The 8 Best Bakeries in Budapest

For every handmade sourdough loaf and pillowy chocolate pastry, there are dozens of dreadful alternatives at Budapest's bland bakery chains. But there's a small group of bakers, many of them recently returned from abroad, who are committed to changing the status quo with things like wonderful cardamom buns and cruffins and also two of the local favorites, túrós batyu (a cottage cheese-stuffed pastry) and kakaós csiga (a chocolate bun shaped in a spiral).

#1 Arán Bakery

Arán, which means "bread" in Old Irish, is a pricey craft bakery in Budapest's hip Jewish Quarter run by Kinga and Attila Pécsi. The couple spent a decade living in Ireland where Kinga mastered her baking skills. Arán lives up to its moniker: the whole wheat, rye, and white breads are wonderful, all of them imparting the signature, slightly sour taste of long-fermented sourdough. On Fridays, they also make kalács, a sweet roll similar to a challah.

#2 nor/ma

Nor/ma is one of Budapest's coolest craft bakeries, serving the usual suspects of contemporary international bakery staples like cardamom buns and filled croissants. And sourdoughs of course: If you glance behind the counter, you can watch as beautiful loaves of rye, oat, and whole wheat breads emerge from the electric oven.

#3 Pékműhely 2

Pékműhely's motto — "all you need for a good bread is excellent flour, water, salt, sourdough, and a pinch of love" — neatly encapsulates the candid spirit of this unassuming bakery in Budapest, which has two additional locations apart from this one on Bartók Béla Avenue. Unlike other craft bakeries outfitted with trendy decor, here the focus is purely on the treasures of the oven.

#4 Artizán Bakery

Specializing in sourdough breads and morning pastries, Artizán is one of the top craft bakeries in Budapest. Under the helm of Gergő Fekete, who honed his skills in countries across Western Europe, Artizán has brought a new level of professionalism to a city where dreary bakery chains and bland croissants set the standard.

#5 Három Tarka Macska Bakery

Három Tarka Macska is an artisan bakery on the hip Pozsonyi Road within Újlipótváros. Step inside, and a paradise of aromatic and still-steaming sourdough, whole wheat, and rye breads, brioches, and rolls in all shapes and sizes await you. The two must-try local favorites are the túrós batyu (a sweet-tart cottage cheese-filled laminated pastry) and the kakaós csiga (a snail-shaped chocolate pastry roll), which go down especially well with the flavored yogurts that Három Tarka Macska sources from a local producer.

#6 Freyja - the croissant story

A small hipster paradise, Freyja bakery brings a pocket of East Williamsburg to Budapest complete with tattooed bakers, bearded baristas, and the obligatory minimalist design elements. And, unfortunately, prices too.

#7 Butter Brothers

Opened in 2012, Butter Brothers has been putting out sourdough breads and expertly made croissants for a lot longer than most Budapest bakeries. Today, you can still get an exemplary whole wheat bread or kakaós csiga (chocolate roll), but the pastries don't always stand up to the quality achieved by the ambitious new bakeries around town.

#8 Jacques Liszt

In 2012, Mihály Juhász decided to leave his cushy corporate job as a lawyer and instead try his hand as a full-time baker. This bold move has decidedly paid off, as Mr. Juhász's tiny craft bakery, Jacques Liszt, hiding on a downtown backstreet, has become a popular destination for bread aficionados in Budapest.

Rankings are based on a combination of food/drink, atmosphere, service, and price. The author visits all restaurants incognito and pays for his own meals and drinks.