OK, so I know about Czech beer, Austrian sausages, Sacher and Linzer tortes and Hingarian goulash. What other delicious local foods should I be looking forward to in the Czech Republic, Austria, Slovakia and Hungary? Food is an important part of travel for us and we will try just about anything. Hubby is allergic to alcohol, so we'll be skipping the wine gardens and beer.
just a comment. I wouldn't dismiss any beer/wine gardens just because of the alcohol. I would see if they cook with it first and go from there. You may miss out on some really great food.
my genes won't handle alcohol either, but i plan on checking first on if they use it in the cooking. just something to think about.
I recall seeing more game on the menu in the Czech Republic than we would see in North America. I had a great venison pate at St. Norbert's Brewery in Prague. Also recall some great salads with bell peppers and radishes. Enjoy!
In Hungary, be aware that when the menu says gulyas (pronounced GUL-yash), this is a soup, not a stew. The thing we think of as "goulash" is called pörkölt (pronounced, roughly, PER-cult). Both are yummy.
Hungarian food, in general, is delicious - just try anything that strikes your fancy. I was not as enamored of langos as so many others are, but you should certainly try one. I'm particularly fond of debrecener sausages (made, of course, with paprika). Note that you can get Hungarian food in neighboring countries too, but there, the stew is indeed usually called "goulash" and the sausage may be spelled something like "debreziner."
In another thread, I give details about a wonderful all-you-can-eat place in Budapest with Hungarian specialities. If you go there early in your trip, you can not only try lots of different things, but will learn the names so you can order them again elsewhere. Here's the thread: https://community.ricksteves.com/travel-forum/food-drink/anything-like-dim-sum-or-tapas-in-munich-prague-vienna-budapest-or-krakow
Unfortunately Czech and Austrian (at least my sampling of Prague, Salzburg and Tyrolian) foods seem to be complimented by beers - Czech pilsners and Austrian märzenbiers. A beer especially compliments the seasoned/cured meat and wutst platters. A Coke just wouldn't work for me. That said, enjoy the hearty soup starters and the tortes or strudels and coffee ending the meals.
There are plenty of other drinks besides beer, wine and coke. I sit at beer gardens and wine gardens all the time, enjoying the atmosphere and good food. I drink water, tea, fresh lemonade, or perhaps fresh apple juice and have not felt like my meals suffered from not having a beer or wine with them. For my personal tastes, beer is too heavy to drink with any food and I have never enjoyed drinking beer with a meal. Wine yes, but it doesn't have to be there. A sweet drink like coke doesn't really go with anything anyway, so I find water or a lemonade refreshing and it lets the taste of the food be the main player.
Our first trip to Hungary was in 1996. We found that virtually NONE of the restaurants away from the very center of the city had menus in English or people who spoke English. There were 4 of us traveling together and we each pointed at something different on the menu, figuring if something was inedible for us, there would be 3 other choices to share. In 7 days of this, we never had anything we didn't like - although we didn't always know what it was! We've gone back a couple of times since and still like to ask for a local specialty - "surprise me!" In Austria, we loved the options for deer (Hirsch) and all of our meals in Prague were excellent - even from a street vendor. Europeans just know how to eat better. The real dishes instead of paper plates and plastic forks, the beautiful presentations, etc. And I'm not talking about expensive restaurants - we've had lovely service at a roadside gas station for coffee and strudel presented on a tray with cloth napkins and pretty glasses for water.
Thanks everyone for your suggestions. We're back from our European escapade, happily eating our way through four countries. We sampled countless different kinds of sausages and enjoyed a myriad of pastries. The best apple strudel was at a lakeside restaurant in Gmunden, Austria that was served warm with a warm vanilla sauce. The best Sacher torte was in a traditional Viennese cafe near the Dorotheum - both for the taste and the atmosphere (plus the gentleman waiter had a fantastic moustache!) I also recommend the Almduddler soda in Austria. Apricots were in season and absolutely delicious purchased straight from the farmer in the orchard.
We had a delicious homemade venison goulash in the Czech Republic, where we also tried the trdelnik. It's a little like a cinnamon bun crossed with a bangle bracelet. We saw them in Hungary as well, but the name was different. I had a langos with cheese and it was OK. I'm not a fan of fried foods but I'm glad I tried it. Here in Canada we'd call them beaver tails and eat them with sweet toppings.
We didn't eat anything unique in Slovakia but watermelon was in season and I've never seen such big watermelons before! It also seemed that little tiny plums were falling from the trees everywhere we went. And, true to our previous experience in Western Europe, Central Europe also has fantastic bread, coffee and enough flavours of gelato that we never ordered the same one twice :-) Lest you think that we came home several pounds heavier... we rode 1113km on our tandem bicycle so every calorie was efficiently burned!