I often say I travel the world just for the food. Many times when I ask locals for suggestions, I’m given the best local hangover foods to try. Although I rarely drink and I’ve never been hungover, I still find these foods delicious. Here are some of my favorites around Europe.
I want to point out that these are not scientifically the best hangover foods – those would be things like eggs, oatmeal, bananas, avocados, or just water and a couple B-complex tablets – but these are definitely foods that many people run to after a night of binging…usually later that night, which is why the restaurants serving these are mostly open quite late.
Zapiekanka in Krakow, Poland
Whenever I visit Krakow, I always have to get a zapiekanka. This unusual dish is primarily found in the Kazimierz Jewish quarter of town, although there are other shops and cafes in the city that will sell it too. Zapiekanka is made with half a baguette topped with melted cheese and white mushrooms. You can get other ingredients as well, such as ham, bacon, chicken, onions, olives, etc. The usual sauce is simply ketchup.
The price is quite cheap – starting at around $3. The square selling them is surrounded by some of the most popular bars and clubs in Krakow, so the lines can get quite long. Or you can just pick one up for a nice lunch. A single zapiekanka is quite filling.
Islak in Istanbul, Turkey
My wonderful Couchsurfing host in Istanbul brought me to Kızılkayalar Cafe on Istiklal Street (aka Independence Avenue) to get an islak, or “wet burger”. These small burgers are quite similar to an American Sloppy Joe – dripping with juice and flavor, but with Turkish spices. They’re not big – costing only $0.35! You could easily get four or five and call it a meal.
Burek in the Balkan Countries
Burek or börek is a savory pastry found throughout southeastern Europe, especially in Greece, Turkey and the Balkan countries (Croatia, Albania, Bulgaria, Montenegro, etc). There are quite a few varieties and recipes, but the basic idea is a very flaky pastry filled with meat, cheese and/or vegetables. They are usually quite salty too. Just like the islak, they are cheap. I would sometimes find them for as little as $0.50, although just one of them can be big enough for a meal.
Frites in Belgium
It’s still being debated on whether the Belgians really invented fries, but it’s hard to disagree that they have the best fries in the world. Belgian fries, or frites as they’re called there, are double fried which gives them a perfectly crispy outer shell and a mushy center. You can find a frites stand in every town and village in Belgium, and in the surrounding countries too. The prices vary depending on which country you get them from, but an average price would probably be around $5 for a large. Go for the andalousa sauce – mayonnaise, tomato paste, and smoked bell peppers.
Covrigi in Romania
For something a bit simpler, you could just go for a Romania covrigi. These are circular pretzels, almost like a bagel, but not. You can also find similar products in Turkey, Poland and other countries in Europe. These just might be the best actual hangover cure on this list, as they’re basically just bread and salt without any meat or sweeteners. You can find them for as little as $0.50, but I wouldn’t recommend considering them a complete meal, especially when there are so many other delicious Romanian dishes to try.
As I said above, these are not foods that will cure your hangover; they are simply referred to as the best hangover foods by locals. My personal recommendation is to drink lots of water and take B1 and B-complex…or, better yet, practice temperance.