with onions, oats and spices, it's surprisingly flavoursome and more-ish.
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Heading to Germany and looking for a traditional dish to try? Pork knuckle is a classic dish made from the foot of a pig (no it's not as daunting as it sounds!). If you're in Munich and want to try pork knuckle, head to the 13th century beer hall called Hofbräuhaus where you can dig in in traditional surroundings. You can also try tasty pork knuckle in Berlin at the Bavarian-style beer halls such as Maximilians and Hofbräu Wirtshaus. This is a typical German dish that’s super flavoursome and usually served with mashed potatoes, sauerkraut and gravy.
Sweden’s most famous dish is Köttbullar, which is essentially meatballs served with a rich cream sauce. Often served with potato dumplings, boiled potatoes or mash, this is one of our favourite comfort foods in the colder months and definitely one to add to our food tour bucket list. Cooked in homes and restaurants across the country, Köttbullar has made a name for itself as Sweden’s national dish - and it’s super tasty! More of a reason to visit Stockholm this year!
This delicious French dessert is a must-try if you haven’t already had the pleasure of experiencing it. Tarte tatin is a puff or shortcrust pastry filled with caramelised apples that have been slowly cooked. Buttery, sugary and sweet - what more do you expect from a French dessert? Paris is the city to sample a slice of tarte tatin; we recommend Au Petit Fer à Cheval in the Marais neighbourhood to try the best authentic tarte tatin in the city.
Bread dumplings are a traditional part of Czech cuisine. Called houskový knedlík, this dish is considered a massive part of the country’s food heritage and something you have to try when you’re in Eastern Europe. You’ll find bread dumplings at most Czech restaurants throughout Prague. They are served soaking in gravy with a meat accompaniment (usually duck, chicken or pork loin). Bread dumplings are made from flour, eggs, milk and stale bread, with a texture similar to Chinese bao buns with its own distinct flavour.
Greece is full of amazing history culture and food, but you can't miss out on a packed out gyro. This hearty Greek wrap is similar to a doner kebab, but packed with lamb, beef, or pork combined with tomato, onion, and a yogurt/tzatziki sauce on pita bread. This filling, delicious lunch that you can find everywhere across Greece also happens to be a sure-fire hangover cure (in case you had one too many ouzos the night before). We think the best gyros are in the capital Athens, where they can cost as little as €3.
There’s nothing more comforting than a traditional Irish stew in the colder months. Made of meat and root vegetables, this warming dish can be found in most local Irish pubs and forms the backbone of Irish cuisine. The meat is usually lamb or mutton, accompanied by potatoes, onions, carrots and herbs like parsley and thyme. It’s a simple dish that hits the spot when you’re in need of some TLC.
You can order one of the best Irish stews with a pint of Guinness at The Hairy Lemon in Dublin city centre.
A Bath bun
The countryside city of Bath lies in the English county of Somerset, best known for its historic Roman Baths - but not many people (even in the UK) realise that it’s also known for the Bath bun. This sweet roll is part bun, part cake and part bread, with a light, bouncy texture. Usually served with butter, jam or other preserves, you can try one at Sally Lunn’s, one of the oldest tea houses in Bath.
French onion soup
When in the City of Love, you have to indulge in a traditional onion soup. The key to a good onion soup is quality beef stock and plenty of caramelised onions - if made properly, this dish can take you to foodie heaven in one spoonful. Topped with melted Swiss gruyere, and perfect for dipping into with a crusty bread roll, it's one of the most famous European dishes and for good reason! It's a must try next time you're in Paris.
A street food staple in Amsterdam, raw herring is a must-try for foodies. Raw herring is either chopped into little pieces or served whole on top of bread. Accompanied by onions and pickle, herring is traditionally eaten by holding the fish by its tail, dipping it in onions and putting the whole thing in your mouth. While it may seem intimidating to eat at first, it's salty, fresh and delicious. You can find it sold on paper plates at fish stands and food trucks all around the Dutch capital.
You can’t go to Germany without trying the country's most famous dish. Fried sausage and curry ketchup may sound strange, but this unique combo is a match made in heaven. Currywurst makes for the perfect budget lunch, often costing less than €5. You'll find currywurst stalls and cafes dotted all over Berlin selling the smoked sausage covered in warming sauce (normally with a portion of fries on the side).
Steak & ale pie
When you visit England, people often try out fish and chips, Sunday roast or bangers and mash for the first time, but often forget one of the more underrated British classics. Made from a mixture of diced beef, fried onion, traditional British ale and hot brown gravy, steak and ale pie is perfect on a cold day. Cut through the golden pastry and let the gravy ooze out onto your plate. Best enjoyed with a side of mashed potato and seasonal veggies, you can order this pie at most British pubs around London.
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Tortilla española is one of the classic Spanish dishes. Eggs are a massive part of Spanish cuisine, and are often incorporated in dishes that can be eaten for breakfast, lunch and dinner. When you visit Barcelona, start your day with a tortilla española. Made with eggs, potatoes and sometimes onion, a Spanish omelette should be thick but still light and fluffy.
Lisbon is one of our favourite cities in Europe for eating - especially when it comes to fresh seafood - and grilled sardines are amongst the best dishes in the city. Rich in flavour and lightly salted, these small fish are the perfect, healthy starter before your main meal. Served grilled with a slice of lemon or a roasted green pepper, grilled sardines are sold at most restaurants and cafes around Portugal.
Bitterballen are sphere-shaped balls of deliciousness, rich in flavour with a crispy outside and soft middle. Similar to meatballs, these deep fried treats contain a mixture of beef, veal and sometimes chicken with a creamy, rich roux inside. In the Netherlands, these bite size crispy snacks are usually eaten as an aperitif. De Ballen Bar in Amsterdam is one of the best places to try bitterballen, serving up all kinds of fillings and flavours.
Check out where to get the best street food in Amsterdam .
Sticky Toffee pudding
You can’t get more British than a sticky toffee pudding. The king of all English desserts, this classic is essentially a moist sponge cake (served hot) covered in a thick toffee sauce. It’s pretty dreamy and goes perfectly with vanilla ice cream or hot custard. If you have a sweet tooth, this will be your new favourite dessert. British pubs around the country will have sticky toffee pudding on their menus.
Head to the medieval city of Bruges to indulge in some Belgian waffles. Topped with some chocolate sauce, strawberries and whipped cream, it’s the perfect sweet treat to enjoy on your travels around this picturesque city. Our favourite place for waffles in Bruges is Chez Albert - there’s something about the texture of the waffles here that makes them extra special. Definitely one for your foodie bucket list in 2023.
Another classic French dish that can’t go amiss on a trip to Paris, steak frites are simply cuts of steak and french fries. It's a hearty, delicious and affordable meal that has been a stalwart in French and Belgian restaurants for decades. If you’re trying to cut down on your red meat intake this year, opt for the moules frites (mussels and fries) instead!