With a panoramic vista of the whole city, 360 Bar is one of, if not the hottest roof deck bars in Budapest. Trendy locals peppered with tourists tend to nibble on sliders and sip cocktails on this rooftop, perched atop one of the tallest buildings along the grand Andrássy Avenue. The sweeping views of Budapest in all directions are perhaps only comparable to those from the cupola of the nearby St. Stephen's Basilica, but don't go searching for a bar up there.
If you're looking to immerse yourself in an old school, lively, communist-era neighborhood bar in Buda, Bambi Eszpresszó should be high on the list (Ibolya Espresszó in Pest is comparable). What makes Bambi the real deal? While it doesn't follow contemporary trends, it isn’t showing off an artificial, unremembered past either – it’s a genuine throwback. The waiters are only nice to those patrons they find likeable, and they wear outfits that haven't been in fashion for at least 30 years. The red faux leather upholstery and Thonet look-alike chairs have been in place since the opening in 1961.
Borkonyha (Winekitchen) is a high-end bistro located in Budapest's downtown, serving a pan-European menu and over 200 types of Hungarian wines. The executive chef, Ákos Sárközi, begins with traditional dishes and adds contemporary, inventive techniques, while packing plenty of unexpected ingredients and colors on the plates. A longtime favorite is the duck liver terrine with poppy seeds and basil-infused apple chutney, a flavorful starter with a smooth texture. Don’t miss the ever-changing mangalica ("the Kobe beef of pork") dishes that at Borkonyha taste like the finest cuts of beautifully marbled steak.
Csendes Társ is an island of peace within the hustle and bustle of downtown Budapest. It's an outdoor-only café set along the charming Károlyi Garden, a private-yard-turned-public-park boasting colorful flower beds and a manicured lawn. Csendes Társ is best enjoyed for a late breakfast (it opens at 10 a.m.) or for drinks in the evening when the neighborhood quiets down and the space feels most intimate. .
HILDA is one of the new restaurants that has emerged downtown on the increasingly fashionable Nádor Street. The area has come to life as a growing number of tourists and international students from the nearby Central European University pass through. With a perfect curb appeal, you will notice HILDA's striking interior even before entering the space. For example, an enormous stained glass mosaic covers one of the walls in its entirety, and the bar is studded with four rows of dark blue, glazed Zsolnay ceramic tiles, the same brand that decorates the lobby of the Four Seasons hotel just a block away.
Hans van Vliet, the owner of Jedermann Café, is a legendary figure in the Budapest restaurant world: at least half a dozen places owe their success to his signature style. Mr. Van Vliet's genius is to create inviting spaces for everyone to enjoy (hence "Jedermann", which translates to "everyone"). On any given day, tables at Jedermann might be filled with senior citizens loudly debating Hungarian politics, students gossiping about school, and a theater director discussing upcoming projects with the staff.
Some pockets of Buda are similarly lively as Pest, but they are few and far between. The area around Bartók Béla Way is one such revitalized neighborhood, featuring a concentration of art galleries, cafés, and bars. Kelet Café, an all-purpose café, is one of the reasons that new life is breathing into the street. The Middle Eastern-infused food selections alone may not be worth the trip from the other side of the Danube, but Kelet’s claim to fame is their coffee, which comes from Colombia, Kenya, and Ethiopia, and is served in espresso-based, filter, and Turkish coffee forms.
Those looking to passionately debate Hungarian political history will find themselves at home in this bar, set along what used to be a quiet street along the park in the bustling Jewish Quarter. Kisüzem is a popular place to meet for international college students from the Central European University, and the Budapest intelligentsia and artist communities. In addition to a range of wallet-friendly Hungarian drinks, rum fans can indulge in excellent selections from the top shelf. The .
For most people in Hungary, sushi is synonymous with Japanese food. Komachi, a no-frills Japanese restaurant in the outer part of the Jewish Quarter, is committed to proving otherwise. For a Central Europe based restaurant, it serves a refreshingly broad range of everyday Japanese staples. Everything from miso-, shio-, and soy-based ramen to curry, tonkatsu, karaage, and donburi.
Mazel Tov is for people who like the ruin bar concept in theory, but prefer things more upscale. This Middle Eastern restaurant in Budapest's old Jewish Quarter does have a disintegrating facade like other ruin bars, but the inside is a different story. Cheap drinks have been upgraded to fancy cocktails, ham & cheese sandwiches to a range of trendy Middle Eastern dishes, self-service to hostesses, and cheap furniture to a thoughtfully designed industrial chic interior with sleek wood paneling. .
In Budapest, Onyx comes closest to offering a traditional European fine dining experience. The opulent interior with two enormous crystal chandeliers hanging in the dining room along with white-glove-wearing waiters somewhat predetermines the dishes that can realistically be served inside this fancy space. The pan-European menu features playful textures, beautiful visuals, and elaborate plating at this two Michelin-starred downtown restaurant (Onyx is the only Hungarian restaurant currently with two stars). .
The sleepy and still somewhat gritty outer part of District 9 is the least likely of places to boast a fancy restaurant. Lying in the corner of a quiet park, Petrus is a hidden gem of a Bib Gourmand-awarded restaurant specialized in contemporary French cuisine. The food occupies the territory between bistro fare and fine dining: the 7-course tasting menu approaches the latter, the a la carte offerings the former. .
Opened in 1997, Ristorante Krizia is one of the longest-serving upscale Italian restaurants in Budapest. Krizia is a popular lunch and dinner destination for Italians living in Budapest, and an Italian restaurant hardly needs a better reference. Owner-chef Graziano Cattaneo hails from the Lombardy region, which means that the menu includes some not-so-common northern-Italian dishes aside from the typical offerings, like the veal fillet with porcini mushrooms and a side of polenta infused with a creamy stracchino cheese, which is excellent. Be sure to also try the made-to-order pasta at Krizia.
Rosenstein is the most prominent restaurant in Budapest that features traditional Hungarian as well as Hungarian-Jewish food. Opened in 1996 by Tibor Rosenstein, a by now legendary figure in Budapest's culinary scene, this family-run restaurant has many endearing qualities. One of them is the way they prepare cholent, the signature Sabbath lunch dish with characteristic, rich flavors thanks to hours of slow-cooking. The baked beans are topped with three types of beef here: sausage, brisket, and tongue.
Róma Ételbár is one of the few remaining communist-era “osteria”: cheap, no-frills, lunch-only eateries once common in Hungary. The dishes at Róma still exclusively revolve around Hungarian classics, as if the kitchen has been vigilantly guarding against lurking intruders of contemporary gastronomy. The Hungarian signature dishes are passable (goulash, beef stew, etc.), but you’re usually better off opting for the daily specials, like the roast goose leg with parsley potato, which often have more character. Prices are somewhat higher at Róma than at other similar eateries, likely due to the crowds that line up during lunchtime (some aspect of capitalism did slip through the cracks).
It’s always a good sign when a Chinese restaurant is buried deep within the city’s Chinatown, and Budapest is no exception. You will need to trek out to the far-flung neighborhood of Kőbánya to find Spicy Fish, one of the best ambassadors of Chinese cuisine in Budapest, with a culinary focus divided between Sichuan and Zhejiang provinces. (The seemingly random gastronomic combination of two distant provinces is because much of the Budapest Chinese community hails from Zhejiang, and Sichuan food is simply very popular)..
In New York or London, this hip breakfast joint/bistro would be just another fashionable, industrial chic crowd-pleaser: the type of place where tattooed servers run around a sleek, wood-lined interior in bow ties, vintage light bulbs hang from exposed galvanized steel pipes, and semi-alternative R&B tunes set the musical background. In Budapest, many places have tried to emulate this concept. But STIKA, this pocket-sized space in District 7, is the first to get it exactly right. Little inside will remind you that you’re in Budapest, but that’s not the point here.
If you've spent at least 5 minutes researching Budapest nightlife then you will already have come across Szimpla Kert, the iconic ruin bar of Budapest. Likely you're also familiar with the ruin bar (romkocsma) concept, but for those who remain unaware, a quick refresher: ruin bars are makeshift bars located inside dilapidated pre-war buildings, furnished with quirky furniture assembled from clearance sales, and all in all exuding a inexplicably cool atmosphere..
Pomo D'Oro is a popular Italian restaurant in Budapest serving reliable, but no-frills Italian food in Budapest since 2002. Pomo D'Oro isn't easy to categorize: it marries a red-sauce old school Italian trattoria and a modern restaurant with gastronomic ambitions. This means it caters equally well to middle-class Hungarian families looking for Italian comfort food, foodies with more adventurous palates, business customers, and tourists. As a result, the ever-expanding space, which has managed to retain an intimate atmosphere, is packed to capacity with an eclectic crowd every night of the week.
Located on a charming Budapest backstreet just a stone’s throw away from both the grand Andrassy Avenue and the gritty old Jewish Quarter, Anker’t occupies a quaint piece of no man’s land. As soon as you approach Anker’t bar, you will know that a true ruin bar stands before you: the scaffolded, crumbling facade of the pre-war building from 1833 hides a skeletal brick and limestone structure. Anker’t courtyard serves as the centerpiece of the enormous space, which also features an indoor hall, a total of 4 bars, a dance floor, and two food stands with burgers and vegetarian pizza options. The prices at Anker’t are slightly higher than at other ruin bars, which is probably why the crowd is predominantly international.
Belvárosi Disznótoros is one of those rare places that sustain their quality even after they become tourist favorites. Let’s see how long it will last, but as of this writing this bustling self-service type eatery (standing only at the counters along the wall) offers a dizzying array of fully-prepared and to-be-prepared selection of traditional Hungarian dishes. Think of wild boar stew, blood sausage, grilled pork chops, and pork knuckles paired with a range of pickled or marinated vegetables. A favorite is the simple and delicious fried sausage with braised red cabbage, mustard, horseradish, and sliced bread.
Step into Café Kör, and the atmosphere will immediately transport you back to a pre-war, middle-class Budapest restaurant. The interior of this downtown space features bentwood Thonet chairs, a carpeted wooden floor, and densely packed tables. In a city that increasingly prizes international cuisine above its own, Café Kör is an essential Budapest restaurant serving delicious Hungarian flavors: instead of twists and reinterpretations, they bring out the best of classic Magyar cuisine. .
Costes was the first restaurant in Hungary to receive a Michelin star in 2010. And even though Budapest now has four Michelin-starred restaurants, Costes remains in a league of its own. The same is true when it comes to prices, making the restaurant prohibitively expensive for locals; on many nights, there isn’t a single Hungarian patron in sight (the 5-course tasting menu with wine pairing comes out to over €150 per person). .
Espresso Embassy embodies the fantasy of the new-wave coffee world. This lively café inside Budapest's financial district makes hand pourovers with a Hario V60, espresso-based drinks with a fancy Victoria Arduino machine, and a bunch of delicious cakes of organic ingredients you've never heard of. The beautifully repurposed neoclassical building (see the landmark plaque on the facade) has a vaulted exposed brick ceiling and a meticulously minimalist interior. The core clientele consists of yuppie bankers as well as trendy grad students from the nearby Central European University who can be observed tirelessly typing away on their Macs.
Fekete Kutya is a popular local bar for artsy Budapesters in the city's party district. Despite its location alarmingly near the party street (Kazinczy utca) favored by rowdy groups of bachelor party tourists, Fekete Kutya has managed to maintain authentic vibes and a predominantly local clientele. On weekend nights people fill the outdoor tables under the vaulted ceiling boasting heavy wrought-iron lamps. For the best experience, try to grab a seat there, and mingle with the 20s and early 30s alternative crowd.
After apprenticing at well-known Budapest restaurants, two young chefs (Andor Giczi and Szabolcs Nagy) in 2014 decided to venture out on their own. They opened Fricska Gastropub with an intent to cook upgraded traditional Hungarian dishes. Fricska is located in a remote part of the city's party district inside a subterranean space that exudes casual, laid-back vibes. .
In retrospect, it's strange that it took so long for someone to finally open a traditional Hungarian restaurant in Budapest's party district (also known as the old Jewish Quarter). After all, most tourists are after local dishes before they hit the neighborhood bars. The name of the restaurant (Gettó Gulyás) makes its culinary priorities clear - the short menu features the heart of Magyar cuisine with staples like goulash, chicken paprikash, and beef stew. These Hungarian stew-centric classics are updated with small twists, like the baked cottage cheese noodles rolled in bacon, that accompany the veal paprikash.
The business model of High Note Sky Bar is simple: serve Budapest's most expensive cocktails from Budapest's most spectacular rooftop view. Before reaching the bar/lounge, you will need to walk through the sumptuous, over-the-top lobby of the luxury Aria boutique hotel, and take the elevator to the roof. The panorama is truly stunning: Liberty Statue, Royal Palace, and St. Stephen’s Basilica all appear within arm’s reach, which, in the case of St.
Opened in 1968, Ibolya Espresso is a landmark café/bar in Budapest. It's a place deeply rooted in Budapest's collective memory as at least two generations of local residents have been frequenting Ibolya for everything from dates nights to business meetings. Ibolya is a true relic from the communist period with a matching interior: chairs are topped with sticky, faux leather upholsteries and light fixtures feature orange plexiglass. The prices at Ibolya used to be too good to be true, although now they've been somewhat raised as increasing number of curious tourists pop in.
Budapest is undersupplied when it comes to relaxed, unpretentious breakfast and brunch spots, mostly because locals generally eat breakfast at home. One of the exceptions is Kino, this breakfast-all-day café along the Grand Boulevard. .
Bar recommendations on the tourist-heavy Kazinczy Street must be taken with a grain of salt, but you can find a few gems here besides the increasing number of tourist traps (skip the places that lure diners with their prominent "Hungarian goulash" signs). Kőleves Kert, which isn’t to be mistaken with the popular Kőleves restaurant next door, is one of those summertime treasures in the form of a laid-back, all-welcoming outdoor bar. .
Kőleves is a kosher-style, Hungarian-Jewish restaurant in the very center of Budapest’s old Jewish Quarter, and today’s party district. The building, constructed in 1851, was long home to a kosher meat processing facility and butcher shop, until as recently as 2002. So it’s fitting that the current restaurant, which opened in 2012, honors the building’s past with popular Hungarian-Jewish dishes and adorns the space with leftover paraphernalia from previous owners. For example, a well-worn, leather-bound ledger book and a Talmud is displayed for watchful guests to detect..
Mélypont is an impossibly cool, cavernous underground bar situated along a charming downtown backstreet in Budapest. The interior features highly amortized pieces of communist-era furniture, which usually fill to capacity with students from the neighboring law and political science colleges of Eötvös Loránd University. Despite the occasionally rowdy college crowd (expect some waiting for the foosball table) Mélypont's overall setting is intimate, with cute hideaway corners that work well for date nights as well. While drinks are cheap overall, whiskey fans can indulge in a broad selection of top-shelf varieties..
When in 2017 Szabina Szulló and Tamás Széll (a European Bocuse d'Or winner and celebrity-chef in Hungary) announced that they were leaving the Michelin-starred Onyx restaurant to venture out on their own, one didn’t need a business degree to predict success. Since Stand25 Bistro, this attractive luncheonette, opened in the popular Hold Street market-hall-turned-food-court, people have flocked to its crammed tables from near and far..
A Chinese man from Shanghai set out to open Budapest’s best sushi restaurant. To that end, he recruited Yoshihito Hiro, an experienced Japanese sushi chef to oversee the entire operation. .
The farther from downtown, the better - this is the rule of thumb in Budapest when it comes to finding good Chinese restaurants. When Taiwan Restaurant opened in 1991 it was one of the first places in the city that served authentic Chinese flavors. Taiwan has remained among the best Chinese restaurants in Budapest in its third decade of existence, so don't be discouraged by the odd location, this destination restaurant is worth leaving the city center for and it's easy to get to by subway (take the M3 train to Nagyvárad tér). .
Wichmann is a must-see. This dimly-lit, grungy bar has been around since way before Kazinczy Street, the epicenter of the party district in the former Jewish Quarter, became popular. Wichmann feels like a time travel back to communist times, partly because the original interior from the opening in 1987 is still in place. Many of the regulars have been coming here for decades.
Buja Disznó(k) has the same owner/executive chef as A Séf utcája down a few doors. They're both located on the upper deck of the stunning Hold Street market hall dotted with outstanding fast casual eateries frequented by a moneyed local office crowd. The culinary focus of Buja Disznó(k) is pork schnitzel. Make sure you come hungry otherwise the odds of you finishing these oversized pieces of crispy, and wonderfully juicy meats with a side of cold potato salad are not in your favor (they are about the size of an adult's forearm).
Börze is a sleek downtown bistro that serves uncomplicated traditional Hungarian food from early morning until midnight, seven days a week. Its name pays homage to the enormous 1907 building across the street that used to be the Budapest Stock and Commodity Exchange. With red banquettes and a spacious interior designed to the minute detail, Börze looks similar to a Keith McNally restaurant. .
Breakfast places in Budapest are still far and few between, and the ones that do exist are mostly located in downtown and cater to tourists. This isn't the case with Café Panini, a stylish neighborhood breakfast restaurant inside the secluded world of the hip Újlipótváros. There isn’t anything profoundly unique about Café Panini’s croque madams, frankfurters, or ham and eggs, but they’re tasty, reasonably priced, and they exist! Breakfast and brunch is served all day on weekends and until noon on weekdays, with a range of Hungarian beer and wine selections to help lift the mood. The crowd is easy-going, and mostly a cross section of the neighborhood.
Costes Downtown is a 2015 offshoot of Costes, the first Michelin-starred restaurant in Budapest. It's a slightly more casual version of its sister restaurant: instead of a formal setting with white tablecloths, here a sleek, rustic look complete with wood finishes and an open kitchen dominate the atmosphere. Although they try to separate the restaurant from the posh hotel whose ground floor Costes Downtown occupies, the dining area closest to the lobby does feel a bit corporate, so try to ask for a table by the windows. .
Csendes is a popular ruin bar located on a quiet corner of Budapest's downtown. This high-ceilinged space used to be a grand coffee house during the glory days of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, which makes the current ruin bar decor, with creepy dolls hanging upside down from the walls, all the more bizarre. Today, Csendes is a lively bar that gets jam-packed in the evening hours with an interesting mix of locals, Budapest expats, and tourists who stumble in here. The best thing about Csendes is its unique location inside downtown, but tucked away on a quiet backstreet with an adorable park just around the corner (Károlyi-kert).
Like many other cities, Budapest is swarming with specialty coffee shops. You know - tattooed baristas, minimalist interiors, and pricey pourovers. Does the city need more new-wave cafés? The answer is not obvious to me, but if it’s a “yes” to you, then more of them should be like Dorado Café. This 2018 newcomer is located on the rapidly gentrifying Klauzál Street inside the old Jewish Quarter.
Curious where the top 1% of Buda residents hang out? Wonder no more. The owners of Déryné Bistro were ahead of the curve in 2007 when they opened this high-end bistro featuring a Balthazar-like interior design. At the time, Déryné was a breath of fresh air in Budapest, when options for fine(r) dining were otherwise largely limited to tacky downtown restaurants with communist-era kitchen practices and a deeply ingrained rip-off culture. Déryné managed to remain popular for all these years, even as other restaurants have sprouted up in Pest with comparable offerings at lower prices.
Opened in 1994, Fausto’s Ristorante is a landmark in Budapest's Italian food landscape. Specialized in northern Italian cuisine, Fausto's serves the most expensive Italian food in Budapest, claiming that their courses are “sprinkled with the latest arts of contemporary cuisine.” Instead of pizza and calzone, they serve meticulously plated dishes made of ingredients like scallops, foie gras, and venison loin in a classic fine dining setting. Those looking for simpler Italian fare, a couple of pasta options are also available: tagliatelle and risotto plates made with rich, heavy sauces. .
Located on a serene side street surrounded by grand residential homes in Budapest’s Palace Quarter, Fülemüle feels a world away from the boisterous party town that its neighbor, District 7, has become. There are things to like about Fülemüle, most of all the snug place and offbeat location of this family-run restaurant founded in 2000 and specialized in Hungarian-Jewish cuisine. The cholent, this knockout of a Shabbat dish is advertized as the specialty of the house. If it wasn't for the stuffed goose neck (helzel) perching atop the slow-cooked beans and pearl barley, it wouldn't leave much of an impression.
Although Kertem is the largest outdoor bar in Budapest's City Park, it somehow flies under the radar of most tourists. Many visitors have been to the City Park, but they usually just go in and out of the city's most popular thermal bath, Széchenyi, barely noticing the expansive green space teeming with treasures around them, such as Kertem bar. The crowd at Kertem (“my garden”) consists of a melting pot of locals residents, often accompanied by their dogs, from both the inner and outer city. .
Központ is a popular local bar in Budapest's party district. It's usually patronized by the city's early-30s liberal establishment, consisting of journalists, and people from the non-profit, alternative music, and fashion industries. They tend to fill the place to capacity on Friday nights - it's not unusual that the crowd overflows to the sidewalks until the wee hours. .
Wenzhou-born owner of Milky Way restaurant knows seafood. Not just because any self-respecting man from this seaside city in China is expected to be able to make a decent plate of fish soup, it’s also that he ran a fish market for 15 years in Budapest’s Chinatown. Accordingly, Milky Way specializes in what he knows best: whole steamed lobsters, crabs, tiger prawns, shrimps, carps, and more. They cook live animals and use little seasoning so that the ingredients can speak for themselves (Sichuan spices haven’t crept up here).
One of Budapest’s best sushi restaurants is buried in the basement of an unremarkable strip mall. It doesn’t have a functional facebook page, let alone an instagram handle, and its website looks as if it hasn’t been updated in a decade. Perhaps the obscurity of Okuyama no Sushi is itself a marketing tool, and if that’s the case, it works well: after all, who doesn’t like the sense of satisfaction that follows an unexpected discovery? To avoid any disappointments, know before you go that the interior is utilitarian at best, and verges on grungy..
You need to trek out to the outer part of District 7’s working class neighborhood to experience the surprisingly delicious, unique, elaborate meals prepared by 26-year-old executive chef Ádám Garai at Olimpia Étterem. The restaurant does not have a fixed menu, instead using the blackboard on the wall to present the daily-changing dishes, which vary based on seasonal ingredients. The result? Absolutely superb..
Padron is a family-run tapas bar on a charming side street in an up-and-coming part of District 8. The restaurant exhibits all the usual signs of a busy family-run enterprise, with the mother taking orders, the son serving food, and the father behind the bar. The best tapas include their staple, pimientos de Padron (fried peppers), the marinated shrimp (gambas pil-pil), the notably excellent morcilla (blood sausage), and the lamb shoulder topped with goat cheese and blanketed in an orange and fig based sauce (espaldilla de cordero). Also, don't miss the simple but always delicious patatas bravas.
St. Andrea Wine & Skybar is a 2017 addition to a growing lineup of year-round rooftop bars in Budapest. St. Andrea is a Hungarian success story: from a small winery in the countryside of Eger they have grown into a nationally recognized wine label, while also successfully dipping their toes into Budapest's restaurant scene, first with a fine dining restaurant (St.
It's a miracle that Trapéz, this tiny, inconspicuous pre-war building a stone's throw away from the Great Market Hall hasn't yet become the victim of real estate developers. Don't be fooled by the relative calm and quiet of the ground floor, it's the attic upstairs where the action is. Trapéz is a lively, bustling college bar, mainly frequented by students and recent graduates from the nearby Corvinus University. Although the bar food won't knock you off your feet, the burgers are decent and the prices more than reasonable.
Never mind the black-and-white photos of Italy on the walls, little of Alessio’s interior will remind you that you’re in an Italian restaurant. Instead, the densely carpeted space with crammed tables and white linen tablecloths feels more like a charming neighborhood joint tailored to the tastes of the local middle- and upper-class residents of this elite Buda neighborhood. .
Babel is one of a small number of true fine dining restaurants in Budapest. The tasteful interior features a dimly-lit dining room with only a dozen tables set with white tablecloths, and waiters making themselves available upon the slightest glance in their direction. Young chef István Veres emphasizes the Austro-Hungarian, especially the Transylvanian gastronomic heritage to give the dishes a local flavor, particularly with the use of herbs and vegetables. One of his best creations is the reimagined “tojásos nokedli” (egg dumplings, or spätzle).
Managed by the Hungarian Chabad-Lubavitch Hasidic community, Carmel is one of Budapest’s two glatt kosher restaurants. Similar to Hanna Orthodox Restaurant, the other such establishment just around the block, the best time to visit Carmel is during Shabbath, that is, for a Friday dinner and/or a Saturday lunch (here too, guests must prepay their meals by Friday afternoon). At those times, groups of orthodox Jews from around the world can be seen celebrating Shabbath over kosher wine served in Kiddush cups and wonderfully soft challah breads. To ensure that Jewish dietary laws (kashrut) are abided by, an official supervising rabbi (mashgiach) is on premise at all times at Carmel.
Do you want to impress your friends that Budapest has restaurants as hip as those in the East Village? You will most likely get a kick out of DOBRUMBA if you’re in for the chic atmosphere, effortlessly cool design, international food, and trendy foreigners surrounding you. The largely vegetarian menu, however, is a bit hit-or-miss. .
Dzzs Bár, down the block from Kisüzem, attracts an eccentric and bohemian crowd of 20-somethings. Stopping by here on a late night feels like being at the house party of your rowdiest friend. You can meet local film directors, painters, and musicians in this cozy space, where walls are crowded with an eclectic selection of provocative local artwork. The interior is a mishmash of worn out furniture where nothing matches but everything belongs.
It's tough to beat the location of Esetleg Bistro, a partially outdoor bar/restaurant in District 9 situated right along the bank of the Danube River inside a dramatic, whale-shaped contemporary building. Esetleg offers stunning views of several Budapest landmarks, including the Liberty Bridge, Gellért Hill, and the ornate building of the Budapest University of Technology across the river. The lively venue is best for winding down with an afternoon drink in the summer months. .
Fecske Presszó is a cheap, laid-back bar just a stone's throw away from the stunningly beautiful Szabó Ervin Library within Budapest's Palace Quarter. Students of all ages like to take study breaks at Fecske of varying lengths and with varying amounts of beer. Weather permitting, go for an open table by the expansive outdoor terrace, canopied by the overhanging tree (otherwise find a charming nook in the underground space). Go for the fixed-price lunch menu if you happen to be around Fecske at midday and want to chow down some cheap comfort food.
For a truly local lunch experience, it’s hard to think of a better place than Kívánság Étkezde. The continued existence of this eatery, which opened in 1985, is evidence that there’s still lingering love in Budapest for communist-style small, family-run restaurants. After all, they’re quick and cheap. Their bad rep is primarily because people associate them with stale and greasy food, but this doesn’t have to be so at a time when fresh ingredients are abundantly available.
You will need to escape the heart of Budapest to unearth La Perle Noire, a high-end restaurant serving French flavors along with revamped Hungarian classics. It's located on a peaceful section of the grand Andrássy Avenue in District 6, also known as Budapest's Champs-Élysées, peppered with residential villas and embassies. The quirky modernist building from 1937 that houses La Perle Noire, now also a hotel, stands out from the predominantly 19th century street view. With a green terrace overlooking Andrássy, La Perle Noire offers a unique dining experience in the warmer months.
Above-average food, laid-back vibes, a chic crowd, tiny tables squeezed into a small space, and waitresses speaking fluent English - are we in Brooklyn or Budapest? Budapest, because service isn't rushed, and you're welcome to hang around even after settling the check. Try to sit at the charming nooks upstairs, and for food, the duck cracklings with red onions and the foie gras starters are certainly worth the wait (double-check with your server if you don't see them on the menu). Location is another plus, being on a quiet side street on the section of District 7 (Jewish Quarter) that retained an element of gritty charm, yet easily within walking distance from the centers of nighttime activity. For curious minds, the name "M" pays homage to the memory of György Petri, an iconic Hungarian samizdat poet and childhood friend of the restaurant's owner..
Madal is a rightfully popular specialty coffee chain in Budapest. In general, they make excellent coffee (espresso-based, filter, and cold brews), have a friendly staff and sleek wood-paneled interiors. The company operates two other locations in Budapest, and while the one near the Parliament building is much bigger with shorter wait times, this one at Ferenciek tere has the most charm. If you get there early enough, a selection of flaky (whole wheat) croissants can accompany your morning coffee.
At some point in the early 2000s, Liszt Ferenc Square was a buzzing hangout for locals. Then, as often happens, the excitement tapered off and other pockets of the city became popular. Today, you will find here signs prominently advertising "Hungarian cuisine" and "tourist menus", and it’s also here that Hungary's lone Hooters operated. You don't need me to tell you: proceed with caution..
In the likely event that you've never frequented a Chinese restaurant designed as a hunting lodge, here is your chance to do so. The former occupant of the space infused it with the atmosphere of Hungarian countryside estates with taxidermy and animal antlers adorning the walls. Surprisingly, the current owners seem to find it a comfortable theme to accent their Asian cuisine as well..
Thanks to a well-connected Hungarian businessman, Budapest is home to a Nobu, the world’s fanciest chain restaurant. Even more impressively, it's the one and only Nobu in Central Europe (the closest one is in Milan). The upscale restaurant is located inside the five-star Kempinski hotel in Budapest's downtown. Visitors familiar with Nobu restaurants elsewhere in the world should rest assured that, in Budapest too, they will find all of Mr.
Pántlika is a self-service outdoor bar tucked away in the far and quieter end of the City Park, near Széchenyi Thermal Bath. If you've strolled through Andrássy Avenue and checked off all the tourist landmarks nearby (Heroes Square, Vajdahunyad Castle), you can find a peaceful refuge at Pántlika for a well-deserved glass of cold beer and snacks. .
Szimply is a tiny breakfast-all-day restaurant in the cobble-stoned courtyard of a pre-war downtown building. Thanks to The New York Times, which mentioned Szimply in an article (Budapest is #50), it's next to impossible to find an open table at this closet-sized breakfast nook. They specialize in on-trend, contemporary breakfast and brunch food, like the generously packed avocado toast topped with arugula, figs and goat cheese. Szimply also has 4 types of vegetable/fruit juices, but, unfortunately, they don't serve alcohol.
For a bit of time travel you don’t even have to leave downtown. The “villányi” in the name is tongue-in-cheek, since the wine they serve in this socialist-era grungy neighborhood bar is hardly the premium stuff from the Villány region, but that isn’t the point. Places like this will soon be extinct, so take your chances before it’s too late. Expect a juke box that looks like it’s rented from a museum, a price board with uneven and unmatching number stickers, horrendous plastic wall paneling, ridiculously low prices, and an amiable, non-pretentious crowd with a fondness for alcohol..
À la Maison Grand is a chic downtown café in Budapest located on the ground floor of a 1906 art nouveau building (take a glance at the oversized glass mosaic perched atop the building). À la Maison Grand is a popular breakfast and brunch destinations for the fashionable crowd, offerings an all-day breakfast menu with a range of classics like croque madame, Eggs Florentine, and French toast. Some of the dishes come with a slight twist, like the Eggs Benedict, which can be ordered with foie gras (it's delicious). You can also order some of the more zeitgesty breakfast plates at À la Maison like an acai bowl or avocado toast.
Italian chatter is filtering through Al Dente's open kitchen, a too rare and highly welcome phenomenon for an Italian restaurant. Al Dente is one of those under-the-radar neighborhood restaurants in Budapest you hope others won't find out about so as to keep it all for yourself. It's an osteria-type casual eatery with a pan-Italian menu and a few nods to food from the Puglia region in southern Italy (the chef is from Bari, the capital city of Puglia). .
Budapest has a small supply of Japanese restaurants, and those that exist serve a limited range of Japanese fare (primarily sushi- or ramen-only spots). Biwako is a welcome exception. It’s advertized as a ramen house, but they make all sorts of everyday Japanese dishes like donburi, okonomiyaki, and takoyaki. The restaurant is located across the street from The Japan Foundation in a bare-bones, underground space.
If you asked around within Budapest's gastronomic circles about the key figures of the city's contemporary food revolution, one of the names invariably dropped will be Balázs Pethő, executive chef of family-run Csalogány 26 Restaurant. A whole crop of younger cooks, many of them established head chefs now, learned the ins and outs of haute cuisine under Pethő's tutelage at a time when comically backward, communist-era kitchen practices were still the norm. Pethő's exceptional skills best show through in his 8-course dinner tasting menu at Csalogány 26. .
Fogas Ház is an enormous ruin bar located in Budapest's party district inside a 1861 landmark building with a disintegrating facade. Fogas Ház is more expensive than regular ruin bars in Budapest, which means that most of the visitors here are international. In addition, know before you go that Fogas is extremely popular among rowdy groups of bachelor party groups, in case that's not the crowd you want to mingle with. On a more positive note, it's is one of the few (ruin) bars in Budapest with a spacious dance floor.
The formula for success at this unpretentious wine bar is simple: serve cheap drinks in the center of a city otherwise crowded with tourist traps. But what gives Grinzingi soul is its longevity, the variety of its patrons, and the “interior design”. When Grinzingi opened in 1983, it was difficult to find decent wine in the city, so word spread that this wine bar served up cheap, drinkable stuff. Fast forward 30 years, some of those early patrons still pay repeated visits, as do plenty of college students from nearby universities.
Due to bad urban planning, cars have better access to Danube River views than city residents in Budapest. A handful of Budapest bars, however, can boast a precious river panorama, and Jónás Craft Beer House is one of them. So while sipping your craft beer, you can marvel at the panoramic vista of the Danube, the Gellért Hill, and the stately building of the Budapest University of Technology on the opposite bank. If you come from the city center, take tram #2 for a scenic ride along the Danube and get off at Zsil utca, which drops you almost right outside Jónás Craft Beer House.
Hungarian countryside fare can be intimidating for those who aren’t used to eating heavy meats like pork knuckles and wild boar stew. If you’re up for the challenge, Kispiac Bistro is the best place in Budapest to acquaint yourself with these hearty traditional dishes. While Kispiac doesn’t try to reimagine old recipes or add new ingredients, it moves past socialist-era practices that once reigned supreme like pairing meats with painfully heavy side dishes (leading to low post-meal productivity). .
If you wonder what everyday dining was like during communism, search no longer. This traditional Hungarian étkezde/eatery in the old Jewish Quarter has been around since 1957, and both the food and the atmosphere still transmit an aura of a different epoch. The stuffed cabbage or the beef stew with egg barley is unlikely to blow your mind, but that's not even the point - you should visit Kádár for the ambiance, rather than the food. The servers wear outfits that could rival the wardrobe collection from Soviet movies in the 1950s.
You will be a fan of Lumen Café if you prefer to avoid the heavily touristed streets of the old Jewish Quarter but still get a cup of specialty coffee in a hip neighborhood. With excellent egg-based breakfast offerings (served until noon on weekends) and a thoughtful interior design featuring concrete and wood combinations, Lumen Café is more than your average neighborhood café. But it's the patrons, artists and neighborhood bohemians, who give a soul to the space. Also be sure to check out the almost daily live concerts at Lumen, taking place inside the hall adjacent to the main area.
One would be hard-press to believe that in the first half of the 20th century the streets of District 7, today the party central of Budapest, were swarming with Jewish people. Macesz Bistro, a Jewish-Hungarian fusion restaurant, pays homage to the neighborhood’s history (the edifice across the street is still home to the Hungarian Orthodox Jewish Community). The menu at Macesz Bistro includes most Hungarian-Ashkenazi Jewish staples alongside classic Hungarian food offerings (in Hungarian macesz means matzo). The culinary highlight and the most economical choice in this slightly overpriced bistro is the “Jewish Traditional” tasting menu for HUF7,990 or €27 (€40 with wine pairing)..
Printa was one of the first design stores in Budapest that figured out that selling high-quality coffee alongside Hungarian designer products can be a winning combination. Think limited edition prints, clothes, bags, and purses made by the local designers - no tchotchkes here. Being good at what they do, and being located in the center of it all, it's inevitable that they now mainly cater to tourists with somewhat inflated price tags. Nevertheless, there's plenty of cool stuff, and great espresso-based coffee, which is sourced from Blue Bird coffee roastery next door.
Location is unfortunately a challenge for St. Andrea Wine & Gourmet Bar, a fine dining Budapest restaurant. It occupies the ground floor of a luxury office building, just off the reception area. As a result, high-power executives from the offices upstairs make up the core of the patrons, which leads to an overly corporate atmosphere, particularly at lunchtime..
Telep is a buzzing Budapest bar in the heart of it all in District 7, the city's party central. The crowd at Telep will satisfy any hipster cravings you may be harboring: beards, fixie bikes, drawstring bags, and plenty of good-looking people abound here. The interior features low-lying sofas, and a massive varnished table top, which serves as the bar counter and makes you feel like you're at the house party of your coolest friend. DJs are in charge of the tunes on Friday and Saturday nights.
If you get the impression that Budapest is full of alarmingly cheap, Chinese take-out places with crappy food, your premonitions are correct. This is why Wang Mester Kínai Konyhája, one of the best Chinese restaurants in Budapest, is such a nice surprise. The owner, Wang Qiang, was a pioneer in the early 1990s to introduce real Chinese food to a local audience in Budapest that so far had been accustomed to cheap, unrecognizably toned-down dishes at the dime a dozen neighborhood take-out joints. This, along with a penchant for self-promotion, has rendered Mr.
If you want to hang out with the next generation of Hungarian actors and actresses and sip dirt-cheap drinks while doing so, look no further than Úri Muri. Plenty of students from the nearby University of Theatre and Film Arts like to unwind at Úri Muri bar, which is conveniently located inside Budapest's boisterous party quarter. Be sure to check out also the basement of Úri Muri, where another bar, and often live music concerts await plugged-in guests..
In 2004, Bock Bistro was among the first Budapest restaurants to push the boundaries of traditional Hungarian cuisine. They proved that contemporary food techniques and some new ingredients can successfully mix with centuries-old national dishes. For example, the paprikash, usually made with chicken, is prepared with veal neck and breaded beef tenderloins at Bock Bistro, before showering the meats with the signature creamy paprika sauce. The goulash soup, in additional to what traditional recipes call for, also contains crumbs of celery root, which add a welcome crunch and freshness.
Csiga is a popular café located in the increasingly trendy District 8, a bit outside the city center. The neighborhood, situated just beyond the Grand Boulevard, is rising to cool-status as people become fed up with the crowds swarming the bars of the Jewish Quarter (two lively bars, Kék Ló or Hintaló Iszoda, are both just around the corner from Csiga). .
The few Japanese restaurants that exist in Budapest focus on higher end Japanese fare like sushi, even though local Hungarian tastes and wallets would be more compatible with the simpler Japanese dishes. Perhaps this is what Mr. Tomoki and his wife, a young couple from Tokyo, thought when in January 2018 they opened DON DOKO DON, Budapest’s first donburi restaurant. .
Hanna is a glatt kosher restaurant operated by the Autonomous Orthodox Jewish Community of Hungary in District 7. Since it's buried within the fortress-like edifice of the congregation, most locals have never encountered Hanna, even though the surrounding area is the center of the current Budapest party scene with countless cafés, bars, and restaurants. Orthodox Jews visiting Budapest, however, are often better informed and they fill the restaurant most nights. The food selection consists of traditional Jewish dishes like matzo ball soup alongside Hungarian staples like chicken paprikash.
If you’re craving good Chinese food at affordable prices, make your way to Hehe. This type of no-frills, pan-Chinese fare is hard to come by in Budapest, because the handful of higher-end Chinese restaurants are pricey by local standards, and the take-outs you’re better off avoiding altogether. Located in Monori Center, Budapest's Chinatown, Hehe is a 20 minute tram ride from the city center (a quick trip that provides a unique glimpse into the lives of everyday working class Hungarians in the city’s outer boroughs). .
Kiosk is a popular restaurant/cocktail bar in the heart of Budapest, favored by trend-conscious locals and plenty of tourists. Kiosk has at least two things going for it: a stunning view of the Elisabeth bridge, and a dramatically high-ceilinged, hangar-like interior space. (Interestingly, the building also houses a Roman Catholic high school on the upper floors, in fact there is a chapel right above Kiosk.) .
Independent restaurants located inside luxury hotels face a common challenge: they need to juggle between satisfying the not-always-so-sophisticated palates of the hotel residents while also luring discernible diners looking for a fine dining experience. Impressively, KOLLÁZS - Brasserie & Bar, occupying part of the ground floor at the exquisite Four Seasons Hotel Budapest, meets the challenge. The tastefully designed neo-Art Deco interior harmoniously blends a grill bar, a bistro, a fine dining restaurant, and a cocktail bar into a common space. .
The location itself is worth the visit to Kontakt, this specialty coffee shop nestled inside the charming cobble-stoned courtyard of a downtown building. With a radically minimalist interior, a heavily bearded staff, and customers glued to their smartphones, Kontakt could easily be mistaken for a hip Brooklyn café. Kontakt's policy is not to add any sugar to the coffees, nor any milk to the drip coffees, so that the rich coffee flavors can be fully appreciated. If you're looking to eat something, walk a few steps across the ally to Szimply, a popular all-day-breakfast joint run by the same owners in a similarly fashionable vein.
The Grand Boulevard is not only a dividing line between inner and outer Pest, but also between the pristine and the gritty, the predictable and the mysterious. As a result, bars along here draw eclectic crowds from all facets of Budapest life. Krúdy Söröző, an unpretentious, no-frills communist-era bar, is one of these. Despite the wifi and flat screen TVs, the space feels distinctively 1980s, as do the prices.
Mainly thanks to its 27-year old executive chef, János Mizsei, MÁK Bistro is one of the best restaurants in Budapest. The genius of Mizsei, who trained at restaurants in Denmark and Sweden, is his ability to extract intense flavors from seemingly simple dishes, in line with the Scandinavian cooking style he is so fond of. He locally sources the best ingredients he can get his hands on (he is known to go out of his way to find unlikely suppliers, like a farmer who collects birch sap in a village) with the remainder being imported from Europe. .
Buda is known more for its green hills and peaceful streets than its bustling bar scene. Even the denser, urban sections of Buda are noticeably short of drinking spots with character and an enduring appeal. One of the exceptions is Nemdebár. This dimly lit neighborhood bar is often filled to capacity, and features a diverse crowd of hip college students, local office workers, and notorious bohemians pushing fifty.
Trust me, the address is accurate - persist in your search and you will be handsomely rewarded. Pótkulcs is a hidden local bar nestled inside a former light engineering workshop in Budapest's District 6. It’s worth walking around this mostly working class neighborhood to realize the extent to which Budapest's otherwise grand housing stock was left to decay during communism and, in areas like this, even after that (in downtown, many buildings have been refurbished recently). .
Ristorante Millennium da Pippo is a reliable Italian restaurant located on Andrássy Avenue, Budapest’s most famous street that’s often compared to the Champs-Élysées. It's on the farther and quieter section, away from the noisy downtown. The trattoria-like interior pulls inspiration from the century-old subway stations located underneath Andrássy (not that patrons much of a reminder: at the outdoor terrace they can actually feel the ground slightly shake when a train passes). .
Öcsi étkezde, a lunch-only eatery in District 8, has flourished since 1981, in part due to the familial environment created by married owners Erzsi and Feri. Erzsi, the driving force behind the kitchen, occasionally pops into the dining area with cilantro-covered hands to check with regulars whether they would like a schnitzel with their lecsó. Feri, a comforting presence with a white lab coat and handsome features, multitasks between taking orders, bringing out food, and chatting with patrons, most of whom he knows by name. The daily-changing, handwritten menu consists of many Hungarian staples, of which the made-to-order dishes ("frissensült") are usually the best.
If you don't mind a tourist experience in Budapest, you can sip a glass of fine Hungarian red in this wildly popular wine bar, which offers a picture-postcard view of the St. Stephen's Basilica. DiVino Wine Bar can be particularly enjoyable in the warm-weather months by the outdoor tables. Touristy it may be, still, it’s a sight to behold.
Ennmann delivers a no-frills but authentic Japanese experience to Budapest diners. Opened in 2016, the place is actually run by a Chinese couple with the husband managing the kitchen and his wife taking care of the dining area. They have extensive sushi and sashimi selections that on some days are prepared better and fresher than on others (seafood deliveries are three to four times a week). Of the non-raw fish dishes the shrimp tempura is among the better ones: the seafood dressed in a thin layer of batter receives a quick deep-fry, which makes for a crispy crust and juicy flavors beneath it.
Fahéj is a charming café and bar located on a quite backstreet in Budapest's downtown. Fahéj eschews the overly trendy vibes and tourist-oriented approach of many places in the neighborhood, relying instead on a loyal group of regulars, both young and old. This they do by serving cheap drinks inside an atmospheric space that consists of two high-ceilinged rooms complete with wood flooring, bookshelves, archived newspaper cutouts on the walls, and small round tables surrounded by Thonet chairs, all of which lend the space a cute, intellectual feel. .
Although Frici Papa opened after the fall of the iron curtain, this eatery has become a darling for tourists looking to experience communist-style dining. Tablecloths covered with transparent plastic, cheap wood paneling on the walls, waiters dressed as if having been parachuted here from the '80s - those in search of a lost epoch won't be disappointed. The menu includes all the traditional Hungarian staples from goulash to beef stew, chicken paprikás, and túrós csusza. Don't expect a Michelin star kitchen here, but most of the dishes are passable.
Opened almost 20 years ago, Két Szerecsen is a popular bistro located between the stately Andrássy Avenue on one side and the Jewish Quarter’s main artery (Király Street) on the other, occupying a precious piece of no man’s land. The chic interior crammed with tables receives plenty of natural light thanks to the oversized windows. The food offering is exhaustive. As if they tried to please all tastes, Moroccan lamb shoulder with couscous, Thai green curry with prawn, and Hungarian chicken paprikash compete with one another on the long menu.
Flaky almond croissants, fresh orange juice, and specialty coffee (both pour overs and espresso-based) are just three of the reasons to visit this cute café in the “Harlem of Budapest”, a bit outside the city center in District 8. Kudos to the owner for walking the less trodden path and having created something great in this slice of the city. Wander the streets nearby to get a glimpse of the lives of less privileged Budapest residents (the neighborhood is very safe during the day). Local attractions include an enormous late-Baroque church, a former telephone exchange in a beautiful art nouveau building, the country's best high school, as well as a playfully eclectic residential building with a non-matching top floor added during communism..
For an authentic, traditional Hungarian meal, leave the touristed streets of downtown and make your way to Pozsonyi Kisvendéglő. Located in the hopping residential neighborhood of Újlipótváros, red-and-white checkered tablecloth and an exhaustive menu spanning across 12 categories (soups, stews, ready-made, etc.) will await you at this popular, no-frills neighborhood restaurant. .
San Guo Zhi, a Dongbei-style barbecue restaurant is the 2017 newcomer to the increasingly diverse food landscape of Budapest's Chinatown. Dongbei is the northeastern part of China, formerly known as Manchuria. The region's food reflects Chinese, Mongolian, and Russian culinary influences, and a cold climate; it's heavy on lamb, hearty warm soups, as well as corn and wheat (instead of rice)..
Depending on your perspective, you might describe Sáo as the hottest restaurant in town or, alternatively, an overpriced eatery serving standard Asian takeout food with little substance to match the hype. Whichever side you're on, Sáo operates at capacity every night of the week. Sure, paying the equivalent of €9 for a simple plate of fried rice with a few morsels of beef is excessive by Budapest standards, but there’s more to Sáo than the food..
TG Italiano is an upper-middle priced Italian restaurant located on a highly-touristed downtown street in Budapest. The chic, spacious interior complete with an outdoor terrace (heated and covered in the colder months) is a tourist-favorite thanks to its central location and reliable dishes. .
Visiting Tóth Kocsma is the ultimate immersion into everyday Hungarian life, where you can be quite certain to be the only non-Hungarian. It's not fancy, not trendy, not hipster, just a good honest no-frills basement bar. They don’t make ‘em this way anymore. The fact that the unpretentious Tóth Kocsma is located in the middle of the expensive gallery district along Falk Miksa Street just adds an element of irony and a notch to its appeal.
It’s easy to miss Altair Teahouse, a lovable underground tea house located along a sleepy side street behind the National Museum in Budapest's Palace Quarter. Defying space limitations, they've managed to squeeze three floors of tiny nooks separated from each other by curtains and pillows, and sitting on inserted wooden platforms. The dimly lit, labyrinthine indoor makes for an ideal date spot or for a bit of seclusion from the hustle and bustle of city center, just minutes away. Besides the endless tea options, Altair also offers a selection of (hot) wines, beers, spirits, as well as hookahs (water pipes).
Tucked away on a steep Castle Hill side street lies one of Budapest’s most expensive fine dining restaurants, Golden Caviar. Furnished with maroon and golden tapestry-like walls and heavy drapes, the exquisite dining rooms exude an air of opulence. In addition to a range of high-priced caviars, Golden Caviar offers two types of tasting menus: a “Hungarian Fish” and a “Traditional” Russian. Plenty of chilled vodka and premium wines are also available for pairing.
Babka occupies a prominent corner along the upscale Pozsonyi Road in Újlipótváros. The restaurant is named after an Ashkenazi Jewish bready cake from Eastern Europe, and is perhaps a tip of the hat to the neighborhood as well, home to much of Budapest’s middle-class Jewish community. The snug space, featuring hardwood floors and dim lighting, feels pleasant and cozy despite its unoriginal vintage decor (old radio and TV equipment are scattered throughout)..
As soon as you enter Caffe Gian Mario, it will conjure the images of a stereotypical family-owned Italian restaurant. A charming man in his 70s, wearing a finely cut wool jacket and a smile on his face that hints of a life well lived, is usually in charge of greeting and seating guests. The service staff, most of whom are also Italians, peripatetically rotate and shout half-uttered words to one another over the cramped tables. .
In 2015, three young Vietnamese-Hungarian with a passion for cooking and a background in fashion and design, opened a Vietnamese fusion restaurant (Sáo) in the tourist-packed part of Budapest’s District 7. The venture has turned out to be wildly successful. Encouraged, the owners launched another food project, KHAN, but this time in the peaceful and residential Újlipótváros. Not that location would much matter: people flock to KHAN from near and far.
I can’t blame you if your first instinct is to avoid all restaurants lining Váci Street, Budapest’s version of La Rambla. When hostesses dressed in folk outfits try to lure unsuspecting passersby with traditional Hungarian tourist menus, the right thing to do usually is to swiftly move on. La Botte is somewhat of an exception. Only somewhat, because parts of it mimic the neighboring restaurants, meaning that goulash tops the menu and the interior features the stereotypical bric-a-brac decor complete with red and white checkered tablecloths.
If you ever wondered what Chinese breakfast was like, here is your chance to find out. For less than HUF1,500 (€5) one gets to taste an array of classic Chinese breakfast staples from jianbing to congee and youtiao. The congee, this hot bowl of rice soup similar to rice porridge is often used to treat a cold or a hangover in China, but one doesn’t need to be suffering from either to experience the soothing and warming effect of this comfort soup, which comes with minced pork, mushrooms, and a scallion-punch at Hong Kong Büfé. The breakfast crowds here usually pair it with freshly fried breadsticks (youtiao), as is customary in China, and it pays off to follow them.
The bars of Budapest generally fall into two categories. On the one hand, myriad of ruin bars offer an informal atmosphere with no-frills-but-dirt-cheap drinks. On the other are the fancy, higher-end cocktail joints where bartenders with chiseled jawline mix stiff cocktails of ingredients you've never heard of. The in-between territory is noticeably thin.
Sarki Fűszeres is a tiny café located on a quiet corner of Újlipótváros, one of Budapest's unique neighborhoods. Situated along the upscale Pozsonyi Road on the ground floor of a 1940s modernist building, Sarki Fűszeres is best for coffee or breakfast during the warm weather months. That's when the charming outdoor tables are canopied over with greenery. Their breakfast offerings include croissants, ham & eggs, English breakfast, and meat and cheese platters.
Raw seafood takes center stage at this oversized Buda restaurant. Three popular sushi variations dominate the menu along with sashimi cuts: maki (cut rolls), nigiri (mounds of rice topped with fish filet), and chirashi (fish over vinegared rice in a bowl). The fish selections are impressively broad, besides the usual tuna, salmon, and prawn options, raw eel, sea bass, octopus, squid, and salmon roe are also prevalent. The chirashi bowl (HUF6,900 or c.€23) is the best and least expensive way to sample a cross section of the most interesting cuts.
TÁBLA is a tiny lunch-only restaurant located at the edge of Budapest's trendy Jewish quarter. It's one of the two restaurants run by local young gun chef Gábor Fehér (the other, ESCA, is a fine dining studio restaurant right next door to TÁBLA). In-line with Fehér's fondness of Nordic food and design, the sleek space features white brick walls, wooden tables, and a simple-but-elegant couch in the middle of the space. The highlight of the mostly spare interior is the floor-to-ceiling window, which swings open in the summertime..
No English menu or even a Facebook page, these are good signs that you've stumbled into something uniquely local. Városház Snack belongs to the bare-bones self-service/takeout lunch venues popular during communist times, which are now nearing extinction, usually for good reason. However, Városház Snack is still standing, since 1985, and so are plenty of people in line at lunchtime for cheap and tasty traditional Hungarian dishes served inside a shoebox-sized downtown location. .
At the turn of the 20th century, Budapest’s Grand Boulevard was teeming with coffeehouses. Penniless artists and people of all backgrounds hung out there day and night, discussing politics, romance, and missed rent payments while nursing their precious cups of coffee. Cafés were the center of social life. Today, however, second hand clothing stores and uninviting gyro vendors paint a sad picture of this once truly grand boulevard.
A leading Hungarian chef, Lajos Bíró, decided to open a fast casual lunch eatery at the Hold Street market hall and diners should all celebrate that decision. At A Séf utcája (trans. "Chef's Street") you will find wallet-friendly traditional Hungarian dishes prepared with a twist, which in this case means better-than-average ingredients and an attention to the visual aesthetics. Like it or not, these reconfigured Hungarian plates at A Séf are in a different league than grandma's cooking.
Escape the noisy downtown street and enter through the yellow ceramic tiles into the 19th century courtyard of Fekete Café. The marble well located in the center of the tranquil courtyard is one of those turn of the 20th century Budapest surprises that hide behind many sooty facades. Weather permitting, enjoy your morning coffee in the open air courtyard..
Fáma is the 2017 venture of celebrity-chef Krisztián Huszár. It was a bold move to open a fine dining restaurant in a residential Buda neighborhood, away from the well-trodden tourist paths of downtown Pest and the Castle Hill. The owners spared no expense to create a tasteful interior, featuring an understated, dimly-lit dining room with a dozen or so tables, and grey-painted walls accented by industrial pipes overhead. The dinner tasting menu is a four-, five-, or six-course option selected from twelve pre-set dishes.
Many theories exist as to why it was Sichuan Province of all places within China that adopted chili peppers in its local cuisine in the 16th century. Whatever the reason may be, some of the finest dishes have come out of this unlikely alliance of flavors between Old and New World..
Hintaló means rocking horse, of which you will see plenty inside this retro-designed bar located in the outer part of District 8. Hintaló Iszoda is a tiny bar with cramped tables tucked away on a dark backstreet just off the busy Blaha Lujza Square. It tends to get packed most nights with a lively crowd, heavy on German/international students. With many little hideaway nooks, it's ideal for a date night too.
Il Terzo Cerchio has been serving Italian comfort food in Budapest’s historic Jewish Quarter for well over a decade. The exposed brick vaulted ceiling and rustic wooden furniture attempt to evoke the Tuscan countryside vibes on this Budapest sidestreet. .
La nube is a café/tapas bar in the increasingly hip Újbuda neighborhood. The main appeal of this Hungarian-Spanish, family-run operation is the warm and welcoming atmosphere and the diverse crowd which mainly comes from the neighborhood. On a typical day, patrons might comprise parents with young children (there's a kids' corner), hipsters typing away on their iPhones, and aging locals sipping glasses of San Miguel that comes straight from the tap..
Mesterbike is a charming bike repair shop sharing a space with a specialty café. Unlike most new-wave coffee shops in Budapest that’re set along the downtown tourist paths, Mesterbike is located away from the city center on a residential street in Budapest’s up-and-coming District 9. Accordingly, most customers consist of neighborhood regulars popping in for a coffee, often with bikes in hand. In addition to bikes, and light-roast cups of espresso-based and filter coffee (V60) options, Mesterbike also sells a range of Hungarian designer products that’re tangentially related to bicycles, like the impossibly cool Blind Chic multifunctional cotton canvas backpacks.
This shoebox sized, partially takeout eatery (or “étkezde” in Hungarian) represents the best of the étkezde genre: it’s quick, it’s cheap, and it’s delicious. In the mornings they freshly make a range of popular Hungarian dishes like stuffed cabbage, chicken paprikás, and pork schnitzels so that by lunchtime they can feed the seemingly endless crowd with incredible efficiency. A line stretching outside of Norbert Étkezde at midday is a sign that good things lie ahead. A couple of soup options are usually available, of which the reviving orja leves (pork bone soup) is a must.
There’re many things to like about Ramenka, this shoe-sized ramen shop in the heart of Budapest’s party street (Kazinczy). The beautifully tender and flavorful pork belly is one of them. Each of the classic ramen soups come with about half a dozen pieces, which is as generous a meat serving as one will find in a ramen. .
Spíler has been reliably one of the hottest restaurants in Budapest since its opening in 2012. It's located in the heart of the old Jewish Quarter, inside the tourist-favorite Gozsdu Udvar passage dotted with restaurants and bars. Spíler occupies a massive space featuring three stylish, instagrammable dining rooms that operate at capacity most evenings. As for food, they serve a mix Hungarian classics including goulash and cottage cheese dumplings, complemented by popular bistro fare like burgers, salads, and pulled pork sandwich.
It’s not easy to find specialty coffee places on the Buda side, so when Barako, a closet-sized café, opened in 2014, it filled a void in Buda’s barely-existent craft coffee scene. The Filipino owner, Ryan Andres, intentionally eschewed the tourist-centric commercial areas of downtown Pest and set up shop here instead. He imports the Barako coffee beans (a variation of the Liberica species) from land he cultivates in the Philippines. One of Barako’s specialties is siphon coffee, which involves an elaborate preparation process reminiscent of a high school chemistry class experiment.
Of the top Chinese restaurants in Budapest, Chinatown Restaurant is one of the closest to the city center. It’s still some ways away, and it’s located on the not-exactly-inviting Népszínház Street, but at least you don’t need to trek out to one of the two Chinatowns of Budapest, an additional 20 minutes by tram, for a proper plate of laziji (spicy chicken). .
Da Mario is an Italian restaurant in Budapest set on a precious piece of real estate in-between the Hungarian Parliament Building and Liberty Square, with views onto both from its outdoor terrace. The high-ceilinged space with leather banquettes and an industrial-chic decor kicks it up a notch compared to the trattoria-type rustic furniture so common in other Italian restaurants of the city. Da Mario’s extensive menu features Italian staples from North to South, from grilled meats to wood-oven pizzas and home made pasta plates. .
The places around Szabadság tér (Liberty Square) and the Parliament tend to be overrun by tourists, which usually brings the worst out of the local service industry. Farger café/restaurant, however, isn't in the rip-off business. It's located on the ground floor of a grand, although somewhat faded building commissioned by the Adriatic Hungarian Royal Maritime Company (!) during the glorious days of the Austro Hungarian Empire. .
Budapest’s only kosher pastry shop is right in the heart of the former Jewish Quarter. Normally flódni is the way to go, which is a classic Hungarian Jewish cake with layers of earthly goods packed onto one other, like walnut and poppy seed spread, apple, and plum jam filling. To please all tastes, Frőhlich, which set up shop in 1953, also makes popular Hungarian cakes like Esterházy, Dobos, krémes, and various strudels. The best time to visit Frőhlich is during the Jewish holidays, particularly Purim, which usually falls on March, when an array of exotic, filled pastries emerge behind the glass counter such as hamantash.
When Fuji opened in 1991, it was Budapest’s first Japanese restaurant. Accordingly, people embraced it with that unbounded positivity that surrounded post-communist novelties at the time. Located in an elite Buda neighborhood, it quickly became the pan-Japanese restaurant that catered to Budapest’s wealthiest residents with all tastes of Japan: from sushi to noodles, fried, and skewered dishes. Almost two decades later Fuji is still around, which in restaurant years is an eternity.
A Polish native from Gdansk, a port city on the Baltic coast, and her Hungarian husband opened this shoebox-sized bar in 2014. An Eastern European bohemian-intellectual spirit permeates throughout the space: dimly lit, cozy nooks with rickety tables, shelves packed with Polish books, and a range of cheap vodka selections. The bar also serves Polish and Hungarian craft beers, which range from less hoppy lagers to bitter ales. But without a doubt, the highlight of Gdansk is the pickled herring plate.
Tera Magyar Konyhája (trans. "Tera's Hungarian kitchen") is located in Újlipótváros, a charming section of Budapest. The neighborhood is a city within the city, where the cultural upper crust and young families with baby strollers form a strong local community and make for a lively area. Many of the local residents eat lunch at Tera Magyar Konyhája, this self-service diner with a broad selection of traditional Hungarian dishes.
For the longest time Budapest didn't used to have many places specialized in breakfast food, even though we all know what a difference a plate of well-prepared scrambled eggs can make to start your day off on the right foot. Part of this gaping void was filled in 2014 when Zoska opened. Zoska is a breakfast-all-day restaurants nestled in a quite downtown backstreet and featuring a shabby-chic interior. Their offerings include international breakfast staples spanning from cold plates to ham & eggs and bundás kenyér, a Hungarian version of the French toast.
2 Spaghi’s mission is simple: prepare made-to-order fresh pasta simply and well. Customers are invited to pair a variety pasta shapes (fusilli, bucatini, tagliatelle, etc.) with an often-changing list of popular sauces and toppings. For example, on any given day the Italian chefs at 2 Spaghi might make cacio e pepe, carbonara, puttanesca, amatriciana, and aglio, olio e peperoncino sauces. You can't go wrong with any of them.
Opened in 1964, Alabárdos is the longest-serving restaurant in the Castle Hill and one of the most famous fine dining establishments in Budapest. A stone’s throw away from the famous Matthias Church, the restaurant is located within a medieval residential home, featuring original Gothic tracery and ogee curves. With about a dozen tables, the dining room is startlingly impressive: they serve dishes on Herendi porcelain plates paired with silver cutlery. .
Fruccola was one of the pioneers behind the healthy food and salad-for-lunch movement in Budapest in the late-aughts. Their timing was perfect, and diners' enthusiasm hasn't waned since. Besides salads, smoothies, and fresh juices, Fruccola also makes excellent breakfast omelets, which come with salmon or spinach & goat cheese. On weekdays, they serve an ever-changing two course lunch prix fixe heavy on vegetables, but they usually aren't strictly vegetarian.
Kék Ló (Blue Horse) is a hidden gem of a bar located outside of Budapest's main tourist zones within the outer part of District 8. Despite looking similar to many of its eclectically (over)designed peers, Kék Ló beats out other run-of-the-mill ruin bars. Highlights include a friendly service, a selection of local and international craft beers, cheap food including vegan and vegetarian options, regular live music (experimental, jazz, and folk varieties featuring local artists), which cohesively provide a welcome addition to the standard ruin bar repertoire. Kék Ló combines their bar with a pop-up boutique on the upper deck, selling upcycled clothing by owner & fashion designer Virág Tóth.
Mantra is a specialty café located on a magically pretty and quiet downtown backstreet in Budapest lined with trees and wrought-iron street lamps (ironically, it’s located just a block away from the touristy Váci Street). From the ever-changing light-roasted coffee beans they might use Ethiopian, Brazilian, and Honduran selections on any given day for the filter and espresso-based coffees. AeroPress, Chemex, V60, and Gina are just some of the instruments available for filter coffees. If you prefer tea, go for the chai or matcha latte.
Don't be confused by the name of this cute little café: this isn't Szimpla Kert, the world-famous ruin bar (that's a few doors down from here, across the street, run by the same owners). Szimpla Háztáji is an organic café serving breakfast all day, fruit juices, and home-made syrups. The mantra is fresh-fresh-fresh - all ingredients come from local farmers whose produce can also be found in Szimpla Kert's farmer's market on Sunday mornings. Accordingly, the interior has a shabby-chic look complete with reclaimed, rustic furniture.
Operated by the Hungarian Chabad-Lubavitch Hasidic community, Tel Aviv Café is Budapest’s one and only kosher dairy restaurant. Being a dairy restaurant, don’t go searching for meat here. And, unfortunately, you won’t find any of the traditional Ashkenazi non-meat staples either, like matzo brei, blintz, or latke. This is somewhat surprising, because Tel Aviv Café is located in the heart of Budapest's old Jewish Quarter, right across the orthodox synagogue, so an homage to Central European Jewish food traditions would have been fitting.
A landlocked country isn’t kind to chefs with seafood ambitions. Particularly one where the fish and seafood consumption is the lowest in the EU. But against the odds, a Chinese couple from Wenzhou, the port city along the East China Sea coast, decided to open a restaurant in Budapest specialized in saltwater fish. Their goal is to bring the flavors of their native land to Budapest’s sizeable Wenzhounese community and the occasional Hungarian patrons, who are few and far between.
For many years Zeller was located in a most impossible basement venue in the outer part of Budapest. Yet they became so popular among visitors that scoring a reservation was one of the biggest challenges facing Budapest tourists. In 2017 they moved to a bigger, trendier, posher venue in downtown, but seem to have remained loyal to their founding principles: serving locally produced, updated Hungarian dishes with a cheerful service staff. Rather than the over-promoted goulash, Zeller's creative Hungarian cuisines include the delicate rose duck served with celery and baby carrots, and the tender pork cheek that comes in a paprika sauce.
Never mind the uncanny resemblance to Blue Bottle Coffee (a pioneering California-based specialty coffee company), Blue Bird is one of Hungary’s top coffee roasters. They sell 11 types of premium Arabica sourced from nine countries, in both ready-to-drink and packaged form, out of an impossibly cool storefront in the heart of the Jewish Quarter. The tiny, multipurpose space serves as their roasting, storage, and coffee making facility, all in one. Blue Bird’s filter coffee (includes everything from V60 to Chemex, Aeropress, Frenchpress, Siphon, and cold brew options) is on par with the best specialty coffees in New York or San Francisco.
Most of the pizza you will find in Budapest’s countless Italian restaurants feel like afterthoughts, added to the menu for the sake of completeness. This isn’t the case at Igen, a hole-in-the-wall pizza joint located at the entrance of Budapest’s Party District. .
Liberté is a chic breakfast restaurant located in an elite section of Budapest's downtown peppered with banks and near the Parliament building. The expensive interior design complete with Mid-century modern furniture marries a high-end American diner and a French bistro. No doubt with an intent to draw in tourists, the menu at Liberté includes on-trend international breakfast dishes along with Hungarian classics, meaning that you could very well pair a Hungarian goulash soup with an avocado toast or a tonkatsu sandwich. Unfortunately, however, some of the plates fall short.
The recently renovated market hall at Klauzál Square is a far cry from the gastro-paradise food court of its sister location in Hold Street. Amid closed storefronts and bland grocery store chains, however, you will find an eatery, Mangalica Mennyország, which makes it worth popping in here..
Those looking for an interactive, communal dining experience should consider Wang Fu (Mimóza), a longstanding Chinese hot pot restaurant in Budapest, around since 2006. Upon entry, fridges packed with countless varieties of meat, fish, vegetables, and noodles are tastefully displayed for visitors, who need to pick out the raw ingredients they will shortly be cooking in the boiling broths awaiting at their tables..
Csirke Csibész is a fast casual eatery in Budapest's District 6 serving delicious chicken sandwiches since 1992. This standing-only eatery is the ultimate melting pot of Budapest: construction workers and white collar employees alike line up for unexpectedly flavorful fried and roast chicken here at lunchtime. .
Kilenc Sárkány Étterem (“Nine Dragons Restaurant”) is a long-established Chinese restaurant in Budapest, opened over two decades ago. They carry two sets of menus, so make sure the waitstaff hands you the one for the Chinese patrons, otherwise you’re in for watered-down dishes adjusted to “European tastes”. Most items on the long menu originate from China’s Zhejiang province, more specifically Wenzhou, the home to many Chinese immigrants in Hungary. .
Opened in 2012, My Little Melbourne was one of the first cafés to bring specialty coffee to Budapest, which resulted in a cult following that still continues to surround them. Leveraging the rightful success, they opened a brew bar next door focusing on cold brews and filter coffee (using V60, AeroPress, and French press brewing devices), while the original premise continues to serve espresso based drinks like cappuccino and latte. My Little Melbourne is located in the heart of Budapest's trendy and increasingly touristy old Jewish Quarter, so the somewhat inflated prices aren't surprising - for most foreigners they will still feel like a bargain..
Oriental Soup House is a chic Vietnamese restaurant in a hip, under-the-radar neighborhood a bit outside the city center. The food, centered around 11 types of Asian soup varieties like pho, is as good as any Vietnamese in Budapest. Pho Bo, the simple and delicious beef noodle soup will not disappoint. Also good are the spring rolls (Nem Saigon) and the Bun cha, another Vietnamese signature dish consisting of grilled pork belly over a plate of rice vermicelli sprinkled with fresh cucumbers, coriander, and bean sprouts.
Porcellino Grasso is a popular Italian restaurant tucked away on the serene Rózsadomb hill. The neighborhood is the most exclusive residential area on the Buda side of Budapest, if not the whole city..
It’s not your standard, impeccably refurbished space advertised as “retro” - this is real socialist style. Lángos, a popular Hungarian specialty is the area of expertise at this tiny kiosk located on a puzzlingly neglected square near St. Stephen's Basilica. Lángos is a deep fried flat bread covered by sour cream and cheese, and depending on how adventurous you are, plenty of other toppings like paprika, onions, and bacon - “parasztlángos” is the one to opt for if you want to go all out.
Salon is one of Budapest’s few true fine dining restaurants. It occupies a corner inside the historic and jaw-droppingly ornate New York Café, a top tourist attraction in Budapest. Chef András Wolf oversees the kitchens of both the New York Café and Salon, which are separate. The dishes at Salon feature the usual suspects of Hungarian fine dining, with an emphasis on French-influenced cuisine that was once popular among the Hungarian nobility.
Neighborhood Roma and office workers alike line up for home-made Hungarian flavors at Akácfa Étkezde, a bizarrely decorated diner in a District 7 backstreet. The interior includes a hodgepodge of items spanning from nature-themed wall paintings to faux-Biedermeier living room furniture. The checkered tablecloths covered with transparent plastic evoke nostalgia of the 1980s' Hungarian dining scene. Here you can indulge in classic Hungarian dishes including goulash, chicken paprikash, stuffed cabbage, schnitzel, and főzelék (a popular type of vegetable stew).
Auróra is a multifunctional building located in the outer part of District 8, an area filled with low-income residents and minorities. Several non-profit organizations are based in the co-working offices of the building, which also serves as a community center. They hold discussions on a range of topics, many of them about Hungarian politics and social inclusion of minorities (while the discussions generally take place in Hungarian, most people attending their workshops and parties will speak English). Come nighttime, the space transforms into a big party venue until the wee hours, with a bar on the ground floor and a concert venue in the basement.
Chongqing-inspired Daohuaxiang restaurant fuses two widely popular contemporary Chinese gastronomic trends: spicy food and hotpotting. The inside of the plain, oversized dining room is devoid of design elements, as if to ascertain that all attention is paid to the fridge, where rows of plates with raw ingredients await their ultimate fate inside the simmering broths on the tables. .
Pizzica is Budapest’s first pizzeria that serves pizza al taglio: it’s a Roman invention where rectangular shaped pies are sliced with scissors and usually taken to-go. The tiny takeout space is run by Italian-native Paolo de Bartolomeo and his brother, who can be found most days sliding the cast-iron pans in and out of the electric oven at Pizzica. .
Opened in 1951, Balla-Hús is one of the few remaining independent butcher shops downtown. No longer specialized only in raw meat, Balla-Hús also serves delicious sausage omelettes for breakfast for the equivalent of €2 (occasionally prepared by the owner himself, resulting in enormous portions). For lunch, various meat-heavy dishes dominate, like blood sausage and fried chicken liver with a selection of side dishes. The rock-bottom prices draw an eclectic crowd from nearby spanning from construction workers to bureaucrats from the mayor's office around the corner.
A spirit of healthy anarchy radiates from this bar/community center located a bit outside the city center in a gritty part of District 8. They hold weekly panel discussions on a range of relevant topics like industrial interest vs. environmental protection or gentrification. The talks are in Hungarian but most people will also speak English.
Újlipótváros, Budapest’s version of the West Village, is undoubtedly the hopping scene for stylish locals. Accordingly, plenty of new-wave coffee shops line Pozsonyi Road, the main artery of this neighborhood. While you can’t go wrong with any of them, My Green Cup stands out from the rest with a spacious interior as well as an outdoor terrace for the warmer months. Their espresso-based coffees are prepared with a sleek Synesso machine (hand made in the United States), while they use a Kalita dripper for the hand pour-over filter coffee.
Bring with you a healthy dose of skepticism when you go to Gozsdu Udvar, also known as the tourist and party central of Budapest's old Jewish Quarter. Most restaurants and bars here look to make money off the foreign crowds without offering much in exchange. Vicky Barcelona, a lively tapas bar, is one of the few exceptions. .
Bestia is a bustling grilled meat restaurant in the heart of Budapest. It has a picture-postcard view of the St. Stephen’s Basilica, a flashy, industrial chic interior, and a full-service cocktail bar serving 12 types of craft beers. A DJ spins tunes five nights a week and a trendy crowd flocks here every night.
Despite what TripAdvisor might tell you, there’re plenty of Italian restaurants in Budapest serving tastier food at lower price points than Bottega di Bontolo. Unfortunately, too many dishes fall short at this downtown restaurant located on a side street off the highly-touristed Váci Street. .
ESCA is a tiny, 16-seat restaurant offering a dinner-only tasting menu in a quiet backstreet of District 7, also known as Budapest’s party district. The intimate, dimly lit space, which features sleek, dark wood finishes and plain walls, couldn’t be more different from the kitsch ruin bars nearby. This open-kitchen studio restaurant is run by young chef/owner Gábor Fehér, who gained experience in Copenhagen and at leading Budapest restaurants before setting up shop here. He is a skillful cook..
This is the type of neighborhood bar we all want to have outside our doors, alas, they're few and far between. Let's see what differentiates Macska from the rest of the bunch: a friendly bar service, an extensive selection of draft and bottled beers, and a limited but surprisingly healthy food offering that includes vegan and gluten-free options. The bonus is the upstairs section with cute hideaway corners, generally occupied by lovebirds. Macska is located just beyond the Nagykörút (Grand Boulevard), somewhat outside the city center in the gritty and cool District 8.
What's this bustling café full of foreign students doing in the sleepy, mostly working class part of the outer District 7? This question will occupy your mind as soon as you step into The Goat Herder. The answer literally lies across the street in the form of the 19th century stately buildings of The University of Veterinary Medicine, where most of the students come from Western Europe. The owner of The Goat Herder not only presciently recognized this gaping market opportunity, but also ensured that the foreign students would be served premium espresso-based coffee. Besides coffee and free wifi, they serve pastries, snacks, salads, and fresh fruit juices all day (but, unfortunately, no egg-based or other cooked breakfast food).
Located within a 6,700 sqm building, Jurányi is a gigantic center for the performing arts. It houses several dozen independent theater and dance troupes who use the space for practice and performances. Located on the ground floor, Jurányi Suterene is an under-the-radar bohemian bar/community space. During the day, people from the building come here for meetings, or to gobble up the well-priced (HUF 1,290 / €4) lunch prix fixe.
Imagine a restaurant that's located right in the heart of Budapest's party district. Add to that mental image a shabby chic interior featuring lots of happy colors and design items with inspirational messages, and a food offering so broad as to include goulash, penne arrabiata, cheeseburger, duck confit, and paleo cake all on the menu. Welcome to Vintage Garden, one of the hottest and busiest restaurants in the Budapest's Jewish Quarter. Despite the unusually expansive culinary reach, the plates that come out of Vintage Garden's kitchen are reliable - the duck confit with gnocchi and apple chutney is particularly good.
It's not easy to find this underground, slightly grungy music bar but well worth the effort. The owner has managed to recruit A (and B)-level Hungarian musicians who play live here most Friday and Saturday nights. Expect a packed space, a cozy atmosphere, and increasingly more dancing and singing along to songs as the night progresses. Hunnia has a good sampling of draft beers to wash down the slightly less savory pizza.
Since this is officially a social club, you will need to sign up and become a member, a 30 second exercise, to gain admission to this tiny, dimly lit bar. The reason for the legal maneuvering is to allow for smoking inside, which is fully exploited. Located on a deserted street in District 8, the smoke-filled ambiance resembles a prohibition-era bar, where the common cause enhances the atmosphere. But tobacco isn't the only allure - you can indulge in cold beers, toasted sandwiches, and board games with friendly regulars.
KNRDY is an upscale steak house located right in Budapest’s downtown. You should know before you go that you will have to shell out a fortune to taste these premium cuts of imported beef. .
Prime is a downtown Budapest steakhouse that's on par with the top steakhouses around the world, not only in quality, but (unfortunately) also in price. They serve imported premium meats from the United States, Australia, and Argentina, including Prime-grade Black Angus and Wagyu. Prime doesn't dry-age its meats, instead, they are wet-aged for about two weeks before arriving in the kitchen. You can also try a Hungarian beef, from grey cattle, but it pales in comparison with the imported ones.
Baraka Restaurant in Budapest is a favorite for people who rely only on TripAdvisor for dinner recommendations. Visitors should know, however, that there are plenty of other fine dining restaurants in the city, some even with Michelin stars, that offer better dishes than Baraka at a more reasonable price point. .
Wait in line to get into one of the hottest clubs/bars in the city. The location at the crossroads of the bustling Király Street and Gozsdu Udvar couldn't be more central than this. The inside is a chic industrial space with loud music, a spacious cocktail bar, and a sit-down area on the ground floor. For those who find the tunes here too mellow should make their way to the club downstairs where ear-splitting electronic music is the dominant genre.
The venue of this Asian fusion restaurant-slash-food truck is tough to beat. It's located on the stunningly beautiful Liberty Square (Szabadság tér), inside the stately 19th century building of the former stock exchange. Once you enter BAOTIFUL through the massive floor to ceiling front door, an amalgamation of interior styles await you with concrete flooring, rustic oak tables, plastered walls, an ornate Chinese door, and the food truck itself. As for food, the far-reaching menu tries to pay homage to all corners of Asia, with mixed results.
Enter through a garage ramp to get to this tiny underground club with a subversive spirit in the heart of the party district. The atmosphere could be too much for some, but there's a soul to the space that's worth experiencing. The moment of truth here comes way after midnight, but you can build a buzz at the nearby Dzzs Bár or Kisüzem. Walls are covered by funky posters, but you'll likely be too preoccupied to notice as you thrust your way through the throng to get to the bar upstairs.
Coffee, contemporary Hungarian artwork, and a very friendly owner will draw you in to this adorable designer store nestled in a street behind the National Museum. The space is tiny and inviting. What gives its charm is the impression one gets upon entering that this store isn't purely run by business considerations and the owner seems to eschew the overly trendy vibes of typical designer stores. Bisztrónyúl is at least as much a hangout place for locals as a commercial enterprise.
At the foot of the Chain Bridge and overlooking the Buda hills, Bob occupies a prestigious piece of real estate in Budapest. The inside is a correspondingly posh bar-slash-lounge, with increasingly more dancing and champagne popping as the night progresses. The crowd is upscale: well-off, well-dressed, and attractive..
If you're serious about your drink, visit this award-winning cocktail bar (in 2012 it was listed as one of the world’s 50 best bars by Drinks International) nestled within a surprisingly peaceful downtown side street. The low, maroon vaulted ceiling, and dim lighting lends a speakeasy feel to the otherwise well-invested interior of Boutiq Bar. As tends to be the case in such specialized cocktail bars, a bit of theatric will accompany the serving of your libations, of which their Old Fashioned variations and Zwack & Soda (a Hungarian concoction) are two of the favorites. Book a table in case you go after dinner and plan on properly testing yourself against the top drinks in the “industry”..
Along with American football and speakeasy-themed bars, another quintessentially American export is gaining ground in Budapest: barbecued meat. Don’t yet go searching for regional barbecue restaurants specialized in Carolina- or Memphis-style, but Budapest’s fledgling smoked meat scene stepped it up a notch when Bp BARbq opened in 2016 in the edge of the city's trendy Jewish Quarter. In addition to pork, the standard barbecue meat, Bp BARbq also makes (Central) Texas-style brisket, a more challenging and labor intensive cut. Following a 14-16 hour slow-smoking treatment under gentle heat inside a barbecue pit, the tough cuts of brisket turn into beautifully soft, fall-apart gelatin with a black bark..
A members-only private club, frequented mainly by well-to-do expats living in Budapest and chic Hungarians. The meticulously designed interior will knock you off your feet - it’s rare to see contemporary design mix so well with the fading grandeur of a pre-war building. Inside you will find studios for artists, dining rooms, a full service bar, and a lively dance floor Friday and Saturday nights. During the week they host events ranging from stand up comedies to workshops held by artists (check their fb for details).
Known to every Budapest resident, Gerbeaud is an iconic café/pastry shop. It was the creative genius of Swiss patissier, Emil Gerbeaud, who took over the business in 1884, that established Gerbeaud as the leading confectionery of the city. His inventions included the konyakmeggy, a brandied sour cherry inside a chocolate shell, and the “macskanyelv”, a milk chocolate in the shape of a cat’s tongue (both of them are still manufactured). Café Gerbeaud also sells a dizzying array of classic Hungarian (or Austro-Hungarian) pastries, such as Dobos and Esterházy torte, krémes, and the namesake Gerbeaud cake.
Located inside Budapest's Palace Quarter, the wealthy Wenckheim family, landowners in south-eastern Hungary, commissioned the exquisite building in 1889. Since 1931, this Baroque Revival edifice operates as a public library. While the café itself, which used to house the horse stable, is nothing to write home about, the interior of the Szabó Ervin library is a must-see. .
Café Zsivágó is a romantic café nestled within a serene side street just off Andrássy Avenue. In the evenings, the atmosphere evokes a 19th century bohemian-bourgeois café, where alcohol is consumed in generous portions and philosophical musings fill the high-ceilinged room. The space has all the signifiers of a turn-of-the-century middle-class home: floral pattern wallpapers, dense carpeting, and small roundtables, creating a cozy ambiance. The first floor (second, for Americans) has a charming nook, which is put to best use during date nights.
The key attractions at this laid back, artistic bistro at the entrance of the party district (District 7) are the atmosphere and flavorful goulash, which comes with gigantic pieces of sliced bread. Beware though, that the food can occasionally be disappointing. On recent visits, the tastes of both the goulash and the Serbian pljekavica, previously signature plates of the house, fell short by a wide margin. Both sections of the space feature unique posters and other interesting work done by local Hungarian artists.
The part of District 8 around Corvin Plaza is currently undergoing large-scale real estate development/gentrification, so who knows what the future holds for this gritty and authentic neighborhood. Nevertheless, setting up shop in this still shabby area was a gutsy decision for the owners of this wine bar. Part "bistro" and part something more, the interior has small tables flanked by bentwood Thonet chairs, a high ceiling, a bar with shiny white tiles, and literary journals lying on top of an upright piano. The bar serves a good selection of Hungarian wines and four types of craft beer.
Hate it or love it, Corvin is an iconic club in the Budapest alternative scene. It’s located at the side of a run-down socialist-era department store with a nondescript entrance. If the menacing bouncers let you through, walk up to the 5th floor to get to the giant dance floor. The inside is dark, a bit grungy and dirty, but this hasn’t stopped anyone from dancing their hearts out until the wee hours.
Despite the cheeky name, what comes out of the kitchen isn't the dumbed-down "Indian" food unrecognizably adjusted to local tastes - the Indian cooks at Curry House make excellent and real Indian dishes. The biryani with raita is probably the best to be found in Budapest, and the creamy butter chicken is lighter and smoother than in most places. For appetizers, the papad with mango chutney and the chicken kati rolls will not disappoint..
Many Iranian residents in the city claim that Darband is Budapest’s best Persian restaurant. Inspiring further confidence is the fact that Darband’s owner and one of its chefs are both Iranians. The subterranean space just off Budapest’s downtown is lined with dining booths, each named after an old street in Tehran. The mosaic tile table and a handful of photos on the walls depicting Iran try to spruce up the otherwise puritan interior.
This café/bistro is tucked away in an unexpectedly serene and charming corner in the middle of downtown. The tiny square outside Gerlóczy Cafe, with quaint side streets and elegant pre-war buildings, provides quite a backdrop and conjures an image of Paris. Perhaps due to this resemblance, the interior is decorated in a French bistro-theme. Gerlóczy is best for dinner, particularly when sitting outside under the massive elm tree on a warm summer evening (whenever the local municipality isn't using this precious space as a construction site), or for early morning breakfast, before the city wakes up.
Hungarians have a weird obsession with gyros. To appreciate this, just take a quick walk on any section of the Grand Boulevard, and countless gyro joints will come your way. While they're cheap, they're generally made of low-quality ingredients and frankly they just don't taste very good..
The go-to place for Indians living in Budapest - an Indian restaurant shall need no further endorsement than that. Towards the finer end of the not so broad range of Indian eateries in Budapest, although the field has gotten considerably stronger since their opening in 2005. Of the meat dishes, the Madras curry chicken, and the murgh makhani (butter chicken - a tandoori chicken cooked in a rich buttery tomato sauce), are two of the favorites. Courteous waitstaff is the cherry on top.
If you enjoy discussing tannins, acidity, fruitiness, and lingering finishes, this wine bar offers a broad selection of Hungarian inputs (over 160 types of wine) to satisfy your desires. Kadarka, named after a grape variety indigenous to Hungary, is a lively wine bar along the famous Király Street in the Jewish Quarter. It's located just far enough from the (over)crowded Gozsdu Udvar, a passage teeming with tourists, that you can get a sense for this historic neighborhood and appreciate the mainly local crowd of Kadarka. Good news is that you won’t have to drink on empty stomach thanks to their tasty selections of food platters.
Keksz is a popular restaurant/bar located at the entry point of Budapest's party district under a stately arch. Most patrons at Keksz are locals because the prices are somewhat lower than those at comparable restaurants nearby. With a cute, dimly lit interior, outstanding food, and kind service staff, Keksz almost feels like a neighborhood restaurant despite its location. (It's a mystery why tourists haven't yet monopolized it, but believe me, I'm not complaining.) Although primarily a restaurant, many guests come to Keksz to fuel up here before a night of debauchery a few blocks away.
Due to its proximity to the upscale Andrássy Avenue, this bistro/bar naturally draws in some wandering tourists, nonetheless, it has preserved a primarily local clientele with regulars from nearby. The atmosphere is best described as cozy with a bit of a bohemian flair. Matters of the heart are best addressed in the selectively lighted cute upstairs corners, led up to by stairs lined with an ornate wooden balustrade. Come for the atmosphere (or drinks) rather than the food..
Klassz is the type of safe-bet restaurant recommendation you would give to acquaintances visiting your city, being certain that it won't disappoint. Both the service and the quality of the food tend to be consistently high, there's a balanced mix of Hungarian and non-Hungarian dishes/wine, and it’s located on the most prominent avenue (Andrássy) of the city with outdoor seating for the good weather months. Try the tender breaded veal chop that comes with parsley potato and cucumber salad, or the wonderfully simple linguine with thinly sliced beef rump. You can fill up your inventory of Hungarian wines in the back of the restaurant, where they operate a wine store.
A bar with a large concert venue right on the buzzing Király Street in District 7 (Jewish Quarter) is a strong combination. Kuplung has been around the block for a while and experienced several rounds of “facelifts” over the years. It’s still a ruin bar (a giant whale is hanging from the ceiling), but the décor is not so extreme today in this former car repair shop. The front section is a standard bar area, but the back is where all the action is, inside the sprawling concert venue.
Opening a Lebanese restaurant is a brave venture in a country where, triggered by government propaganda, negative sentiments about the Middle East are running high. So kudos to Lebanese-Estonian owner couple for swimming against the current with the 2018 launch of Leila’s Authentic Lebanese Cuisine, located on a quiet, lovable backstreet in District 6. With Lebanese and Syrian cooks in charge of the kitchen, Leila’s is indeed an authentic restaurant using faithfully prepared traditional recipes and spices (most plates are abundantly dressed in sumac, thyme, and lemon juice). The food at Leila's, however, is a bit hit-and-miss.
Simple enough: live jazz/blues/rock every night between Tuesdays and Saturdays in a dimly-lit, cavernous basement bar. Despite its location being right outside Gozsdu Udvar, the passage teeming with popular bars and restaurants, Lámpás feels a world away from the tourist herds - a truly little gem in the midst of it all. Expect increasingly more dancing, a boisterous crowd, and a cramped space as the night progresses. Note that they usually scale back the operations in the summer months.
Unabashed electronic music fans start lining up outside Lärm as the clock hits midnight. This is the place to go when you’ve reached the point of the night that all you need is a pitch-black dance hall with ear-splitting electronic music. A venerable group of mostly international DJs rotate each night behind the DJ booth. Located just upstairs from Fogasház, you can buckle down and let loose on the dance floor until sunrise.
Massolit is a charming hideaway in the center of Budapest's old Jewish Quarter. The space combines an English language bookstore with a café. Accompanied by a cup of tea and a page-turner, you can easily spend hours in the quiet nooks and cozy atmosphere without even noticing it. That is, if you manage to find an open seat, which is rare during peak hours, ever since international students from the Central European University discovered Massolit.
Being surrounded by Slavic chatter in a Serbian restaurant is generally a good sign, and this place is no exception. The name is somewhat misleading as it’s effectively a Serbian diner with the usual meat heavy stuff you would expect, but let’s not rekindle any animosity between these two nations, and instead rejoice in the outstanding pljeskavica and ćevapčići. Another plus of Montenegrói Gurman is that it’s open 24/7, likely why it’s known to locals as the final stop after a long night of debauchery. Don't be deterred by the noisy, and less-than-inviting surrounding (it's located outside one of the busiest bus stops in Pest) - it's all part of the experience..
Műhely is an eccentric little café swarming with college students inside the basement of the venerable Eötvös Loránd University. Besides specialty coffee, flaky croissants, and fruit cups, the highlight is the economical two-course lunch menu. True to the building's mission of free intellectual inquiry, Műhely has a broad range of Hungarian magazine subscriptions, including publications both from the far left, and far right. For the best experience and most students, go during the academic year (September - May), as during the summer they just operate out of a food cart at the main entrance of the university.
It’s an all-too-common phenomenon in big cities: a local favorite restaurant, café, or bar becomes so popular that it eventually crumbles under the great weight of mass tourism. Perhaps some diehard regulars stick to their daily visits for a short while, but once the floodgates open in earnest to camera-wielding tourists, they too ultimately move on. Then international media and sightseeing buses pick up on the trend, usually belatedly, and the foreign crowds swell even more. The waitstaff becomes rushed and impersonal, no longer interested in offering kind words to the unfamiliar faces.
Serbians have a long history not only in Budapest, but also in nearby places like Szentendre, Ráckeve, and Lórév. Many fled to Hungary centuries ago to escape the Ottoman occupation of the Balkans, and in addition to commercial skills, they brought along a rich culinary tradition. Serbian food is basically the best of Turkish, Mediterranean, and Central European cooking. Most dishes are meat heavy, and exude a whiff of smoke from their journey across the charcoal grill. Pola Pola was opened recently (2015), and it quickly established itself as a respected option among the local Balkan population (always a good sign).
The bad news first: if there were a competition for the least inviting restaurant interior, Shalimar would be a serious contender. With too much lighting and unremarkable bare walls, it’s as if they're intentionally trying to drive customers away, save for the most committed diners. What makes this business decision all the more startling is that Shalimar is located in the otherwise super-trendy Jewish Quarter packed with people. Most nights, the place is almost empty, although occasionally busloads of Indian tourists appear and fill it to capacity.
Since 2014, it’s possible to get a taste of the American South in Budapest. So, if you have a hankering for po' boy, jambalaya, or gumbo, you can try all of them in Soul Food, this tiny eatery located on the popular Kazinczy Street in Budapest’s Jewish Quarter. Within the American Deep South, Soul Food pays homage to the diverse culinary traditions of the state of Louisiana. .
Never mind the contradiction: Szatyor is Budapest’s first refined ruin bar. While it looks to be a regular ruin bar with a hodgepodge interior of communist-era light fixtures and weird vehicles hanging from the ceiling, Szatyor is different from the ruin bars that swarm District 7. Inside, instead of scruffy students sipping on dirt-cheap beers, it’s an over-30s crowd where shirts and skirts outnumber hoodies and backpacks. Duck confit and sous vide venison leg are rarely part of the ruin bar culinary repertoire, but you will find them at Szatyor Bár, alongside pricey craft beers..
Taj Mahal prides itself on providing “the real Indian taste” in Budapest in an authentic environment. What the latter means is a rich, partially Indian décor (a Gustav Klimt reprint somehow made its way through), Bollywood music, images of India on a flat screen TV, and quintessentially Indian serving trays. The service staff of Hungarian women wearing sarees is perhaps more absurd than authentic.The menu at Taj Mahal has individual sections dedicated to tandoori, chicken, fish, lamb, vegetarian, bread, and South Indian food, with a total of 134 food options on the menu. This would normally be a red flag that the chef is overextending, but in Taj Mahal’s case this isn’t true for the majority of dishes.
Toldi Klub is located in the entrance hall of a movie theater and functions as a quaint café/bar during the day that gradually turns into a wild dance venue at night with live music. With a high concentration of snazzy-looking creative types (the coolest ones hang out and smoke cigarette outside), Toldi is best for late night raging to the mostly electronic beats that come from the DJ booth. When you’re done partying, you'll be grateful for Retro Büfé, the food kiosk just around the corner and open until 6AM..
Budapest needs more places like Vasmanci. It’s a little sliver of an owner-operated neighborhood restaurant tucked away on a District 8 side street. It’s far enough from downtown to avoid the tourist packs and sky-high prices, but easily within walking distance. The menu at Vasmanci spans from Middle Eastern (e.g.
One of the few bars in Budapest along the Danube river with a stunning view onto the Liberty Bridge and the Buda hills, so weather permitting, try to get a table outside. Cocktails and snacks are nothing to brag about, unlike the hot white chocolate in the winter, which is exceptional. Besides the views, what's most appealing about Why Not Cafe and Bar is the laid-back, relaxed vibe, probably thanks to the lack of macho types, since it’s a gay bar. Friday and Saturday nights tend to be most lively..