While it may be France’s second-largest city, any Frenchmen will tell that Lyon is its country’s gastronomic capital.
No where else (in the world maybe) can you find such an appreciation for eating in such a grand, hearty, deliberate style as in Lyon. Vegetarians won’t find much to woo them on a traditional Lyonnaise menu. It’s all about meat; and much of it is all about organ meat—tripe, and the famous andouillette and Rosette and Jesus sausages (made from the intestinal bits of the hog)—which will be found in every eatery. Even the salads may come served with bacon and a poached egg on top (the classic salade Lyonnaise). But if you’re game for trying these local favorites, you won’t be sorry. They’re delicious!
The most traditional of Lyonnaise restaurants is the “bouchon”—a unique regional sort of bistro. You can’t leave Lyon without eating in at least one. Many vie for the title of the most perfectly typical, but the winner may be the splendid Cafe des Federations, a lively local institution that can’t have been redecorated since the ’50s. As soon as you arrive (and it’s a good idea to book ahead) the staff with begin filling your table with starters like the classic salade Lyonnaise, deep-fried pork skins, potatoes with bits of herring, a tray of cold-cut sliced sausage meats, and more. Wash it all down with a pot (a uniquely Lyonnaise unit of measure—about 2/3 the size of a usual wine bottle) of the local Beaujolais or Cote du Rhone. Then the jovial waiter will rattle off the evenings main course specials, all of which will be classics, like fish quennelles (a local dish, much like a large dumpling) or battered tripe. Be bold, ask your server for his recommendation, and prepare to be delighted. Then sit back, enjoy your wine and the festive atmosphere. English is spoken—sort of—but having some elementary grasp of French wouldn’t hurt. Expect a fun, festive night of it, surrounded by cheery locals.