The 11 Best Hungarian-Jewish Restaurants & Pastry Shop in Budapest

Few people know that just a hundred years ago, more than 20 percent of Budapest’s residents were Jewish, and today, still, 80,000 or so Jewish people live in the city. Despite this, there are only a few kosher restaurants because hardly any locals keep kosher. But there do exist several Jewish-style restaurants serving Hungarian-Jewish dishes like cholent and flódni. There's always room for improvement: a stronger showing of Ashkenazi favorites like pastrami, kugel, matzo brei, and babka would be a welcome development.

#1 Macesz Bistro

Macesz Bistro is a trendy restaurant smack in the middle of the city’s old Jewish Quarter, and today’s party district. The menu, which is free of pork, is a hat-tip to the neighborhood, featuring dishes that were once popular among Budapest’s numerous Ashkenazi Jewish residents. (The building across the street is still home to the Hungarian Autonomous Orthodox Jewish Community).

#2 Fülemüle Restaurant

Fülemüle is an old-school restaurant hiding on a quiet side street in Budapest’s Palace Quarter, which feels a world away from the neighboring party district. The relaxed vibe is just one of the things to like about this family-run place, which opened in the year 2000 and specializes in Hungarian-Jewish food.

#3 Rosenstein Restaurant

Rosenstein is an iconic restaurant in Budapest, serving some of the best traditional Hungarian and Hungarian-Jewish dishes in the city. Tibor Rosenstein started this family-run operation, which is located a bit outside the city center and is currently helmed by his son Róbert (at lunchtime, you'll likely see the senior Rosenstein chatting away with regulars). Most of the long menu is a hat-tip to classic Hungarian fare: patrons can sample expertly prepared goulash soup (€7), beef stew (pörkölt), paprikash (€12), and stuffed cabbage (€9) here—traditional foods that have changed little over the generations.

#4 Kádár Étkezde

If you wonder what everyday dining was like in communist Hungary, Kádár Étkezde in Budapest's old Jewish Quarter will give you the answer. Kádár opened in 1957 as a wallet-friendly neighborhood joint feeding the mainly Jewish local residents with unfussy Hungarian and Jewish-Hungarian classics like matzo ball soup, stuffed cabbage, beef stew, sweet noodles, and, on Saturdays, cholent (Kádár isn't kosher). The dishes were passable, prices rock-bottom.

#5 A Séf utcája

In 2014, Lajos Bíró, a Hungarian celebrity chef, opened a fast casual lunch eatery inside the practically empty Hold Street Market. Fast forward to today, this historic downtown market has since transformed into a thriving food court where prominent local chefs operate low-key restaurants and the area swarms with people at lunchtime.

#6 Kőleves Restaurant

Kőleves is a wildly 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 typical sabbath dish.

#7 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.

#8 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. Frőhlich serves low-priced traditional Hungarian tortes, pastries, and strudels, including Esterházy, Dobos, and krémes. Sure, Frőhlich is far from the best pastry shop in Budapest, but I enjoy coming here for a throwback vibe 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.

#9 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, that is, Friday's dinner and Saturday's lunch. Here too, guests must prepay the meals, each of which costs €25 per person.

#10 Kosher Deli Budapest

Unfortunately, Budapest’s kosher restaurants aren’t known for offering delicious or nuanced dishes. Most people who frequent them, of course, have no choice. Kosher Deli Restaurant, which opened in 2019, has quickly established itself as the better of Budapest’s only two dairy restaurants (the other is Tel Aviv Café around the corner). Unlike all of the other kosher restaurants in Budapest that are operated by either of the two local orthodox communities, Kosher Deli belongs to MAZSIHISZ, the main faction of Budapest's Jewish community and the proprietor of the nearby Dohány Street Synagogue.

#11 Tel Aviv Café

Located in the old Jewish Quarter near the main orthodox synagogue, Tel Aviv Café is one of the only two kosher dairy restaurants in Budapest. So, don't go searching for meat dishes here. In fact, you won’t find any of the typical Ashkenazi dairy classics like matzo brei, blintz, and latke either. Instead, the menu comprises Middle Eastern foods like couscous, shakshuka, and hummus, as well as vegetarian pizzas and pastas.

Rankings are based on a combination of food/drink, atmosphere, service, and price. The author visits all restaurants incognito and pays for his own meals and drinks.