An honorable mention, Pierrot Restaurant in Budapest, Hungary has more than just these appealing appetizers…
Of all the millions of restaurants in Europe, there are certainly more than 10 that I would recommend. But to keep the list relatively short, let’s skip all the extras, and focus on the best places you absolutely cannot miss when you’re on the heavily diverse continent of language, culture and of course, food.
So pick up your fork, grab a napkin to wipe up all the drool, and get ready to indulge in some of the best food you haven’t tried, yet.
10. Jardin Mazarin – Aix-en-Provence, France
This little spot in the southern town of Aix-en-Provence, is something you might expect to find – and yet might surprise you all at once. This charming and upscale restaurant is located in the heart of the city, just a few alleys from the hustle of everything and welcomes guests both local and foreign. After corresponding back and forth with the owner for several weeks in French (mostly with the help of Google Translate), I came to learn upon arriving that he was actually Italian. This made the night all the more enjoyable for me, as I felt more in my element being able to communicate in my favorite language.
This undeniably charming place the owner likes to call his own, it’s a real find to say the least. With precision and tasteful touch to every facet of the restaurant, you cannot deny the understated elegance that not only the décor and ambiance hold, but the service, quality of food and even wine that are brought to your table.
And the food. It’s not just pretty to look at – it’s pretty to eat. If that’s even possible. Everything at this real, genuine French restaurant is top notch and you can’t go wrong when you visit.
Prices are on the higher side, so make sure you are prepared when you come. But if you’re in town anyway, this is absolutely the place you need to make a reservation. You will not be disappointed and whatever you spend will be well worth it. Traveler’s tip: take that special someone with you, as Jardin Mazarin the perfect place for a secluded romantic dinner.
9. EnOsteria L’Ottava – Sorano, Italy
With so many other restaurants in Italy to choose from, there’s got to be a reason for this one to make the list, right? Well, there is. This place is incredible, and if you ever wanted a real Tuscan experience, like a genuine one – this is it. One of the coolest places I’ve sincerely ever been, this place has it all.
Full disclosure here, the village, and whatever they had going on in the back of the restaurant – kind of creepy, not going to lie. I don’t know what the general vibe of the village was, but there was something very dark here that I did not feel great about. But, the restaurant – amazing.
The food was unique, well presented, and life changing. The owner was cordial and brought out any wine that I wanted and offered me several courses to taste. The owner explained that his menu, which rotates seasonally, is based off of very ancient dishes that the village or region would have had many, many moon ago. A concept which I think is fantastically original and makes it clear why he’s as successful as he is.
Booking a reservation here is of utmost importance. He didn’t realize when I arrived that I was coming that night, and though I’d made the appointment some time prior, he scrambled telling me he may not have room for me as he was booked solid with patrons – and there are only enough seats to fit approximately 20 people in total.
The ravioli was phenomenal, the atmosphere unforgettable, and the decor quaint. It almost felt like being in Snow White’s cottage.
The restaurant is one I won’t soon forget, and I’m so grateful I had the opportunity to visit and try the food.
Prices are pretty typical for Italy, so don’t expect it to be low in cost. It never is.
But the experience of being there and the quality and flavors of the food are well worth it.
Make sure to reserve a spot at EnOsteria L’Ottava in advance, and when you arrive have some wine to start, but a tip would be to skip the dessert – just stick to the entrees.
8. Torquemada Beach Club – Margherita di Savoia, Italy
I can’t say enough positive things about this place. It’s as though angels were in the back preparing every dish I ordered for the near week I stayed at this beach club. The owner was the chef himself, and managing not only the kitchen, he also ran everything else connected to the club. I spent my days lounging by the beach or eating their food at the restaurant it seemed like. Dinner after dinner, lunch after lunch and breakfast after breakfast, I had pasta, fish, meat…anything and everything you could think of, and don’t forget the brioches and delicious wines.
But the best dish of them all was the baccala with squid ink. Yeah I know, it sounds weird, right? No. It’s amazing. And you need to eat it. I’m serious. You will never forget it, as I have not forgotten it.
For what it’s worth even their most simple pasta pomodoro was out of this world.
And the prices – unbeatable. The Torquemeda Beach Club has great food, great prices, and an unparalleled relaxing ambiance throughout the sleepy town. You can’t go wrong here, but most especially with the food.
7. Cafe Bazaar – Thessoloniki, Greece
A restaurant that gives you a sense of feeling like a local, Café Bazaar is not exactly in the heart of Thessaloniki, but close enough to it. With a lot of commotion in the evenings, people flock to the restaurant for its appealing prices and flavors. The cocktails are out of this world, the owner possibly the friendliest person I met throughout the entire country while I was visiting, and of course the food is the star of the show. Any kind of Greek fare you can think of they have on offer here, and more, and it was honestly the best I had in the whole country. Having tried multiple different restaurants in several different cities – all of them good – this was the best.
Not only are the flavors unbeatable, but so are the prices, the atmosphere and the friendly staff. Just make sure you don’t miss this hidden gem in northern Greece when you make your way there next.
6. Ristorante Bacco – Barletta, Italy
Ristorante Bacco is one of those special gems that if you’re lucky enough to be able to book a reservation and lucky enough to afford to dine here, you’ll be lucky enough to have a food adventure of a lifetime. The staff is some of the most professional and well polished you’ll find in all of Barletta, the small city where Bacco is located, and the owner one of the most jovial and passionate about his business. The food is mouthwatering, creative, elegant, and the servers are on top of every detail.
Be sure to wear a tie if you’re a man, and a tasteful dress if you’re a lady. This is a linen napkin establishment and their prices definitely keep “the rif-raf” out.
5. Tábua do Naldo – Évora, Portugal
This restaurant has the best food in all of Portugal – and no, I’m not exaggerating. After traveling around the whole country in 4 weeks’ time, I spent a lot of my trip eating, and found nothing that compared, even close, to Naldo’s. This little hole-in-the-wall has some of the best you’ll find not just in the country, but in the world. The flavorful detail that he goes to in creating these exceptional dishes is down right genius, and not just a little delicious.
The other great thing about this spot is that it’s not overly expensive. While other chi-chi places such as these tend to charge an arm and a leg for original dishes, this place makes it affordable for the average tourist looking to go some place nice. While it’s not cheap – you won’t feel violated necessarily when the bill arrives.
Be sure you don’t miss out on this diamond in the rough, which is Tábua do Naldo the next time you’re in Portugal.
4. Antica Osteria Le Mura – Bologna, Italy
It’s hard not to put this place in the top three because it’s so outstanding in every area. The food is brilliantly executed not just in quality and flavor but also in presentation. Osterias, in my opinion, typically have the best food in Italy anyway, and pizzerias don’t hold a candle to them. This particular osteria can be found in the back alleys of Bologna, in a dim-lit, romantic setting for couples, with few tables, but just enough if you want to have a small party.
It is a bit spendy so make sure you’re prepared to pull your wallet out. Not to suggest other places in Italy aren’t costly, but this one is even more special than others.
The wine is exceptionally noteworthy – which is saying something in Italy – and the food, well, as I said, there’s hardly anything that can compete with it. From their seafood to their meat dishes, everything is superb and if you’re in Italy, and particularly anywhere in the north, you simply must stop in to partake of any number of their dishes. Antica Osteria Le Mura is a place you’ve probably never heard of until now, and the place to add to your must list.
3. La Bor Bistro – Tokaj, Hungary
You might be surprised that this tiny town in northeastern Hungary made the top 3 list of the best places to eat in Europe. No one is more surprised than me. Tokaj, while famous for its wines, is not a place you would think to have such incredible food – but it does. Most specifically at La Bor Boutique Hotel & Bistro. While you can sleep upstairs, you can dine downstairs, and dine you absolutely must! There is not one thing that I ordered that was not phenomenally delicious, and beautifully orchestrated in terms of design and taste.
What’s also great about this place, is that while it is fairly upscale, it’s not overwhelmingly so. You can wear jeans and not feel out of place, and the prices are affordable for Anglo-Saxons looking for a fancier dinner.
You won’t be sorry stopping in here, just make sure to order some of that famous Tokaj wine to go with your avant-garde Goulash or your Sacher chocolate cake.
2. Pest-Buda Bistro – Budapest, Hungary
With so many places in Budapest, and with so many good places to choose from, why this one? Because out of all of the delicious versions of the traditional Hungarian food that all of those other restaurants cook up, they couldn’t quite compete with Pest-Buda Bistro. It’s the creme-de-la-creme in terms of spot on perfection when it came to each of the three traditional dishes I ordered. And to add to it, the atmosphere is delightfully sophisticated with a hint of quaintness wrapped around. Located in the castle district of the city, you are surrounded by clean cobblestone streets, tourists galore, yes, but castles, cathedrals, bastions and more. The food is quite frankly to die for, and the staff polite and kind.
The other great thing about Pest-Buda Bistro, is that while the prices are certainly higher than you will find in other parts of the country, given that it’s in one of the most touristy sections of the already popular capital – it’s still less expensive than other restaurants in Europe. So, do yourself a favor. If you want the real deal, come here for some Paprikas Csirke!
1. Da Mariano Ristorante – Procida, Italy
This is number one for many reasons, but let’s start with the location.
Procida is an island off the coast of Naples, offering millions of tourists throughout the years stunning views from their hilltops of the coastal beauty the locals call home. Colorful buildings here, there and everywhere, the experience is quite honestly a once-in-a-lifetime.
I was staying in a vacation rental practically right next door to this restaurant, when I stumbled upon it one evening in search of a place to eat. The staff welcomed me, and the almost quite literal hole-in-the-wall seated about 30 people max, if that.
The view from the restaurant is of the small marina where yachts are banked, and the stillness of the evening while sipping a glass of delicious wine is enjoyed by the sounds of pedestrians casually walking by.
But the real noteworthy mention is that of the food, naturally. Da Mariano, named after the owner, gives the food a very personal touch, and maybe even inadvertently making it something of a classy dish. While you feel like your uncle is in the back making you some home cooked food, and that’s what it tastes like, everything is presented like you’re at a 5 star restaurant.
His wife made a dessert especially for me so that I could taste, write about and photograph it, and she was just as sweet as the cake itself.
And the prices – you won’t go home broke. It’s amazing what kind of a find I found. The food is very average in cost, if not a little less than what you would normally pay, the view fantastic, the service like being around family, and the food out of this world delicious. If I can remember their shrimp ravioli after 3 years, that’s saying something.
Make sure you show some love to Mariano and his wife the next time you visit the island.
But no matter which of these restaurants you visit, just remember to tell them Lisa sent you!