Eat your way through Budapest like a local with our Foodapest card

Looking for a true-to-Budapest food experience? Inspired by Gothamist, we've logged Budapest’s quintessential foods and drinks that locals rely on to get through their days. Note: this isn’t a list of strictly traditional Hungarian fare; it’s a beloved cross-section of what Budapest residents actually eat and drink so you too can feel like one, even if you’re visiting. All you need to do is print this card and start exploring the city, ideally with an empty stomach. Please tag your photos on Instagram using #foodapest and @offbeatbudapest.

The 24 Essentials

#1 - Lecsó: Made from ripe tomatoes and peppers and sprinkled with crisped-up sausages, this paprika-laced stew is a perfect late-summer dish. Mop up the leftovers with a slice of bread and wash it all down with a glass of fröccs (see #14 below).

Where can I find it? In most traditional Hungarian restaurants (in the summer and the fall).

#2 - Pálinka: Hungary's national fruit brandy comes in a variety of flavors apricot, plum, pear but what unifies them is their uncanny ability to knock you off your feet before you know it. Words of advice: Sip slowly.

Where can I find it? In almost any Budapest bar.

#3 - Kakaós csiga: If you have a sweet tooth, you'll find this rich chocolate bun shaped in a spiral to be a real treat, especially if you eat it while still warm.

Where can I find it? In most Budapest bakeries.

#4 - Gyros: Gyros are Budapest's official drunk food. For the equivalent of €4, you might escape an awful hangover.

Where can I find it? Gyro joints are swarming in Budapest.

#5 - Töltött káposzta: Stuffed cabbage leaves baked alongside perfectly pickled sauerkraut this hearty winter fare is a staple across Eastern Europe. Be sure your dish comes blanketed in sour cream.

Where can I find it? In many traditional Hungarian restaurants (during the cold months).

#6 - Túró Rudi: This beloved túró-filled bar, coated in a brittle chocolate glaze, is Hungary's national snack food. It contains a little bit less sugar than your average candy bar and, locals would argue, tastes better, too.

Where can I find it? In any supermarket.

#7 - Sör: Hungary may not be a beer empire like the Czech Republic, but the local lagers are nothing to be ashamed of. Beer enthusiasts and IPA fans: proceed here.

Where can I find it? In any Budapest bar.

#8 - Túrógombóc: This weird and wonderful dessert dish is made from plump, sweet-tart túró (cottage cheese) dumplings coated in breadcrumbs and drenched in sour cream and powdered sugar.

Where can I find it? Gettó Gulyás makes a mean one.

#9 - Gulyásleves: Hungary's greatest food export is this hearty beef soup that nomadic herdsmen used to cook over fire in heavy iron kettles. Any restaurant will have a side of hot paprika paste tableside; use this to adjust the spice level to your taste.

Where can I find it? These restaurants serve excellent goulash soup.

#10 - Pogácsa: These flaky, savory, scone-like biscuits are popular in Eastern Europe and Turkey. Try to get your hands on ones straight out of the oven the crisp outside hides a steaming, buttery dough.

Where can I find it? Most pastry shops have it; head to the grungy Borpatika bar for a homemade version and an immersive experience.

#11 - Palacsinta: Hungary's take on the crêpe; these soft, thin pancakes enclose sweet fillings ranging from apricot jam to cinnamon-sugar to sweet cottage cheese to Nutella.

Where can I find it? Traditional Hungarian restaurants serve it as do the food stalls of market halls, including the Great Market Hall.

#12 - Kínai: Chinese takeout food has rightfully conquered the world it’s usually tasty and affordable. The spots in Budapest are no exception.

Where can I find it? Across the city. You can also try higher-end Chinese restaurants within Budapest's Chinatown.

#13 - Párizsis zsemle: This wallet-friendly kaiser roll slathered with butter and bulging with a thickly sliced meat sausage made from God-knows-what is a popular source of fuel among local students.

Where can I find it? Buy the ingredients (bread roll, butter, a few slices of párizsi) in a supermarket and DIY at home.

#14 - Fröccs: What in other parts of the world is dismissed as a mere wine spritzer is a hallowed summer drink in Hungary, coming in myriad wine-to-soda-water permutations. The classic versions call for a 1-1 ("kisfröccs") or a 2-1 ("nagyfröccs") ratio.

Where can I find it? In any Budapest bar.

#15 - Ropi: Crunchy, rough-hewn pretzel sticks sprinkled with coarse salt are an adored snack across the country. Look for the Nógrádi brand, featuring the signature red, yellow, and blue packaging.

Where can I find it? In almost any supermarket.


#16 - Kolbász: Popular for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, the glistening, snappy roasted sausages come stuffed with ground pork, paprika, and a host of spices. Like a local, pair one with a thick slice of bread, sauerkraut, and a generous dollop of mustard.

Where can I find it? These are my favorite sausage shops in Budapest.

#17 - Lángos: What could be more satisfying after a night of drinking than a fried, golden flatbread topped with a thick slather of sour cream and grated cheese? Feel free to attack it with your hands as others around you.

Where can I find it? I like the lángos at Jókrisz Lángos Sütöde inside the Rákóczi Market Hall.

#18 - Főzelék: Delicious and low priced, vegetable stews are a Hungarian specialty usually made from spinach, peas, summer squash, or potatoes. They're even better when topped with a side of meatball (fasírt).

Where can I find it? Café Kör for the higher-brow, Kívánság for the lower-brow version.

#19 - Túrós batyu: Stuffed with sweetened túró and raisins, Hungary’s popular morning pastry is tender, rich, and flaky.

Where can I find it? Most supermarkets and bakeries have it.

#20 - Pörkölt: Internationally known as goulash but not in Hungary, where its soupy version retains that moniker comforting beef stew paired with soft egg dumplings is right at the heart of Hungarian cuisine alongside its sister dish, the chicken paprikash.

Where can I find it? In most traditional Hungarian restaurants.

#21 - Mogyi: These oily roasted peanuts are a staple across Hungarian households and if you bite into the salty, crackly kernel, you’ll know why.

Where can I find it? In any supermarket.

#22 - Unicum: Don't leave Budapest before downing a shot of the dark-hued Hungarian amaro, which contains more than 40 types of herbs and was originally concocted to treat the ailments of Emperor Joseph II. There's even a Unicum Museum in Budapest.

Where can I find it? In almost any Budapest bar.

#23 - Kürtőskalács: Feel free to just tear into this aromatic Transylvanian chimney cake boasting a caramelized crust and a chewy, soft interior. Traditionally, it's made by wrapping the dough around a baking spit and then grilled over charcoal.

Where can I find it? There are many kürtőskalács vendors in downtown, for example Molnár's, but only Vitéz Kürtős by the Budapest Zoo makes them over charcoal.

#24 - Szalámi: Preserved meats like kolbász and szalámi have long been central to Hungarian food. Especially venerated is the smoked and aged téliszalámi, recognizable by a white protective mold that grows on its surface during drying.

Where can I find it? You can sample and buy salami at butcher shops inside the main market halls: Great Market Hall, Lehel Market, and Rákóczi Market.

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