I know…chains don’t always get the best reputation. We all love finding unique boutiques
and eateries that aren’t replicated, but you have to admit that some chains are done right.
Europeans are less into “chain” restaurants and stores in general…that is more of an American
thing. But of course there are still big chains here, and some good ones to know about! Living
over on the European continent this year has helped us discover and appreciate even more of the
good staples across Europe to know about. We may have been missing Target, Costco, Trader
Joe’s and the Cheesecake Factory, but here are some favorite chains on that side of the pond!
○ Pret A Manger: After living in London, this little spot is my absolute favorite for fresh, healthy food on the go. You literally just grab and go, whether it’s salad, paninis, soups, sandwiches or treats. I love everything here and it’s super reasonable and cheap. Get a love bar to satisfy your sweet tooth after eating! (There are some in the U.S. now too :)
○ Vapiano: Definitely one of our very favorite chain restaurants to eat at in Europe. It began in Germany so there are a lot there and throughout the continent in major cities. There is even one in Washington DC now! It is like the Chipotle of fresh Italian food. You walk in the door and get a swipe card which you use at different pasta, pizza, salad and drink stations while ordering. Your food is made fresh right in front of you, and you take it to the table to eat! It’s perfect with groups of friends since everyone has their own card and bills don’t need to be split up. It’s also reasonable and always a fun setting … just be prepared to wait in line for pasta on busy nights, because each dish is made at a time! Don’t miss their amazing free gummy bears as you leave –– they have them at every location :)
○ Paul Boulangerie: This bakery is our go-to in any city where we can’t find a good breakfast. We can always count on Paul! Their pastries are amazing (try to get a fresh raspberry tart), even their croissants are something special. I’ve eaten here for lunch as well and had the best salad. It’s great to pick up fresh bread here as well, or even stop in for a hot cocoa. You can’t go wrong!
○ Nando’s: little did I know this actually began in South Africa (where my parents also love it) but it is all through Europe and especially the UK. It’s a quick and inexpensive place to get fresh simple roasted chicken with all different sauces and sides. Get the quarter chicken with mild sauce, and corn + spinach with lemon herb sauce!
○ Wagamama: I have to admit that this place used to be better, but it’s still worth mentioning because some dishes are still worth going for. It’s Asian fusion which began in London and is all through the continent now. Get teriyaki soba salmon or their pad thai, and a fresh juice!
○ Carrefour: This is not all through Europe, but it’s my favorite French grocery store chain and it’s in multiple countries. I’m probably just partial to it after living there. It has the best bakery, yogurts, and groceries! I also love Monoprix in France.
○ Primark: Now onto the shopping. Primark might be a little crowded and cheap for some people, but we LOVE it. We shopped here all through Europe and got so many clothes and little home items since it is amazingly well-priced and just has some great finds. It can be hit-and-miss, but try to go to one early in the day to avoid crowds and take some time to look…I bet you’ll find some items you love! Even Chase became a fan.
○ Topshop: Another good shopping chain to watch for – it started in London and is all over now. I love their dresses!
○ C&A: A cute clothing store full of basics, kind of like Old Navy or Gap … I found some things I LOVED here and it’s so well-priced for male and female clothing!
○ Calzedonia: I stumbled into one of these in Croatia and got the cutest floral leggings and a pair of jeans that fit perfectly. I thought it was a unique little Croatian store until we got to Italy and I saw it there…and in Spain…and everywhere! I was so happy, because although it’s simple and small, it has really great pants and basics that fit so well!
to them when we visit. I’d love to hear any Euro chains you’ve found and loved!