The 22 Trendiest Restaurants In Budapest, Fall 2019

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.

#1 Mazel Tov Budapest

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 mezze plates, self-service to hostesses, and cheap furniture to a thoughtfully designed, industrial-chic interior with sleek wood paneling.

#2 Kiosk Budapest

Kiosk is a buzzing 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.)

#3 Gettó Gulyás

In retrospect, it's weird that it took so long for someone to finally open a traditional Hungarian restaurant inside 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's moniker makes its culinary priorities clear—the short menu features the heart of Magyar cuisine with staples like goulash (€4), chicken paprikash (€7), and pörkölt, which is a beef stew. ("Gettó" refers to the Jewish ghetto, into which this neighborhood was turned during the winter of 1944, the darkest time of WWII in Budapest).

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#4 HILDA

HILDA is a chic downtown restaurant on the increasingly fashionable Nádor Street, an area that has come to life as a growing number of tourists and international students from the nearby Central European University pass through. HILDA boasts a perfect curb appeal and Instagrammable interior: An oversized stained glass mosaic covers one of the walls in its entirety, and the bar is studded with dark blue, glazed Zsolnay ceramic tiles, the same brand that decorates the lobby of the Four Seasons around the corner from here.

#5 Börze Budapest

Börze is a sleek downtown restaurant serving traditional Hungarian fare from early morning until midnight, seven days a week. With red banquettes and a chic interior designed to the minute detail, the vibes evoke a Keith McNally restaurant. 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. The restaurant is a 2017 offshoot of Menza, and like its sister restaurant, Börze is a well-oiled machine with reliable dishes and a good-natured waitstaff.

#6 Menza Restaurant

In the early aughts, Liszt Ferenc Square in District 6 was a popular hangout for trendy, well-heeled locals. But as the wheel of trends turned, local people moved on to other pockets of the city. Today, you'll find plenty of tourist trap restaurants here emblazoned with "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.

#7 Felix Restaurant

The location of Felix is hard to beat, offering stunning views onto the Castle Hill and the nearby Danube river. The restaurant, which serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner, is inside a carefully refurbished landmark-protected building from the 19th century designed by Miklós Ybl, who was also the head architect of the Budapest Opera House. The vibes at Felix are a notch above what people often refer to as "trendy," but the place is more casual and also cheaper than stiff-lipped fine fining dining establishments.

#8 DOBRUMBA

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 inside Budapest's buzzing Jewish Quarter. 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.

#9 Padron Budapest

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.

#10 Fricska Gastropub

Following stints at well-known Budapest restaurants, two young, local chefs, Andor Giczi and Szabolcs Nagy, struck out on their own, opening Fricska restaurant in 2014. Since then, Fricska has earned a reputation for outstanding modern Hungarian dishes, and it also won a Bib Gourmand award from Michelin in 2017. The restaurant is located on the far end of the party district, inside a below-ground space that manages to be cozy despite the absence of natural lighting.

#11 Spíler Bistro

Located inside the tourist-heavy Gozsdu Courtyard, Spíler is one of the hottest restaurants in Budapest's buzzing Jewish Quarter. It's a massive place with three, highly-Instagrammable dining rooms that operate at capacity most evenings. The menu features reliably made popular international fare (nachos, wings, burgers) alongside traditional Hungarian classics like goulash (€6), chicken paprikash (€9), and paprika-laced beef stew with egg barley (pörkölt; €13). Local wines, and almost 30 types of bottled craft beers are available for pairing. With most dishes below €10, prices are reasonable for the prime location.

#12 Sáo Budapest

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.

#13 Déryné Bistro

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.

#14 M Restaurant

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.

#15 Bobo Restaurant

If you’re curious about the modern food scene of the less traveled side of the Danube, in Buda, Bobo restaurant is a worthy newcomer to visit in Rózsadomb, an exclusive residential area. The restaurant's stated mission is to draw Budapest's Bobos, a term made popular by David Brooks's book, Bobos in Paradise, referring to a social class with both a bourgeois and bohemian side to them.

#16 KHAN

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.

#17 Oriental Soup House

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.

#18 Kőleves Restaurant

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.

#19 Bestia

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 for well-heeled, trendy tourists.

#20 Babka Budapest

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 the space.

#21 Vicky Barcelona Budapest

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.

#22 Vintage Garden

Featuring a shabby chic decor and lots of happy colors and inspirational messages, Vintage Garden is a trendy restaurant right in the heart of Budapest's bustling party district. Given the tourist-heavy location, the restaurant aims 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 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.

Rankings are based on a combination of food/drink, atmosphere, service, and price. The author visits all restaurants incognito.