Fine dining can mean many things these days apart from dimly lit dining rooms, 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 serve tasting menus, featuring everything from updated Hungarian classics to New Nordic-inspired fare. The bad news: expect prices comparable to top restaurants in other major cities.
Babel is a Michelin-starred restaurant in the heart of Budapest's downtown offering a memorable fine dining experience. The hushed, dim, comfortably elegant dining room has only a dozen tables, all set with white linen. The oversized windows overlook the neighboring Gothic cathedral, bathed in soft light.
Swedish celebrity chef Daniel Berlin fine-tuned the menu for Babel's post-pandemic reopening, while the day-to-day kitchen duties are carried out by a quintet of talented young local chefs. The 8 and the 14-course tasting menus draw inspiration from Austro-Hungarian classics and there's no shortage of exquisite ingredients, such as foie gras, black caviar, and truffles. For me, the standout was the fish soup, made with tender sturgeon (in days of yore, they used to swim up the Danube all the way here from the Black Sea) and the updated Esterházy cake. Service is impeccable, living up to the exacting standards Babel is known for.
The tasting menu runs €180 per person or €250 with wine pairing, which comprises Hungarian-only white wines, many from the famous Tokaj region. Babel is currently the priciest of Budapest's Michelin-starred restaurants, but also one that offers an all-around, two-star experience (despite having only one Michelin star currently).