Seven Culinary Hotspots in Eastern Europe to Seek Out Now

Where to eat Eastern Europe’s greatest hits

We visit seven Eastern European cities where the flavours are smoky, the pierogi, pillowy and the beer, some of the best in the world.

Our favourite foodie cities in Eastern Europe



An enchanting blend of old and new, Budapest excels in cuisine that is as flavourful as it is comforting. And, as is so often the case, it's best to start with the classics. Kick off at Kiosk for a taste of goulash, the country's national dish. This hearty soup, whose star ingredients are slow-cooked meat, noodles and vegetables seasoned with warming paprika, dates back to the ninth century. Thirsty? For some of the finest native wines, head to Borkonyha Winekitchen. This cosy, Michelin-starred restaurant has over 200 bottles on its list, with around a quarter of them available by the glass. Lastly, no visit to Budapest would be complete without trying some traditional somlói galuska. This rich, trifle-like dessert consists of several layers of moist sponge and silky custard; you'll find the tastiest iteration at Pörc & Prézli, crafted by chef István Kristóf.


Czech Republic

Prague's food scene is as reflective of the city's ancient culture as the architecture it's famous for. Meat-lovers should head to Nase Maso, whose butchers are experts in smoked meat, sausage and charcuterie recipes dating back to the First Czechoslovak Republic. Can't decide what to eat or more in the mood for a light bite and coffee? Café Savoy does a fantastic all-day breakfast alongside a reasonably priced lunch and dinner menu. Seeing as you're in one of the world's beer capitals, a visit to the authentic - and wildly popular - old boozer U Hrocha is a must. Grab a seat in the snug - located in the Malá Strana neighbourhood, just below Prague Castle - and relax over some top local brews and prime people-watching.



Sofia is a fast-growing, multicultural and modern city, and its food scene is both tantalisingly tasty and budget-friendly. A good place to get your bearings is Furna, whose menu offers a tempting array of traditional Bulgarian specialities alongside some innovative modern plates. Beloved for its banitsa - a snack comprised of filo pastry layered with butter and traditional Bulgarian cheese - this central bistro makes the ideal pit stop for coffee and a quick bite. For Bulgarian cuisine with a modern twist, fine-diner Cosmos hits the mark thanks to its incredible wine and food pairings with a strong Balkan spirit. If an expertly executed smoky take on grilled meat and fish floats your boat, make a beeline for Skara Bar and order the mixed grill, the Meshana Skara (a signature platter loaded with meat and carby sides) or the kebapche (a long piece of grilled ground meat lightly spiced with cumin and black pepper) - all of which are great for sharing.



That Bratislava is a seriously sophisticated culinary mecca comes as no surprise, considering the Hungarian, Austrian, German and Slovak influences that have gone into its national cuisine. To graze your way through the highlights, head to the Old Town's Zylinder Café & Restaurant: its schnitzel-style veal and Slovak potato salad is pretty much our perfect meal. Also in the Old Town - and hugely popular among locals for its traditional Slovakian lunch menu - is Koliba Kamzik. Bratislava is best viewed from above, for a bird's-eye view of the glittering Danube. UFO Restaurant serves up local specialities fused with Mediterranean and Asian flavours, along with a panoramic view of the city's skyline.



The No.1 must-eat in Kraków? Pierogi. These delectable Polish dumplings stuffed with all manner of meats and vegetables are a national staple. Popular with those in the know, Pierogi Mr Vincent Lea is that small, cosy restaurant you'll never want to leave. Much of Krakow's food scene is rooted in the city's long-established café culture. For a cup of excellent coffee, Żarówka Café celebrates the best of local ingredients, plus offers a serious selection of Polish craft beers, wine and cider. High-end restaurant Pod Nosem is all about seasonality, with a beautifully crafted menu served up in elegant surrounds. Located on the ground floor of the characterful boutique hotel Kanonicza 22, the restaurant's extensive wine cellar is worth a visit in itself.



Dubbed the "Little Paris of the East", Bucharest is all about architecture, history and seriously good food. But what does a typical Romanian dish look like? Most of the classics include vegetables, meat, dairy and possess a distinctive sourness. Kane, a modern restaurant set inside a beautiful villa, serves up a superlative seasonal tasting menu. Surround yourself with works by major Romanian artists such as Nicolae Tonitza, Grigore Romano and Arthur Verona at Relais & Chateaux restaurant Le Bistrot Français, where the acclaimed wine menu spans over 1,000 labels. Complete the day by tasting a traditional Romanian dessert: papanasi are light, fluffy doughnuts filled with cream and fruit. Find the best ones at Vatra Restaurant, alongside traditional pancakes and apple pie served with heavenly ice cream.



The food in Warsaw is a lot like the city itself: bursting with energy. And then there's Polish vodka, which is such a big deal that it has its own museum - and a national day dedicated to it. For a guided vodka tasting, make a reservation at ELIXIR by Dom Wódki - reportedly the first restaurant in the world to offer a vodka pairing with each dish. Poland also happens to be the largest exporter of chocolate in Eastern Europe. Take your sweet tooth on a trip to the E Wedel Chocolate Factory for a Willy Wonka-worthy experience. For a comfy, casual spot marrying contemporary Polish cuisine with international flavours - think tasty burgers, tender ribs and those always-perfect Polish pierogi - Żebra i Kości and Restauracja Zapiecek are both affordable and known for their insanely delicious food.

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