Budapest's 4 Kosher Restaurants

While Budapest still has a sizable Jewish community, there exist only a few kosher restaurants. They're within the old Jewish Quarter, near the Kazinczy Street Orthodox Synagogue. Hanna and Carmel are meat, Kosher Deli and Tel Aviv Café dairy restaurants. If you don't keep strictly kosher, you could also try these Jewish-style, but non-kosher places.

Hanna is a glatt kosher meat restaurant in Budapest's old Jewish Quarter operated by the Hungarian Autonomous Orthodox Jewish Community. Since the restaurant is buried within the fortress-like edifice of the congregation, most locals have never encountered Hanna, even though the surrounding area is currently the center of Budapest's nightlife, teeming with cafés, bars, and restaurants.

The menu comprises both traditional Ashkenazi and Hungarian classics such as matzo ball soup and goulash. Although you can run into an excellent "Jewish" egg salad here — egg spread with onions, goose fat, and goose liver — most dishes are prepared in that typical 1980s Hungarian style where quantity trumps flavor and presentation. Hanna's adorably cranky waiters are also holdouts from a previous generation, but these elements together offer a journey back in time that's worth experiencing.

For the liveliest atmosphere, go for a Friday Sabbath dinner. It's a set four-course meal with complimentary challah bread and Kiddush wine, enlivened by chants of blessings and singing by the orthodox Jewish patrons who come here after the service in the neighboring synagogue. Note that guests must prepay the meal before 2 p.m. on Friday and it costs €30 per person.

Managed by the Hungarian Chabad-Lubavitch Hasidic community, Carmel is one of Budapest’s few glatt kosher meat restaurants. During the meal a mashgiach — an official supervising rabbi — is present at all times to ensure that the Jewish dietary laws (kashrut) are observed. As with Hanna, the other meat restaurant around the corner from here, Carmel gets liveliest for Shabbat meals, that is, Friday's dinner and Saturday's lunch. Here too, guests must prepay the meals, which costs €35 per person.

During Shabbat, Carmel fills up with joyful orthodox and ultraorthodox Jews from around the world, both Sephardis and Ashkenazis. The meals feature both Middle Eastern and Ashkenazi dishes: there are mezze plates of matbukha, eggplant, hummus, tahini, and also “Jewish" egg salad, gefilte fish, slow-cooked beef shank, cholent, and babka. On regular days, Carmel serves traditional, although unremarkable Hungarian dishes such as a goulash soup and a beef stew (pörkölt).

Unfortunately, Budapest’s kosher restaurants aren’t known for serving delicious or nuanced dishes but most people who frequent them, of course, have no choice. Kosher Deli Restaurant, which opened in 2019, has quickly established itself as the better of Budapest’s only two dairy restaurants (the other is Tel Aviv Café around the corner). Kosher Deli belongs to Mazsihisz, the main faction of Budapest's Jews and the proprietor of the nearby Dohány Street Synagogue.

The ground floor consist of a small kosher grocery store with a pastry counter, while the restaurant occupies the upstairs area. Being a non-meat restaurant, there are egg-based breakfast dishes and a range of pizzas and pastas here. Far from memorable, but the scrambled eggs, the shakshuka, the margherita pizza, and the spaghetti aglio e olio are unlikely to disappoint.

Located in the old Jewish Quarter near the main orthodox synagogue, Tel Aviv Café is one of the only two kosher dairy restaurants in Budapest (don't go searching for meat dishes here). Instead of typical Ashkenazi dairy classics such as matzo brei, blintz, and latkes, the menu comprises Middle Eastern classics here, including couscous, shakshuka, hummus, as well as vegetarian pizzas and pastas.

The “Israeli platter” evokes a two-star hotel breakfast experience both in terms of taste and aesthetics. Non-kosher guests will find better tuna salad, mushroom pizza, pasta Alfredo, and Dobos torte in the neighborhood. Across the street from here is Tel Aviv Café's sister location, Carmel, a glatt kosher meat restaurant serving considerably better food.