The 7 Best Sausage Shops in Budapest

Many butcher shops in Budapest ("hentes" in Hungarian) serve ready-made lunch for the city's meat-craving populace. Paprika-laced roasted sausage, or kolbász, is the classic order, but liver and blood sausages, pork belly, ribs, and fried cutlets are also usually available. As locals do, pair your kolbász with a dollop of mustard, a side of pickled vegetables, and a slice of bread.

These old-school sausage shops bring together Budapest locals from all walks of life — construction workers and corporate lawyers alike tend to stand in line during the midday rush hour. Note that there's a codified system to a meal at a hentes: pick up a tray, holler your order across the counter, wait for your food to be handed to you, eat it at one of the high-top tables elbow-to-elbow with other customers (there's no seating), and return your tray after you’re finished. Here, that's a real Budapest lunch experience!

#1 Pinczi hús-hentesáru bolt

Part butcher shop, part ready-to-eat meat paradise, Pinczi hús-hentesáru is an iconic sausage shop in Budapest, exhibiting a fast-disappearing side of the city. This low-priced, no-frills lunch destination, which opened in 1991, specializes in meat dishes that have traditionally been dear to Hungarians’ stomachs—sausages, meatballs, pork ribs, and the like.

#2 Hús-hentesáru (Budafoki út)

This neighborhood institution, which opened in 1969, is still mainly a butcher shop with an array of raw pork, poultry, and beef dominating the display, but the longest lines form by the steam table in the corner containing a mound of ready-made meats. The atmosphere is part of the charm here: senior neighborhood residents often drop by to pick up whatever they dreamed up to cook that day (on my last visit, and elderly lady ordered three pork feet for a dinner-to-be of braised pig trotters). Many students from the nearby Budapest University of Technology are also repeat customers thanks to the low prices.

#3 Belvárosi Disznótoros (Károlyi Street)

Belvárosi Disznótoros is a wallet-friendly sausage shop in Budapest's downtown drawing nearby office workers. This self-service lunch destination features high-top tables and standing counters and offers a dizzying array of ready-made and to-be-prepared traditional meat dishes. Think blood sausage, grilled pork chop, wild boar stew, schnitzel, and the like. As locals do, pair your main order with a side of pickled vegetables. "A field of dreams, a landscape of braised, and fried, and cured delights," said the late Anthony Bourdain of Belvárosi Disznótoros after his visit in 2015.

#4 Húsimádó

Húsimádó, which translates to "meat lover," is a neighborhood butcher shop in Budapest's Újlipótváros neighborhood. The place is so chuck-full of meats that sometimes it's hard to even see the proprietor on the other side of the counter through bricks of fatback and rows of smoked salami. The main draw here is the ready-made sausages: paprika-laced, liver, and blood varieties. I also enjoy the fried chicken liver with a perfectly tender piece of pork belly and a side of sauerkraut and a slice of bread.

#5 Hús Hentesáru (Hajós utca)

This homey butcher and sausage shop has been around for almost a hundred years, with the current owner in charge since 1991. It's a small miracle that this old-school, unpretentious place still exists today, hiding beside the Budapest Opera House, one of the city's main tourist attractions. Being here feels like a travel back in time, both in terms of the interior and the service—evidently, the brusque lady behind the counter comes from a generation when customers were not always right, and there's something deeply authentic about her attitude.

#6 Bosnyák téri hentes

This butcher shop (hentes in Hungarian) at the entrance of the Bosnyák Market is hardly the best sausage vendor in Budapest, but if a truly, deeply local experience is what you’re after, I can’t think of a better place. You'll need to trek out to Zugló, a residential neighborhood a bit outside the city center, but think of it as part of the experience. Come out here on a Saturday morning, when the farmers' market is bursting with locals and fresh produce. Once you’ve explored the market, drop by the hentes, right next to the main entrance, for a juicy, ready-made meat dish.

#7 Balla-Hús

Opened in 1951, Balla-Hús is one of the few remaining standalone butcher shops in downtown Budapest. Balla's business model has evolved over the decades: instead of raw meat, today they mainly serve low-priced breakfast and lunch dishes to a shrinking number of local residents (Airbnb, I'm looking at you).

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.