The 7 Best Sausage Shops in Budapest

Many butcher shops in Budapest ("hentes" in Hungarian) also serve ready-made dishes 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 prevalent. As locals do, pair your kolbász with a dollop of mustard, raw sauerkraut, 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 stand in line during the midday rush hour. Some people also start the day with sausage, which is why most hentes open at six in the morning. Note that there's a codified system to a meal at a hentes: you pick up a tray, shout your order, wait for your food, eat at a high-top table elbow-to-elbow with other customers (there is 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

Belvárosi Disznótoros is a wallet-friendly lunch destination for downtown office workers in Budapest. This self-service sausage shop with high-top tables and standing counters 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. People usually pair their 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 anchoring Újlipótváros. 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. If you feel like deviating from the classic order, try the fried chicken liver with a perfectly tender piece of pork belly, and a side of sauerkraut with 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. What makes it even more of a small miracle that this old-school, unpretentious place still exists today is that it's located right beside the Budapest Opera House, one of the main tourist attractions of the city. Stepping inside 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) outside 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 some juicy, ready-made meat.

#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 the 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.