Best European Foods That Are Hard To Find In The U.S.

Best European Foods That Are Hard To Find In The U.S.

Sorry ballpark hot dogs, but you don’t hold a candle to these.

Have you ever traveled somewhere and fallen in love with a food or a dish only to discover it’s really difficult (if not impossible) to find back home? Well, I’ve become obsessed with a bunch of European foods only to discover that they are so hard to come by in the States. Here are 17 that I’m constantly looking out for (and contemplating planning a Euro-trip to get my hands on).


Quaker Creusli

Hannah Loewentheil

Despite the fact that Quaker is an American company, their very best product is only distributed in Europe. That’s right: Quaker Cruesli Dark Chocolate. Every time I go to Europe, I stuff as many boxes as possible into my suitcase hoping it will hold me over until my next trip. 

This stuff is found in the breakfast cereal aisle and is similar to granola, except it’s essentially little pieces of the most outrageously good chocolate chip cookies and could easily qualify as dessert. Quaker, if you’re reading this, please please please bring your creusli to the States.


Pylsa (Icelandic Hot Dog)

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Of course, it’s not hard to find a hot dog in the US, but no ballpark frank, New York City dirty water dog, or Chicago-style hot dog compares to the Icelandic pylsa. It’s difficult to explain just why the Icelandic pylsa is so different and incredible, but it blows away every other hot dog I’ve ever tried.

It probably has something to do with the fact that it’s made from a trio of beef, pork, and (mostly) lamb, whereas a traditional frank is made from beef. It results in a super-tender and high-quality sausage enveloped by a crisp casing. Of course, we can’t forget abut the garnishes: raw white and crispy fried onions, ketchup, sweet brown mustard, and a tangy caper rémoulade. If only hot dogs in the US were more like these decadent creations…



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Americans are obsessed with avocado toast, but the fancy open-faced sandwich trend called Smørrebrød the Danish invented just hasn’t caught wind in the US. And it’s a real shame, because it’s so delicious. Plus, there’s something really fun about eating a fancy “sandwich” loaded with creative ingredients with a fork and knife. Not to mention, they’re honestly works of art and often almost too pretty to eat. 

Smørrebrød typically starts with a piece of dark, dense, buttered rye bread. It’s then topped with anything from cold shrimp salad with dill and lemon to roast beef with pickles and horseradish. I will patiently wait for the rise of Smørrebrød in the US because it’s only a matter of time.


Kinder Surprise

British Essentials / Via

When I was little, I was obsessed with Wonder Balls. Every time I accompanied my mom to the grocery store, I begged for them. Then they were discontinued because I guess some kids were choking on the toy inside the chocolate. Very unfortunate. 

THEN I realized that Wonder Balls still basically exist in the form of Kinder Surprise…but only in the UK and Ireland. These milk chocolate, hollow eggs that contain a little capsule with a surprise are so adorable and fun. While I’ve probably matured a bit since my Wonder Ball stage, I would still love the ability to buy the occasional Kinder Surprise. 


Zumo de Coco

Hannah Loewentheil

I have written before about my undying love for the fresh juices found in Barcelona’s Mercado de La Boqueria. As you walk around this giant covered marketplace, you’ll see stand after stand lined with colorful plastic cups filled with juices (called zumo or sucs in Catalan).

My favorite of all is the zumo de coco. It’s creamy and rich with little specs of fresh coconut meat, and it’s unlike any other coconut drink I’ve tasted before. In the US, Vita Coco’s pressed coconut water is the closest alternative I’ve found, but it’s still nothing like the Spanish stuff. I would absolutely sacrifice a finger or a toe to have this delightful drink in the States.


Paprika Pringles

The Belgian Store / Via

One thing that Europe excels at is taking American junk foods and taking them to new levels with creative flavors. Walk into a European gas station and you’ll find every kind of chip under the sun flavored to taste like ketchup, ham, currywurst, and more. So whenever I’m in Europe, my husband and I make it a point to try as many of the uniquely European snack foods as possible. 

So far, paprika Pringles are our absolute favorite, and I’ve never before spotted them in the US. They’re a unique sweet and spicy combination sort of BBQ-flavored chips, but so much better. 


Incredible table wine

Hannah Loewentheil

Don’t get me wrong — there’s great affordable wine in the US, and I live for discovering a $15 bottle that drinks like a $60 bottle, but when it comes to cheap, high-quality vino, no one does it like Europe. 

In countries like Spain, Portugal, France, Italy, Austria, and more, you can order a €4 glass on a dinner menu or pick up a super-cheap yet delightful bottle that was produced from grapes just a few miles away. In France and Italy especially, table wine can be really spectacular. The same concept just doesn’t really exist in the States, but I wish it did. 


Jamon Ibérico (and all of the cured meats)

Hannah Loewentheil

I don’t eat meat all that often, but put a plate of Jamón Ibérico in front of me, and I simply cannot control myself. I freaking love European charcuterie in most of its forms. I fantasize about going to Paris and picnicking by the Seine with some saucisson, jambon, stinky Camembert cheese, and a freshly baked baguette. 

Or I’d love to be cozying up at a natural wine bar in Trastevere, Rome with a big ol’ plate of Soppressata, prosciutto, and melon. That is my definition of happiness. Sure, you can find these cured meats in the States, but they’re just not the same. I want to be at a Spanish tapas where ham legs hang from the ceiling and my paper-thin, salty jamón was just sliced from the souce. 


Gelato alla Nocciola (Hazelnut Ice Cream)

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TBH, I’m not a huge nut person. In fact, besides pistachios, marcona almonds, and hazelnuts, I want nothing to do with them. Pistachio ice cream is one of my go-to flavors at home because it’s the perfect balance of salty and sweet, but then I discovered something even more decadent in Italy: Gelato alla Nocciola, aka hazelnut ice cream. 

It tastes like coffee and pistachio ice cream had a baby. You can very rarely find this flavor in the US, but in Italy it’s as basic as vanilla, chocolate, or Stracciatella. If you go into a gelato parlor, it will be an option. I am starting a motion for the US to adopt hazelnut as an essential ice cream flavor. 


Döner Kebab

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Typical late-night food in the US consists of things like pizza, French fries, a burger, or maybe some takeout Chinese lo mein or fried rice. In Germany, it’s döner kebab. Technically this glorious meal is from Turkey, but it’s become one of Berlin’s most iconic street foods. 

The city is teeming with döner shops (like, on every corner) that stay open late to satisfy any midnight munchies. It’s seasoned meat that is cooked on a vertical rotisserie, thinly shaved, and served in a kind of bread called dürüm or flatbread. I’m seeing more and more döner kebab spots open in New York, but I’ve never had one that holds a candle to the outrageously good döner I tried in Berlin. Maybe one day…



Hannah Loewentheil

I’ve eaten at very good restaurants in the States that call themselves “tapas bars,” but IMO, Spanish tapas bars are in a league of their own. I believe you can find very good authentic versions of almost any global cuisine in most American cities, but we have yet to master the humble tapas bar. American “tapas bars” tend to be overly fancy or over-priced places that serve Spanish-influenced small plates, but they don’t quite get it right. 

There is always something missing. I don’t want to pay $10 for a bowl of olives. I want the hole-in-the-wall Spanish tapas bar that serves no-frills delicacies like greasy jamon croquettas, juicy pan tomate, and clams doused in olive oil alongside endlessly flowing wine and beer. If you’ve discovered this type of place state-side, I need to know about it. 


Dutch Pancakes

Hannah Loewentheil

I loved visiting Amsterdam for numerous reasons, but I’d choose a Dutch pancake over a coffeeshop any day. In The Netherlands (and Amsterdam in particular), people take pancakes very seriously, and they’re a whole different breed from the American version. Here in the States you might order a stack of fluffy pancakes with blueberries, bananas…maybe chocolate chips if you have a sweet tooth (and I love these as much as anyone). 

But in Amsterdam, pancakes are totally different. They’re ginormous, thin, and cooked on a griddle until crispy. Then they’re topped with just about whatever sweet or savory toppings you could imagine, almost like a crêpe. As someone who always picks savory over sweet, I was all for a Dutch pancake topped with Gruyère, bacon, and mushrooms or ricotta and tomato. I desperately wish these existed back home. 



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Maybe you’ve heard of arancini, which are Italian fried rice balls. Well, supplì are the Roman version. The name of this popular street food translates to “surprise” because these delectable fried creations can be filled with anything from risotto in tomato sauce to rice with chicken broth, mozzarella, and Parmesan. They’re not commonly found in the US, but they’re one of the most delicious things you can do to rice, and I would really love for them to become a comfort food staple like mozzarella sticks or onion rings. 



Hannah Loewentheil

Txakoli, a white wine from Spanish Basque Country, is the refreshing, crisp, and delightful alcoholic beverage that the US is lacking. You might be able to find it at the rare Spanish restaurant or specialty wine shop, but for the most part it’s severely lacking from the alcohol scene state-side. It’s one of the least popular Spanish wines in the US, and I just don’t understand why. 

Meanwhile, if you eat out in a basque city like Bilbao or San Sebastian, it will be the very first thing you’re offered. I absolutely love txakoli because it’s so refreshing and zippy. Sometimes it has a little bit of a fizz to it, which makes it all the more enjoyable. It’s versatile enough to pair with a ton of foods, but it’s light enough to drink a whole bottle on its own. And it’s generally incredibly affordable. So I ask, why has txakoli not become as popular as rosé?!



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My first encounter with käsespätzle was love at first bite. It’s a German/Austrian version of mac ‘n’ cheese made with tiny egg noodles called spätzle, and often topped with caramelized onions. Since first trying it in Munich, I’ve tried finding it at restaurants in New York City, which has proven to be a challenge. I’ve come across it at some beer gardens, but it’s just not the same. I’ll keep searching, but for now I’ll just stick to my Annie’s white cheddar shells. 


Carciofi alla Giudìa (Fried Artichoke)

Hannah Loewentheil

Finally, let us discuss carciofi alla giudìa. They are deep-fried artichokes and a classic Jewish Roman recipe. Now, you might associate Italian food with pizza and pasta, but I would argue that this is one of the best bites in all of Italy — succulent, tender artichoke beneath a super-crunchy fried coating drizzled in lemon. But the sad part: I’ve been to few Italian restaurants in the States that serve this delicacy. They’re quite hard to find, and unfortunately now I am severely craving it.


And just about any chocolate

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I’m no chocolate snob. In fact, I freaking love Hershey’s chocolate despite the fact that non-Americans notoriously think it tastes terrible. And I am never above some cheap, fake convenience store milk chocolate. But chocolate in Europe just hits different. In fact, I don’t even think American chocolate and European chocolate can be considered the same sweet. 

There actually are a bunch of technical reasons for why this is: European chocolate is creamier and richer with a deeper cocoa flavor. All of those Euro chocolate brands like Ritter Sport, Kinder, and Milka just reign supreme, and while you can find them in the US with some effort, they’re not as prevalent as Hershey’s or Mars. So while you’ll find European imports of luxury chocolate brands here in the States (Godiva, Jacques Torres, Lindt, etc.) it’s the lower-end convenience store chocolate that the US just can’t compete with.

What is a European food you wish was more readily available or common in the US? Tell us in the comments below!