What should you do in Budapest? Eat. Budapest is a multicultural city, and the food reflects this. You might not know what kind of food us Hungarians like as it’s not a particularly sought-after cuisine internationally. Or you might associate the food with being heavy, like our most famous dish of Goulash, a meat and spice stew. However, Budapest is thriving with restaurants and cafes, from street food to Michelin star restaurants.
The best Budapest restaurants offer a variety of cuisines from traditional, to French, and Chinese. There is a huge choice on offer and at a high quality. Our food isn’t the only temptation in Budapest. We are proud of our historic wine making and the choice of wines available are immense.
You may need to bring a pair of stretchy pants on your trip but after you can walk it off around the UNESCO Castle Quarter or along the Danube.
Here are some of the best Budapest restaurants you may want to try.
This Authentic Spanish Tapas and Pinchos (small snack) bar is located in downtown Budapest. The owners of this establishment previously lived in Spain and have brought their love of Spanish food back with them to the heart of Hungary.
They specialize in Spanish, Catalan, and Basque dishes and source their ingredients from both local and Spanish producers. The small plates are brought out and stacked on the table in a range of colors. The smell of olives and rustic Spanish charm pervade the restaurant.
The dishes are like small sculptures, artistically stacked. A slice of bread, a delicately pink prawn, and a pepper skewered on top. Their menu is varied with meats, cheese, and seafood. With prawns swimming in a tantalizing broth sprinkled with green garnish or cubed fried potatoes and salsa. The staff can offer wines to match your meal or a beer from Barcelona.
The price is reasonable from around $2.64 to $7.57 per dish. The best way to order tapas is to buy a variety and share them or choose three to four dishes each. Don’t be fooled by the tiny plates because you will soon find yourself filled. Tapas is great because you can try a little of everything and if you’re a foodie and find it hard to choose what to have, then this is the perfect option.
La Nube is a tapas restaurant located in the XI district of Budapest. Just a walk down the tree-lined streets from the Danube, turn down a little side street and this unassuming restaurant can be found with gold letters above the door.
You are met with a warm welcome with staff speaking English, Hungarian, or Spanish. The shelves are stacked neatly with rows of wine and on one of the white walls is a black painted bull.
They serve specialty coffee throughout the day, such as Lungo (long espresso) and Cortado (espresso with a dash of steamed milk). They serve a traditional Spanish breakfast and tapas for lunch and dinner. They offer the traditional cheese selection, the cheese fanned out on a slate plate scattered with nuts and raisins.
And like any tapas bar, they have the traditional olives, breads, and cured meats. Their food consists of dishes like fried eggplant with cane honey, giving the slightly bitter vegetable a sweetness. Or slow cooked pork cheek in red wine and fried croquettes lined neatly in a row.
And you can’t forget about dessert, such as the traditional churros with chocolate. The prices range from around $4.62 to $10.23 per dish.
Just down the street from Vermezo Park and Gardens, facing a classical style church in yellow and white, is Deryne Bistro. Opened since 1914, they first sold their food at a street market.
Their place is well deserved on the best Budapest restaurants list, it is the place to be seen where locals and movie stars rub shoulders. Deryne has been awarded the Michelin Bib Gourmand for their plates of masterpieces. There is a bakery on site to buy fresh sourdough and 40 other types of bread from sweet to savory.
The restaurant is like an elegant Parisienne café. The marble counter stacked with luscious green plants and live jazz or a DJ playing every day. You can sit outside at night, the fairy lights wrapped around trees creating a romantic atmosphere. They serve French and Hungarian dishes, that are in their words, “simple and comfortable.”
There is an open oyster bar in the main dining room and a steak, and caviar selection. Their dry-aged Wagyu, Kobe, Kagosima, and Angus steaks are imported from the USA, Japan, Australia, and South America. Their fish is served whole from the market.
The dishes are brimming with color; fresh vegetables layered on the plate beside perfectly cooked slices of meat. The care and attention can be seen in the presentation of the food, each piece carefully placed.
This Chinese has a fast and affordable service. They make their own dough for their noodles which comes in a variety of dishes.
The restaurant has an industrial feel with brick and concrete walls, and pipes running across the restaurant. A glass screen separates the dining room from the kitchen where customers can watch the chefs create their dishes.
They serve steaming bowls of soup packed full of goodness. There is braised beef with rice, fried noodles with a variety of shrimp, beef, or chicken. And sides such as cucumber salad and 100 days egg with Japanese tofu.
Located on the Buda side of the city, along the Bartok Bela Boulevard, an up and coming trendy spot. And just a short walk from Gellért Thermal Bath.
The inside is more like a living room than a restaurant. With a shabby chic vibe and retro furniture. Decorated with elaborate wallpaper teeming with bright yellow birds and butterflies. A wooden wall at one end with a ladder reaching to the ceiling. There are lots of nooks and crannies for privacy.
They offer a big selection of alcohol from craft beers, to wines, and cocktails. Their food is reasonably priced Hungarian fare; bagels, pulled pork, and pasta dishes.
They do a delicious túrógombóc, a popular Hungarian dish, of a sweet tart cottage cheese dumpling layered with apricot jam.
This wine bar in District V is ideally situated facing St Stephen’s Basilica. The inside is quirky with wooden blocks as tables and a lampshade with a leg in net stockings as a stand.
They serve only Hungarian wine, soft drinks, and coffee. Snacks can be served to match the wine at a reasonable price. Such as bread with a soft center and crusty outside, a selection of ham and cheese. Duck in filo pastry and burgers; in a grilled sesame bun dripping in orange cheese. The staff are helpful, advising on the different wines.
The menu is informative, listing the flavors in each of the wines, such as caramel-butter accents or robust earthiness. The best thing is to sit outside with a glass of wine and admire the basilica lit up as people stroll by.
This traditional Italian restaurant is the first in Hungary to receive the Patronage Board of the Italian Chef’s Association and one of the top Budapest restaurants. It has also received a recommendation from the Italian Academy of Culinary Arts.
Inside has a rustic charm with tablecloths draped over the tables, wooden beams, and painted plates decorating the walls. They serve traditional dishes as well as the chefs take on Italian food, paired with Italian and Hungarian wines. They have a bistro and delicatessen, Italian confectionary and ice cream parlor, wine bar and shop, and cake service.
There is an extensive menu filled with soups and starters like four cheese puffed porcini mushrooms with spicy pears. There are salads, pastas, and risottos. There are charcoal grilled dishes to infuse the meat with a smoky flavor.
There are pizzas and dishes like homemade cannelloni and pork medallions with leek cream. Pasta covered in a thick creamy sauce, a sprinkling of parmesan. Seafood pasta with mussels or prawns in a tomato sauce. The dishes are presented well; the meat set on its side, brown on the outside and the juicy pinkness inside, a glaze circling the plate.
It wouldn’t be a traditional Italian if it didn’t provide desserts like tiramisu and profiteroles. A taste of Italy is possible in Budapest.
This Italian wine bar and shop offer wines that have not been to Hungary before. Just a minute walk away from the Danube and Liberty Square. The bar is small and intimate, behind the counter is stacked with wines, glasses glinting, hanging from their perches.
There is a wide variety of wines which you could spend many hours sampling. Along with the wine are tapas of bread, olives, and ham. The staff are on hand to help you select a suitable wine from the extensive range.
This Michelin Star restaurant is in District V, close to the basilica. It is a busy spot, serving contemporary food and over 200 wines. The atmosphere is relaxed for such a quality restaurant. They have a small selection on their menu, but immense attention is focused on each dish. They pair unusual flavorings together to create unique dishes.
Their menu has items like fresh fish, risotto with fennel and shrimp. For dessert rice pudding, Coriander and Mango. The food arrives like a painting, a dark yellow broth with thinly cut mushrooms placed around a perfectly circular egg. It’s yellow yolk waiting to be pierced.
The delicate desserts have dollops of sauce painstakingly placed around the plate and topped with a bright yellow flower. This is one place you will definitely want to take a picture of your food before eating it. It almost seems a shame to destroy it by placing your knife and fork through the cuts of mouth-watering beef.
Another Michelin Star restaurant, of which Budapest has a number. Jazz and swing music are played live, blending into the background as you are seated. A honeycomb structure rising from the floor across the ceiling like a piece of abstract art.
The restaurant uses local produce and traditional cooking methods such as smoke-curing and confiting. They offer a good selection of wine and have a tasting menu. The menu is modern, listing the dishes as a simple list of items such as beef liver, Kohlrabi stew, nuts.
And when it arrives the food looks too good to eat with creative designs and shapes, exquisitely put together. Like the mini tarts with browned meringues perched on top, chocolate powder-coated balls lying on a bed of shavings. Or delicately cut vegetables and dollops of sauce with perfect peaks. If the night air isn’t too cold, sit outside under the canopy and enjoy a unique food experience.
This Michelin Star Budapest restaurant prides itself on high quality ingredients at a reasonable price. They want their dishes to be, “like grandma’s cooking but with a twist.” They offer French dishes including beef bourguignon and crème brulee.
The inside is retro with chintz curtains and an old Citroen car. A black tiled wall creates a cozy atmosphere and rows of wines line another wall. The dishes have vegetables in reds and purples. A sprig of lavender placed across the top and their unique home-made Moroccan sausage.
This restaurant is the first seafood bistro in Budapest. It is unique too in that you pick your fish from the display and then choose your sides. There is no menu, only a variety of seafood including Dorada and Parrot fish. Their seafood comes straight from the harbor which you can then see from the glass counter. The ice piled around the fish in their varying shapes and colors of silver gray, orange, and pale pinks.
If you don’t like seeing your food whole like this it may put you off as the fish is served eyes and all. You can either choose from fixed price options or pay for the fish by the kilo. You may want to choose the fixed price, so you don’t have any shocks when you get the bill.
Their food is simple yet delicious - it is well deserved for them to be mentioned on the list of the best Budapest restaurants. Serving dishes of fried seafood with a thin batter coating them, a wedge of lemon on the side, and a small bowl of sauce. Or paella with the rich yellow rice, steaked with peppers, and mussels sticking out at angles. The smell of the ocean and the freshness pervading your nose.
This wine bar creates a chilled atmosphere with a brick interior wall and wooden benches. It has over 100 wines from different parts of Hungary, from aromatic whites to full-bodied reds. Tapas are served along with the wine, such as paninis, bruschetta, salads, and burgers. Prawns skewered, on a bed of lettuce with cherry tomatoes, grilled bread, and sauce. The chips golden and crisp, piled high in their little basket.
If you are not a fan of wine, they have a selection of Belgian beer, American craft brew, and Czech lagers and pilsners. The prices are reasonable, and the staff are friendly.
For another type of cuisine, try this Greek restaurant located in District VII, in the Jewish quarter. The design is the traditional Greek blue and white décor. The wall painted a beautiful scene from Greece with white-washed buildings with blue domes, the sea, and hills.
They serve street food, and their Gyros are particularly popular. Gyros are like a doner kebab with meat cooked on a rotisserie and wrapped in a bread pocket. It is stuffed with salad and sauce and is a filling lunch or even dinner.
The top Budapest restaurants have so much to offer and not just with Budapest food but a variety of cuisine that is hard to beat. When in Budapest one of the best things to do is eat your way through the city.
For more posts like this head to the cities category on my blog.
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