Budapest is experiencing a gastronomic revolution. Carbs- and meat-heavy Hungarian staples like goulash and chicken paprikash are giving way to smaller portions, inventive recipes, and healthier ingredients. The result? Contemporary, international culinary influences fused into traditional Hungarian flavors. Think tender pork loins marinated in soy sauce, and paired with a soft corn puree bedding and a side of grilled bok choy. Or slow cooked beef cheek with broccoli flowerets...A word to the wise: many of these restaurants offer exceptional lunch prix fixe for a fraction of the price these dishes normally cost.
High-end bistro serving stellar Hungarian dishes along with a broad selection of Hungarian wines. Whatever you do, don’t miss the mangalica ("the Kobe beef of pork") dishes and also check the specials on the chalkboard. The chéf, Ákos Sárközi, prepares classic Hungarian dishes with contemporary, inventive techniques. His take on the potato soup, normally the dullest of soups, is a smooth, creamy, almost magical concoction that comes with coconut milk and shrimp balls.Read more
In 2014, two young chefs, after apprenticing at well-known Budapest restaurants, decided to venture out on their own. They opened a laid-back bistro in a remote part of District 7 focused on re-imagined (Hungarian) classics. Think roasted duck liver with figs or goulash soup. But what goulash it is.Read more
You need to trek out to the outer part of District 7’s working class neighborhood to experience the surprisingly delicious, unique, elaborate meals prepared by 25-year-old executive chef Ádám Garai at Olimpia. The restaurant does not have a fixed menu, instead using the blackboard on the wall to present the daily-changing dishes, which vary based on seasonal ingredients. The result? Absolutely superb. Wonderfully soft fried chicken liver in a crispy breading that comes with a light wasabi mayonnaise sauce, and sides of fresh rhubarb and zucchini.Read more
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.Read more
One of Budapest’s best restaurants hides in the far flung neighborhood of Újlipótváros. Were it not for the Michelin stickers on its otherwise nondescript cast iron door, one would not likely imagine the culinary delights inside. At lunch time, local office workers’ chatter permeates the industrial-themed dining room in this former textile production plant. The main purpose of the trip out here is the food of course, which centers on Hungarian essentials paired with and boosted by Asian ingredients.Think braised pork cheek that comes with steamed beetroots, shiitake mushroom, sour cream (sprinkled with drops of bacon), and bok choy (a frequent guest on the plates) on a corn bedding.Read more
For many years Zeller was located in a most impossible basement venue in the outer part of Budapest. Yet they developed such a cult following that getting a table was one of the biggest challenges facing Budapest tourists. Since their humble beginnings in 2013 they have moved into a bigger, trendier, posher venue in downtown, but seem to have remained loyal to their founding principles: serving locally produced, updated Hungarian dishes with a cheerful service staff. Rather than the over-promoted goulash, Zeller's creative Hungarian cuisines include the delicate rose duck served with celery and baby carrots, and the tender pork cheek that comes in a paprika sauce.Read more
TÁBLA, a closet-sized, space at the edge of the Jewish quarter, occupies the territory between fine dining and a casual restaurant. They target gastronomically-inclined local office workers who don’t mind shelling out twice what the dime a dozen places nearby charge for a no-frills lunch prix fixe. Tourists also happily munch away for a fraction of what these elaborate dishes would cost at home. The daily-changing baseline food offering is Hungarian, with a slight twist accompanying all the dishes.Read more
If a gastronomic revolution hadn't taken place in Budapest over the last 10 years, Csalogány 26 would still be ruling the city's "high-end bistro" scene. But times have changed. And while Csalogány's kitchen is still churning out visually pleasing, delicious Hungarian classics with a twist, so do many other restaurants in Budapest. And as competition increases, factors like customer service, atmosphere, and interior design, all somewhat lacking at Csalogány 26, can tip the balance.Read more
If you manage to find this place, buried in the basement of an abandoned inner courtyard, you'll be generously rewarded for your perseverance. The chef learned the tricks of the trade at some of the finest restaurants in the city (including MÁK bistro), and you'll be able to treat your taste buds at very reasonable prices with the ever-changing daily prix fixe written on the chalkboard. The uniqueness of Chablon Bistro partially lies in the sharp contrast between the less-than-inviting underground premises and the unexpectedly superb, aesthetically pleasing dishes that come out of the tiny kitchen. A truly pleasant surprise.Read more
Klassz is the type of safe-bet restaurant recommendation you would give to acquaintances visiting your city, being certain that it won't disappoint. Both the service and the quality of the food tend to be consistently high, there's a balanced mix of Hungarian and non-Hungarian dishes/wine, and it’s located on the most prominent avenue (Andrássy) of the city with outdoor seating for the good weather months. Try the tender breaded veal chop that comes with parsley potato and cucumber salad, or the wonderfully simple linguine with thinly sliced beef rump. You can fill up your inventory of Hungarian wines in the back of the restaurant, where they operate a wine store.Read more
Rankings are based on a combination of food/drink, atmosphere, service, and price.