The 6 Best Sausage Shops in Budapest

Many Budapest butcher shops (hentes) serve ready-made lunch for the city's meat-craving populace. Paprika-laced roasted sausage, or kolbász, is most popular, but liver and blood sausages, pork belly, 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 until your food is 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, bare-bones lunch destination, which opened in 1991, specializes in meat dishes that have traditionally been dear to Hungarian stomachs — sausages, meatballs, pork ribs. No matter the time of day — in Budapest, many people, still, start the day with a hearty roasted sausage — Pinczi swarms with customers, who're a cross-section of local residents, with a noticeable concentration of middle-aged men carrying protruding bellies.

#2 Belvárosi Disznótoros (Károlyi Street)

"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. This wallet-friendly self-service sausage shop in Budapest's downtown does serve a dizzying array of ready-made and to-be-prepared traditional meat dishes. Think paprika and blood sausage, grilled pork chop, wild boar stew, and schnitzel. I usually go for a simple and delicious snappy sausage with a side of mustard and a slice of bread (there's no seating, only high-top tables and standing counters).

#3 Hús-hentesáru (Budafoki út)

This neighborhood institution, which opened in 1969, is still mainly a butcher shop but the longest lines form at midday before the steam table containing mounds of freshly made cuts. 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, while students from the nearby University of Technology wolf down low-priced porcine delicacies.

#4 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). In the mornings, go for the scrambled eggs, which arrive sprinkled with crisped-up sausages and red paprika powder — expect an especially generous portion if the owner himself prepares it.

#5 Húsimádó

Húsimádó, which translates to "meat lover," is a beloved neighborhood butcher shop in Budapest's Újlipótváros neighborhood. The place is piled so high with meats that bricks of fatback and rows of smoked salami can block the view of the other side of the counter. The main draw here is the ready-made sausages: paprika-laced, liver, and blood varieties. I also enjoy the fried chicken liver with a tender piece of pork belly and a side of sauerkraut and a slice of bread.

#6 Bosnyák téri hentes

This butcher shop (hentes) next to 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 here on a Saturday morning, when the farmers' market is bursting with locals and fresh produce.

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.