Europe may not be the first place that comes to mind when you are planning a vacation, and finding authentic and exciting places to eat is at the top of your agenda, but it really should be. However, Europe offers incredible culinary variety to explore, with so many textures, flavors and traditions to savor and stunning food presentation to marvel at.
Every country in Europe has its own rich culture and in order to really immerse yourself on a foodie journey, you need to get off the beaten track and eat where the locals eat. Look for authentic flavors and traditional dishes and remember that the most expensive restaurant may not offer the best food. Often you pay for location, service and showmanship but a true foodie just wants the best food that they can experience. If this comes in a less than glamorous mom and pop joint, so be it.
Remember that there are some major cultural differences between America and Europe, for example, tipping. Many diners in Europe don’t tip at all, or will round their bill up to the nearest whole number. Over-extravagent (by European standards) tipping is likely to embarrass rather than delight, so it is worth being restrained and if you must tip, aim for no more than 10% of the bill and only if the food and service were both excellent.
Look to eat at a place that embraces seasonal, and preferably local, ingredients. They will be fresher, sweeter and demonstrate an understanding by the chef of the importance of sustainability. This understanding isn’t just important for environmental reasons but because local, freshly grown ingredients promote a feeling of being at one with the history of a country.
Eating seasonal produce takes you back in time to when we didn’t have the import options that we do nowadays and you can’t get any more traditional than that. Local specialities are likely to capture your imagination and excite your taste buds so if you are offered one, always choose it.
Allergies and Intolerances
If you’re visiting England, allergens will be clearly labeled on the menu but if you are concerned or need clarification, you will not have to worry about a language barrier when describing your dietary needs. However, in other parts of Europe, especially if you are embracing the culture and dining at smaller, local foodie hotspots where the staff may not be multilingual, you might choose to bring a pre-translated list of your dietary requirements to show your server, to ensure that you aren’t inadvertently served something on your intolerance list.
Social Media Appeal
If, as part of your European foodie journey, you wish to generate social media appeal, you should visit at least one of London’s most instagrammable restaurants. Recently voted the most diverse food city in the world, the London food scene is generating quite a buzz. Always popular for its local street food markets, serving local favorites with a story, London is also home to an incredible 66 Michelin-starred restaurants so if you want to experience the highest quality produce that Europe can offer, you are sure to find it in England’s capital city.
London’s restaurants certainly deliver on atmosphere and with a wide selection of cultural favorites, both from England and around the globe, they are sure to delight your palate and your followers.
London isn’t the only place to snap and be snapped though – all across Europe, restaurants are setting social media on fire with their imaginative decor, extravagant menus and spectacular cooking. If you want to join the Instagram revolution, why not check out Giardini cafeteria in Venice which is famous for its spectacular coffee, its modular furniture and painted fluorescent stripes, or Bananas in Barcelona with its playful Caribbean vibe which is guaranteed to generate the likes.
European food culture is in an exciting phase, with a beautiful array of traditional and contemporary cuisine options wherever you visit. Take your guide book, your camera or smartphone and hit the streets to discover the best places to eat, for quality, experience and memories. You’ll have an unforgettable trip!