8 Central European Food and Drinks You Must Try

Find out all you need to know about the best Central European food and drinks before your trip.

Embark on a gastronomic journey through the heart of Europe as we delve into the rich and diverse tapestry of Central European food. This region, nestled between Western and Eastern Europe, boasts a captivating blend of flavors, traditions, and culinary craftsmanship that have been finely honed over centuries. From hearty and comforting dishes that reflect the region’s agricultural roots to unique beverages that encapsulate its vibrant cultural heritage, Central European cuisine offers a delightful fusion of history, innovation, and sheer indulgence.

  • Central European cuisine is known for its generous portions and rich, satisfying dishes like goulash and savory sausages.
  • Experience the tradition of multi-course meals, starting with appetizers and progressing through main courses to desserts.
  • Engage in the rich drinking culture of Central Europe, exploring local beers, wines, and spirits like pálinka or slivovitz.

Must-Try Central European Foods

Here are the top dishes of the Central European food scene that will help you eat like a local:

Goulash (Hungary)

At the heart of Central European cuisine lies the iconic Hungarian goulash, a dish synonymous with hearty and soul-warming flavors. Comprising tender chunks of meat, typically beef, this stew is slow-cooked to perfection with a rich medley of paprika, onions, and an array of aromatic spices. Representing the essence of Central European food, Hungarian goulash offers a robust flavor profile that embodies the region’s commitment to creating dishes that are both satisfying and deeply flavorful.

Schnitzel (Austria and Germany)

A cherished classic in Central European cuisine, schnitzel has etched its place in the culinary traditions of Austria and Germany. This dish features thin cuts of meat, usually pork or veal, meticulously breaded and fried to achieve a golden, crispy exterior. Central European food enthusiasts appreciate the delightful crunch of each bite, making schnitzel a beloved representation of the region’s commitment to simple yet exquisite culinary craftsmanship.

Cabbage Rolls (Romania)

Romania adds its distinctive touch to Central European cuisine with the delectable cabbage rolls, locally known as “sarmale.” Ground meat, often pork, is lovingly enveloped in cabbage leaves and slow-cooked to perfection. This dish exemplifies the region’s dedication to crafting meals that are not only savory and comforting but also rooted in the rich culinary heritage that defines Central European food.

Ćevapi (Balkan Region)

While not confined to a specific country, Ćevapi are a culinary gem found in the heart of the Central European culinary scene, particularly in the Balkan region. These small, grilled minced meat sausages captivate the palate with their distinct flavors. Served alongside flatbread and a side of chopped onions, Ćevapi showcase the diverse and communal aspects of Central European food, making them a popular choice across the region.

Svíčková (Czech Republic)

The Czech Republic makes a flavorful contribution to Central European cuisine with Svíčková, a marinated sirloin roast often accompanied by a creamy vegetable sauce and bread dumplings. This dish captures the essence of Central European food by offering a harmonious blend of textures and flavors. Svíčková embodies the culinary artistry that defines the region, making it a must-try for those seeking an authentic taste of Central European cuisine.

Trdelník (Czech Republic)

Indulge your sweet tooth in Central European food with the Czech delight, Trdelník. This cylindrical pastry is made by wrapping dough around a cylindrical spit, roasting it until golden brown, and then coating it with sugar and cinnamon. Often enjoyed as a street food treat, Trdelník offers a delightful conclusion to your Central European culinary journey, adding a touch of sweetness to the rich and diverse flavors of the region.

Must-Try Central European Drinks


Elevate your Central European dining experience with Palinka, a traditional fruit brandy hailing from Hungary. This potent spirit is crafted through the distillation of various fruits, such as plums, apricots, or apples, resulting in a flavorful and aromatic drink. Often enjoyed as a digestif, Palinka adds a touch of warmth to Central European food gatherings, reflecting Hungary’s proud distilling heritage.

Aperol Spritz (Austria and Italy)

While Austria may not be the birthplace of Aperol Spritz, its popularity in Central European cities like Vienna is undeniable. This refreshing and effervescent cocktail, composed of Aperol, prosecco, and a splash of soda, serves as a delightful aperitif. Embrace the convivial spirit of Central European food culture by raising a glass of Aperol Spritz before indulging in the region’s hearty and diverse culinary offerings.

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