4 Top Restaurants in Europe for Foodies

Food & Beverage, Online Exclusives

Where to dine in Europe from Michelin star restaurants to family-run spots

Michelin Star restaurants in Paris, France

Vacationing in Europe is like the Holy Grail of destinations for food-lovers, whether you opt to dine at fancy Michelin Star restaurants or charming mom-and-pops where the ingredients are equally impeccable. And these days more than ever, dining in Europe isn’t limited to traditional sit-down spots; incredible signature dishes can be had in stalls in the local markets as well as on the streets. Here, we offer a few of our favorite European restaurants to whet your appetite. We hope you’ve come hungry.

Paris, France

The City of Light has always been a gourmand’s paradise. From the small sidewalk cafes where you can enjoy a perfect croque monsieur and leisurely glass of wine to restaurants that have earned coveted Michelin stars, you will never go hungry in Paris. If you want to experience a true Parisian bistro, Benoit, located near Hotel de Ville and the Pompidou Center in the 4th arrondissement, is happy to oblige. Bought in 1912 by Benoit Matray, a butcher by trade, the restaurant has made (bien sur) changes over the years—a kitchen renovation here, a private lounge there—but the bistro soul and spirit remain. In April 2005, celebrated French chef Alain Ducasse bought the restaurant, ensuring it lives on. Inside this charming spot, you’ll find red velvet banquettes, an abundance of shiny brass, engraved glass windows and that oh-so-soft lighting bistros are known for. The menu retains those beloved bistro traditions as well with dishes ranging from pate en croute and garlicky escargot to cassoulet and classic vanilla millefeuille for dessert. All of these attributes haven’t gone unnoticed: The historic restaurant has earned a Michelin star.

Milan, Italy

Calling anything the best is often rife with heated debate. But we feel confident that Italians and visitors alike would agree that Lo Scoglio da Tommasso on Italy’s Amalfi Coast is truly one of the country’s best restaurants. If you pay any attention to Instagram, odds are, you’ve already seen plenty of photos of this stunning restaurant, whether from its dock, deck or terrace grill eating areas overlooking the Mediterranean Sea. And while it naturally attracts A-listers (Sting, Beckham and other one-name celebrities), it’s not pretentious. Since 1958, those in the know have traveled across the water or braved the winding road to Marina del Cantone to eat at the restaurant founded by the De Simone family. Lo Scoglio, which means “the boulder” in Italian and refers to the actual rock the restaurant sits on, could remain a fan favorite for its dramatic views alone. But it goes above and beyond when it comes to the food it serves, which features local signature dishes that spotlight ingredients from their nearby farms and, of course, the ocean at its doorstep. Translation: fork-tender octopus, sea urchin linguine and spaghetti with zucchini (a favorite of Stanley Tucci, no less). And should you want to extend your visit, Lo Scoglio also has a small hotel with each of the rooms overlooking the sea.

Madrid, Spain

Food in Madrid

At Madrid’s Coque, guests start their multi-course meal in the restaurant’s beautiful wine cellar with small bites that might include Pedro Ximénez sherry ice cream sandwiched between two savory wafers.

In the not-so-distant past, discussions on the best places to eat in Spain were dominated by Ferran Adria’s El Bulli not far from Barcelona and restaurants in the northern coastal city of San Sebastian. These days, however, there’s another Spanish city moving up the country’s restaurant ranks: Madrid. Located a 20-minute drive from Madrid proper you’ll find Coque. There, the Sandoval brothers (Mario handles the kitchen, Diego is front-of-the-house manager and Rafael looks after the wine list) have created a destination-worthy restaurant with two Michelin Stars to prove it. Dining here is a journey in itself. It begins in the wine cellar with its transparent floor revealing wine bottles underneath with a sampling of snacks such as Pedro Ximenez sherry ice cream sandwiched between two savory wafers. From there diners head to the kitchen for appetizers made from vegetables grown in the restaurant’s organic garden. There’s a quick stop at the wood-burning oven, which cooks the suckling pig—a special breed from the restaurant’s farm—that you’ll later be eating in the upstairs dining room where the rest of the 10 or so savory courses are served. Dessert—sour yogurt with smoked milk foam, perhaps?—is presented in the sexy lounge on the ground floor. In other words: It’s a trip totally worth taking.

Lisbon, Portugal

Lisbon has definitely become a hot travel destination of late. While affordability has been a draw, there’s much more to this trend than the city’s easy-on-the-budget benefits. Portugal’s capital is full of historic sites, beautiful hotels, friendly bars and, yes, delicious restaurants. And one of those is Prado. The Portuguese word for “meadow,” Prado applies a local mentality for its entire menu, offering a true taste of what Portugal offers. All its dishes are based on national, seasonal and fresh ingredients, which come via the restaurant’s partnerships with local farmers, fishermen and wine producers, the latter of which make exclusively organic, biodynamic and natural wines. If all this sounds stuffy, Prado is anything but. Rather it’s a thoughtful restaurant with a fun atmosphere courtesy of the hip, local crowd that often frequents this spot. The menu of hometown chef Nuno Mendes is constantly changing but expect beautifully plated dishes where the ingredients truly take centerstage.

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