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8 Budapest Restaurants With Top Modern Hungarian Food

Budapest is experiencing a gastronomic revolution: carbs- and meat-heavy traditional Hungarian dishes are giving way to smaller portions, inventive recipes, and healthier ingredients (and slimmer restaurant menus). The places below push the boundaries of traditional Hungarian cuisine by combining familiar dishes with new ingredients and plating techniques. The results are often wonderful.

A word to the wise: many of these restaurants offer exceptional lunch prix fixe for a fraction of the regular price. Do you prefer to stick to old-school, traditional Hungarian dishes instead? Try these places then.


#1 Borkonyha (Winekitchen) Restaurant

Borkonyha (Winekitchen) is a high-end bistro located in Budapest's downtown, serving a pan-European menu and over 200 types of Hungarian wines. The executive chef, Ákos Sárközi, begins with traditional dishes and adds contemporary, inventive techniques, while packing plenty of unexpected ingredients and colors on the plates. .

#2 Stand25 Bistro

When in 2017 Szabina Szulló and Tamás Széll (a European Bocuse d'Or winner and celebrity-chef in Hungary) announced that they were leaving the Michelin-starred Onyx restaurant to venture out on their own, one didn’t need a business degree to predict success. Since Stand25 Bistro, this attractive luncheonette, opened in the popular Hold Street market-hall-turned-food-court, people have flocked to its crammed tables from near and far..

#3 Olimpia Restaurant

You need to trek out to the outer part of District 7’s working class neighborhood to experience the surprisingly delicious and elaborate meals prepared by chef Ádám Csaba at Olimpia Étterem. The restaurant does not have a fixed menu, instead using the blackboard on the wall to present the daily-changing dishes, which vary based on seasonal ingredients. The result? Absolutely superb..

#4 Fricska Gastropub

After apprenticing at well-known Budapest restaurants, two young chefs (Andor Giczi and Szabolcs Nagy) in 2014 decided to venture out on their own. They opened Fricska Gastropub with an intent to cook upgraded traditional Hungarian dishes. Fricska is located in a remote part of the city's party district inside a subterranean space that exudes casual, laid-back vibes. .

#5 Csalogány 26 Restaurant

If you asked around within Budapest's gastronomic circles about the key figures of the city's contemporary food revolution, one of the names invariably dropped will be Balázs Pethő, executive chef of family-run Csalogány 26 Restaurant. A whole crop of younger cooks, many of them established head chefs now, learned the ins and outs of haute cuisine under Pethő's tutelage at a time when comically backward, communist-era kitchen practices were still the norm. Pethő's exceptional skills best show through in his 8-course dinner tasting menu at Csalogány 26. .

#6 Bock Bistro

In 2004, Bock Bistro was among the first Budapest restaurants to push the boundaries of traditional Hungarian cuisine. They proved that contemporary food techniques and some new ingredients can successfully mix with centuries-old national dishes. For example, the paprikash, usually made with chicken, is prepared with veal neck and breaded beef tenderloins at Bock Bistro, before showering the meats with the signature creamy paprika sauce. The goulash soup, in additional to what traditional recipes call for, also contains crumbs of celery root, which add a welcome crunch and freshness.

#7 La Perle Noire

You will need to escape the heart of Budapest to unearth La Perle Noire, a high-end restaurant serving French flavors along with revamped Hungarian classics. It's located on a peaceful section of the grand Andrássy Avenue in District 6, also known as Budapest's Champs-Élysées, peppered with residential villas and embassies. The quirky modernist building from 1937 that houses La Perle Noire, now also a hotel, stands out from the predominantly 19th century street view. With a green terrace overlooking Andrássy, La Perle Noire offers a unique dining experience in the warmer months.
Rankings are based on a combination of food/drink, atmosphere, service, and price. The author visits all restaurants incognito.