The 7 Best Hungarian-Jewish Restaurants in Budapest

Just a hundred years ago, more than tewnty percent of Budapest’s residents were Jewish, and today, still, 80,000 or so Jewish people live in the city. Despite this, kosher restaurants are few because hardly any locals keep kosher. But there do exist several Jewish-style restaurants serving up Hungarian-inflected Ashkenazi favorites like cholent and matzo ball soup and flódni.

#1 Macesz Bistro

Macesz Bistro is a popular restaurant smack in the middle of the city’s old Jewish Quarter, today’s party district. The menu, which isn't kosher but is free of pork, is a hat-tip to the neighborhood, featuring dishes that were once popular among Budapest’s numerous Ashkenazi residents. (The building across the street is still home to the Hungarian Autonomous Orthodox Jewish Community). Macesz Bistro's high-traffic location and relatively steep price points make the restaurant especially popular among tourists.

#2 Fülemüle Restaurant

Fülemüle is an old-school Hungarian-Jewish restaurant hiding on a quiet side street in Budapest’s Palace Quarter. The unhurried, relaxed vibes are just one of the things to like about this modest family-run establishment, where swarms of family photos and ornate seder plates crowd the walls.

#3 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 fare.

#4 Kőleves Restaurant

Kőleves is a highly popular restaurant in the heart of Budapest’s old Jewish Quarter, inside an 1851 building that used to be home to a kosher meat processing facility and butcher shop. Leftover objects from the meat plant are used as design pieces, including a well-worn, leather-bound ledger book and a weathered Talmud. Kőleves pays homage to the building’s past by serving a couple of Jewish-Hungarian dishes like matzo ball soup, and cholent, the classic Sabbath dish.

#5 Hanna Orthodox Restaurant

Hanna is a glatt kosher meat restaurant in Budapest's old Jewish Quarter operated by the Hungarian Autonomous Orthodox Jewish Community. Since the restaurant is 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 Budapest's nightlife, teeming with cafés, bars, and restaurants.

#6 Frőhlich Kosher Pastry Shop

Budapest’s one and only kosher pastry shop is, you guessed it, inside the city's old Jewish Quarter. Frőhlich set up shop in 1953, when more Jewish people lived in the neighborhood and long before it became the city's party center. They serve low-priced traditional Hungarian tortes, pastries, and strudels, including Esterházy, Dobos, and krémes. Sure, Frőhlich is far from the top pastry shops in Budapest, but I enjoy coming here for a throwback as little has changed inside this family-run operation over the decades. Although now mainly a tourist destination, a shrinking group of local regulars also appear from time to time.

#7 Carmel Restaurant

Managed by the Hungarian Chabad-Lubavitch Hasidic community, Carmel is one of Budapest’s few glatt kosher restaurants. During the meals a mashgiach — an official supervising rabbi — is present at all times to ensure that Carmel adheres to kashrut, the Jewish dietary laws. As is the case with Hanna, the other meat restaurant around the corner from here, Carmel gets liveliest during Shabbat meals, that is, Friday's dinner and Saturday's lunch. Here too, guests must prepay the meals, each of which costs €25 per person.

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 donation.