As is the case for other countries, traditional Hungarian food is a reflection of the local climate and regional influences. While the importance of goulash hasn't diminished since nomadic Hungarians cooked it in large cast-iron kettles over a thousand years ago (although the ingredients did change), new dishes entered the Hungarian culinary mainstream along the way. For example, noodles came from Italy in the 15th century, stuffed food from the invading Ottomans, and cakes and pastries from the Austrian Habsburgs, creating a rich and diverse Hungarian food culture. But make no mistake, goulash, pörkölt, and paprikash are still at the core of Magyar cuisine. The restaurants below serve the best traditional Hungarian food in Budapest.
Step into Café Kör, and the interior will immediately transport you to a pre-war, middle-class Budapest downtown restaurant: the space features bentwood Thonet chairs, a carpeted wooden floor, and densely packed tables. In a city that increasingly prizes international cuisine above its own, Café Kör is an essential dining establishment, serving as a reminder how delicious Hungarian food can be. Instead of twists and reinterpretations, they simply bring out the best of classic Magyar cuisine. .Read more
Rosenstein is the most prominent restaurant in Budapest that features the Central European Jewish cultural traditions. Opened in 1996, this family-run restaurant has many endearing qualities. One of them is the way they prepare cholent, the signature Sabbath lunch dish with characteristic, rich flavors thanks to hours of slow-cooking. The baked beans are topped with three types of beef here: sausage, brisket, and tongue.Read more
In retrospect, it's strange that it took so long for someone to finally open a traditional Hungarian restaurant in Budapest's party district (also known as the old Jewish Quarter). After all, most tourists are after local dishes before they hit the neighborhood bars. The name of the restaurant (Gettó Gulyás) makes its culinary priorities clear - the short menu features the heart of Magyar cuisine with staples like goulash, chicken paprikash, and beef stew. These Hungarian classics are updated with a small twist, like the baked cottage cheese noodles rolled in bacon, that accompany the veal paprikash.Read more
At some point in the early 2000s, Liszt Ferenc Square was a buzzing hangout for locals. Then, as often happens, the excitement tapered off and other pockets of the city became popular. Today, you will find here signs prominently advertising "Hungarian cuisine" and "tourist menus", and it’s also here that Hungary's lone Hooters operated. You don't need me to tell you: proceed with caution..Read more
Börze is a sleek downtown bistro that serves uncomplicated traditional Hungarian food from early morning until midnight, seven days a week. Its name pays homage to the enormous 1907 building across the street that used to be the Budapest Stock and Commodity Exchange. With red banquettes and a spacious interior designed to the minute detail, Börze looks similar to a Keith McNally restaurant. Favorites include the Debrecener pork sausage for breakfast (that's right), the cordon bleu, which is a pork schnitzel with a melted cheese filling, and the confit pork neck topped with a whisper-thin slice of bacon and paired with slow-cooked garlic spread and baked potatoes.Read more
Rankings are based on a combination of food/drink, atmosphere, service, and price. The author visits all restaurants incognito.