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

Eat your way through Budapest like a local with Offbeat's Foodapest card.

Craving a true-to-Budapest food experience? Inspired by Gothamist, we 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 deeply local, beloved cross-section of what Budapest residents actually eat and drink. So you, too, can feel like one, even if you’re visiting.

Now, print (print version) this card and use it to explore and eat your way through the city. Tag your photos on Instagram using #foodapest and @offbeatbudapest, and we’ll share our favorites.


The 24 essentials:

#1 - Lecsó: Made from ripe vegetables and 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 fall).

#2 - Pálinka: Hungary's national brandy comes in a variety of flavors — apricot, plum, pear — but what unifies all versions 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 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 any Budapest bakery; my favorite is at Pékműhely 2.

#4 - Gyros: Gyros are Budapest's official drunk food. For the equivalent of €2.5, you might escape an awful hangover.

Where can I find it? Gyro joints are swarming in Budapest; my favorites are Hari Kebab and Gyros Kerkyra.

#5 - Töltött káposzta: Stuffed cabbage leaves baked alongside perfectly pickled sauerkrauts — 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 most traditional Hungarian restaurants (during the cold months).

#6 - Túró Rudi: This beloved cottage cheese bar, coated in a brittle chocolate glaze, is Hungary's national snack food. Good news for low-carb dieters: It contains a tiny 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 our 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 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 - Gulyás: Hungary's greatest food export to the world is this hearty soup that our nomadic ancestors 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 an excellent goulash soup.

#10 - Pogácsa: These flaky, layered 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 inside.

Where can I find it? Most pastry shops have it, but head to Borpatika for a homemade version and a deeply local experience.

#11 - Palacsinta: Hungary's take on the crêpe, these soft, thin pancakes enclose sweet fillings that can range anywhere from raspberry jam and sweet cottage cheese to Nutella.

Where can I find it? I most enjoy palacsinta at an unfussy food stall in a market hall: try Marika Lángos Sütője or Jókrisz.

#12 - Kínai: Chinese takeout has rightfully conquered the world — it’s cheap and tasty, and the spots in Budapest are no exception.

Where can I find it? Across the city. I usually go to Keleti Finomság. You can also try these higher-end Chinese restaurants in Budapest's Chinatown.

#13 - Párizsis zsemle: This wallet-friendly bread 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 (butter, bread roll, 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: These crunchy, rough-hewn pretzel sticks sprinkled with coarse salt are a beloved snack across the country. Look for the Nógrádi brand, featuring the signature red, yellow, and blue packaging.

Where can I find it? In any supermarket.

#16 - Kolbász: Popular for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, these glistening, snappy 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? Want to look like a local? Attack it with your hands.

Where can I find it? My favorite is at Jókrisz Lángos Sütöde.

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

Where can I find it? Café Kör for the high-brow, Öcsi Étkezde for the low-brow version. Both are wonderful.

#19 - Túrós batyu: Filled with sweet cottage cheese and raisins, Hungary’s most popular morning pastry, aside from the kakaós csiga (see #3 above), is tender, rich, and flaky.

Where can I find it? Most supermarkets have it. For a craft version, head to nor/ma.

#20 - Pörkölt: This comforting beef stew paired with soft egg dumplings is right at the heart of Magyar cuisine, alongside its sister dish, the chicken paprikash.

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

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

Where can I find it? In any supermarket.

#22 - Unicum: Don't leave Budapest before downing a shot of this dark-hued Hungarian amaro, which contains more than 40 types of herbs and was originally concocted to treat the Habsburg emperor's ailments.

Where can I find it? In 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 cooked 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: Smoked and aged salami is central to the Hungarian diet, and you'll be happiest if you go for the paprika-laced variety.

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