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Lyon Food Guide – The Must-Eats of Lyonnaise Cuisine


Article written by Elisa - Travel Writer & Local in France
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What to Eat in Lyon

Lyon is a gorgeous city with many things to see, but above all, it is famous for its gastronomy. Renowned for being the “World Capital of Gastronomy” since 1935, Lyon counts 20 Michelin-starred restaurants, which are rather affordable.

However, the best spots in the city to taste traditional Lyon cuisine are the “bouchons Lyonnais.” A bouchon Lyonnais is the typical local restaurant where people can enjoy the popular food of Lyon washed down with a pitcher of regional wine in a warm and welcoming atmosphere. 

The first bouchons Lyonnais opened in Croix-Rousse, the district of the Canuts (silk workers), who were their main customers. Nowadays, you can find many bouchons in Vieux-Lyon, and they are the ideal place to experience the true essence of Lyonnaise cuisine and hospitality.

But what to eat in Lyon? What are the Lyon food specialties? Go on reading this Lyon food guide for the most famous food in Lyon, France, that you must try during your trip to Lyon!

Bouchon Lyonnais

Famous Lyon Dishes & Foods You Need to Try

Here’s the best food in Lyon, France. Famous Lyon dishes, appetizers, cheeses, and desserts, and the descriptions will help you decide if you want to try them or not!

1. Cervelle de Canut

This must-try food in Lyon consists of a cheese spread made with fromage blanc or fresh cow’s cheese mixed with shallots, olive oil, salt, pepper, and vinegar.

The name of this dish – Cervelle de Canut – is peculiar: it means “silk worker’s brain,” and it was named after the canuts (silk workers) who were not considered particularly smart.

With a yogurt-like consistency, Cervelle de Canut is spread on a crusty piece of bread and served as an appetizer or during an aperitif alongside a glass of French wine.

TIP: This Old Lyon 4-hour Tasting Tour always gets the best ratings!

2. Pâté en Croute

A popular food of Lyon, Pâté en Croute is cooked pâté in shortcrust pastry, and it is exceptionally flavorful. The shortcrust is filled with pork, veal, or chicken meat marinated in a mixture of wine, bay leaves, and spices and then mixed with duck foie gras.

Pâté en Croute is usually served as an appetizer or a main dish alongside a green salad. This dish was eaten in Medieval times and today is so popular that Lyon hosts a championship where famous chefs battle to see who makes the best (and most innovative) version.

3. Rosette de Lyon

Another must-try of Lyon cuisine is the Rosette de Lyon, a sausage made from pork, garlic, pepper, and white wine. It’s typically cured for a month, which makes the sausage sweet and mellow.

This sausage has a very rich and unique flavor profile given by the presence of garlic.

The Rosette de Lyon is served as an appetizer with a sliced baguette and accompanied by local cheeses and a glass of wine for a match made in heaven!

TIP: Don’t miss this top-rated Lyon Street Food Tour!

4. Quenelles

If you’re looking for quintessential Lyon dishes, you need to try Quenelles. These savory dumplings filled with a fluffy mousse are poached and served with a creamy sauce. Quenelles can be filled with meat or fish, and in this case, the dish is called Quenelles de Brochet (“pike quenelles”).

Quenelles is the most famous food Lyon has to offer. You will find Quenelles as a main course in most restaurants and bouchons in the city, and they are perfect to be enjoyed in winter and also in summer when they are served without the sauce.

5. Tablier de Sapeur

Tablier de Sapeur is one of the traditional Lyon dishes. This rich main dish is made from beef tripe marinated overnight in a mixture of white wine, lemon juice, mustard, and aromatics. The next day, the meat is coated in breadcrumbs and fried.

The Tablier de Sapeur is served hot and crunchy alongside boiled potatoes and the gribiche, a mayonnaise-like sauce made from hardboiled eggs and mustard. This dish of Lyonnaise cuisine was created during the time of Napoleon III, and its name means “sapper’s apron” due to its resemblance to the leather aprons worn by soldiers.

6. Poulet Celestine

This traditional chicken main will delight your palate if you love hearty dishes. Poulet Celestine was created by a young chef in the 19th century to express his feelings to a widow named Celestine.

This dish is made from chicken marinated in white wine and spices and then sautéed in butter with mushrooms and tomatoes. Finally, the Poulet Celestine is flambéed in cognac before being served warm and fragrant. Poulet Celestine is best enjoyed with a glass of red wine.

7. Cardons Lyonnais (Cardoons)

An ancient and quite rare vegetable, cardoon’s taste resembles that of an artichoke. This veggie is full of fiber and rich in calcium, potassium, and magnesium, so it’s incredibly healthy.

Cardoon flower buds are eaten and cooked as you would do with artichokes, while the stems are usually braised. Lyon has a typical way of making cardoons which you should try.

The Gratin de Cardons is prepared by boiling the stems, which are then covered in a rich béchamel sauce and baked. Traditionally served during the Christmas meal, you can find Cardons Lyonnais on bouchons’ menus.

8. Saint-Marcellin Cheese

France is famous worldwide for its cheese, and when in Lyon, you need to try the Saint-Marcellin cheese. Small and creamy, this cheese is made from raw cow’s milk and, since 2013, has had a Protected Geographical Indication.

Saint-Marcellin cheese is soft or hard and served as an appetizer spread on pain brié (pounded bread) or pain viennois (a sweeter baguette). It is also often enjoyed as a dessert paired with dried fruits.

9. Tarte aux Pralines

Lyon is known for its sweet specialties made with pink praline, but the iconic dessert and an unmissable Lyon food is the Tarte aux Pralines. Characterized by a lovely pink color, this dessert dates back to the 17th century and is a fundamental part of Lyon’s culinary heritage.

The Praline Tart is a short pastry cake with a creamy filling made from crushed caramelized almonds and hazelnuts coated with pink-tinted syrup and mixed with crème fraîche. The crispy base and the mellow filling make for a perfect end-of-the-meal or afternoon treat.

This pretty dessert is served at the bouchons and sold in many bakeries across Lyon.

Where to find the best Tartes aux Pralines? For the authentic and most delicious Tartes aux Pralines, go to Chocolaterie – Pâtisserie Sève (Halles de Lyon Paul Bocuse), Goûter – Sébastien Bouillet (16 Place de la Croix-Rousse), and Boulangerie Jocteur (Halles de Lyon Paul Bocuse).

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