Restaurants, cafes, and bars
Budapest’s restaurants, cafes, and bars offer a diverse culinary landscape to satisfy every taste and budget. Here’s a guide to help you navigate the dining scene in the city:
Where to Look: Budapest boasts numerous dining establishments within the city and its surrounding suburbs. Traditional Hungarian cuisine varies across various price ranges in restaurants and inns. The city has also embraced international cuisines, with options including Italian, Greek, Chinese, and Thai restaurants. American-style fast food chains have also gained popularity. While the main tourist areas offer a wide selection of places to eat, it’s worth exploring off the beaten path to discover hidden gems frequented by local residents. It’s important to note that some establishments on Váci utca are known for overcharging, especially during nighttime.
Types of Restaurants, Cafes, and Bars: Budapest offers a range of dining options to suit different preferences. Here are some common types:
- Étterem (restaurant): This term simply means “restaurant” and encompasses various cuisines.
- Csárda: Csárda refers to folk-style restaurants that often specialize in local specialties. A halászcsárda, or fisherman’s csárda, mainly serves fish dishes and soups.
- Vendéglő and Kisvendéglő (Inn): Vendéglő represents an informal inn with a welcoming atmosphere, while kisvendéglő, or “small inn,” is similar to a cozy pub.
- Kévézó (Cafe): Budapest offers a range of cafes, from kávéház (coffee houses) to cukrászda (patisseries), where you can enjoy coffee, pastries, and light meals.
- Bár (Bar): Various types of bars are available, including borozó (wine bars), söröző (beer bars), and eszpresszó (espresso bars).
What to order
Hungarian cuisine offers a wide variety of flavors and specialties. When ordering, consider trying Hungarian soups, which come in many varieties. Bogrács is typically served in a kettle, and bean soups are hearty options, often followed by hot puddings or pancakes. Hungarian fish soup, with its distinctive red color from paprika, is a particular delicacy. Don’t miss out on dishes like goulash soup (gulyás leves) and pörkölt, a paprika stew similar to goulash. Bread is commonly served with meals, and the white wheat variety is especially delicious. Street kiosks and bars offer more casual options, such as spicy sausages, grilled chicken, smoked meats, and the popular lángos, a savory yeast cake served with cream or cheese.
Reserving a Table
In Hungary, sharing a table with other guests is customary, especially during busy lunch hours. If you prefer a private table, you should make a reservation in advance, whether dining at exclusive restaurants or more affordable establishments.
Some restaurants include a service charge in the final bill, while in others, tipping is customary. If a service charge is added, it will be indicated on the menu or the bill (up to 15 percent). However, if it’s not specified, leaving a tip is polite. Generally, a 10-15 percent tip of the meal’s cost is considered acceptable.
Restaurants in Budapest welcome children, and if children’s portions aren’t listed on the menu, the chef can prepare suitable dishes upon request. These dishes are typically charged at half the price. Desserts are usually not shared, as Hungarian restaurant desserts are known for their deliciousness.
Taking advantage of Hungary’s long and dry summers, al fresco dining is popular in Budapest. Two fashionable locations for outdoor dining are Liszt Ferenc tér, near Oktogon metro station, and Ráday utca, starting at Kálvin tér. These areas are filled with cozy restaurants, bars, and cafes, attracting a youthful clientele. You can find a variety of cuisines, including traditional Hungarian, Italian, Chinese, and Argentinian.
Enjoy exploring Budapest’s vibrant dining scene, and savor the city’s diverse flavors and culinary experiences!
A Taste of Hungary’s Culinary Delights
Budapest offers a culinary scene as rich and diverse as its history. From traditional Hungarian dishes to innovative contemporary cuisine, the city’s gastronomy is a mouth-watering experience for foodies. Let’s take a culinary journey through the food and drink delights of the Hungarian capital.
Traditional Hungarian Dishes
Budapest is the perfect place to try traditional Hungarian dishes. Goulash, a hearty stew with meat and vegetables seasoned with paprika, is one of the most famous. Other traditional dishes include chicken paprikash, stuffed peppers, and lángos, a deep-fried flatbread typically topped with sour cream and cheese.
Local Bakeries and Pastries
Hungarian pastries are a must-try. Visit a local bakery to sample chimney cake (kürtőskalács), a sweet, spiral-shaped pastry, or dobos torte, a sponge cake layered with chocolate buttercream and topped with caramel.
Hungary has a long history of winemaking, and Budapest has many excellent wine bars where you can sample local varieties. Try Tokaji, a sweet dessert wine, or Egri Bikavér, a full-bodied red known as “Bull’s Blood”.
One of the unique aspects of Budapest’s nightlife is its ruin pubs. These bars are located in abandoned buildings and decorated with eclectic, often vintage, furnishings. Szimpla Kert, the original ruin pub, is a must-visit.
Fine Dining and Michelin-Starred Restaurants
For a more upscale dining experience, Budapest has several Michelin-starred restaurants, including Onyx, Costes, and Borkonyha. These establishments offer modern interpretations of Hungarian cuisine, often using locally sourced ingredients.
Visit Budapest’s local markets to experience the city’s culinary scene at its most authentic. The Great Market Hall, Budapest’s largest and oldest indoor market, is filled with stalls selling fresh produce, meats, cheeses, spices, and local specialties.
Budapest has a vibrant coffee culture, with historic coffee houses and modern third-wave coffee shops. Visit the New York Café, dubbed “the most beautiful café in the world”, or explore the city’s burgeoning specialty coffee scene.
Budapest’s food and drink scene offers everything from traditional Hungarian comfort food to innovative fine dining, local wines, unique pubs, and vibrant coffee culture. Be sure to explore this culinary landscape, tasting your way through the heart and soul of the city.