The 12 Best Goulash in Budapest

Hungary's most famous food, the goulash is a crimson-hued beef soup laced with vegetables and imparting the sweet-sharp flavor of fresh paprika. The dish is named after the herdsmen in eastern Hungary — the gulyás — who prepared this hearty soup in large cast-iron kettles. Few people cook it over open fire these days, but the goulash is still a beloved staple across households in Hungary. In restaurants, prices usually range €4-7 for a bowl.

#1 Gettó Gulyás

Gettó Gulyás is a cozy Hungarian restaurant inside Budapest's party district, also known as the old Jewish Quarter. The restaurant's name makes its culinary priorities clear — the short menu features the heart of Magyar cuisine with staples like goulash (€5), chicken and veal paprikash (€8-12), and various seasonal vegetable stews called főzelék. "Gettó" refers to the Jewish ghetto, what this neighborhood became during the winter of 1944, the darkest time of WWII in Budapest.

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#2 Kiosk

Kiosk is a hip restaurant in the heart of Budapest, favored by trendy locals and tourists in the know. The restaurant has at least two things going for it: a stunning view of the Danube and the Elisabeth Bridge from its outdoor patio, and a dramatically high-ceilinged, industrial-chic interior. (The historical building houses a Catholic high school upstairs, in fact, there's a chapel right above Kiosk.)

#3 Szaletly

Although located a bit outside downtown, near the City Park, Szaletly is a so-called destination restaurant, one worth trekking out to. At least if you're curious to try traditional Hungarian dishes transformed with a deft hand by head-chef Dániel Bernát. The whole menu is a celebration of dishes people in Hungary are used to eating, but these beautiful plates made from local ingredients are hardly what appear on most people's dining tables at home.

#4 Menza Restaurant

In the early aughts, Liszt Ferenc Square in Budapest's District 6 was a popular hangout for chic locals, but as the wheel of trends turned, people moved on to other pockets of the city. Today, you'll find restaurants emblazoned with "tourist menu" signs and it’s also here that Hungary's only Hooters operated until recently. You don't need me to tell you: proceed with caution.

#5 Rosenstein Restaurant

Rosenstein is an iconic restaurant in Budapest serving traditional Hungarian and Hungarian-Jewish dishes. Tibor Rosenstein, nearing eighty, started this family-run operation, which is located a bit outside the city center and currently helmed by his son Róbert (at lunchtime, Rosenstein senior is often seen chatting away with regulars). Though pricey by local standards, Rosenstein shows off the brightest side of Hungarian cuisine.

#6 Stand25 Bistro

When in 2017 Szabina Szulló and Tamás Széll (a European Bocuse d'Or winner and celebrity-chef in Hungary) announced they were leaving the Michelin-starred Onyx restaurant to venture out on their own, one didn’t need a business degree to predict success. The idea of Stand25 Bistro was to prove that Hungarian fare can be more than a gut-busting, high-carb, greasy affair. The restaurant's success was immediate: a well-to-do local crowd fills Stand25's tables each day.

#7 Bock Bisztro

In 2004, Bock Bisztró was one of the first Budapest restaurants to give new meaning to Hungarian food following the decades-long decline during the communist era. Owner and executive chef Lajos Bíró showed that contemporary cooking techniques, top ingredients, and a little boldness can jolt the local favorites into the 21st century. That crunchy bits of celery root add welcome freshness to the goulash soup; that paprikash can be wonderful when enclosed in a delicate pastry crust; that a beautifully plated lecsó tastes better than one served carelessly.

#8 N28 Wine and Kitchen

N28, a casually elegant restaurant just off Andrássy Avenue, is the project of Márk Molnár, the son of Tamás B. Molnár, who is a revered gastro journalist in Budapest. Márk spent the better part of the past two decades as a chef working abroad, mostly in Spain, and the menu is a collection of Spanish and Hungarian dishes. N28 doubles as a boutique wine store, meaning that you can pair your food with an enviable selection of Hungarian wines, sourced from all the major local wine regions (Tokaj, Somló, Eger, Balaton).

#9 Bestia

Bestia is a buzzing restaurant in the heart of Budapest specializing in pricey grilled meats. With a picture-postcard view of the St. Stephen’s Basilica, an edgy industrial chic decor, and loud music blasting through the speakers, it has quickly become a favorite among trendy tourists and locals alike. If you’re feeling adventurous, start your meal with the roasted bone marrow and toast: silky, jiggly white stuff arriving inside two massive slabs of veal shanks. Scoop out the rich fat and spread it on the whole wheat toast (€10).

To remain unbiased, I visit all places incognito and pay for my own meals and drinks. I never accept money in exchange for coverage. But this means I must rely on readers to support my work. If you're enjoying this article, please consider making a one-time payment (PayPal, Venmo) or becoming an Offbeat Patron.

#10 Tüköry Étterem

When the hunger for inexpensive Hungarian food hits while you’re in downtown, Tüköry restaurant is one of your best bets. Opened in 1958, Tüköry serves reasonably priced local classics in an adorably weathered space fitted with wooden booths and red-and-white checkered tablecloths.

#11 Király 100 Restaurant

Opened in 1994, Király 100 is a traditional Hungarian restaurant a bit outside the city center, lining the historic Király Street. Exposed beams and rafters evoke chalet vibes inside the snug two-story space, perhaps as a legacy of the beer hall that first occupied the premises in 1893 (even today, many people come for beers only).

#12 Spíler Bistro

Located inside the tourist-heavy Gozsdu Courtyard, Spíler is one of the most popular restaurants within Budapest's buzzing Jewish Quarter. The massive space features three, highly-Instagrammable dining rooms that operate at capacity most evenings. The menu comprises reliably made international staples — think nachos, wings, burgers — and also traditional Hungarian classics like goulash (€6), chicken paprikash (€9), and pörkölt (€13), which is a paprika-laced beef stew with egg barley. Local wines, and almost 30 kinds of bottled craft beers are available for pairing. With most dishes below €10, prices are reasonable for this prime location.

Rankings are based on a combination of food/drink, atmosphere, service, and price. To remain unbiased, I visit all places incognito and pay for my own meals and drinks. I also never accept money in exchange for coverage. But this means I must rely on readers to support my work. If you've enjoyed this article, please consider making a one-time payment (PayPal) or becoming an Offbeat Patron.