Food isn't the only factor when picking a restaurant for dinner. Those looking for the most bustling places around Budapest will find the restaurants below a great fit. They all differ in cuisine, neighborhood, and design, but one thing is common: come dinner-time, they fill to capacity with a chic, attractive crowd, and keep the buzzing energy late into the night.
Do you want to impress your friends that Budapest has trendy restaurants, as hip as those in the East Village? You’ll most likely get a kick out of DOBRUMBA if you’re in for the chic atmosphere, nonchalantly cool design, international food, and trendy foreigners surrounding you. The (largely vegetarian) menu, however, is a bit hit-or-miss. In the shakshuka, the vegetables don’t quite come together to form a distinctive flavor as they should. And the hummus with paprika lacks taste, character, and a creamy texture.Read more
A family-run tapas bar on a charming side street in the up-and-coming part of District 8. One can't fail to pick up on the clues that a family business is busy at work here: mother taking orders, son serving food, and father behind the bar of course. The best tapas include the staple, pimientos de Padrón (fried peppers), the shrimp marinated in garlic chili olive oil, and the basque sausage, which is close to being as good as it gets. In case you were wondering, they've a selection of Spanish wines and beers to wash down the treats.Read more
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.Read more
Mazel Tov is for people who like the ruin bar concept in theory, but prefer things more upscale. According to the textbook definition, a ruin bar is a courtyard of a highly dilapidated pre-war building that was turned into a bar without much by way of refurbishment, using second-hand furniture, and offering correspondingly low prices. In Mazel Tov’s case, the dilapidated façade and outdoor courtyard hold true, but cheap drinks were upgraded to cocktails, ham & cheese sandwiches to elaborate Middle Eastern dishes, self-service to hostesses/waiters, and cheap furniture to a thoughtfully designed interior with sleek wooden paneling. On most nights live music is playing in the background.Read more
This trendy bistro in the heart of the city has two things going for it: a stunning view of the Elisabeth bridge, and the stately building whose shockingly spacious ground floor it occupies. Loud music, dim lighting, and a distinctively industrial interior awaits you inside. The tree planted in the center of the bar, and the black and white classics they project on the rear wall are worthy attempts to spice up the otherwise not unusual exposed brick interior (with patches of intentionally disintegrating plaster). Food-wise they want to please all tastes (burger, salad, soup, pasta, steak, fish, Hungarian classics, etc.), at price levels that certainly include the surcharge for the panoramic vista (the three-course lunch prix fixe for HUF1,950 or c.Read more
Above-average food, laid-back vibes, a chic crowd, tiny tables squeezed into a small space, and waitresses speaking fluent English - are we in Brooklyn or Budapest? Budapest, because service isn't rushed, and you're welcome to hang around even after settling the check. Try to sit at the charming nooks upstairs, and for food, the duck cracklings with red onions and the foie gras starters are certainly worth the wait (double-check with your server if you don't see them on the menu). Location is another plus, being on a quiet side street on the section of District 7 (Jewish Quarter) that retained an element of gritty charm, yet easily within walking distance from the centers of nighttime activity. For curious minds, the name "M" pays homage to the memory of György Petri, an iconic Hungarian samizdat poet and childhood friend of the restaurant's owner.Read more
In retrospect, it's strange that it took so long for someone to finally open a classic Hungarian restaurant in the party district (Jewish Quarter). After all, most tourists are after local dishes before they hit the neighborhood bars. The name of the restaurant (Gettó Gulyás) makes its culinary priorities clear - the short menu features the heart of Magyar cuisine with staples like goulash, chicken paprikash, and beef stew. These Hungarian classics are updated with a small twist, like the baked curd cheese noodles rolled in bacon, that accompany the veal stew.Read more
In 2015, three young Vietnamese-Hungarian with a passion for cooking and a background in fashion and design, opened a Vietnamese fusion restaurant (Sao) in the tourist-packed part of Budapest’s District 7. The venture has turned out to be wildly successful. Encouraged, the owners launched another food project, Khan, but this time in the peaceful and residential Újlipótváros. Not that location would much matter: people flock to KHAN from near and far.Read more
Babka occupies a prominent corner along the upscale Pozsonyi Road in Újlipótváros. The restaurant is named after an Ashkenazi Jewish bready cake from Eastern Europe, and is perhaps a tip of the hat to the neighborhood as well, home to much of Budapest’s middle-class Jewish community. The snug space, featuring hardwood floors and dim lighting, feels pleasant and cozy despite its unoriginal vintage decor (old radio and TV equipment are scattered throughout). .Read more
Oriental Soup House is a stylish Vietnamese restaurant in a hip, under-the-radar neighborhood a bit outside the city center (Újlipótváros). The food, centered around 11 types of Asian soup varieties like pho, is as good as any Vietnamese in the city (go with the simple beef noodle soup: Pho Bo). Also good, and welcomingly generous is the spring roll (Nem Saigon) and the Bun cha, another Vietnamese signature dish consisting of grilled pork belly over a plate of rice vermicelli paired with fresh cucumbers, coriander and bean sprouts. The interior is a contemporary, carefully designed industrial look with a combination of sleek wooden stools, concrete flooring, and an open kitchen.Read more
A noticeable buzz surrounded the opening of Beszálló, a tiny, open-kitchen, Asian fusion gastropub located under the stately arched entrance to District 7. The attention was mainly due to executive-chef Krisztián Huszár, who has established himself as a leading force behind Budapest's nascent gastronomic revolution at well-known places like MÁK Bistro and ZONA. With lower prices at Beszálló, Huszár is looking to reach a broader audience keen to taste his inventive dishes. .Read more
Shabby chic interior with a stylish waitstaff in the most popular neighborhood of the city - these are valid reasons why this trendy bistro is crowded most days. On the other hand, one gets the impression that they focused just a bit too much on recreating a charmingly rustic atmosphere of the French countryside (there's an antique car parked inside), and could've put more emphasis on the food instead, which is decent, but at their price level should be even better. The menu is an amalgamation of French (rose duck breast), international (pasta, burgers, etc.), and Hungarian staples (goulash, and lángos variations). Reservation is a must..Read more
A healthy dose of skepticism is in order when you go to Gozsdu Udvar passage, aka tourist central of the Jewish Quarter. This was my first thought when I saw the lively crowd inside this tapas bar. Then I had the very decent revuelto (scrambled eggs that comes with sausage, goat cheese, and apple) and the carrillera de cerdo Ibérico (Iberian pork cheek) for starters, and my doubts began to dissipate. The elaborate design is another plus: a dim-lit, narrow path in the center is flanked by tables with velvet curtains on one side, and a curvilinear bar counter with mosaic patterns on the other.Read more
Spíler is one of those trendy, hyped-up bistros that’s always crowded, with loud music, a stylish décor, and good-looking waiters. It's inside the pulsating evening hangout spot, Gozsdu Udvar, dotted with restaurants and clubs in the heart of the Jewish Quarter in District 7. The food at Spíler is better than one would assume based on the tourist-heavy location. They serve a mix Hungarian staples and bistro-type dishes (think BBQ sandwich with french fries), along with a full breakfast offering.Read more
Rankings are based on a combination of food/drink, atmosphere, service, and price.