We've compiled Budapest's best Middle Eastern, Northern African, Persian, and Georgian restaurants, so you can gorge yourself on creamy hummus kawarma, crunchy falafel, fresh fattoush salad, herby ghormeh sabzi stew, Moroccoan chicken tangine, and traditional khachapuri Adjaruli.
If you’re looking to dip your toe into the varied cuisine of Georgia in Budapest, Aragvi, named after a Georgian river, is a good place to start. Due to its geographic location, Georgian cuisine reflects Persian, Turkish, and Levantine influences, so brace yourself for a sea of herbs (parsley, coriander, tarragon, dill, mint), vegetables (eggplants, spinach, beets), walnut paste, and pomegranate seeds. .
Most Iranian residents in Budapest claim that Darband is the city's best Persian restaurant. This below-ground space just off Budapest’s downtown, whose owner and head chef are both Iranian, is lined with dining booths, each named after an old Tehran street. There are mosaic tile tables and photos of Iran inside the otherwise modest interior. .
When I want to impress my friends that Budapest has restaurants as hip as those in the East Village, I take them out to DOBRUMBA. With a chic crowd, effortlessly cool design, and a Middle Eastern menu, DOBRUMBA is one of the trendiest restaurants inside Budapest's buzzing Jewish Quarter. The place is especially enjoyable in the warmer months when the oversized windows swing open and the ear-catching electronic music wafts into the street. .
Unhurried groups of elderly Arab regulars tend to socialize at Al-Amir, a good sign for a Syrian restaurant in downtown Budapest. Al-Amir marries a counter-service with a sit-down restaurant. (Most upscale is the downstairs section, usually taken up by hookah-smokers during the cold months; note that hookahs aren't allowed in the summer for business reasons.).
Babka is a Middle-Eastern restaurant in Budapest named after the Ashkenazi Jewish bready cake originating in Eastern Europe, perhaps as a hat-tip to the neighborhood, which is home to much of Budapest’s middle-class Jewish residents. Babka's dimly-lit, homey interior, featuring vintage decor and hardwood floors, will make you want to enter the space. .
Head to Mazel Tov if you like the ruin bar concept in theory, but prefer things more upscale. This Middle Eastern restaurant inside Budapest's buzzing Jewish Quarter does have a disintegrating facade like other ruin bars, but the inside is a different story: Cheap drinks have been upgraded to cocktails, ham & cheese sandwiches to mezze plates, self-service to hostesses, and cheap furniture to a thoughtfully designed, industrial-chic interior with sleek wood paneling..
Shahrzad is a Persian restaurant buried deep within Budapest's District 8, near Corvin-negyed where many Iranian students live. The short menu comprises traditional Iranian stew dishes (khoresh) and the classic kebab variations. Shahrzad’s chef, originally from Isfahan, isn’t satisfied with the quality of beef in Budapest—he doesn’t think it’s tender enough—so he uses lamb in most meat dishes instead. Of the stews, try the ghormeh sabzi herb stew (€7) and the split pea-based gheymeh (€7).
If you’re looking for quick and affordable Middle Eastern food in Budapest's party district, Falafel Bar is your best bet. This unfussy place, offering both takeout and sit-down options, serves hearty portions of shawarma, sabich, kebab, and various hummus plates. The must-have dish here is the namesake falafel plate (€6), where the deep-fried chickpea balls are exactly as they should be: crunchy and creamy. They’re the best ones I’ve had in Budapest.
Opened by a Lebanese-Estonian couple in 2018, Leila’s Authentic Lebanese Cuisine is located on a quiet backstreet in District 6, near downtown. With Lebanese and Syrian cooks in the kitchen, Leila’s is indeed an authentic restaurant, using traditional recipes and spices (most plates are abundantly dressed in parsley, sumac, thyme, and lemon juice). Unfortunately, the dishes are a bit overpriced and still a work-in-progress. .
Before long, all visitors to Budapest will notice the countless, painfully overlit gyro vendors swarming the city, hawking cheap chicken and lamb gyros to drunk bachelor party tourists. At first, San Da Vinci, located along the highway-like Rákóczi Road near the city center, looks like just another gyro joint, but it turns out it’s a worthier venue. .