This list is for people who're looking for the hottest restaurants in Budapest right now. Here's what to expect: dependable dishes without culinary acrobatics, stylish interiors, overpriced plates by local standards, and a crowd consisting of chic locals and tourists. The places have different cuisines and locations, but one thing is common, come dinner time and they fill to capacity. If you're looking for more upscale options, check out Budapest's best fine dining restaurants too.
Mazel Tov is for people who like the ruin bar concept in theory, but prefer things more upscale. This Middle Eastern restaurant in Budapest's old Jewish Quarter does have a disintegrating facade like other ruin bars, but the inside is a different story. Cheap drinks have been upgraded to fancy cocktails, ham & cheese sandwiches to a range of trendy Middle Eastern 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. 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 stew-centric classics are updated with small twists, like the baked cottage cheese noodles rolled in bacon, that accompany the veal paprikash.
Padron is a family-run tapas bar on a charming side street in the Palace Quarter of District 8. The restaurant exhibits all the usual signs of a busy family-run enterprise, with the mother taking orders, the son serving food, and the father behind the bar. The best tapas include their staple, pimientos de Padron (fried peppers), the marinated shrimp (gambas pil-pil), the notably excellent morcilla (blood sausage), and the lamb shoulder topped with goat cheese and blanketed in an orange and fig based sauce (espaldilla de cordero). Also, don't miss the simple but always delicious patatas bravas.
Take your friends to DOBRUMBA if you want to impress them that Budapest has restaurants as hip as those in the East Village. With a chic crowd, effortlessly cool design, a menu centered around Middle Eastern mezze, DOBRUMBA is one of the trendiest restaurants in Budapest. The only downside, however, is that the food is a bit hit-or-miss. .
Börze is a sleek downtown restaurant 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 chic interior designed to the minute detail, Börze recalls a Keith McNally restaurant. .
Depending on your preferences, you might describe Sáo as the hottest restaurant in town or, alternatively, an overpriced eatery serving standard Asian takeout food with little to show for the hype surrounding it. Whichever side you're on, Sáo operates at capacity every night of the week. Sure, paying the equivalent of €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..
In 2015, three young Vietnamese-Hungarian with a passion for cooking and a background in fashion and design, opened a Vietnamese fusion restaurant (Sáo) in the tourist-packed part of Budapest’s District 7. The venture has turned out to be wildly successful. Encouraged, the owners launched another food project, KHAN, but this time in the peaceful and residential Újlipótváros. Not that location would much matter: people flock to KHAN from near and far.
Spíler has been reliably one of the hottest restaurants in Budapest since its opening in 2012. It's located in the heart of the old Jewish Quarter, inside the tourist-favorite Gozsdu Udvar passage dotted with restaurants and bars. Spíler occupies a massive space featuring three stylish, instagrammable dining rooms that operate at capacity most evenings. As for food, they serve a mix Hungarian classics including goulash and cottage cheese dumplings, complemented by popular bistro fare like burgers, salads, and pulled pork sandwich.
Curious where the top 1% of Buda residents hang out? Wonder no more. The owners of Déryné Bistro were ahead of the curve in 2007 when they opened this sleek bistro featuring a Balthazar-like interior straight out of the Keith McNally playbook. Back then Déryné was a breath of fresh air in Budapest as options for finer dining were largely limited to tacky downtown restaurants with communist-era kitchen practices and a deeply ingrained rip-off culture. .
Kiosk is a hip restaurant and cocktail bar in the heart of Budapest, favored by trend-conscious locals and plenty of tourists. Kiosk has at least two things going for it: a stunning view of 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 is a chapel right above Kiosk.) .
Above-average food, laid-back vibes, a chic crowd, tiny tables crammed into a small space, and waitresses speaking fluent English - are we in Brooklyn or Budapest? Budapest, because service isn't rushed and diners are welcome to linger. .
HILDA is one of the restaurants lining downtown's 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. With a perfect curb appeal, you will notice HILDA's colorful, highly-instagrammable interior even before entering the space. For example, an oversized stained glass mosaic covers one of the walls in its entirety, and the bar is studded with four rows of dark blue, glazed Zsolnay ceramic tiles, the same brand that decorates the lobby of the Four Seasons just a block away.
Oriental Soup House is a chic Vietnamese restaurant in a hip, under-the-radar neighborhood a bit outside the city center. The food, centered around 11 types of Asian soup varieties like pho, is as good as any Vietnamese in Budapest. Pho Bo, the simple and delicious beef noodle soup will not disappoint. Also good are the spring rolls (Nem Saigon) and the Bun cha, another Vietnamese signature dish consisting of grilled pork belly over a plate of rice vermicelli sprinkled with fresh cucumbers, coriander, and bean sprouts.
Babka occupies a prominent corner along the upscale Pozsonyi Road in Újlipótváros. The restaurant is named after an Ashkenazi Jewish bready cake from Eastern Europe, and is perhaps a tip of the hat to the neighborhood as well, home to much of Budapest’s middle-class Jewish community. The snug space, featuring hardwood floors and dim lighting, feels pleasant and cozy despite its unoriginal vintage decor (old radio and TV equipment are scattered throughout)..
Bring with you a healthy dose of skepticism when you go to Gozsdu Udvar, also known as the tourist and party central of Budapest's old Jewish Quarter. Most restaurants and bars here look to make money off the foreign crowds without offering much in exchange. Vicky Barcelona, a lively tapas bar, is one of the few exceptions. .
Bestia is a bustling grilled meat restaurant in the heart of Budapest. It has a picture-postcard view of the St. Stephen’s Basilica, a flashy, industrial chic interior, and a full-service cocktail bar serving 12 types of craft beers. A DJ spins tunes five nights a week and a trendy crowd flocks here every night.
Imagine a restaurant that's located right in the heart of Budapest's party district. Add to that mental image a shabby chic interior featuring lots of happy colors and design items with inspirational messages, and a food offering so broad as to include goulash, penne arrabiata, cheeseburger, duck confit, and paleo cake all on the menu. Welcome to Vintage Garden, one of the hottest and busiest restaurants in the Budapest's Jewish Quarter. Despite the unusually expansive culinary reach, the plates that come out of Vintage Garden's kitchen are reliable - the duck confit with gnocchi and apple chutney is particularly good.
Rankings are based on a combination of food/drink, atmosphere, service, and price. The author visits all restaurants incognito.