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 of them even with a Michelin star. The tasting menu options include everything from reinvented Hungarian dishes to New Nordic Cuisine-inspired fare. The bad news: expect prices comparable to top restaurants in other major cities.
In Budapest, Onyx comes closest to offering a 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.
In 2010, Costes was the first restaurant in Hungary to receive a Michelin star, and despite the fact that Budapest currently has four Michelin-starred restaurants, there remains a special cachet to Costes. It's also the most expensive of the city's fine dining establishments, meaning that few locals can afford to dine here, leaving most tables to well-heeled tourists - on some nights, there isn’t a single Hungarian patron in sight. .
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 restaurant: instead of a classic fine dining setting, here a sleek, modern design sets the tone with an open kitchen and wooden tables stripped of tablecloths. .
Borkonyha (Winekitchen) is a high-end restaurant in Budapest's downtown, serving a pan-European menu and over 200 types of Hungarian wines. The executive chef, Ákos Sárközi, takes traditional dishes and elevates them using inventive techniques and packing plenty of unexpected ingredients and colors on the plates. .
MÁK Bistro is one of the leading fine dining restaurants in Budapest. The restaurant's head chef is 28-year-old János Mizsei, who trained in Denmark and Sweden. In line with the New Nordic Cuisine he is so fond of, Mizsei's genius is to extract intense flavors from seemingly simple ingredients. He is known to go out of his way to scout for unlikely suppliers, such as the local farmer who collects birch sap in a Hungarian village.
Fáma is a 2016 venture of Hungarian celebrity-chef Krisztián Huszár. It was a bold move to open a fine dining restaurant in a residential Buda neighborhood, away from the well-trodden tourist paths of downtown Pest and the Castle Hill. The owners spared no expense to create a tastefully chic interior, featuring a dimly-lit dining room and grey-painted walls accented by industrial pipes overhead. .
Babel is one of a small number of classic fine dining restaurants in Budapest: it's a dinner-only tasting menu venue in the heart of downtown featuring a dimly-lit dining room with only a dozen tables, all set with white tablecloths. Babel prides itself on serving dishes inspired by Transylvania. Although this is more of a catchy soundbite than a real commitment to the food of the Carpathian Mountains, Babel's young chef, István Veres, hails from Transylvania and makes some of the most elaborate dishes in Budapest. .
St. Andrea Wine & Gourmet Bar is a fine dining restaurant near Budapest's city center, occupying the ground floor of a luxury office building, just off the reception area. What's unique about St. Andrea is that its executive chef, Ádám Barna, doesn't shy away from serving traditional Hungarian dishes through a fine dining prism (many other chefs in Budapest still feel uneasy about offering pricey peasant fare to discerning foreign diners).
Tucked away on a steep side street in Budapest's Castle Hill lies one of the city's most expensive, special-occasion fine dining restaurants, Golden Caviar (Arany Kaviár). The exquisite dining rooms are lined with maroon and golden tapestry-like walls and heavy drapes, exuding an air of opulence. In addition to a range of high-priced caviars, Golden Caviar offers two tasting menus: a “Hungarian Fish” and a “Traditional” Russian. Plenty of chilled vodka and premium wines are available 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. The restaurant comes with a tasteful neo-Art Deco interior complete with marble, dark wood, and brass finishes, and is the type of place where dark-suited waiters scurry around with tableside carts and pricey bottles of wine..
Opened in 1964, Alabárdos is the longest-serving restaurant in the Castle Hill and an iconic fine dining establishment in Budapest. Just a stone’s throw away from the famous Matthias Church, the restaurant is located within a medieval residential home featuring original 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..
Balázs Pethő, the executive chef of family-run Csalogány 26 Restaurant, was one of the chefs who pioneered 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 kitchen practices reigned supreme. Pethő's exceptional skills best show through in his eight-course dinner tasting menu at Csalogány 26. .
The sleepy outer part of Budapest's District 9 is an unlikely place to boast a fancy restaurant, but Petrus, which overlooks a quiet park, is a hidden gem of a Bib Gourmand-awarded place here specializing in contemporary French cuisine. The food occupies the territory 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 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 that pays respect to northern Italian cuisine. Instead of a Caprese salad- and pizza-dominated menu, they serve meticulously plated dishes made from a host of expensive ingredients like scallops, flatfish, and venison loin. For those looking for simpler Italian fare, a couple of pasta options are also available: tagliatelle and risotto plates with rich, heavy sauces. .
ESCA is a tiny, 16-seat tasting menu restaurant in a quiet backstreet of District 7, Budapest’s party district. The dark interior, which features 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 chef and owner Gábor Fehér, a young local talent who's gained experience in Copenhagen and at leading Budapest restaurants before setting up shop here. .
Salon is 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 - at any given time the menu will likely include foie gras, quail breast, or venison saddle. Chef András Wolf oversees the kitchens of both the New York Cafe and Salon, but they're operated separately..
You will need leave the heart of Budapest to unearth La Perle Noire, a high-end restaurant serving French cuisine and revamped Hungarian classics. La Perle Noire is located on a quiet section of Andrássy Avenue, also known as Budapest's Champs-Élysées, peppered with residential villas and embassies in District 6. The quirky modernist building from 1937 that houses the restaurant, now also a hotel, stands out from the predominantly 19th century street view. .
KNRDY is an upscale steakhouse right in Budapest’s downtown. They source Prime-graded and Omaha Angus beef from the Unites States, Wagyu from Australia and Japan, and serve only the best cuts like 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 crusty, beautifully-browned exterior.
Prime is a steakhouse in downtown Budapest that's on par with the top steakhouses around the world, not only in quality, but, unfortunately, also in price. They serve imported premium meats from the United States, Australia, and Argentina, including Prime-grade Black Angus and Wagyu. In addition, you can also try a Hungarian beef, from grey cattle, but it pales in comparison with the imported ones..
Baraka Restaurant is a favorite for people who rely only on TripAdvisor for dinner recommendations, but visitors to Budapest should know that there are other fine dining restaurants, some even with a Michelin star, that offer better-portioned dishes at more reasonable price point than Baraka. Baraka’s seasonally changing menu, helmed by Brazilian-native chef André Bicalho, blends French cuisine with notes of Asian, particularly Japanese flavors. For example, the bouillabaisse fish soup at Baraka has a crab-filled gyoza perched in it. .