Let’s begin with something light: salade Lyonnaise is made with lettuce (usually dandelion greens), smoky bacon, croutons and a poached or soft-boiled egg. It can be enjoyed all year round. It is an ideal dish to whet your appetite at the beginning of a meal.
Pâté en croûte
This is a delicious combination of charcuterie and pastry, made with cooked pâté in shortcrust pastry. It was one of the main dishes of medieval French cuisine. Originally, the pastry was not eaten, but helped preserve the meat for longer. Today, pâté en croûte is eaten pastry and all, and what a treat it is! Making it has become a true art form and there is even a world pâté en croûte championship!
Rosette de Lyon
This saucisson sec, 40 cm long or more, is one of Lyon’s most iconic specialities. Rosette de Lyon goes very well with bread and butter, and can be enjoyed without moderation (or almost!)
This is made with a cooked Lyonnais saucisson, usually filled with pistachios, and wrapped in soft brioche bread. The delicious saucisson brioché is one of the stars of Lyonnais cuisine. It is simple and hits the spot. Find out whether you prefer it with or without pistachios!
Whether plain or pike-flavoured, quenelle is THE Lyonnais dish par excellence. Generally oven-cooked au gratin, and served with a tomato sauce, shrimp sauce (the famous Nantua sauce) or béchamel, quenelle Lyonnaise is a perfect dish for winter days, even though some people will tell you that it can be enjoyed at any time of year.
Tablier de sapeur
A piece of tripe, marinated in white wine, cooked in stock and then coated with breadcrumbs. A culinary delight! Tablier de sapeur owes its unusual name to the Maréchal de Castellane, Lyon's military governor under Napoleon III and a former sapper (‘sapeur’ in French) in the military engineering corps. These soldiers wore a leather apron (‘tablier’ in French), which bears a canny resemblance with the dish.
Cervelle de canut
This recipe is a treat for the taste buds, which is made with drained fromage frais, garlic, shallots, chives, salt and pepper, mixed together and served with toast or boiled potatoes. Served as a starter or cheese course, cervelle de canut is named after Lyon’s silk-workers, known as ‘canuts’, who were unable to afford the delicacy of lamb's brains, and so instead ate this cheese speciality.
Originally from Saint-Marcellin in Isère (so not really from Lyon, we have to admit), the eponymous cheese does, however, owe its popularity to Mère Richard, a famous Lyonnais cheese seller specialised in maturing Saint-Marcellin, located at the Halles de Lyon indoor food market. We highly recommend going there for a taste! This cow’s milk cheese, soft with a bloomy rind, is considered by many to be one of the best French cheeses.
Tarte à la praline
While this tart topped with pink pralines seems to have been part of Lyon’s culinary heritage for ever, it only dates back to 1975. As visually attractive as it is delectable, it is a perfect sweet to end a meal. It also makes an excellent afternoon treat to go with your tea or coffee.
Coussin de Lyon
Made with a chocolate ganache filling coated in almond paste and flavoured with curaçao, this typically Lyonnais sweet was created in the 1960s by the chocolate-maker Voisin. A true local institution, which takes four days to make! Its shape and name recall the cushion on which municipal magistrates are said to have placed a seven-pound candle and a golden escutcheon, in 1643, to entreat the Virgin Mary to spare the city during an outbreak of the plague.
A sweet treat: bugnes
These delicious fritters are generally made just before Shrove Tuesday. Their name is derived from the local word ‘bugni’, which means ‘beignet’ (French for ‘fritter’ or ‘doughnut’). Here is a more detailed explanation from Antoine.
Has this little selection of local specialities whet your appetite? To taste the best of Lyonnais cuisine, head to one of Lyon's certified bouchons or the Halles de Lyon.
Fancy trying your hand at making them yourself? C’est Lyon qui régale offers some of our finest local recipes to try at home, with friends or family. Here, you can learn to cook like a true Lyonnais chef.