What to Eat in Lyon: 16 Treats You Should Not Miss
It goes without saying that France is famous for its cuisine. But did you know that the southern city of Lyon is considered the home of French gastronomy? It was here that many of the complex French cooking techniques were first developed. It was here that chefs learned how to combine the excellent produce of the countryside into exquisite dishes. And it was here that French cuisine became what it is today.
Drop off your bags at a luggage storage in Lyon and get ready to experience what may be the best food city in France - which is saying an awful lot. And don't worry if you don't eat meat. Although French cuisine often lacks vegetarian options, the best vegetarian restaurants in Lyon can help you enjoy what the city does well without eating meat.
Whether you want to enjoy a Michelin-starred restaurant or would rather try the best street food in Lyon, France, you're in luck. There's something to suit every palate in this incredible dining city.
Lyon Food: Salade Lyonnais
If you're looking for a light starter or side dish, the salade Lyonnais is perfect. This salad is made with frisée lettuce, lardons (bacon pieces), croutons, and a poached egg. The dressing is usually a simple vinaigrette made with wine vinegar, olive oil, and salt.
This dish was created in Lyon and is still one of the most popular salads on restaurant menus today. Therefore, it's one of the most authentic dishes you can have in Lyon and a classic of Lyonnaise cuisine. It's also notable for being lighter than most meals you'll find on menus around the city and vegetarian friendly if you remove the lardons - although the poached egg makes it unsuitable for vegans.
Lyon Food: Poulet au Vinaigre
Poulet au vinaigre is chicken cooked in vinegar. The vinegar gives the chicken a tangy flavor which is balanced out by the sweetness of the onions it's cooked with.
This dish is usually served with mashed potatoes or steamed rice. It's a hearty and filling meal that is perfect for winter but can be enjoyed all year round.
Poulet au vinaigre is a classic of Lyonnaise cuisine and can be found on menus in restaurants all over the city. You won't have to look far to sample this tasty meal.
Lyon Food: Quenelles de Brochet
If you're looking for a truly quintessential Lyon dish, look no further than quenelles de brochet. This dish consists of pike dumplings in a cream sauce. The dumplings are light and fluffy, while the sauce is rich and decadent. The combination of the two is just perfect.
Quenelles de brochet is a popular dish in Lyon and can be found in most restaurants around the city. It's perfect for winter but can also be enjoyed in summer if you order it without the sauce. In truth, it's good anytime as long as you're hungry.
Lyon Food: Tete de veau
This is definitely not one for vegetarians or even for squeamish meat eaters. Tete de veau is, quite literally, a calf's head. It's slow-cooked until the meat is incredibly tender and then served with a variety of different sauces.
Tete de veau is a classic Lyon dish that has been enjoyed for centuries. If you're feeling brave, it's definitely worth trying at least once. Some of the best spots to try this daring delicacy is at Carpe Diem or La Tete de Lard.
Lyon Food: Andouillette
If you're not put off by tete de veau, then you may also enjoy andouillette. This sausage is usually made from pork large intestine and is typically served grilled or fried. Expect a strong odor when you dare to try this dish; it comes from the colon that is included in the recipe.
Aside from these unusual animal parts, andouillette is also made with onions, wine, pepper, and other seasonings. It's often served as a main course but can also be enjoyed as a starter or side dish, and since it is rarely found in other countries, this is your chance to try it.
Lyon Food: Gateau de Volaille
Gateau de volaille is a chicken pie which is popular in Lyon. It's made with a shortcrust pastry and filled with chicken liver, mushrooms, and onions. The filling is usually bound together with a creamy sauce, making the pie rich and indulgent.
Chicken liver pie may not sound particularly appetizing, but as is the case with many traditional dishes, this meal tastes better than it sounds. Check out the Paul Bocuse market to find local vendors still making this classic Lyonnais dish, along with other specialty foods.
Lyon Food: Boudin Noir
If you're a fan of black pudding, then you'll love boudin noir. This blood sausage is popular in Lyon and can be found on the menus of many restaurants. It's usually served with potatoes or apples and is a hearty and filling meal.
Like many traditional dishes, boudin noir may not sound appetizing, but it's definitely worth trying. The rich flavor of the sausage is offset by the sweetness of the apples, making it a delicious and unusual dish.
Lyon Food: Onion Soup
Onion soup is a popular dish all over France, but it originated in Lyon. This hearty soup is made with onions, beef broth, and cheese. It's usually topped with croutons and Gruyere cheese, making it rich and very satisfying.
Lyon onion soup is the perfect meal for winter but can also be enjoyed in summer if you can wait for it to cool down a little. You can find it on the menus of most restaurants in the city.
Lyon Food: Cervelle de Canut
This dish may be called "silk workers' brains" in a faintly macabre tribute to Lyon's history of silk making. But don't worry, there are no brains involved. Instead, cervelle de canut is a delicious cheese spread made with fromage blanc or fresh cow's cheese, shallots, olive oil, salt, pepper, and vinegar. Excellent when served with crusty bread, this dish is a must-try when in Lyon. Consider trying it as an appetizer before your main course or as a snack paired with a glass of wine.
Lyon Food: Coq au Vin
Easily one of the most famous French dishes, coq au vin is a chicken stew made with wine, mushrooms, and bacon. It's usually served with potatoes or bread, making it a hearty and filling meal. The red wine sauce the chicken is cooked in keeps it incredibly moist and flavorful and makes it easy to pair with wine. You can simply drink the same wine the chicken was cooked in. Nothing goes better with the Burgundy wine sauce than Burgundy wine, after all.
You can find coq au vin on the menus of most restaurants in Lyon, but it's also easy to make at home. Try this classic French dish when you're in the city, and you won't be disappointed.
Lyon Food: Tarte aux Pralines
A Lyon specialty, tarte aux pralines is a delicious dessert made with praline cream and almond pastry. It's usually served with a dollop of whipped cream, making it super rich and delicious. Pink food coloring is used to give these traditional pastries a vibrant color that only makes them even more appealing than they already are.
If you have a sweet tooth, then you'll definitely want to try a tarte à la praline. The sweetness of the pralines is offset by the flaky pastry, making it a perfect balance of flavors.
Lyon Food: Coussin de Lyon
Coussin de Lyon is a chocolate-covered marshmallow that is shaped like a pillow. It's usually a marzipan outside filled with chocolate praline cream. The marzipan is a green color with a distinctive dark green stripe in the middle.
If you're a fan of chocolate and sweets, then you'll love coussin de Lyon. The perfect balance of flavors makes this a must-try dessert when you're in Lyon.
You can find coussin de Lyon at most candy shops and supermarkets in the city. The patisseries of Lyon are just as good as you would expect in this food-loving city, so make sure you visit several of these traditional bakeries to try not only coussin de Lyon but all the other sweet treats the city is known for.
Lyon Food: Tablier de Sapeur
Tripe - cow's stomach to the initiated - isn't everyone's favorite thing to eat. But in Lyon, no part of an animal is off-limits, and local chefs can do amazing things with seemingly humble ingredients like this. Tablier de sapeur is made by soaking tripe in white wine overnight, then coating it in breadcrumbs and frying it. Served with seasonal vegetables, this breaded cutlet turns out a lot more appetizing than you would think.
So if you're feeling adventurous or just want to try something truly unique in Lyon, head to a local bouchon and order a tablier de sapeur. You may be surprised at how much you like it.
Lyon Food: Foie Gras
Foie gras is a rich and indulgent dish made from the liver of a duck or goose that has been fattened up with a special diet. It's usually served as an appetizer but can also be enjoyed as a main course.
Foie gras is a Lyon specialty, and you can find it on the menus of most restaurants. If you're looking for something truly special, head to one of Lyon's many foie gras shops and order a whole lobe of foie gras to take home. Trust us, it's worth it.
Lyon Food: Rosette de Lyon
A rosette de Lyon is a sausage made from pork, garlic, and white wine. It's a Lyon specialty, even though sausages, in general, are very popular here.
If you're a fan of sausage, then you'll love rosette de Lyon. The garlic gives this sausage a unique flavor that sets it apart from other types of sausage. You can find this delicious meat at most supermarkets and butcher shops in Lyon.
Lyon Food: Black Truffle Soup
This unusual dish is an icon of the Michelin-starred Paul Bocuse restaurant. It is made with a black truffle and chicken broth, which gives it a unique and earthy flavor. The soup is then finished with a dollop of crème fraiche, making it rich and creamy.
If you're looking for something truly special, then head to Paul Bocuse restaurant and order their famous black truffle soup. You'll probably have to make a reservation to get in, and your budget will need to accommodate a trip to this fancy establishment. If you're a fan of fine dining, you deftly shouldn't miss out on this exquisite experience.
From savory dishes like coq au vin and quenelles to sweet treats like tarte aux pralines and coussin de Lyon, there's something for everyone to enjoy in Lyon. It's a foodie's paradise, and a place that is famous throughout France for the incredible range and quality of food you can eat here.
With so much to eat, you may be wondering how the people of Lyon stay so thin. Luckily, there are some incredible hikes around Lyon you can try to get your blood pumping so you can burn off some calories and keep enjoying what the city has to offer without guilt.
Drop off your bags at a luggage storage in Lyon and get ready to enjoy all the incredible things there are to eat in the city. No matter what you like to eat, you'll have a fantastic time tasting your way through this exceptional food city.