Only a small fraction of Budapest residents tend to eat out, because restaurants are expensive in comparison to local salaries. What this means is that most restaurants, particularly the pricier trendy/fine dining establishments, have meaningful foreign crowds (tourists and expats). More locals and lower prices can be found at the étkezde/kisvendéglő, these cheap, diner-type places.

Similarly, in Hungary it's customary to eat breakfast within the warmth of the family home. However, this tradition has been eroded by increasing number of foreigners and tourists. These days in Budapest you can find several options for a croque-monsieur to start your day, both in casual, no-frills cafés and trendier venues too.

Most restaurants in Budapest don't employ hosts to greet and seat people, meaning that guests are free to pick and choose a table they like.

Prix fixe lunches are available in many restaurants (on weekdays) at a reasonable price, usually ranging between €5-7. Before choosing à la carte, it's worth inquiring about a set meal.

In Hungary, dinner is usually eaten between 7 and 9 PM, and it's the biggest meal of the day. For the best experience and most locals, try booking your table for 8 PM.

Free water and free refills are unknown concepts in Budapest (and in greater Hungary). In restaurants you should specifically ask your server for tap water (to which the likely reaction is annoyance), otherwise they will serve you and charge for bottled water.

Please mentally prepare yourself for potentially disappointing customer service in Budapest. Waitstaff with an attitude is a general Eastern European phenomenon and, while things have somewhat improved, Hungary is a severe case.

As for tipping, 10% is the standard and expected in Hungarian restaurants and bars, with up to 20% for exceptional service. Please note that lately some places have begun to add an automatic service charge (in the range of 10-15%) to the bill.

Despite being part of the EU, Hungary hasn't yet switched to the euro currency, instead using the Hungarian forint. Although some stores and restaurants do accept euros too, you shouldn't be counting on it. Given how weak the Hungarian currency is, most prices run into the thousands, ten thousands, so make sure to double-check the digits on your bill before paying.

A word to the wise: as many cafés, restaurants, and bars are cash-only establishments, it’s generally a good idea to carry money with you.