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The 10 Best Hungarian-Jewish Restaurants & Pastry Shop in Budapest

When it comes to food, few traces remain of Budapest’s rich Jewish history. Just a hundred years ago, 23% of the city’s residents were Jewish, and today, still, 80,000 or so Jewish people live in Budapest. Yet only a few kosher restaurants have remained (they're included in the list below).

But thanks to the booming tourism in Budapest’s old Jewish Quarter, Hungarian-Jewish dishes are beginning to reappear on restaurant menus. Most common are cholent and flódni (a layered cake), but diners will also find excellent "Jewish eggs" salad and even helzel at some of the restaurants below. There's always room for improvement though: a stronger showing of Ashkenazi favorites like pastrami sandwich, kugel, matzo brei, and babka would be a welcome development in Budapest.

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#1 Rosenstein Restaurant

Hands down, Rosenstein Restaurant serves the best traditional Hungarian and Hungarian-Jewish food in Budapest. Tibor Rosenstein, a by now legendary figure in Budapest's culinary scene, opened the restaurant in 1996, which is still run by the family with the kitchen currently helmed by his son, chef Róbert Rosenstein. .
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#2 Kőleves Restaurant

Kőleves is a kosher-style, Hungarian-Jewish restaurant in the very center of Budapest’s old Jewish Quarter, and today’s party district. The building, constructed in 1851, was long home to a kosher meat processing facility and butcher shop, until as recently as 2002. So it’s fitting that the current restaurant, which opened in 2012, honors the building’s past with popular Hungarian-Jewish dishes and adorns the space with leftover paraphernalia from previous owners. For example, a well-worn, leather-bound ledger book and a Talmud is displayed for watchful guests to detect..
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#3 Fülemüle Restaurant

Located on a serene side street surrounded by grand residential homes in Budapest’s Palace Quarter, Fülemüle feels a world away from the boisterous party town that its neighbor, District 7, has become. There are things to like about Fülemüle, most of all the snug place and offbeat location of this family-run restaurant founded in 2000 and specialized in Hungarian-Jewish cuisine. The cholent, this knockout of a Shabbat dish is advertized as the specialty of the house. If it wasn't for the stuffed goose neck (helzel) perching atop the slow-cooked beans and pearl barley, it wouldn't leave much of an impression.
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#4 Carmel Restaurant

Managed by the Hungarian Chabad-Lubavitch Hasidic community, Carmel is one of Budapest’s three glatt kosher restaurants (two of them are meat, one dairy). Like Hanna, the other kosher meat restaurant around the corner from Carmel, it gets liveliest during Shabbat meals, that is, Friday's dinner and Saturday's lunch (here too, guests must prepay the meals; Friday's dinner at Carmel costs €25 per person)..
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#5 Macesz Bistro

One would be hard-press to believe that in the first half of the 20th century the streets of District 7, today the party central of Budapest, were swarming with Jewish people. Macesz Bistro, a Jewish-Hungarian fusion restaurant, pays homage to the neighborhood’s history (the edifice across the street is still home to the Hungarian Orthodox Jewish Community). The menu at Macesz Bistro includes most Hungarian-Ashkenazi Jewish staples alongside classic Hungarian food offerings (in Hungarian macesz means matzo). The culinary highlight and the most economical choice in this slightly overpriced bistro is the “Jewish Traditional” tasting menu for HUF7,990 or €27 (€40 with wine pairing)..
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#6 Hanna Orthodox Restaurant

Hanna is a glatt kosher restaurant operated by the Autonomous Orthodox Jewish Community of Hungary in District 7. Since it's buried within the fortress-like edifice of the congregation, most locals have never encountered Hanna, even though the surrounding area is currently the center of the Budapest party scene teeming with cafés, bars, and restaurants. Orthodox Jews visiting Budapest, however, are often better informed and they fill the restaurant most nights..
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#7 Kádár Étkezde

If you wonder what everyday dining was like during communism, search no longer. Kádár Étkezde, a traditional Hungarian eatery in the old Jewish Quarter, around since 1957, will immediately transport you back to a different epoch. Note that Kádár is open for lunch only..
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#8 A Séf utcája

A leading Hungarian chef, Lajos Bíró, opened a fast casual lunch eatery at the Hold Street market hall and we should all celebrate that decision. At A Séf utcája (trans. "Chef's Street") you will find wallet-friendly traditional Hungarian dishes prepared with a twist, which in this case means better-than-average ingredients and an attention to the visual aesthetics. Like it or not, these reconfigured Hungarian plates are in a different league than grandma's cooking.
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#9 Frőhlich Kosher Pastry Shop

Budapest’s only kosher pastry shop is, you guessed it, inside the city's old Jewish Quarter. Frőhlich set up shop in 1953 when many more Jewish people lived in the neighborhood and long before it became Budapest's party center. .
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#10 Tel Aviv Café

Operated by the Hungarian Chabad-Lubavitch Hasidic community, Tel Aviv Café is Budapest’s one and only kosher dairy restaurant. Being a dairy restaurant, don't go searching for meat-based dishes here. In fact, you won’t find any of the traditional Ashkenazi non-meat classics either, like matzo brei, blintz, and latke. This is somewhat surprising, because Tel Aviv Café is located across Budapest's main orthodox synagogue in the old Jewish Quarter, so a hat tip to Central European Jewish food traditions would have been fitting.
Rankings are based on a combination of food/drink, atmosphere, service, and price. The author visits all restaurants incognito.