My food choices while travelling typically do not include traditional fare because of my food allergies and dietary restrictions. So, the restaurant choices might seem odd for the cities –– but trust me, these spots serve tasty food, have vegetarian and vegan options and are a good alternative if you want to spice things up a bit.
Venice, Italy ~ The Caffè Centrale Venezia
Who knew I had to go to Venice to have the best tofu and seitan dishes of my life…I was there for my besties wedding reception and the restaurant made a separate four-course menu just for me, even though I told the bride a salad would be great. They are open late, serve drinks and can be accessed by walkway or private dock. This one will cost a little cash and may require a reservation, but absolutely worth it.
Venice, Italy ~ Calle dei Saoneri Street – San Polo, which is the Rialto district and very close to where I stayed at the Hotel Palazzo Barbarigo. This district has a lot of café/restaurants and I went to one of them more than once. My two favorites are between Fanny Gloves and the Church on Calle dei Saoneri, on the opposite side of the street. Prosecco is refilled like water and great pasta and pizza choices are available for fairly inexpensive prices for Venice. They have many non-cheese pizza options on the menu and the waiters do not look at you like your crazy for not eating cheese.
Nicosia, Cyprus ~ CarvOOno MaggierEhmata is on the popular Ledra Street, which is the modern area attached to old town. It was packed when I went. I had an orange lentil salad and it smelled and tasted fabulous. I also had a vegetable stew/side dish with hints of cumin and cinnamon, lovely. They also serve bread, hummos, salads and a ton of meat dishes for the non-veggie people, with average prices for Cyprus.
Brussels, Belgium ~ Head over to Jules Van Praet Street and pick a place, there are options for everyone and it is quieter than the square. It is where business people go for lunch. On the corner facing the main street, there is an Iris Pub, a Golden Arches and a Burger King, but when you walk down Jules Van Praet there is an Indian restaurant and three Thai/Vietnamese restaurants. I recommend Reves D’Asie (Thai-Viet) — it ranks as one of the top five meals of my travels in 2011. Amazing spicy food, great service and furniture on the walls.
Budapest, Hungary ~ Hummus Bar; that’s right, they serve hummos and a lot of other fabulous Mediterranean dishes at a decent price. Lentils, falafel, meats, breads, fresh juices and warm mint tea. They have great service, menus in English and several locations on the Pest side of Budapest, which is separated by the Danube River.
Paris, France ~ Le Vert est Mieux (Green is Better) This is a healthy fast food alternative; fabulous salad bar, reasonably priced. Pick your base greens, add lentils, meats, cheese and other proteins, vegetables and dressing – they mix it all together, what could be simpler. They also have soups, sandwiches, desserts and fresh blended juices. I have been to their restaurants off Champs-Élysées and Place de la Madeleine, but they are all over the place.
Dublin, Ireland ~ One of my favorite restaurants in the world is Cornucopia Wholefoods, which had a line out the door each time I passed it. They were voted Restaurant of the Year in 2011 by the Dublin Living Awards, and it is no joke. It is a warm and cozy place bustling with patrons, friendly servers and more food choices than I knew what to do with. I chose parsnip and dill soup with fresh baked bread and coffee. It was one of the best soups that I have ever had. If you visit Dublin when the weather is blustery and are in need of some comfort food to warm you up – this is your choice. Enjoy breakfast, lunch, dinner or dessert in the heart of Dublin’s city center.
Edinburgh, Scotland ~ Henderson’s restaurant is on Hanover off Queen Street and their Bistro is at 25c Thistle Street. Henderson’s serves fresh vegetarian comfort food. Even if you aren’t a veg, there is plenty to enjoy – salads, fresh bread, veggie burgers, pastas, hearty soups and fabulous desserts.
Edinburgh, Scotland ~ DAVID BANN is an award-winning restaurant high-end restaurant. I recommend reservations, you won’t be disappointed — the food is amazing. Also vegetarian, Bann creates rich and sophisticated dishes. Their homemade vegan ice cream is incredible.
London, UK ~ Wasabi Sushi and Bento has been one of my favorite London restaurants since 2005. It is a chain restaurant but don’t let that stop you. As the name indicates, they create fast food sushi and bento boxes — at a decent price to eat in or take away. I love, love, love their rich tofu curry so much, I could eat it by the bucket.
London, UK ~ Ras Indian Restaurant
When people think of traditional English food, they probably think of pasties, bangers and mash or fish and chips, but Indian food really is traditional local fare. There are so many great Indian restaurants in London, it would be hard to and have a bad meal. With that said, I recommend Ras Indian Restaurant – spicy goodness, reasonable prices and great service.
Zagreb, Croatia ~ Pirates Karaka
My cousin Mia took me to a local Mexican restaurant for dinner and we had a great time. Partially because of the pirate ambiance and tasty food, but also because Mia, her sister and their friends hang out there — so they know the staff. It is a popular drinking spot for 20 some-things. Don’t go expecting super spicy hot food or you local American burrito joint. What you will find is traditional Mexican dishes that are flavorful and uniquely Croatian.
Zageb, Croatia ~ my Aunt’s house (seriously) – she made the best curries and traditional Croatian dishes and adjusted them so that they were Lori friendly. I wanted to move in. She also makes amazing apricot preserves that now magically appear on my doorstep…and no you can’t get a reservation or stop by unannounced.
My honorable mention is the Croatia Coast/Adriatic Sea: Most restaurants have a Mediterranean feel with lots of fish, pasta, salads, grilled veggies and pizza. Look for the places that are packed or have a great view. One tip…Europeans do not eat pizza with their hands, they use s fork and knife, and the same goes for French fries.