Where To Eat In Budapest
Restaurants, street food, snacks, fast food, soups, bars, cafés, takeaways, goulash, pizza, langos, burger, frie, hotdogs and everything else that didnt make the list: Budapest has it all. Here is your beginner’s guide on where to eat in Budapest.
Answering the question on where to eat in Budapest seems impossible. The city is teeming with venues of all types and price ranges thus leaving you spoilt for choice. How did this come about?
Unlike many other capitals of post-socialist countries Budapest was lucky not to be disfigured by pompous and over-the-top socialist architecture (think Warsaw), but managed to keep its original charm.
The same can be said about the local cuisine offered in the city. Many Budapest restaurants rank quite a bit above those in other capitals in the region and are to be consdered ‘quality’ restaurants. It even seems as if other cities in former socialist countries are still attached to the cookie-cutter approach of dining (think Kiev) while eating out in Budapest these days is as appealing as it ever was.
3 Types Of Venues
When you are looking to eat out in Hungary’s capital then the abundance of options you have can be boiled down to three types of venues. Naturally, there is no one-fits-all category as every one of them has its specific pros and cons. In this article I will fill you in about what category is right for what occasion. With these categories in mind picking the venue that is right for you will be child’s play.
Ready? Let’s get right into it.
Street Food in Budapest?
Here goes a first myth. No matter what you might have read in guides or what you heard through the grapevine, apart from the one or other kebab store ‘round the corner Budapest has no real culture of street food. If you were expecting an abundance of street vendors preparing easy-to-come-by local food right in front of your eyes like you could find them in Indonesia or Thailand then you are in for a disappointment. In fact, the actual Budapest street food consists of stylish takeaway shops offering aynthing from regular fast food over soups to sandwiches.
Streetfood: The Central Market Hall
This, however, should not keep you from trying all of the delicious local food the city has to offer.
The workaround to Budapest’s genuine lack of street vendors is easy. Simply head over to Budapest’s famous Central Market Hall where they practically serve any local dish under the sun. The Central Market Hall is conveniently located right in the heart of the city and it is the perfect place to have a healthy serving of Hungary’s national dish goulash or to try other specialties such as the fried bread dish of Lángos.
Where To Eat In Budapest: Central Market Hall
- Real Hungarian food awaits.
- No tourist-surcharge here.
- The opening hours. Open from 6 in the morning to 6 in the evening the Central Market Hall is not the place for a midnight snack.
A Budapest Thing: Ruin Bars
Here comes Budapest’s unique and world-famous type of venues, ruin bars. While many of the ruin bars are more about drinks and live-music than about wining and dining there is a good deal that offer a splendid menu of both domestic and international cuisine.
Surprisingly, many of them have an affiliation to Spanish and Mexican food. Head over to El Rapido for some great tortillas and enchiladas or try some Mexican dishes at Kuplung, one of the oldest ruin bars in the city. Both El Rapido and Kuplung are located in the Jewish Quarter, Budapest’s prime nightlife area.
Meet: Mazel Tov
If Spanish food is not for you and you are looking for something more wholesome than tapas and enchiladas then newly opened ruin bar Mazel Tov is just right for you.
Opened only in summer 2014 Mazel Tov is already is one of Budapest’s up-and-coming hangouts for the in-crowd. Serving the finest in local and Israeli cuisine Mazel Tov fills the gap between a ruin bar and a full-fledged restaurant. The attractive venue gas a slight upscale approach and serves great food. Speaking of the latter we finally get to our third category: full flegded restaurants.
Where To Eat In Budapest: Ruin Bars
- Wide variety of food from local international.
- Often moderately priced.
- Highly Convenient opening hours, often up until 4 in the morning
- Dishes may resemble a snack-like character, no substitute for a full on meal.
- Can be pricey, depending upon location.
Haute Cuisine In Budapest
Budapest is blessed with a huge amount of quality restaurants catering to all tastes and budgets. One thing you will notice is the plethora of Turkish restaurants that can be found on almost every street corner. Simply named Étterem (‘restaurant’) these locations are your place to go if you were looking for a hearty, Mediterranean-style meal featuring meat and salads.
When I said earlier that Budapest is home to ‘quality’ restaurants then you can take this quite literally as Budapest is home to no less than four Michelin-starred restaurants. If you enjoy the finer things in life then the Costes restaurant, being the oldest and most renowned of the upscale places in the city, should be at the top of your list.
Above Them All: Costes
Located on picturesque Raday utca, a lively inner-city lane teeming with cafes, pubs and restaurants, Costes stands out as one of Budapest’s finest establishments.
Holder of a Michelin star it serves the finest in international specialties as well as a refined and more elaborate version of classic Hungarian cuisine.
Where To Eat In Budapest: Restaurants
- Wide variety of state-of-the-art venues to choose from
- ‘Reasonably’ priced in comparison to Western Europe
- Lack of the intriguing backyard feeling that ruin bars are famous for
- Minimalist approach of some venues can be a drawback – if you are plain hungry, that is.
After a good meal why not dive right into Budapest nightlife head first? As all recommended restaurants are within walking distance of the Jewish Quarter eating out in Budapest will have you in the perfect position to start your big night out in the city.