We've compiled Budapest's best Middle Eastern, Northern African, Persian, and Georgian restaurants, so that you can gorge yourself on anything from creamy hummus kawarma to fresh fattoush salad, herby ghormeh sabzi stew, Moroccoan chicken tangine, or traditional khachapuri Adjaruli. Don't hold back!
A swanky restaurant inside the downtown, five-star Buddha-Bar Hotel serves up the best Middle Eastern food in Budapest. The hotel is owned and operated by Jordanian investors, likely the reason why Baalbek Restaurant has become something of a gathering place for well-heeled local Arab businessmen. .
Despite a small Georgian community, Budapest can boast of two Georgian restaurants. If you’re looking to dip your toe into the varied cuisine of this Caucasian country, 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. In general, brace yourself for a vegetarian-friendly menu featuring 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. That Darband’s owner and one of its chefs are both Iranians inspires further confidence. The subterranean space just off Budapest’s Downtown is lined with dining booths, each named after an old Tehran street. The mosaic tile tables and photos on the walls of Iran try to spruce up the otherwise puritan 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 in Budapest's buzzing Jewish Quarter currently. Think: artfully chipped pale-yellow walls, oversized windows that are swung open in the summer months, and ear-catching electronic music piping through the speakers. .
Opening a Lebanese restaurant is a brave venture in a country where, triggered by government propaganda, negative sentiments about the Middle East are running high. So kudos to Lebanese-Estonian owners for swimming against the current with the 2018 launch of Leila’s Authentic Lebanese Cuisine, located on a quiet backstreet in District 6. 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). .
Shahrzad is a Persian restaurant buried deep within District 8, near Corvin-negyed where many Iranian students live in Budapest. Shahrzad‘s menu is shorter than that of Darband, Budapest’s most well-known Iranian restaurant, but its gleaming interior with comfortable chairs feels more welcoming than the dimly-lit premises and wooden booths of Darband..
If you’re looking for quick and affordable Middle Eastern food in the Jewish Quarter, 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, 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.
Unhurried groups of elderly Arabic regulars tend to socialize at Al-Amir, an encouraging sign for a Syrian restaurant in downtown Budapest. Al-Amir marries a counter-service and a bare-bones sit-down format. (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.).
Before long, all visitors to Budapest will notice the countless gyro vendors swarming the city. Every major street is flanked by brightly lit, uninviting spots hawking cheap chicken and lamb gyros of which about the best that can be said is that they’re a satisfying drunk food. At first, San Da Vinci, located along the highway-like Rákóczi Road near Astoria station, looks like just another gyro joint, but it turns out it’s a worthier venue. .
Mazel Tov is for people who like the ruin bar concept in theory, but prefer things more upscale. This Middle Eastern restaurant in 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 fancy cocktails, ham & cheese sandwiches to a range of trendy Middle Eastern mezze plates, self-service to hostesses, and cheap furniture to a thoughtfully designed industrial-chic interior with sleek wood paneling. .
Babka is a Middle-Eastern restaurant located at the entry of the trendy Újlipótváros neighborhood. The restaurant is named after the Ashkenazi Jewish bready cake from Eastern Europe, perhaps as a hat-tip to the neighborhood, which is home to much of Budapest’s middle-class Jewish residents. Babka's interior features a vintage decor with old radio and TV equipment scattered throughout, complete with hardwood floors and dim lighting. .
Rankings are based on a combination of food/drink, atmosphere, service, and price. The author visits all restaurants incognito.