The 7 Best Burgers in Budapest (Ranked)

Budapest is far removed from the global capitals of burgerdom, so if you grew up eating In-N-Out Double Doubles or ShackBurgers, you may feel underwhelmed by the local offerings. But several Budapest burger joints are nonetheless working hard on perfecting their burger games, and if you keep your expectations in check, you might be in for a positive surprise.

#1 Kandalló Pub

Part burger joint, part craft beer bar, Kandalló is a bustling space in the Jewish Quarter. Their burgers are among the best you will find in Budapest, although, as in other places, I'd prefer their buns to be smaller and squishier. Most patties are made from Grey Cattle, a local variety, while the more expensive ones use Angus (patties are 180 gram / 6.3 oz).

#2 W35 Burger Bar

W35 is a small burger joint on the far end of Budapest's party district. They break down the hamburger-making process into meticulous, scientific steps: a patty forming machine shapes the Angus into uniform sizes, a timer achieves consistent char, and a meat thermometer ensures that all patties are cooked to a juicy, pink-centered, medium-rare doneness. The result is a compact patty exuding a wonderful beefiness and framed by two crisped sesame buns (although the overly aromatic truffle oil doesn't do any favors here).

#3 Kollázs Brasserie & Bar (Four Seasons Hotel)

Kollázs Brasserie & Bar, which occupies the ground floor of the opulent, Art Nouveau building of the Four Seasons Hotel, is a fine dining restaurant and cocktail bar with prime views onto Budapest's Castle Hill. It's the type of place where dark-suited waiters scurry around with tableside carts and pricey bottles of wine. The interior is furnished in a tasteful neo-Art Deco style, complete with marble, dark wood, and brass finishes.

#4 Pesti Burger És Bár

Pesti Burger is a chic burger joint on the campus of Semmelweis University, near the Basic Medical Science Center’s glass-curtained building in Budapest's District 9. You might think that slinging pricey burgers on a college campus isn't the savviest of business ideas, but Pesti Burger tends to get at least half full at midday (granted: the wallet-friendlier pasta joint next door is usually mobbed with students).

#5 Bamba Marha Burger Bar (Andrássy)

Let’s get the annoying part out of the way: the co-owner of Bamba Marha fashions himself as Hungary's “burger pope,” a curiously narcissistic title, especially in a country where hamburgers don't run very deep. This shouldn’t necessarily deter you from visiting Bamba Marha, a small burger chain in Budapest, as their €5 cheeseburgers offer some of the best value for money in the city’s artisan burgerland: a nicely charred 130 gram / 4.6 ounce patty enclosed by a sesame bun and garnished with cheddar, lettuce, tomato, red onions, and a slathering of sauce.

#6 Tuning Bar & Burger

Tuning is a tourist-heavy burger joint in the heart of the bustling Jewish Quarter. Burgers here are pricey, and often feature non-traditional ingredients like eggs, avocado, and grilled zucchini. My issue with these gussied-up versions is that they often don't let the main ingredients shine through: the patty, the bun, and the cheese. In fact, I most enjoyed the “classic street food” cheeseburger (€8), that arrives without any superfluous ingredients. (The pricier burgers are made with 180 gram / 6.3 oz. Angus patties; the others use Hungarian Grey Cattle).

#7 Big Daddy Burger Bár

For a deeply local experience, trek out to Big Daddy Burger in the south of Budapest, a half-hour bus ride away from downtown. Flanked by grey, communist-era high-rises lies this not particularly inviting, flimsy wooden shack, painted in red, white and blue. The cheap, kitschy 'Merican decor (I couldn't be sure that they're being ironic) features decorative license plates from Texas, Florida, and Missouri and plenty of other tchotchkes.

Rankings are based on a combination of food/drink, atmosphere, service, and price. The author visits all restaurants incognito.