Top 9 - Fine Dining Restaurants

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#1 Babel Budapest

Bábel is one of a small number of true fine dining restaurants in Budapest. Chefs István Veres and Gábor Langer emphasize the Austro-Hungarian, especially the Transylvanian gastronomic heritage to give the dishes a local flavor, particularly in their use of herbs and vegetables.One of their best creations is the reimagined “tojásos nokedli” (egg noodle, or spätzle). Normally the simplest of countryside fare, at Bábel the dumplings are smothered with a beautifully creamy, truffle-filled egg spread and topped with sprinkles of egg yolk that have been dried and grated. Another highlight is the impossibly tender farm chicken, which includes a side of corn cream bedding, concealing a poached egg inside.The interior of Bábel checks all the boxes of an exclusive venue (white tablecloth, dimly-lit dining room with only a dozen tables, waiters making themselves available upon the slightest glance in their direction), and it does so without feeling overly formal or contrived.
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This exclusive bistro with a panoramic vista is located inside one of the most imposing buildings in Pest. A grand art nouveau construction with a glass-roofed arcade, it was the headquarters of the London-based Gresham Life Assurance Company at its opening in 1906. Even if you're on a tight budget, try to stop by for coffee to experience the grandeur of the building and the stunning view of the Castle Hill across the river. Make sure to walk through the main entrance (not via Zrínyi Street) to see the royal-looking lobby with multicolored Zsolnay tiles and ask for a window seat overlooking the Chain Bridge.
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#3 Costes Downtown

Save yourself an even heftier bill and skip its older brother (Costes), the first Michelin star restaurant in Budapest, and come here instead (this also has a Michelin star since 2016). Located in a quiet side street in the heart of downtown, the food is similarly amazing (both restaurants are overseen by executive chef Miguel Vieira), but without the overly contrived experience and compulsively manicured cooking. Creative tableware design, open kitchen (you can book a seat at the Chef's table) and a professional but friendly service add an element of chic to downplay the otherwise formal/business environment, particularly during lunchtime..
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#4 MÁK bistro

The good news is that the food here is on par with the Michelin star restaurants in the city, even though MÁK bistro hasn’t yet joined the club. More specifically: "while respecting the culinary traditions of Hungary and local ingredients, MÁK’s style of creation and presentation as well as simplicity can be originated from the best practices of Scandinavian Cuisine". The not so good news is that the service staff appears at times to be too focused on “upselling” rather than the customer experience. When dining at MÁK bistro, one gets the impression that a bit of background music and less intense lighting could extract more charm from the otherwise artfully prepared rustic interior and vaulted ceiling.
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#5 La Perle Noire

You’ll need to escape the heart of the city to unearth this restaurant, which serves refined modern Hungarian cuisine infused with French flavors. La Perle Noire is located on a peaceful section of the grand Andrássy Avenue peppered with residential villas and embassies. Take a look at the quirky modernist building from 1937 (now a hotel), amid the eclectic, predominantly 19th century street view. The kitchen is run by a heavyweight, which is obvious as soon as the dishes arrive.
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#6 Fausto’s Ristorante

Hands down, the finest and most expensive Italian food in Hungary. They rightfully claim that their courses are “sprinkled with the latest arts of contemporary cuisine” - don’t expect pizza and spaghetti Bolognese. But do expect a menu with depth over breadth and such delicacies as the green tagliatelle with duck ragout and goose liver or the tender lamb loin with fried polenta and black beans. The elaborate dishes pay homage to and are reimaginations of the rich northern Italian gastronomic traditions.
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#7 Petrus Restaurant

The sleepy and still somewhat gritty outer part of District 9 is the least likely of places to boast a fine-dining restaurant. This is why opening Petrus, a little gem of a top-notch French bistro, out there is a telling sign that the owner-chef doesn't shy away from original ideas. His audacity is reflected in the dishes too: food is centered on French cuisine infused with occasional inventive Hungarian staples - you might find mangalica pork carpaccio amid the various snail offers and confit de canard. In 2015 Petrus won a Bib Gourmand, a Michelin award for exceptional food at moderate prices, and is rumored to be a candidate for a Michelin star.
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#8 Prime Steak & Wine

This chic downtown steakhouse is on par with the top steakhouses anywhere in the world, not only in terms of quality, but unfortunately prices too. Go for the szürkemarha (Hungarian Grey cattle) filet mignon if you want to try a breed indigenous to Hungary and with a depth of flavor one rarely experiences, and select a fine bottle of Hungarian red from the extensive wine list to wash it down. The setting is formal and the interior a bit overdesigned, but the dim lighting helps to create a more relaxed, intimate environment that's best enjoyed during the evening. You can build up a buzz at the cocktail bar, the centerpiece of the space, while waiting for your table..
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#9 Baraka Restaurant & Lounge

Delicious fine dining in the center of the city with Far Eastern and European cuisines, infused with Hungarian culinary essentials (try the Hungarian deer loin with braised red cabbage, fig, and chestnut). During lunch it can feel overly corporate, but by dinner time the atmosphere of constrained formality tends to dissolve into a relaxed but elaborate fine dining experience. With thoughtful food design, professional waiting stuff, and a highly invested interior Baraka offers quite a gastro treat, but they still need to bring it all together for the A+ experience. The cocktail bar in a separate room at the entrance serves a broad range of the finest Japanese single malts.
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Rankings are based on a combination of food/drink, atmosphere, service, and price.