If you're looking for the hottest restaurants in Budapest, look no further. Here's what to expect: dependable dishes without culinary acrobatics, stylish interiors, overpriced plates by local standards, and a crowd consisting of tourists and chic locals. For more upscale options, check out Budapest's best fine dining restaurants, too.
Head to Mazel Tov if you like the ruin bar concept in theory, but prefer things more upscale. This Middle Eastern restaurant inside Budapest's buzzing Jewish Quarter does have a disintegrating facade like other ruin bars, but the inside is a different story: Cheap drinks have been upgraded to cocktails, ham & cheese sandwiches to a range of trendy mezze plates, self-service to hostesses, and cheap furniture to a thoughtfully designed, industrial-chic interior with sleek wood paneling..
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. Gettó Gulyás' moniker makes its culinary priorities clear - the short menu features the heart of Magyar cuisine with staples like goulash (€4), chicken paprikash (€7), and beef stew (pörkölt). These Hungarian classics are updated with small twists, like the baked cottage cheese noodles rolled into bacon, which accompany the veal paprikash (€11).
When I want to impress my friends that Budapest has restaurants as hip as those in the East Village, I take them out to DOBRUMBA. With a chic crowd, effortlessly cool design, and a Middle Eastern menu, DOBRUMBA is one of the trendiest restaurants in Budapest's buzzing Jewish Quarter currently. The place is especially enjoyable in the warmer months when the oversized windows swing open and the ear-catching electronic music wafts into the street. .
HILDA is a chic downtown restaurant on the increasingly fashionable Nádor Street. The area has come to life as a growing number of tourists and international students from the nearby Central European University pass through. HILDA has a perfect curb appeal: you will notice its Instagrammable interior even before entering the space. An oversized stained glass mosaic covers one of the walls in its entirety, and the bar is studded with rows of dark blue, glazed Zsolnay ceramic tiles, the same brand that decorates the lobby of the Four Seasons around the corner from here..
Padron is a tiny tapas bar in Budapest's Palace Quarter, situated on a cute side street. The restaurant exhibits the usual signs of a busy family-run enterprise, with the mother taking orders, the son serving food, and the father behind the bar on most days. .
Börze is a sleek, downtown restaurant serving traditional Hungarian food from early morning until midnight, seven days a week. Börze's moniker is a hat-tip to the enormous, 1907 building across the street that used to be the Budapest Stock and Commodity Exchange. With red banquettes and a chic interior designed to the minute detail, it reminds me of a Keith McNally restaurant. Börze is a 2017 offshoot of Menza, and like its sister restaurant, it's a well-oiled machine with reliable dishes and a professional waitstaff.
In the early aughts, Liszt Ferenc Square in District 6 was a popular hangout for trendy, well-heeled locals. But then, as the wheel of trends turned, the hoopla tapered off and people moved on to other neighborhoods. Today, you will find plenty of "Hungarian cuisine" and "tourist menu" signs, and it’s also here that Hungary's only Hooters operated until recently. You don't need me to tell you: proceed with caution..
Kiosk is a hip restaurant and cocktail bar in the heart of Budapest, favored by trendy locals and plenty of tourists. Kiosk has at least two things going for it: a stunning view of the Danube and the Elisabeth Bridge from its outdoor patio, and a dramatically high-ceilinged, industrial chic interior. (Interestingly, the building houses a Roman Catholic high school upstairs, in fact, there's a chapel right above Kiosk.) .
Spíler, located inside the tourist-heavy Gozsdu Courtyard, is one of hottest restaurants in Budapest's buzzing Jewish Quarter. It's a massive space with three, highly-Instagrammable dining rooms that operate at capacity most evenings. The menu features popular international fare (nachos, wings, burgers) alongside Hungarian classics, of which my favorite was the túróscsusza, baked noodles topped with cottage cheese, sour cream, and specks of fried pork fat (€7). Hungarian wines, and almost 30 types of local bottled craft beers are available for pairing.
Depending on your preferences, you might describe Sáo as the hottest restaurant in town or, alternatively, as an overpriced pan-Asian eatery serving takeout food with little to show for its hype. Whichever side you're on, the fact is that Sáo operates at capacity every night of the week. Sure, €9 for a simple plate of fried rice with a few morsels of beef is excessive by Budapest standards, but there’s more to Sáo than food..
Curious where the top 1% of Buda residents hang out? Wonder no more. The owners of Déryné Bistro were ahead of the curve when in 2007 they opened this chic restaurant featuring a Balthazar-like interior straight out of the Keith McNally playbook. Back then, few places in Budapest offered this type of hip-but-classy ambiance. Déryné has managed to remain popular for all these years, even as similar restaurants have sprouted up in Pest with comparable offerings at lower prices..
M is a tiny, dinner-only restaurant on the far (and quieter) side of Budapest's Jewish Quarter, but within walking distance of the neighborhood's famed ruin bars. The cozy space is crammed with tables so expect to sit elbow-to-elbow with fellow diners. While waiting for your food, let your creative side run wild using the pencil and doodling paper provided on each table. .
In 2015, three young Vietnamese-Hungarians with a passion for cooking and a background in fashion and design launched a trendy Asian-fusion restaurant, Sáo, in the tourist-packed Jewish Quarter of Budapest. Encouraged by Sáo's success, they opened KHAN, another chic, Instragram-friendly venue, situated in the residential Újlipótváros neighborhood, a bit outside the city center. .
Oriental Soup House is a bustling Vietnamese restaurant in Újlipótváros, a residential neighborhood a bit outside the city center. As soon as you enter, you will note the Asian cooks scurrying behind the open kitchen, always a good sign for a Vietnamese restaurant. The slim menu features 11 types of soups, of which the traditional beef pho (pho bo; €6), with a shimmering, flavorful broth and golden hue, is among the best I've had in Budapest, especially if you get it with thinly sliced tenderloins that quickly cook through in the steaming broth. .
Kőleves is a wildly popular restaurant in the heart of Budapest’s old Jewish Quarter, today’s party district. The building, which was built in 1851, used to be home to a kosher meat processing facility and butcher shop, so it’s fitting that they honor the building’s past with dishes like matzo ball soup, and cholent, the typical Sabbath dish. They also use leftover articles from the meat plant as design pieces, including a well-worn, leather-bound ledger book and a weathered Talmud..
Bestia is a bustling restaurant in the heart of Budapest, specializing in grilled meats. With steep price points, a picture-postcard view of the St. Stephen’s Basilica, and a flashy, industrial chic interior, it's become a favorite among well-heeled, trendy tourists. If you’re feeling adventurous, start your meal with the rich, roasted bone marrow (arriving on two massive slabs of bone), pairing perfectly with the toasted bread (€9).
Babka is a Middle-Eastern restaurant in Budapest named after the Ashkenazi Jewish bready cake originating in Eastern Europe, perhaps as a hat-tip to the neighborhood, which is home to much of Budapest’s middle-class Jewish residents. Babka's dimly-lit, homey interior, featuring vintage decor and hardwood floors, will make you want to enter. .
Bring with you a healthy dose of skepticism when you enter Gozsdu Udvar, a tourist-heavy passage lined with endless restaurants and bars inside Budapest's old Jewish Quarter. Most places here aren't known for their delicate dishes or wallet-friendly prices, but Vicky Barcelona, a lively, atmospheric tapas bar, can be worth a visit. This dinner-only restaurant occupies a dimly-lit, elongated space flanked by small tables and red velvet drapes on one side, and a mosaic-patterned bar counter on the other. .
Vintage Garden is trendy restaurant right in the heart of Budapest's bustling party district with a shabby chic decor that features lots of happy colors and inspirational messages. Given the tourist-heavy location, they aim to please all palates with a wide-reaching menu that includes everything from foie gras (€9), goulash soup (€5), cheeseburger (€9), penne arrabiata (€7), and even a paleo cake (€5). But despite the expansive culinary reach, the dishes are reliable—the duck confit with gnocchi and apple chutney (€14) is particularly good. .