To qualify for this list, restaurants didn’t need to be Michelin starred, or tourist-free, or have served mead and giant turkey legs in the Middle Ages, they simply needed to be famous restaurants that've made an indelible mark and continue to wow crowds. Restaurants that when you visit (and check them off your European food bucket list), you're guaranteed to have had either an unforgettable meal, or experience.
Vienna's only double-Michelin-starred restaurant is Steirereck, an alpine estate and former dairy pavilion steeped in opulence. Here, white-gloved waiters parade Austrian wines and an epic trolley of over 120 kinds of cheese (and pastry) past diners, who can also enjoy one of the best wiener schnitzels in Austria.
This modest farmhouse does very immodest French food. It’s known for complex tasting menus and serving a pre-dessert before dessert (so prepare for a post-dinner paunch). Hof van Cleve also uses ultra-rare meat knives made from narwhal tusk and walrus penis bone, so yeah, there's that.
This Sofia restaurant -- a favorite of Bulgarian stars and international VIPs like Vlad Putin -- is renowned for its platters of spit-roasted pork and some of the city’s juiciest lamb. Guests also enjoy traditional folk dancing and an ancient barefoot fire-walking ritual.
Korcula’s oldest family-run tavern is kitschy, hectic, and overflowing with tourists. If you can roll with that, then you’re in for an unforgettable meal. Fresh seafood barbecue, simmered stews, and local wines culminate into a feast for the Slavic gods. Prime seating is on the rooftop terrace, where you can enjoy a striking view of the city over the orange and lemon trees.
Syrian Arab Friendship Club is a groundbreaking restaurant in a country that’s roughly 78% Greek Orthodox. It’s became an institution by introducing delicious meze platters to the mainstream, including foreign delicacies like muhallebi (cherry pit and rosewater pudding) and arak (40-proof Arabian booze).
Opened in 1543, U Maliru’s elegant interior looks like the film set from a period piece -- but it’s a real restaurant, serving unbelievable Czech food. As the story goes, King Rudolph II's royal tasters gave it an unprecedented three-star (three-crown?) status back in the day (as in mid-16th century). Today, warm candlelight, ceiling murals, and aristocratic furniture make this a must-dine establishment for your Instagram.
Noma could be the world’s most hyped restaurant for revamping modern gastronomy. Seriously, convincing people that rock moss is edible, much less tasty, has been no easy feat. And the well-established restaurant has taken its most fearless leap yet, announcing its end-of-year closing to reopen elsewhere in Copenhagen. The new set-up will be a former navy building covered in graffiti, with an onsite urban garden.
Opened last year, Estonia’s biggest restaurant is the definition of modernization in a picturesque medieval city. Housed in a former factory for railway cars and machinery, Dvigatel is now a lunch mecca that can feed up to 3,000 hungry Tallinners a day. And it isn't Communist cafeteria food from days of yore either, but rather a mix of fresh Estonian and Mediterranean cuisine.
At this extraordinary greenhouse restaurant, guests dine under citrus trees and alongside herb and tomato plants. Many tomato plants. Which explains the famous seven-course tomato menu, which stretches from creamy soup to ice cream. Everything else on offer is as fresh as you'd expect (since you're eating next to plants) and done up with eclectic Finnish sauces from licorice to cloudberry.
It’s hard to pick an iconic restaurant in the world’s gourmet capital, but the nearly 400-year-old Tour d’Argent is a worthy contender. Its most famous dish is the pressed duck, raised on a farm owned by the restaurant. And while, no, we're not referencing an episode of Portlandia, everybody who orders it does get to keep the duck’s serial number (FDR, Marlene Dietrich, and Charlie Chaplin all had one). The wine cellar also has its own bodyguard, with over 450,000 bottles totaling around $27 million.
Tim Raue may be the only Michelin-starred restaurant in the world where waiters wear sneakers and jeans (albeit matching ones). But meet the chef, and you’ll understand why. He’s a real Berlin fairytale (if there is such a thing) -- high school dropout in a Turkish gang cleans up his life and travels Asia, hustles in local kitchens, and now serves his own Wagyu and black truffle dim sum. It may not be traditionally German, but the food has a story that’s as raw and gritty as the country’s history.
Athens has plenty of traditional restaurants swimming in fresh seafood and tzatziki, but that’s what makes Funky Gourmet the standout -- it’s Greek cuisine like you’ve never eaten before. Dishes are playful and theatrical, molecular gastronomy served on stones, shells, and sticks. Beside the funky takes on Greek classics like pastisio and galaktoboureko, the sweets -- smoked ice cream sandwiches, anyone? -- are also worth a flight.
This venerable Hungarian-Jewish restaurant is one of the last family-run eateries in all of Budapest. Opened right after Communism fell, Rosenstein’s got quite the reputation for its cozy atmosphere and Jewish delicacies, from gamey goose fat and smoked brisket to a billowy traditional cake called flodni.
Ireland’s oldest pub dates all the way back to 1198 and boasts a rambunctious history as a favorite watering hole for many a local maverick. Today, it's admittedly kitschy, but in the best way -- that is, with live music and frequent bouts of Irish folklore storytelling. The entertainment's even better with all that Guinness and stout stew.
If you’ve watched Netflix’s Chef’s Table, it’s hard not to fall in love with the cooking of Massimo Bottura, founder of Osteria Francescana; Bottura's food is the perfect blend of nostalgia and trendiness. Take the Caesar salad in Emilia, for example. It looks like a regular old head of lettuce, but inside, there are 22 gussied-up ingredients, including tomatoes strained for 12 hours and eggs cured in sugar and salt.
Carlstons is an eatery that hits a lot of the right notes -- it's a steakhouse that also serves Italian, the interior ranges from a mahogany tea room to a bright blue-and-red dining hall, and the chefs make their own homemade barbecue sauces. But the concept works, especially when you throw in a solid Sunday brunch, family-friendly ambiance, and really popular cheesecake that's often called Riga’s best dessert.
The capital’s oldest restaurant, Restaurant Neringa, offers the best setting to try authentic Lithuanian cuisine, hands down. Its interior hasn’t changed since opening in 1959, a bohemian wonder with mosaic floors and frescoed walls designed by the same creative elites who used to be regulars. Neringa’s famous dish is the chicken Kiev, a menu mainstay since the beginning.
Ma Langue Sourit does vibrant, French-inspired plates, so think lots of amuse bouche, fresh fish, and organic vegetables. The weekly Saturday cooking class is definitely an experience to remember as well, as chefs teach guests how to prepare the same popular dishes they serve in the restaurant but in an atmosphere that’s anything but hoity toity.
Don’t let the tourist strip that Ta’ Kris is located on fool you, it's a legit Maltese trattoria. The signature bragioli (sliced beefsteak stuffed with minced beef and breadcrumbs, cooked slowly, and served in a massive portion) and traditional Maltese-Med fare will make you feel right at home. You know, if you're from Malta. The pastas and sauces are all homemade too, so wear fat pants for this one.
De Librije is a fine-dining restaurant that’s never satisfied with doing things the way they've always been done. In 2012, the eatery nixed tasting menus in favor of more personalized dinners where guests choose a seasonal ingredient and (not joking) a color, and their meal is built upon that. Classics from the last 20 years, like the monkfish and deconstructed apple pie, are still available timelessly à la carte.
Atelier Amaro is Poland’s first Michelin-starred restaurant, and only the third in all of Central Europe. It’s known for doing Polish slow food but with gastronomical twists, so think traditional heavy cream and cheese dishes with epicurean flair. Oh yeah, and every course comes with a spirit pairing. Ummm... smooth infused vodka.
Although technically a market, Mercado da Ribeira still deserves to be on this list. For over a century, it played home to fresh produce and flower vendors, and in 2014 was restored to include Lisbon’s largest gourmet food court. Come here to sample the best regional delicacies like sheep’s cheese, ham from the Alentejo, Santini gelato, and all kinds of cooked local dishes.
Open since 1879, this is the best spot in Bucharest to get acquainted with Romanian beer and cuisine. The building itself is a treasured historical monument for its stunning gothic revival design. The inside is more Art Nouveau, furbished with dark wood, vaulted ceilings, and frescoed walls -- no wonder everyone from The Rolling Stones to the Crown Prince of Japan have dined here.
1st Slovak Pub is a 14-room local institution known for traditional songs and accordion music. It may be swimming in tourists, but that doesn’t mean it’s a trap. The restaurant runs its own organic farm, sourcing only the freshest ingredients for its fare. Try the house specialty: potato dumplings cooked in bacon fat and covered in sheep’s cheese.
Lolita Café is the kind of hipster haunt you’d expect in a bigger European city. Located on the riverside with lots of natural light, you could call it the most Instagram-friendly spot in Ljubljana -- especially the cakes, which are sky high and always brightly hued. The interior, a former warehouse where exposed brick and suspended ceiling have given way to floral murals and velvet touches, has won multiple design awards.
Despite having three Michelin stars, El Celler de Can Roca is totally unpretentious. And how can it not be with dishes named "pig -- delicious" and "all the prawns." But this really is avant-garde cooking, and it's complemented by unbeatable service -- a staff of 60 caters to the max 45 guests. Of course, it all comes at a price: expect to drop $325 a head.
Fäviken’s been called the world’s most remote famous restaurant, located in the boonies next to Norway’s border. And considering this 12-seater is on the bucket list of every hardcore gourmet foodie, you'll understand why it's worth the trek. In the region, extreme cold is a natural pesticide that helps produce an overwhelming bounty of unbelievably organic produce. It’s hard not to feel like a Viking as you eat food cured and prepared using ancient Nordic techniques while sitting amongst wood palettes and fur pelts.
London’s flush with epic restaurants, so Dinner by Heston Blumenthal is our choice on two counts: 1) originality, and 2) daring to bring the 1300s back. Blumenthal’s claim to fame is digging up weird recipes from medieval scrolls for state-of-the-art treatment. The restaurant’s celebrity dish is meat fruit, which is a chicken parfait that looks like an orange. It's not everyone's cup of tea, but there's no doubt it's a gastronomical masterpiece. The fruit of this labor requires three cooks and around 15 hours combined over days to create.
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Barbara Woolsey is a Berlin-based writer who prefers her meat looking less like a mandarin, and more like a dead animal. Check out her gluttonous adventures around Europe on Facebook and Twitter.
Located in picturesque Stadtpark, Steirereck features traditional Austrian cuisine in an elevated setting. The menu comprises meat-focused fare made formal through a variety of new age ingredients and techniques: try the roasted venison with caviar strewn "pollen." Also on the menu: crayfish with preserved eggplant, dusted with candied chili pepper and dried line.
Chef Peter Goosens's Hof van Cleve in the western Belgian city of Flanders takes traditional Flemish fare and revitalizes it by using locally sourced ingredients and repurposing craft driven culinary techniques. Set in an old country farmhouse, the restaurant's atmosphere is both elegant and naturalistic. The vegetable centric menu is divided into four categories: Freshness of Nature, a seven course tasting menu; Market Stroll, a seasonal array of lunch offerings; Field, Garden, and Wool, a selection of vegetarian small plates and desserts; and the a la carte menu.
This traditional Bulgarian resto in Sofia is the real deal. This authentic spot features hearty native dishes like chicken served Severniashki style in onion, mushroom and zucchini, local Balkan wines, and tableside folk dancing (!!).
This tiny, seaside tavern in the picturesque town of Korcula has been open since 1974. The 14 seat restaurant opens up onto views of the kitchen on one side and a bright outdoor terrace overlooking a plot of lemon trees on the other. Come for an intimate dining experience full of fresh fare and local wine.
This Syrian-Arabic fusion spot in Limmasol, Cyprus, seeks to foster intercultural friendship over warm, delicious meals. The old school spot serves up traditional meat and rice dishes, meze platters, and mouth-watering deserts like rosewater pudding.
One of the oldest restaurants in Europe, this luxurious fine dining restaurant was established in Prague in 1543. A favorite of Czech bohemians, many of the murals within the restaurant were painted by local artists who were paid for their services in bread and wine. Now, the menu's a bit more extensive; they serve a wide variety of grilled and roasted meats, a large selection of national and international wines, and a fair amount of vegetarian options.
Routinely named the world's best restaurant, Noma, headed by chef Rene Redzepi, is a foodie's dream. Redzepi is known for using foraged ingredients native to Scandinavia in his experimental, beautiful haute cuisine dishes. Patrons regularly have to wait up to 6 months for a reservation at this hotspot, get Googling now!
Located in a former factory building, Restoran Dvigatel is a huge cafeteria style restaurant serving up pizza, burgers, seafood and pasta. Measuring approximately 1,800 m² of open floor space, Dvigatel can feed up to 380 hungry patrons at one time.
Looking for fresh fare? You won't find it any fresher than at Linds Kok, a restaurant inside a greenhouse in Narpes, Finland. Enjoy satisfying vegetarian cuisine inside this beautifully renovated greenhouse and garden. The scenery is worth a visit alone.
It was here that France’s King Henri III apparently used a fork for the first time in the 1500s, forever changing the way the general French public eat. While still popular among those with more change to spare (note the prices), its history, views overlooking Notre-Dame, and Michelin star make it one of the most iconic tables in Paris. It sources ducks from its own farm, having served more than one million of them.
Tim Raue is pretty much a Berlin foodie legend at this point, and rightly so: after getting out of a tough '70s street gang, Raue has gone on to be the head of restaurant with two Michelin stars. Two! What a guy. Anyway, this place near Checkpoint Charlie is a must if you're looking to impress because it does exactly that with its slightly minimalist interior and pan-Asian menu.
Molecular gastronomy and Greek food make a great pair at Funky Gourmet. This Michelin starred resto in Athens serves unique takes on traditional Mediterranean fare in a warm, architectural inspired space. The 150€ "Degustation" menu is a 10 course tasting for the senses.
This fun spot serves traditional Jewish fare in a lively, multi-story setting. Owned and operated by the Rosenstein family, their dedication to using traditional ingredients in novel, modern ways shines through in inventive, colorful dishes perfect for sharing family-style (how else?).
Superstaf chef Massimo Bottura's Osteria Francescana is arguably one of the most ground-breaking restaurants of all time. Bottura's playful approach to fine dining (Deconstructed plates! Unorthodox ingredient combinations! Color coordination!) paved the way for countless other haute cuisine spots. Whet your appetite by checking out Netflix's documentary on the restaurant, Chef's Table.
BBQ in Latvia might seem unlikely, but Carlstons, located in Riga's central district, seeks to correct that assumption. This neighborhood fave offers a plethora of juicy smoked meats and house made sauces that are so good, you might think you're in Texas.
You'll feel like you've landed at The Grand Budapest, um Neringa Hotel when you peep the elegant, film-like decor at this legendary restaurant. Located inside the historic Neringa Hotel, the on-site restaurant serves modern takes on traditional fare and hosts nightly live jazz.
This Michelin starred restaurant in Moutfort offers biodynamic fare inspired by the cuisine of France and Belgium. The warm, welcoming setting is host to such dishes as octopus, with artichoke, lemon, and anise consomme; steamed monkfish with potato risotto and "watercress juice;" and licorice and veal sweetbreads.
Warm and welcoming, this seafood restaurant and trattoria is a cozy spot for dining harbor-side while in the town of Sliema. A local favorite, the dishes here at this Maltan-Mediterranean spot feel home-cooked and are packed with great flavors. The extensive wine list is also a plus.
Located in a 15th century Domencian abbey, Chef Jonnie Boer's Michelin starred restaurant and hotel is a gorgeous spot to eat and drink in elegance. The three starred restaurant serves idiosyncratic haute cuisine that changes seasonally: think roasted perch and eel served with a salad of puffed garlic and fennel.
Serving up inventive Polish cuisine, Atelier Amaro is a modern bistro situated in an industrial chic space. Take your pick of three, five, and eight course prix-fixe dinner options. The restaurant proudly declares itself as part of the Slow Food movement, so everything on the menu here is made using locally sourced ingredients whenever possible.
Put this marketplace at the top of your Libson "must-do" list. This open air market and food court hosts several local Portuguese vendors, selling everything from meats, to cheese, wine, spices, oils, fruits, and vegetables.
This restaurant and bar in old Bucharest looks how we'd imagine the inside of a vampire's castle-like lair. The dark, hallowed space is not a spooky cavern, however, but an old style brewery. Serving traditional Romanian fare and beer (duh), this historic spot is a go-to when in Romania.
This pub is so OG, the name says it all: it is the definitive Slovak Pub. Serving up plenty of Eastern European brews on tap and lots of traditional Slovak fare, this is the place to go to get the authentic Eastern European pub experience.
This adorable cafe and bakery in Ljubljana is completely Pinterest-worthy. Full of gourmet cupcakes and pastries, it's the perfect place to stock up on delectable goodies in a warm and cozy environment. Its location by the Ljubljanica river is also great for people watching.
Winner of the Diner's Club "World's Best Restaurant" award in 2013 and 2015, this modern Spanish resto serves up truly inventive fare. Owned and operated by the Roca Brothers, the cuisine is full of home-cooked favorites elevated by molecular gastronomy. Coming in with three Michelin stars under its belt, the restaurant is an experience worth the splurge.
This remote resto in Jarpen, Sweden, is one of the world's best. Run by superstar chef Magnus Nilsson (you can catch him on Netflix's Chef's Table), all the food at Faviken is sourced from the local environs, with a handful of exceptions. Most vegetables are foraged, and meats are from the chef's hunting expeditions. Enjoy all this rustic fare in the restaurant's beautiful, cabin like setting.
Brought to you by Heston Blumenthal and Executive Chef Ashley Palmer-Watts, this classy Knightsbridge resto opened in 2011 and is considered one of the best on Earth, serving exquisite British dishes like their signature Meat Fruit (mandarin, chicken liver & foie gras parfait, grilled bread), which earned it two Michelin stars.