Baalbek Lebanese Restaurant

A swanky restaurant inside the downtown, five-star Buddha-Bar Hotel serves up the best Middle Eastern food in Budapest. The hotel is owned and operated by Jordanian investors, likely the reason why Baalbek Restaurant has become something of a gathering place for well-heeled local Arab businessmen.

The most satisfying dishes at Baalbek are the kebab selections and the soft-and-crispy kibbeh, which is a fried mash of bulgur, herbs, and minced lamb. The kebab combo (€30 for two) includes cubes of tender chicken, also known as shish taouk, minced lamb, and marinated lamb leg. The makanek lamb sausage with sweet spices is the hot meze to go for. As far as I can tell, Baalbek is the only place in Budapest that serves Om Ali, an Egyptian national dessert similar to bread pudding.

A range of wines are available, including bottles from the famed Lebanese winery Château Musar. Hookah fans can choose from eight flavors (€18) and smoke year-round on the outdoor patio with comfy couches.

Baalbek isn’t cheap by Budapest standards - expect to have to cough up €30-€40 per person excluding alcohol - but with a Middle Eastern kitchen staff and largely Arab patrons, it offers the most authentic Levantine food experience in Budapest.