Until recently, it was difficult to find a decent breakfast in Budapest, since most locals eat breakfast at home. Thanks to the influx of tourists, breakfast offerings have improved considerably. Several options have emerged, where trendy interior designs and chic waitstaffs go hand in hand with a well-prepared pair of sunny side up.
In New York or London, this hip breakfast joint/wine bar would be just another fashionable, industrial-chic café: the type of place where tattooed servers run around a sleek, wood-lined interior in bow ties, vintage light bulbs hang from exposed galvanized steel pipes, and semi-alternative R&B tunes set the musical background. In Budapest, many places have tried to emulate this concept. But STIKA, this pocket-sized space in District 7, is the first to get it exactly right. Little inside will remind you that you’re in Budapest, but that’s not the point here.
Escape the noisy downtown street and enter through the graceful yellow ceramic tiles to the tranquil courtyard of this 19th century building. The stately pre-war marble well in the middle of the courtyard is one of those turn-of-the-century Budapest surprises behind many sooty facades, and the place for a morning coffee in good weather months. Inside you'll find a friendly service staff, designer products, an amalgamation of rustic/minimalist/industrial interior, and specialty coffee (espresso-based and hand pour overs). Additional good news is that Fekete serves outstanding breakfasts (the croque-monsieur/madame is unlikely to disappoint), and they are open on Sundays too..
The instagram-friendly location is one of the highlights of this closet-sized, breakfast-all-day joint in the cobble-stoned inner courtyard of a pre-war downtown building. Partially thanks to the inclusion of Szimply in a New York Times feature on Budapest (#50), it's next to impossible to find an open table at this breakfast nook. The food offering checks the boxes of trendy contemporary breakfast staples, such as the generously packed avocado toast topped with arugula, figs and goat cheese, or the four types of (vegan) vegetable and fruit juices. Their best dish, however, is the moderately named "Bun 2.0", where on top of the bread, in a red onion chutney bedding, sits a heap of fatty, crispy bacon.
Curious where the top 1% of Buda residents hang out? Wonder no more. The owners of Déryné were ahead of the curve in 2007 when they opened this high-end bistro (think Balthazar ambiance). At the time, Budapest's options for fine(r) dining were largely limited to tacky downtown restaurants with communist-era kitchen practices and a deeply ingrained rip-off culture. And how have they managed to sustain the bistro's popularity for so many years, as other places have sprouted up in Pest with comparable offerings at lower prices? It's a combination of Déryné's reputation, a limited supply of similar restaurants in Buda, and a professionally-run organization: from their website to the basement wine cellar, everything is carefully designed and curated.
This French-style café has become one of the most popular breakfast destinations in Budapest for the fashionable crowd. The all-day breakfast offering is prepared reliably and well, and includes a range of classics (think croque madame), and more exotic variations such as the goose liver benedict. These dishes are frequently accompanied by strawberry mimosa from the full service bar. The trendy crowd consists of a mix of tourists and locals, who can be observed multi-tasking between their breakfast plates and their iphones (assessing the most instragam-worthy shots).
This tiny health-conscious café located in a quiet corner of Újlipótváros is one of the best kept secrets in Budapest. Situated along the upscale Pozsonyi Road on the ground floor of a nicely renovated modernist building from the 1940s, Sarki fűszeres is best for coffee or breakfast during the warm weather months by the outdoor tables canopied over with greenery. Their breakfast offering includes ham & eggs, English breakfast, croissants, meat and cheese platters, and plenty other other locally sourced organic stuff that would check all boxes at Whole Foods. Take a walk around the neighborhood, which has a bunch of hidden gems, like the buildings across the streetwith the lavish marble staircases..
Liberté is a worthy attempt at recreating the atmosphere of a high-end American diner infused with a trendy French bistro. Located near the Parliament in the elite section of District 5 peppered with banks, it mainly caters to a well-off clientele. The food is an interesting combination of trendy international staples and Hungarian-influenced culinary essentials. So you might find both avocado toast with poached egg and steak with goose liver and lecsó on the menu.
This salad bar started the granola/salad/fresh juice wave in Budapest, and benefited accordingly: diehard followers with little price sensitivity. Fruccola is also one of the few places in Budapest that serves outstanding breakfast omelets, which come with salmon or spinach & goat cheese. On weekdays, they have an ever-changing two-course prix fixe lunch, which is heavier on vegetables and other healthy ingredients than most Budapest restaurants. Credit to the owners, who cater to a broad range of interests with their magazine subscriptions (Wallpaper, The New Yorker, A10, Monocle, National Geographic, etc.).
For the longest time Pest didn't used to have places specialized for breakfast food, even though we all know what a difference a plate of well-prepared scrambled eggs can make to start the day on the right foot. This gaping void was filled in 2014 with the opening of Zoska, a shabby-chic breakfast place nestled in a quite downtown street. Zoska's offering includes international breakfast staples anywhere from cold plates to ham & eggs, and also bundás kenyér, Hungarians' take on the French toast. The staff behind the counter isn't always as courteous as they should be, but this shouldn't surprise anyone in Budapest.
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.