Some people prefer to eat breakfast in a relaxed environment, without the buzz that inevitably comes with hyped-up places. Below is a selection of unpretentious cafés in Budapest that offer excellent breakfast dishes and draw a laid-back, diverse, and mostly local crowd.
Hans van Vliet, the owner of Jedermann Café, is a legendary figure in the Budapest restaurant world with a genius for creating cozy all-day-cafés for everyone to enjoy (hence "Jedermann", which translates to "everyone"). On any given day, tables at Jedermann might be filled with senior citizens fiercely debating Hungarian politics, students gossiping about school, and a theater director mapping out upcoming projects with the staff. Jedermann is located in District 9, not far from the city center, but away from the throngs clogging the more popular old Jewish Quarter. .
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. .
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.
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 or craft beer in a hip neighborhood. With egg-based breakfast offerings (served until noon on weekends) and a thoughtful interior design featuring concrete and wood finishes, Lumen Café is more than your average neighborhood café. But it's the patrons, artists and neighborhood bohemians, who give a soul to the place..
Csiga is a popular café located in the increasingly trendy outer part of 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). .
If you're looking to immerse yourself in an old school, lively, communist-era neighborhood bar in Buda, Bambi Eszpresszó should be high on your 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.
If you ever wondered what Chinese breakfast was like, Hong Kong Büfé in Budapest's Chinatown (Monori Center) is your chance to find out. For less than HUF1,500 (€5), you will be able to taste classic Chinese breakfast staples here like jianbings, congee, and youtiao. .
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..
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. .
If you’re looking for tasty and affordable Chinese food, HeHe is one of your best bets in Budapest. The restaurant serves real Chinese dishes from a relatively modest, undecorated space in Monori Center, inside Budapest's Chinatown, a 20 minute tram ride from the city center. .
For a truly, deeply local experience, make your way to this tiny food vendor inside the Rákóczi Market Hall. Hiding in the back of the building is JóKrisz lángos sütöde, a mom-and-pop, standing-only eatery that specializes in lángos, a traditional Hungarian flatbread. .
Al Dente is one of those under-the-radar neighborhood joints in Budapest you hope others won't find out about so as to keep it all for yourself. Customers will note the Italian chatter wafting from Al Dente's open kitchen through the dining room - always a good sign fo an Italian restaurant. The place is an osteria-type casual eatery serving many of the Italian classics supplemented by regional food from Puglia (the chef is from Bari, the capital city of Puglia in southern Italy). As for Al Dente's location, you couldn't ask for a prettier setting than this quiet side street flanked by high-ceilinged pre-war buildings in Budapest's former Palace Quarter.
Opened in 1951, Balla-Hús is one of the few remaining independent butcher shops in downtown Budapest. Balla-Hús' business model has evolved over time: instead raw meat, it now serves freshly prepared and affordable breakfast and lunch dishes to a mainly local crowd, who find it increasingly difficult to have an affordable lunch in the tourist-satured downtown streets..
Rankings are based on a combination of food/drink, atmosphere, service, and price. The author visits all restaurants incognito.