Where to eat with the locals: The 44 Best Cheap Restaurants In Budapest

Be it self-service eateries, standing-only food stalls, or sit-down restaurants, the places below serve reliable and wallet-friendly dishes in Budapest. Keep a special eye out for étkezdes: unfussy, mom-and-pop greasy spoons that are now nearing extinction people with a lingering nostalgia for times past should be certain to visit them.

"A field of dreams, a landscape of braised, and fried, and cured delights," said the late Anthony Bourdain of Belvárosi Disznótoros after his 2015 visit. This wallet-friendly self-service sausage shop in Budapest's downtown does serve a dizzying array of ready-made and to-be-prepared traditional meat dishes. Think paprika and blood sausage, grilled pork chop, wild boar stew, and schnitzel. I usually go for a simple and delicious snappy sausage with a side of mustard and a slice of bread (there's no seating, only high-top tables and standing counters).

There's usually a line of office workers at midday; while waiting, cast a glance at the neoclassical building across the street, which, including the park behind it, used to be home to one the wealthiest Hungarian noble families (Károlyi) before WWI; today, it houses the Petőfi Literary Museum. Note: Belvárosi Disznótoros has two locations, but I prefer this one, on Károlyi Street.

Frici Papa is a tourist-heavy restaurant in Budapest favored by visitors and locals looking for low-priced Hungarian food and old-school vibes. Prices are truly rock-bottom, even by local standards. The humble two-story interior features cheap wood paneling, tablecloths covered with sticky plastic, and waiters dressed as if parachuted here from the '80s.

The extensive menu comprises Hungarian classics — beef stew with egg dumplings; stuffed cabbage; chicken paprikash — most of which are average at best. Among the better options are the cottage cheese-based túrós csusza noodle dish sprinkled with pork fat, the mákos guba dessert blanketed in poppy seeds, and the Hungarian crepes (palacsinta).

Part butcher shop, part ready-to-eat meat paradise, Pinczi hús-hentesáru is an iconic sausage shop in Budapest exhibiting a fast-disappearing side of the city. This low-priced, bare-bones lunch destination, which opened in 1991, specializes in meat dishes that have traditionally been dear to Hungarian stomachs — sausages, meatballs, pork ribs. No matter the time of day, Pinczi swarms with customers who're a cross-section of local residents, with a noticeable concentration of middle-aged men carrying protruding bellies.

Best of all here is the marinated roasted pork belly; crispy on the outside, with a layer of soft fat yielding to a tender meat. My go-to order is a paprika-laced sausage with a slice of said pork belly, paired with a side of sauerkraut and a slice of bread. All of this rarely comes out to be more than €5. You'll either have to eat standing at the high-top tables or find a seat on the busy street outside with a postcard view of the Nyugati Railway Terminal.

Low prices, homestyle Hungarian dishes, a pared-down interior, no English menu, let alone an Instagram page: these are promising signs that you've stumbled on a truly local eatery. Városház Snack, which opened in 1985, is a shoebox-sized counter-service restaurant in Budapest's downtown that's popular among emplyees of the Mayor's Office across the street.

The daily-changing menu is written on weathered plastic boards attached to the wall. As the day progresses, more and more boards are flipped over, so indicating dishes they ran out of (try to get there before 1 p.m.). I usually go for the daily soup followed by a vegetable stew (főzelék) topped with meatball. You'll find here some dishes that have vanished from most Budapest restaurants, including a poppy-seeds topped sweet pasta plate (mákos tészta). Lunch-only, Monday through Friday.

For a deeply local lunch experience in Budapest, it’s hard to think of a better place than Kívánság Étkezde. The continued existence of this modest eatery, which opened in 1985, is evidence that there’s still lingering love for old-school family-run restaurants. After all, they’re quick, cheap, and some of them, like Kívánság, serve homestyle Hungarian classics that have largely disappeared from the city.

Kívánság is oblivious to the food trends sweeping through Budapest, instead sticking to well-proven Hungarian classics. The standout dish is the mátrai borzaska, a fried pork cutlet coated in a potato-based crust and topped with sour cream and grated cheese. Be sure to also scan the menu for the daily specials.

The interior is an authentic representation of an '80s Hungarian restaurant: red-and-white checkered tablecloths, a sticky, faux leather-bound menu, and fading photos on the walls of the owner’s favorite soccer team (in Kívánság's case, this is MTK). And the owner himself, Tibor Szabados, with a jolly paunch. The lively atmosphere is maintained by the constant banter between Józsi, the waiter, and longtime regulars. Try to get there by 12:30 p.m., before they fill up. Cash only!

Buja Disznó(k) is a lunch-only fast casual restaurant inside the Fény utca market on the Buda side of Budapest. Run by local celebrity chef Lajos Bíró, the culinary mission of Buja Disznó(k) is simple enough: serve delicious traditional Hungarian dishes with small updates and modern adjustments. Liver dumpling soup, pork schnitzel with potato salad, fried chicken thigh, stewed pork liver, sour lungs, and so on. The highlight on Fridays is two Jewish-Hungarian specialty: cholent, and the memorably delicious flódni layered cake. €15 or so will buy you a full meal. Craft beers, wine, and even champagne are also served.

If you’re looking for tasty and affordable Chinese food in Budapest, HeHe is one of your best bets. The restaurant serves an array of excellent Chinese dishes from a modest, undecorated space in Budapest's Chinatown (Monori Center), reachable in 25 minutes from the city center by public transport.

The dishes are inspired by all parts of China, but the main focus is Sichuan, meaning that most plates are spicy. My favorites include the sizzling black pepper beef, the hot cabbage salad with sprinkles of roasted pork belly (ganguobaocai), the classic dan dan noodles, and the double-cooked pork belly (hui guo rou). If you come with a bigger group, order the whole carp, arriving in a boiling chili oil drizzled with Sichuan peppercorns (shui zhu yu).

HeHe's other claim to fame is the Lanzhou-style hand-pulled (lamian) and shaved (dao xiao mian) beef noodle soups. You can peek through the kitchen door and watch the noodle chef swiftly transforming the wheat flour into perfectly linear rows of white noodles and depositing them into the boiling broth.

HeHe is one of the few Chinese restaurants in Budapest that serves breakfast, too. Chinese employees from Monori Center flock here early in the mornings for affordable deep-fried dough sticks (youtiao), steamed buns, pickled vegetables, hard-boiled duck eggs, and warm soy milk.

Looking for a tasty falafel sandwich while in the city center? Avoid the myriad bland gyro joints scattered everywhere, and head instead to Tahina Bite: a modern, vegan take-out shop operated by a Lebanese family and located across the street from the Dohány Street Synagogue.

Crunchy discs of falafels fried to a golden brown anchor these sandwiches, which come layered with beautifully fresh vegetables (beets, radish, tomatoes, cucumber, parsley), a generous glug of tahini sauce, and a drizzle of sesame seeds. All this wrapped in toasted, crackly flatbread; even better: served as a platter. Other Middle Eastern classics are also served: hummus, baba ganoush, muhammara, and tabbouleh and fattoush salads. Open every day!

Lined with Thai, Indian, Korean, and Vietnamese restaurants near one another, Budapest’s sleepy Szondi Street in District 6 is a paradise of international food. Saigon Bistro, a humble, takeout-looking spot, is one of the few Southern Vietnamese places in Budapest — Hungary took immigrants from the Communist north during the Vietnam War — which means that the dishes here are more gussied up with garnishes and sweeter flavors than elsewhere.

Although Vietnam’s national dish, the pho, will not disappoint, it's the “Saigon soup” (hủ tiếu) that sings. Imagine a steaming bowl of concentrated broth packing parsley, mint, Thai basil, ginger, lemongrass, and also beef, shrimp, pork, and glass noodles. All this topped with a couple of soft quail eggs. I only wish the portion was a little heartier. Alone in Budapest, Saigon Bistro also serves banh cuon, rice-noodle rolls filled with minced pork (they're only available on Saturdays, or if you call in advance).

For an immersive local experience, make your way to this puritan food stall inside the Rákóczi Market Hall in Budapest's District 8. Hiding in the back of the building, JóKrisz Lángos Sütöde is a mom-and-pop standing-only eatery specializing in lángos, a traditional Hungarian deep-fried flatbread. I usually visit Jókrisz early in the mornings when the colorful cast of characters flock here from the mainly working-class neighborhood.

The lángos is exactly as it should be: crispy, golden brown on the outside, and doughy and chewy inside. If unsure, get the classic version with sour cream and grated cheese. The scrambled eggs with crisped-up sausages are also good, as are the palacsinta, Hungarian crepes, with fruit preserves, cinnamon sugar, or Nutella fillings. Price points are friendly.

Norbi Étkezde is a tiny self-service eatery in Budapest's Újlipótváros neighborhood, not far from the city center. Every morning, they freshly prepare a host of Hungarian dishes, mostly soups and fried and breaded meats, so that by lunchtime they can feed the crowds with incredible efficiency. The line at midday can stretch outside the building — a sure sign of impending deliciousness.

Start with the flavorful pork bone soup (orja leves), arriving with tender bits of meat attached to the spine. For mains, let Norbert and Andris behind the counter nudge you to what they believe turned out best that day. As an unusually customer-friendly gesture, they offer patrons half-portions too, which are still sizeable and cheaper of course. Most guests oblige.

The only downside here is the lack of space. You'll have to take your food to go, or eat at the elevated tables lining the narrow space while customers behind you wait their turn to order. Things are less cluttered past 1:30 p.m. Note that they're closed on weekends.

Opened in 1992, Csirke Csibész is an iconic chicken sandwich shop in Budapest's District 6. As with pizza joints, good poultry vendors tend to be democratic establishments, bringing together people from all walks of life. This is also true for Csirke Csibész, where construction workers and office employees alike line up for the flavorful fried and roasted birds at lunchtime.

An oversized fried cutlet anchors most sandwiches, which are also layered with a creamy mayo-based salad and enclosed in a sesame kaiser roll. For the best experience, opt in for the bits of fried chicken liver, adding a welcome textural and flavor contrast. At around €5, the sandwiches are wallet friendly. If whole birds are more your speed, you can choose one fresh out of the rotisserie.

In 2018, three Thai ladies, two of whom had been working in Thai kitchens in Budapest, decided to strike out on their own. Their restaurant, Rim Thanonh, is a pocket-sized space on the edge of the city's party district, near the Grand Boulevard. With a bare-bones, undecorated interior, Rim Thanonh isn’t the type of place where you'd go for birthday celebrations or business dinners, but if tasty and reasonably priced home-style Thai food is what you’re after, I can’t think of a better place in Budapest.

If you like spicy food, order the freshly sliced green-papaya salad (som tam), or the nam tok, grilled pork with mint leaves, roasted rice, and red onions. The pad see ew is the best version I’ve had of these caramelized rice noodles stir fried with an egg and broccoli. There are four types of curries, and several over-rice dishes, of which the pad krapow, with minced pork and a fried egg topping, was wonderful. You can round out your meal with the signature Thai dessert: mango sticky rice.

Do you have a favorite Thai dish you don't see on the menu? Don't hesitate to ask if they'd prepare it for you (ingredients permitting, the likely answer is a "yes"). If it's full here, try their other location, 40 Akácfa utca, just minutes away.

Run by three Italian natives, 2 Spaghi is a small pasta shop in Budapest with an endearingly simple mission: serve fresh, made-to-order pasta dishes quickly and well. You're invited to pair a variety of pasta shapes (fusilli, bucatini, tagliatelle, etc.) with a rotating set of sauces. On any day, there might be cacio e pepe, carbonara, puttanesca, amatriciana, and aglio, olio e peperoncino listed on the blackboard.

You can't go wrong with any of them and they each cost around €12. Of the stuffed pastas, the ravioli with spinach and ricotta is especially good. If you have some stomach space left, round out your meal with a light panna cotta topped with strawberry sauce.

Note that 2 Spaghi is located inside Gozsdu Udvar, a tourist-heavy passage lined with overpriced bars and restaurants. I can't help thinking that this charming pasta joint would deserve a more worthy home, but if you don't like the vibes here, you can also just buy some fresh pasta to go.

This neighborhood institution, which opened in 1969, is still mainly a butcher shop but the longest lines form at midday before the steam table containing mounds of freshly made meats. The atmosphere is part of the charm here: senior neighborhood residents often drop by to pick up whatever they dreamed up to cook that day, while students from the nearby University of Technology wolf down low-priced porcine delicacies.

Although you’re here for the sausages — especially good is the liver sausage — don’t sleep on the tender roasted pork ribs, and the chicken, both the whole grilled birds and breaded cutlets. As do other patrons, order a side of sauerkraut and start munching away at one of the high-top tables. Here, that's a real Budapest lunch experience. Once here, you can find other interesting things to do in this enjoyable Buda neighborhood.

Step into Little Italy and an oversized image of Naples and the Mount Vesuvius faces you from the opposite wall. Around it hang blue-and-white soccer scarves emblazoned with “solo Napoli” slogans and nearly all servers are Italian natives. But instead of being on the Tyrrhenian coast, this lively neighborhood pizzeria hides near Budapest's city center.

Little Italy doesn't draw the city's most fashion-forward crowd, but the place gets mobbed by people who come for delicious and affordable pizzas made with lightning speed by the Hungarian owner-chef, who spent years working in Naples. I've yet to try most of the 42 types, but I can vouch for the Casagrande (prosciutto, Italian salami, bacon, chili), the simple and flavorful Bufala, and the namesake Little Italy (mozzarella, Italian sausage, cherry tomatoes). The pies fall between the Naples and the Roman styles. On the weekends, Italian soccer plays on TV and calcio fans appear. Closed on Mondays and Tuesdays!

You don't need me to tell you: döner kebabs are among the most rewarding street foods — these nutritious umami bombs wrapped in a pita impart the succulent taste of roast lamb or chicken, ideally both. Unfortunately, the stuff Budapest’s countless döner and gyro shops serve hardly does justice to this Ottoman invention that has since been refined by Germany's Turkish street vendors.

One of the bright spots is Hari Kebab, a bustling döner joint a bit outside Budapest's city center in the outer District 7. Here, a soft homemade pita comes piled with crispy chunks of rotisserie veal and chicken and a range of fresh vegetables. My favorite is the namesake "Hari Kebab," also packing tangy feta cheese balanced out by a mound of caramelized onions. It's cheap and you don't need to worry about leaving with an empty stomach. Instead of a pita, you can order the döner in a thin dürüm (flatbread), which is equally good.

Budapest’s Chinatown (Monori Center) isn’t the most fashionable place, after all, who gets excited about decor-deprived rows of warehouses far outside the city center? The obvious answer: fans of Chinese food. Shandong Restaurant is located on a particularly rundown section, but I urge you not to turn your back on it. Similar to HeHe, this unpretentious space serves up some of the best Chinese fare in Budapest.

Inside, Chinese families sit around round tables while Mandarin chatter drifts from the TV. Although the owners are from Shandong province, the food reflects many parts of China. One of the best things is the sweet-and-sour pork (tang cu li ji), a dish you will find in every Chinese restaurant but here the sauce hits the all the right notes — not cloyingly sweet and perfectly bright-tasting — and the meat is tender and crispy.

Groups of three or four should order the bone-in chicken dry pot (gan guo ji), an entire bird chopped into small pieces and served with vegetables. Use the the electric griddle placed before you to cook it through in the creamy, soy-based sauce (give it a good ten minutes). If you’d prefer something more familiar, the dumplings will not disappoint. Note that Shandong usually shuts down for February during the Chinese New Year.

Hong Kong Büfé is a small, decor-deprived eatery within Budapest's Chinatown (Monori Center) best known for its Chinese breakfast foods like cong you bing, congee, and youtiao, but they also serve excellent and wallet-friendly lunch dishes, too.

The highlights of the pan-Chinese menu are the slightly spicy and amazingly reviving Chongqing noodle soup (chong qing xiao mian), the stir-fried rice cakes with chicken (chao nian gao), and the twice-cooked pork belly (hui guo rou). The pork buns stacked behind the glass are ideal for snacking; as are the cooked chicken feet, if you're feeling adventurous.

Don't let Hong Kong Büfé's unpretentious, plain interior intimidate you. Similar to HeHe and Shandong, this place is immensely popular among local Chinese people, which is the only stamp of approval a Chinese restaurant really needs.

There's consensus within the local Chinese community that Dabao Jiaozi is the place to head to for home-style dumplings in Budapest — quite a statement in a city with more than 30,000 Chinese people. Dabao makes Shandong-style dumplings, which means the wrappers are a bit thicker and chewier. There's only two versions; both with a base filling of ground pork and shrimp, one packing napa cabbage, the other shredded Chinese chives. I'm slightly in favor of the chive-version, but there isn't much of a flavor difference and they're both very good.

Located within Budapest's Chinatown, DaBao is mainly a takeout joint but there are some tables for sitdown customers. While waiting for your order, cast a glance at the kitchen where you'll see a cheery group of Chinese ladies hunched over a mound of dough, flattening, stuffing, and folding it with incredible efficiency. An order comprises 15 pieces, which will easily appease the average appetite and cost about €10. Dabao also serves noodle soups, but you're mainly here for the dumpings.

Pizza Manufaktura is a hip pizza shop in Budapest’s District 9 near the city center. The place makes no secret about its coolness: hipster twentysomethings scurry behind the counter while loud music blares from the speakers. Their pizzas, made with an electric oven, fall between the Roman and the Neapolitan style – the crust is soft and doughy with some air pockets and charred spots, but the texture is firm enough to hold the slice in your hand.

I enjoyed most the Paprika János, named after an outlandish puppet figure, layering paprika-laced crispy sausage, bacon, spicy green peppers, and onions. Another standout is Tükör, coated in a creamy poached egg atop a base of tomato sauce, prosciutto, bacon, and mozzarella. Thanks to wallet-friendly price points, students from the nearby Corvinus University tend to fill the space to capacity so expect some wait at midday (local craft beers are available to help pass the time).

Think Budapest is too small to find here delicious Tibetan food? Think again. On a District 9 side street hides Tsewang Namgyal’s tiny eatery, Namgyal Momo, where he serves up some seriously tasty Tibetan classics. Tsewang, a gregarious political refugee from Tibet who came to Budapest in 2005, speaks fluent Hungarian and appears to know each customer by name.

The highlight here is the thentuk, a reviving winter noodle soup packing yak meat in a flavorful broth. Most popular among locals are the shapta dishes — stir-fried yak meat mixed with vegetables and Tibetan bread — displayed in the steam tables behind the glass. Don't leave before an order of Tibetan dumplings, better known as momos. You could also try po cha, the slightly sour Tibetan butter tea.

Although mainly a takeout, I urge you to sit down and take in the unusual atmosphere of this snug space. Photos of Buddha and the Dalai Lama blanket the walls, and it's easy to lose yourself in the soft, Philip Glass-esque Tibetan music looping from the speakers.

Pocakos Lakatos is a popular lunch-only eatery on the outskirts of Budapest. Since it takes about 25 minutes to get to from downtown by public transport, I especially recommend this place for people looking for a truly local dining experience in Budapest (I promise you'll be the only tourist here).

The restaurant revolves around Ferenc Hangos, the cheerful owner, who mans the counter in his signature white suspenders. He multitasks by plating dishes, handling payments, and shouting orders to the kitchen staff. Mr. Hangos's banter with regular customers is peppered with witty personal insults; he takes particular joy from roasting customers behind whom a sufficiently long line has formed to appreciate his verbal slap.

Most customers are blue-collar men, which might explain why packed plates of beef tripe are consumed in massive quantities. Stuffed cabbage, roast sausage, and other hearty Hungarian dishes are also popular. Pick whatever seems most appetizing of the daily specials stacked behind the glass counter, most of which are wallet-friendly.

If you're on a budget and looking for an unpretentious Hungarian meal, leave behind the tourist-heavy streets of downtown and head to Pozsonyi Kisvendéglő in Újlipótváros, near the city center. Red-and-white checkered tablecloths and an exhaustive menu spanning soups, stews, ready-made dishes, and noodle desserts will await you at this popular neighborhood restaurant.

The food is average at best, but it's the old-school vibes and the friendly prices that draw most people. There's more than a hundred dishes on the long menu, mainly variations on the classics: goulash, pörkölt, paprikash, schnitzel. Round out your meal with the sweet-tart cottage cheese dumplings (túrógombóc), or the Gundel palacsinta, crepes blanketed in chocolate sauce and filled with ground walnuts. Reservations are recommended, especially to the outdoor tables in the summertime.

Eggi is a tiny takeout sandwich shop in Budapest’s Jewish Quarter (District 7). All sandwiches are egg-based, layered richly and beautifully with fillings, and enveloped by a pair of crispy toasted bread. Some of the fillings are inspired by Korean food (the owners are Korean), such as the gochujang-slicked bulgogi sandwich. A vegetarian option is also available. Price points are reasonable, the sandwiches delicious.

I’m usually lukewarm about places in Budapest and Vienna that simply imitate a big international trend without much forethought or a local angle. With Smashy, a burger joint in downtown Budapest that specializes in smashed burgers, I have to make an exception because the burgers are so delicious. What differentiates smashed burgers from regular burgers is the flattened patty, which makes a greater surface area of the meat nicely charred and crunchy. That’s exactly what Smashy does, then simply enclosing it in a soft bun layered with melted cheese and a homemade sauce. Yum!

A strange and bizarre America-worship imbues Simon’s burgers, complete with an English-only menu and the founder's manifesto written on wall in all-caps: “Accoding to Simon, there’s just one hamburger, what he ate in America.”

But: the burgers are the best I've had in Budapest. Far from Shake Shack-level, but a very enjoyable burger with a juicy and crunchy patty, enclosed by a soft bun. Simon's has several locations; be sure to go to the one in Vitkovics Mihály utca, one of the most charming streets of downtown Budapest. Note: prices are high by local standards.

Húsimádó, which translates to "meat lover," is a beloved neighborhood butcher shop in Budapest's Újlipótváros neighborhood. The place is piled so high with bricks of fatback and rows of smoked salami that they can block the view to the other side of the counter. The main draw here is the ready-made sausages: paprika-laced, liver, and blood varieties. I also enjoy the fried chicken liver with pork belly, sauerkraut, and a thick slice of crusty bread to mop up the meat juices. Try to go at midday, which is when the place is buzzing and a constant stream of regulars drift into this adorable bastion of meat.

Most Japanese restaurants in Budapest specialize in sushi even though local Hungarian tastes and wallets are more compatible with everyday Japanese dishes. Perhaps this is what the Tomokis, a young couple from Tokyo, had in mind when in 2018 they opened Don Doko Don, Budapest’s first donburi restaurant near the city center. It's a small, counter-service space with a few tables upstairs.

Donburis are rice bowls topped with meat, vegetables, and a soy-based sweet and savory broth. In Japan, they're a popular midday meal for busy office workers and also a common hangover cure. At Don Doko Don, go for the gyudon, which is the classic beef bowl with onions; if you kindly request "tsuyudaku," they'll add some extra broth for you. There's a rotating menu with other options and you can pair your dons with a miso or tonjiro soup. Prices are wallet-friendly and many students lunch here from the neighboring universities.

Before long, all visitors to Budapest will notice the countless painfully overlit gyro vendors swarming the city and hawking low-priced sandwiches of mediocre quality at best. At first glance, San Da Vinci, located along the highway-like Rákóczi út in the city center, looks like one of them, but it turns out to be a worthy venue.

The owner, a Turkish native from the seaside city of Cesme, is committed to bringing the flavors of street food from the Aegean Region to Budapest. You're here for the kumru sandwich, a specialty of Cesme, consisting of a sesame-seeded demi baguette layered with melted cheese, crisped pepperoni, sweet tomatoes, and pickles. It's very good. Get the “atom” version to top it off with a fried egg. San da Vinci’s baklava, moist and buttery and rich with pistachio nuts, is delicious. Turkish coffee, ayran, the yogurt-based beverage, and a few seats upstairs are also available.

Sommer is far from the top pastry shops in Budapest, but if you’re curious to experience a beloved old-school confectionery, then head to this decor-deprived neighborhood favorite. The place is located a bit outside the city center but easily reachable on foot. Sommer serves an unusually wide range of dependable classic Hungarian and Jewish-Hungarian pastries, including a Dobos and Esterházy torte, flódni, and also less commonly seen treats like a Rákóczi túrós, which is an apricot jam and meringue-topped sweet cottage cheese tart.

There's also strudels, savory biscuits like pogácsa, and sajtos roló, a tube-shaped baked pastry filled with cream cheese. If you go in the winter, try the bejgli, a Christmas roll laced with ground poppy seeds and ground walnuts. Wallet-friendly prices!

Japan Okonomiyaki Kincsán is a teeny-tiny restaurant specializing in, you guessed it, okonomiyaki, the Japanese savory pancakes. Okonomiyaki is a street food made from grilled cabbage, eggs, and a host of other ingredients packed into a wheat flour-based batter. As in Japan, they prepare your order on an electric griddle right before you.

The modern version, which reflects the preparation popular in Hiroshima, layers pieces of pork loin, ramen noodles, soy bean sprouts, and comes blanketed in a tangy brown sauce. Instead of layering, the classic variety (“Kansai“) mixes all ingredients together and also includes yam and a lattice-patterned mayo topping. A vegetarian option with tofu is also available. They’re all crunchy, doughy, and very delicious. Whichever you pick, be sure to order it with bonito flakes (you'll need to opt-in for this extra topping as the default version in fish-averse Hungary comes without it).

Falafel Bar is your best bet for quick and affordable Middle Eastern fare in Budapest's party district. This unfussy place, which does both takeout and sit-down, serves hearty portions of shawarma, sabich, kebab, and various hummus plates. The must-have dish here is the namesake falafel platter sporting deep-fried chickpea balls that are crunchy on the outside and creamy inside. For a lighter snack, I usually order the sabich, an Israeli pita packing fried eggplants, vegetables, tahini sauce, and a hard-boiled egg.

Fecske Presszó is a laid-back, wallet-friendly restaurant and bar just a stone's throw away from the Szabó Ervin Library in Budapest's Palace Quarter. This means students of all ages gather here throughout the day to take study breaks of varying lengths and with varying amounts of beer.

Weather permitting, try to snag a table on the outdoor terrace canopied by the overhanging tree. Otherwise, look for a charming nook in the below-ground inside. On weekdays, Fecske serves an affordable two-course lunch and drinks are also cheap. Once here, be sure to visit the library, whose 4th floor has retained the interior of its aristocratic past (the reception sells low-priced admission tickets).

Hummusbar is a chain of Middle Eastern fast casual restaurants across Budapest. I live near and hence am a regular customer at the Nagymező utca branch where I’ve yet to be disappointed (variations exist; I can't speak for the others). My go-to is the sabich sandwich: a soft pita piled high with cooked egg, roast eggplant, sauerkraut, crispy potatoes, and drenched in tahini. Filling, delicious, and affordable.

Shakshuka, hummus platters, and salads are also available, both vegetarian and meat-based. The cherry on top: watching the laser-focused Israeli manager prepare your order while he's feeling one with the ear-catching electronic music oozing from the speakers.

Located in Budapest's Jewish Quarter, Strudel Hugó is a small strudel shop (its moniker pays respect to modernist Hungarian painter, Hugó Scheiber, who lived in the building). Fillings include cottage cheese (túró), chestnut-raspberry, cherry, cherry-chocolate and many more. The strudels run a few euros apiece and two of them make for a satisfying dessert. Note that there are only a few seats inside, but you can take your order to go, as most people do. Closed on the weekends!

Hú Lù Lu is a small Vietnamese restaurant in Budapest’s party district, the type of place where the food speaks louder than the decor (always the better combination). Two Vietnamese-Hungarian twentysomethings, originally from Nghệ An in north-central Vietnam, set out to serve up dishes from their home region alongside Vietnamese classics.

The highlight is the bún bò Huế, a chili-laced spicy noodle soup from central Vietnam sporting herbs, thin slices of beef shank, and Vietnamese ham. The classic pho soups — available with beef, chicken, and shrimp — are of the milder, northern Vietnamese variety. The bun cha, a noodle dish with a grilled pork patty and a mound of herbs, will also not disappoint. Also here: fried rice, dumplings, and Vietnamese drip coffee, both iced and hot.

Everyday neighborhood residents and local office workers alike line up for homestyle Hungarian dishes at Akácfa Étkezde, a modest self-service eatery on a side street of Budapest's old Jewish Quarter. The eclectic decor features landscape paintings and pre-war living-room furnishings, while the sticky, checkered tablecloths are pure 1980s nostalgia.

Akácfa Étkezde serves unfussy traditional Hungarian dishes, including beef and pork stew, roast sausage, various schnitzels, vegetable stews (főzelék), and Hungarian crepes (palacsinta). Portions are generous, the prices rock-bottom. Don't expect a fine-dining kitchen, but here you can experience the type of eateries everyday locals frequent and that are largely absent in downtown in the present day. Closed on the weekend!

Opened in 1951, Balla-Hús is one of the few remaining standalone butcher shops in downtown Budapest. Balla's business model has evolved over the decades: instead of raw meat, today they mainly serve low-priced breakfast and lunch dishes to a shrinking number of local residents (Airbnb, I'm looking at you). In the mornings, go for the scrambled eggs, which arrive sprinkled with crisped-up sausages and red paprika — expect an especially generous portion if the owner himself prepares it.

The lunch offerings include meat-heavy dishes that are laid out in the steam tables. Think roast and blood sausages, fried chicken liver, schnitzel, and pickled vegetables (let the Dionysian revelry wall painting inspire your meal). Balla Hús is one of the few affordable places in the tourist-heavy downtown, hence many locals flock here, both construction workers and office bureaucrats from the nearby Mayor's Office. Closed on weekends!

Tera Magyar Konyhája ("Tera's Hungarian Kitchen") is an affordable self-service eatery in Újlipótváros, a charming and quiet Budapest neighborhood. At lunchtime, a cross section of local residents show up here, including 80+ senior citizens and trendy hipsters. What brings them together are the low price points and the reliable homestyle dishes.

This is the drill: pick up a tray and dishware, get in line, start scanning the ready-made dishes stacked behind the glass so you you know what to order when it's your turn. Then proceed to the cashier; by the time you've paid for your meal, a packed tray of Hungarian classics will be handed to you. You'll likely have to share a table with other customers.

Tera's strongest suit is the fried dishes, both in meats (cutlets, liver) and vegetables (mushrooms, cauliflowers). Of the desserts, which are placed in the refrigerator, opt for the somlói galuska, a Hungarian sponge cake topped with whipped cream and chocolate sauce. For the full experience and longest lines, go during lunchtime.

Kao Niaw Ping Kai Restaurant is located on one of the least inviting stretches of Budapest, the multi-lane Rákóczi Road, where the constant stream of car traffic has all but cleared the area of pedestrians. But don't despair. A downtown bus (take #5, #7, #110, #112, or #178) will drop you right outside the restaurant so you won't need to inhale any exhaust fumes.

Inside, you'll find one of the top casual Thai restaurants of Budapest. The Thai-Laotian owner-couple duo serves a pan-Thai fare, featuring curries, stir-fries, and coconut soups. There's also a section dedicated to spicy dishes from Isan, the northeastern region of Thailand bordering Laos. The interior fittings are a notch above takeout decor so a laid-back date night wouldn't seem out of place here.

You can't go wrong with the pungent green or red curries, and the familiar stir-fry dishes — pad see ew, pad thai, drunken noodles — also beat the local competition. I'm convinced the nam tok moo, a pork salad with green herbs, is one of the spiciest dishes in all of Budapest. All the more reason to leave room for the coconut-tapioca pudding to soothe your burning mouth.

For reasonably prepared, low-priced Hungarian food, stop by this hole-in-the-wall on the upper deck of the Klauzal Market in Budapest's old Jewish Quarter. Marika is the driving force behind the kitchen, while her husband, Csaba, sources the ingredients and decides the menu. Many people come here for lángos, a deep-fried flatbread topped with sour cream and grated cheese. The daily specials usually include a goulash, paprika-laced stews, and seasonal dishes like stuffed cabbage during the cold months.

The palacsinta (Hungarian crepes) is also good, especially if you kindly remind Marika to use a liberal hand with the fillings, of which the sweet cottage cheese (túró) and the chocolate cream are my favorites. Part of the fun of coming here is to observe the peculiar teamwork between Marika and Csaba, who command each other with brusque, half-uttered words — sure sign of a decades-long marriage.

If you like Chinese pancake and are curious about an offbeat part of the city, head to this tiny takeout shop buried deep within the Kőbányai Piac, one of Budapest’s two Chinatowns. Known as jianbing and originating in northern China, these savory crepes are a beloved street food across China. Here, a Chinese lady will help you customize your order and freshly prepare it on a cast iron griddle before you. Many versions exist but eggs, fried crackers, hoisin sauce, and a drizzle of cilantro and scallions are standard ingredients. I also like to add pork floss and sausage for a protein boost. The result is a crispy bundle of flavor bomb (eat it while it's hot).

If you're feeling adventurous, try also some of the Chinese snacks laid out behind the glass: stir-fried duck's head, gizzard, tripe, and other offals. The trickiest part is finding this place; here's my best attempt at explaining it: take bus #9 to Kőbányai út 31., then walk back toward the city center for a few minutes until you reach a small entry to the market between warehouses #25 and #27. Enter the market here. Walk all the way down until you hit a store with a blue "D&D" sign. Turn left, then turn right, and you'll see Jin Yi Shu Shi on your left. I know what you're thinking, but jianbings are worth the hassle.

For a deeply local experience, trek out to Big Daddy Burger in the south of Budapest, located a half-hour away from downtown by bus. Flanked by drab communist-era high-rises lies this flimsy wooden shack, painted in red, white and blue. The kitschy 'Merican decor — I'm not sure whether it's meant ironically — features plenty of tchotchkes and decorative license plates from Texas, Florida, and Missouri.

Big Daddy's burgers are very tasty, in part because they come in smaller and squishier buns than elsewhere in Budapest, making for an ideal patty-to-bun ratio. The default doneness level is just over medium, but you can specify how you want yours cooked. Of the 28 options, I usually go for the “Még egy kis hús - bacon burger” packing cheddar and strips of crispy bacon. Another reason to journey out to Big Daddy is the price points, which are about half of what you'll need to cough up in downtown.