American Foodies: Don’t Miss These Iconic European Dishes

Europe’s culinary landscape is as diverse as its cultures, with each country offering dishes deeply rooted in history, tradition, and local ingredients. A foodie journey through Europe is about savoring flavors and understanding the stories behind these dishes and the people who make them. From the hearty stews of Eastern Europe to the refined pastries of France, this guide highlights must-try dishes across the continent and where to find the best local flavors, offering travelers a taste of Europe’s rich gastronomic heritage.

1. Italy: Pizza in Naples

shutterstock 1829205563 1

Image Credit: Shutterstock / V. Matthiesen

Italy is synonymous with pizza, and Naples is its undisputed birthplace. Neapolitan pizza is divine with its simple yet flavorful ingredients—San Marzano tomatoes, mozzarella di bufala, fresh basil, salt, and olive oil—on a soft, chewy crust. The art of Neapolitan pizza making, or “pizzaiuolo,” is even recognized by UNESCO as an Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity. Authentic pizzerias, like Pizzeria Da Michele or Sorbillo, offer a taste of this traditional dish in its purest form, providing a window into the soul of Italian cuisine.

2. France: Croissant in Paris

shutterstock 639790222 1

Image Credit: Shutterstock / Anna_Pustynnikova

Though rooted in Austrian cuisine, the croissant has become a quintessential part of French culinary identity, especially in Paris. This buttery, flaky pastry is a staple of French breakfasts, best enjoyed fresh from a boulangerie oven. The art of making a perfect croissant involves a meticulous process of layering dough and butter, then rolling and folding multiple times to achieve its iconic texture. Legendary bakeries like Pierre Hermé and Poilâne in Paris offer some of the finest examples, showcasing the croissant’s delicate balance of crunch and softness.

3. Spain: Paella in Valencia

shutterstock 1645860859 1

Image Credit: Shutterstock / RossHelen

Paella, Spain’s most famous dish, originates from Valencia. This aromatic rice dish is traditionally cooked in a large shallow pan over an open fire, infused with saffron and various ingredients such as rabbit, chicken, snails, beans, and sometimes seafood. The key to an authentic paella Valenciana lies in the use of Bomba rice, which absorbs the flavors of the broth, and the formation of the socarrat, a caramelized crust of rice at the bottom of the pan. Restaurants like La Pepica and Casa Roberto in Valencia offer some of the most authentic paella experiences, where the dish is prepared with time-honored techniques and local ingredients.

4. Greece: Moussaka in Athens

pexels doze of hope rafea 19177208 1

Image Credit: Pexels / Doze of hope Rafea

Moussaka is a quintessential Greek dish, consisting of layers of sautéed eggplant, minced meat (usually lamb), and a creamy béchamel sauce, baked to perfection. This rich and comforting dish reflects the flavors of the Mediterranean and is a staple in Greek cuisine. In Athens, traditional tavernas like To Kafeneio and Psaras Tavern offer some of the best moussaka, prepared according to traditional recipes passed down through generations. Dining in these establishments provides a taste of authentic Greek moussaka and an immersion into Greek culture and hospitality.

5. Portugal: Bacalhau in Lisbon

shutterstock 261408800

Image Credit: Shutterstock / Paulo Vilela

Bacalhau, or salted cod, is Portugal’s national dish, with the saying that there are 365 ways to cook bacalhau, one for each day of the year. In Lisbon, the dish is prepared in various forms, from bacalhau à brás (shredded cod with onions, straw potatoes, and scrambled eggs) to bacalhau com natas (cod with cream). Time Out Market Lisboa and local eateries like A Casa do Bacalhau offer exceptional versions of these dishes, showcasing bacalhau’s versatility and depth of flavor.

6. Germany: Sauerbraten in Cologne

shutterstock 1539201569 1

Image Credit: Shutterstock / hlphoto

Sauerbraten, often referred to as Germany’s national dish, is a pot roast, usually of beef (but other meats such as lamb, mutton, pork, and traditionally, horse), marinated for several days in a mixture of vinegar or wine, water, and a variety of seasonings before being slow-cooked. The result is a tender, flavorful dish often served with red cabbage, potato dumplings, or boiled potatoes. In Cologne, historic breweries and restaurants like Früh am Dom, and Brauhaus Sion serve some of the best sauerbraten, offering a taste of traditional German cuisine in a rustic, convivial setting.

7. Hungary: Goulash in Budapest

shutterstock 2163655253 1

Image Credit: Shutterstock / Natalia Hanin

Goulash is a hearty stew of meat and vegetables, seasoned with paprika and other spices from Hungary. This iconic dish embodies the warmth and robust flavors of Hungarian cuisine. In Budapest, traditional restaurants and taverns serve authentic goulash, which is more like a soup in Hungary than the thicker stews often found elsewhere. Spots like Gettó Gulyás and Café Kör offer some of the best goulash in the city, prepared with a deep understanding of this centuries-old recipe. These establishments provide a cozy atmosphere where diners can enjoy goulash and various Hungarian dishes.

8. Belgium: Moules-Frites in Brussels

shutterstock 516582166 1

Image Credit: Shutterstock / margouillat photo

Moules-frites, or mussels served with fries, is a beloved dish in Belgium, combining the country’s love for seafood and its claim to have invented the fried potato. In Brussels, restaurants and brasseries across the city serve this classic dish, often with various sauces for the mussels. Chez Léon and Fritland are just a couple of places where locals and tourists alike can enjoy high-quality moules-frites, showcasing the simplicity and deliciousness of Belgian cuisine.

9. Austria: Wiener Schnitzel in Vienna

pexels nadin sh 19396433 1

Image Credit: Pexels / Nadin Sh

Wiener Schnitzel, a breaded and fried veal cutlet, is Austria’s national dish and a must-try for visitors to Vienna. This simple yet delicious dish is served in many traditional Viennese restaurants, known as “Wirtshäuser,” with Figlmüller being one of the most famous for serving an oversized version that barely fits on the plate. The key to an authentic Wiener Schnitzel lies in its tender meat, crispy coating, and the use of high-quality ingredients.

10. Turkey: Kebab in Istanbul

shutterstock 1151970542 1

Image Credit: Shutterstock / Prenes

The kebab, with its origins deeply rooted in Middle Eastern and Turkish cuisines, is a staple dish in Istanbul, offering a variety of meats cooked on skewers or as doner kebabs. Istanbul’s culinary scene provides various kebab experiences, from street food vendors to upscale restaurants. Sultanahmet Kebab House and Dürümzade are renowned for their authentic flavors and traditional preparation methods, offering visitors a genuine taste of Turkish kebab culture.

The Bottom Line

shutterstock 1803167680 1

Image Credit: Shutterstock / frantic00

A culinary journey through Europe is an adventure that tantalizes the taste buds and offers insight into the continent’s diverse cultures and traditions. From the hearty stews of Eastern Europe to the refined pastries of France, each dish you encounter tells a story of its region’s history, geography, and people. As you explore Europe’s culinary landscape, remember to seek authentic experiences, whether a local bistro, a street food vendor, or a traditional tavern. 

Unveiling the 21 Places Single Women Should Avoid at All Costs

shutterstock 2346225623 1

Image Credit: Shutterstock / Carles Iturbe

Traveling solo as a woman? It’s an adventure with its own set of challenges. From street safety to discrimination, some spots are riskier than others. We’ve used the Women’s Danger Index and other resources to craft a guide that helps you choose your destinations wisely. Unveiling the 21 Places Single Women Should Avoid at All Costs

Ghost Roads of America: 12 Haunted Highways with Tales of Terror and Creepy Rest Stops

shutterstock 144997492 1 1

Image Credit: Shutterstock / donvictorio

Discover chilling tales from the America’s spookiest roads complete with ghostly figures and eerie phenomena in this thrilling guide to paranormal hotspots—perfect for adventure seekers and ghost enthusiasts. Ready for a supernatural road trip? Ghost Roads of America: 12 Haunted Highways with Tales of Terror and Creepy Rest Stops

18 High-Crime Cities in the US You Should Avoid

pexels adrian newell 14177239 1

Image Credit: Pexels / Adrian Newell

American cities dazzle with culture and history, yet rising crime rates demand cautious exploration. This guide ensures you stay informed and safe. 18 High-Crime Cities in the US You Should Avoid

20 Things That Americans Tolerate That Canadians Would Never Accept

shutterstock 2270504427 1

Image Credit: Shutterstock / Nicoleta Ionescu

Canadians often find American customs ranging from amusing to astonishing. From the quirky to the confounding, let’s explore the U.S. through a Canadian lens—maple syrup and poutine in hand. Get ready for a journey that’s both odd and insightful, seen from the Great White North. 20 Things That Americans Tolerate That Canadians Would Never Accept

22 of America’s Most Charming Towns

shutterstock 284980904 1

Image Credit: Shutterstock / Nejdet Duzen

Hit the road and discover America’s coziest towns, real-life versions of those quaint settings from your favorite novels. Explore charming streets where every storefront tells a story and locals greet everyone with a hello. Ready to dive into the charm? 22 of America’s Most Charming Towns

The post European Taste Tour: 10 Iconic Dishes Every American Must Savor republished on Passing Thru with permission from The Green Voyage.

Featured Image Credit: Shutterstock / RossHelen.

For transparency, this content was partly developed with AI assistance and carefully curated by an experienced editor to be informative and ensure accuracy.

Tips for Trip Success

Book Your Flight
Find an inexpensive flight by using Kayak, a favorite of ours because it regularly returns less expensive flight options from a variety of airlines.

Book Your Hotel or Special Accommodation
We are big fans of We like their review system and photos. If we want to see more reviews and additional booking options, we go to Expedia.

You Need Travel Insurance!
Good travel insurance means having total peace of mind. Travel insurance protects you when your medical insurance often will not and better than what you get from your credit card. It will provide comprehensive coverage should you need medical treatment or return to the United States, compensation for trip interruption, baggage loss, and other situations.Find the Perfect Insurance Plan for Your Tripimage 9133145 14418597

PassingThru is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

To view PassingThru’s privacy policy, click here.