Seven Culinary Hotspots in Eastern Europe to Seek Out Now

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


Budapest

Hungary

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.


Prague

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

Bulgaria

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.


Bratislava

Slovakia

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.


Krakow

Poland

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.


Bucharest

Romania

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.


Warsaw

Poland

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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