Fine dining can mean many things these days beyond dimly-lit dining rooms with white linen tablecloths and soft background music. The list below includes Budapest's highest-end restaurants, some even with a Michelin star. Most of these places offer tasting menus, featuring everything from updated Hungarian classics to New Nordic Cuisine-inspired fare. The bad news: expect prices comparable to top restaurants in other major cities.
In 2010, Costes was the first restaurant in Hungary to win a Michelin star. Today, despite the fact that Budapest has many Michelin-starred places, Costes still has a special cachet. It's also the only fine dining restaurant in Budapest helmed by a female chef—the prodigiously talented Eszter Palágyi. .
In Budapest, Onyx comes closest to offering an old-school, classic European fine dining experience. It's the type of place where crystal chandeliers hang in the opulent dining room and white-glove-wearing waiters scurry about with beautifully sculpted plates in hand. The dishes feature playful textures, rare ingredients, and striking visuals. Onyx, which is located in the heart of Budapest's downtown, is the only two-Michelin-starred restaurant in Hungary currently.
Stand Restaurant is the fine dining project of local celebrity chef-duo, Szabina Szulló and Tamás Széll, and follows the success of Stand25, their highly acclaimed casual restaurant inside the Hold Street Market. Here too, their success was almost immediate: accolades quickly poured in, and the restaurant won a Michelin star in 2019, less than a year after opening..
Costes Downtown is a 2015 offshoot of Costes, the first Michelin-starred restaurant in Budapest. Downtown is a slightly more casual version of its sister location: instead of a classic fine dining decor, here a sleek, modern design sets the tone with an open kitchen and wooden tables stripped of tablecloths. The restaurant, which has had its own Michelin star since 2016, is helmed by Portuguese chef Tiago Sabarigo. .
Borkonyha (Winekitchen) is a high-end restaurant in Budapest's downtown, serving pan-European fine dining dishes and over 200 types of Hungarian wines. The executive chef, Ákos Sárközi, applies inventive techniques to locally-sourced ingredients and puts out colorful, almost artistically visual plates. .
MÁK Bistro, helmed by 28-year-old head chef János Mizsei, is one of Budapest's leading fine dining restaurants. The fact that Mizsei trained in Denmark and Sweden shines through in the dishes: In line with the New Nordic Cuisine, the plates pack intense, vibrant flavors despite the seemingly everyday ingredients. Mizsei is known to go out of his way to scout for unlikely suppliers; most recently he found a local farmer who collects birch sap in a Hungarian village..
Babel is a Michelin-starred restaurant in the heart of Budapest's downtown, offering a classic fine dining experience: the hushed, dimly-lit dining room has only a dozen tables, all set with white linen. Babel prides itself on serving dishes inspired by Transylvania, the chillingly beautiful, mountainous region cradled by the Carpathians and known for its long and complex history (today, it's part of Romania with a sizeable Hungarian community). The proof that this is more than empty marketing slogan is the young head-chef himself, István Veres, a Hungarian native of Transylvania..
St. Andrea Wine & Gourmet Bar is an upscale restaurant near Budapest's city center, occupying the ground floor of a luxury office building. Unlike other elite chefs in Budapest who hesitate to put pricey peasant fare in front of discerning diners, St. Andrea's executive chef, Ádám Barna, doesn't shy away from showcasing traditional Hungarian dishes through a fine dining prism..
Tucked away on a steep side street in the Castle Hill lies one of Budapest's most expensive, special-occasion restaurants: Arany Kaviár (Golden Caviar). As you'd expect from a place that specializes in high-priced caviars, the exquisite dining rooms, lined with maroon and golden tapestry-like walls and heavy drapes, exude an air of opulence. Apart from fish roe, Arany Kaviár offers two tasting menus—a “Hungarian Fish” and a “Traditional” Russian—and plenty of chilled vodka and premium wines for pairing. .
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. .
Balázs Pethő, the executive chef of family-run Csalogány 26 Restaurant, was a pioneer of Hungary's contemporary food revolution. A whole crop of younger cooks, many of them established head chefs now, learned the ins and outs of haute cuisine under Pethő's tutelage at a time when comically backward, communist-era practices reigned supreme in Budapest kitchens. Pethő's exceptional skills best show through in the five-course dinner tasting menu..
Opened in 1964, Alabárdos is an iconic fine dining restaurant perched on Budapest's Castle Hill, just a stone’s throw away from the imposing Matthias Church. The restaurant is located within a medieval residential home complete with Gothic tracery and ogee curves. The dining room, which has less than a dozen tables, is startlingly impressive: they serve dishes on Herendi porcelain plates set with real silverware..
The sleepy outer part of Budapest's District 9 is an unlikely place to boast an upscale French restaurant, so it's against the odds that here hides Petrus, the Bib Gourmand-awarded bistro of owner-chef Zoltán Feke. The dishes fall somewhere between bistro fare and fine dining: the 7-course tasting menu approaches the latter, the a la carte offerings the former..
Thanks to a well-connected Hungarian businessman, Budapest is home to a Nobu, the world’s fanciest chain restaurant. Even more impressively, it's the one and only Nobu in Central Europe (the closest one is in Milan). This upscale Japanese-Peruvian restaurant is located inside the five-star Kempinski hotel in Budapest's downtown. .
Fausto’s Ristorante, which opened in 1994, is a classic fine dining restaurant in Budapest specializing in northern Italian fare. Forget pizza and Caprese salad and instead think of meticulously plated dishes made from expensive ingredients like foie gras, scallops, flatfish, and venison loin. A couple of egg-based pasta and risotto options are also available, made with rich sauces..
ESCA is a tiny, 16-seat fine dining restaurant in a quiet backstreet of District 7, Budapest’s party district. The dimly-lit interior, featuring sleek, dark wood finishes and chic, Mid-century modern chairs, couldn’t be more different from the kitsch ruin bars nearby. ESCA is helmed by owner-chef Gábor Fehér, a young local talent who's gained experience in France and Copenhagen before setting up shop here..
Salon is a fine dining restaurant in Budapest inside the historic and jaw-droppingly ornate New York Café, one of the city's top tourist attractions. Salon's seasonal dishes feature the usual suspects of Hungarian fine dining—foie gras, quail, mangalica pork, and venison saddle. Head chef András Wolf is in charge of both the New York Cafe and Salon, but their kitchens are operated separately..
You will need leave the city center to unearth La Perle Noire, a high-end restaurant serving French and revamped Hungarian dishes. It's on a quiet section of Andrássy Avenue, Budapest's Champs-Élysées, peppered with residential villas and embassies inside District 6. The cute modernist building from 1937 that houses the restaurant (and also a hotel upstairs) stands out from the predominantly 19th century street view. .
KNRDY is an upscale steakhouse in the heart of Budapest’s downtown. The restaurant buys prime-graded and Omaha Angus from the U.S., Wagyu from Australia and Japan, and serves only the best cuts: ribeye/tomahawk, New York strip, filet mignon, and T-bone/porterhouse. If you enjoy the funky flavors of aged meat, KNRDY also offers 50-day dry-aged meats. You can’t really go wrong with anything here—all steaks arrive with a beautifully-browned crust.
Prime is an upscale steakhouse in downtown Budapest, on par with the top steakhouses around the world, not only in quality, but, unfortunately, also in price. The restaurant serves premium imported meats from the U.S., Australia, and Argentina, including prime-grade Black Angus and Wagyu. You can also try a Hungarian beef, from grey cattle, but, I'm sorry to say, it pales in comparison with the others..
Baraka is popular among well-heeled tourists who rely on TripAdvisor for restaurant recommendations, but there are other fine dining restaurants in Budapest, some even with a Michelin star, that offer better-portioned dishes at more reasonable price point. Baraka’s seasonally-changing menu, prepared by chef André Bicalho, a Brazilian-native, blends French fare with notes of Asian, particularly Japanese flavors. .