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 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. 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 when you’re finished. Here, that's a real Budapest lunch experience!

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, Pinczi swarms with customers who're a cross-section of local residents, with a noticeable concentration of middle-aged men carrying protruding bellies.

Best of all here is the marinated roasted pork belly; crispy on the outside, with a layer of soft fat yielding to a tender meat. My go-to order is a paprika-laced sausage with a slice of said pork belly, paired with a side of sauerkraut and a slice of bread. All of this rarely comes out to be more than €5. You'll either have to eat standing at the high-top tables or find a seat on the busy street outside with a postcard view of the Nyugati Railway Terminal.

"A field of dreams, a landscape of braised, and fried, and cured delights," said the late Anthony Bourdain of Belvárosi Disznótoros after his 2015 visit. 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).

There's usually a line of office workers at midday; while waiting, cast a glance at the neoclassical building across the street, which, including the park behind it, used to be home to one the wealthiest Hungarian noble families (Károlyi) before WWI; today, it houses the Petőfi Literary Museum. Note: Belvárosi Disznótoros has two locations, but I prefer this one, on Károlyi Street.

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 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, while students from the nearby University of Technology wolf down low-priced porcine delicacies.

Although you’re here for the sausages — especially good is the liver sausage — don’t sleep on the tender roasted pork ribs, and the chicken, both the whole grilled birds and breaded cutlets. As do other patrons, order a side of sauerkraut and start munching away at one of the high-top tables. Here, that's a real Budapest lunch experience. Once here, you can find other interesting things to do in this enjoyable Buda neighborhood.

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 — expect an especially generous portion if the owner himself prepares it.

The lunch offerings include meat-heavy dishes that are laid out in the steam tables. Think roast and blood sausages, fried chicken liver, schnitzel, and pickled vegetables (let the Dionysian revelry wall painting inspire your meal). Balla Hús is one of the few affordable places in the tourist-heavy downtown, hence many locals flock here, both construction workers and office bureaucrats from the nearby Mayor's Office. Closed on weekends!

Húsimádó, which translates to "meat lover," is a beloved neighborhood butcher shop in Budapest's Újlipótváros neighborhood. The place is piled so high with bricks of fatback and rows of smoked salami that they can block the view to 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 pork belly, sauerkraut, and a thick slice of crusty bread to mop up the meat juices. Try to go at midday, which is when the place is buzzing and a constant stream of regulars drift into this adorable bastion of meat.

This butcher shop (hentes) next to the entrance of the Bosnyák Market is hardly the best sausage vendor in Budapest, but if a 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.

Once you’ve explored the market, drop by the butcher shop for juicy, freshly made pork knuckles; they’re perfectly browned with a crispy skin that yields to a soft meat. All you need is a dollop of mustard and a thick slice of bread for this rustic lunch treat that will set you back by about €4. Don't wait for one of the high-top tables to clear; instead, make it a communal meal by standing elbow-to-elbow with locals.