Feeling Hungary? Where and what to eat and drink in Budapest

A city steeped in history and cultural diversity, Hungary’s capital offers a tantalising array of culinary delights that reflect its heritage, from traditional ‘mom-and-pop’ cafes to restaurants with clear international influences, here’s where to eat in Budapest.

What and where to eat in Budapest, Hungary

From the hilly slopes and crenelations of Fisherman’s Bastion in Buda to the flat, bustling Pest side of the city, Hungary’s capital is a wonderful city to explore. We’ve always wanted to come here, to see the mighty Danube that cleaves this beautiful historic place in two.

Monumental architecture, a complicated history, a busy cosmopolitan city and a truly unique culture, Budapest is a town everyone should come with the highest of travel expectations and be prepared to have them fulfilled.

From a food perspective, however, we weren’t sure what to expect.

What we found though, was a rich diversity of cuisines and a city that prides itself on what it puts on your plate and into your glass.

Each heading has a link to Google Maps to show you exactly where these places are. 🙂

12 Places To Eat And Drink In Budapest, Hungary

What and where to eat in Budapest, Hungary - Freya's Croissant Story Cafe

1. Freyja—The Croissant Story

In the middle of funky District II, this neighbourhood-style cafe does good coffee, but as you’d hope, even better croissants.

They do a wide selection of filled pastries too. Christina’s pistachio and my ham and comte croissants were excellent. It can get pretty crowded here though, so be prepared for a queue.

What and where to eat in Budapest, Hungary - Little Melbourne Cafe

2. My Little Melbourne Coffee

This cute little cafe, serving presentable coffee and pastries, was close to our hotel on Madách Imre út and caught our coffee-hungry eye with the word ‘Melbourne’. It’s not quite up to the elevation of Victorian coffee, but it’s not bad.

At night this street and the laneways beyond absolutely go off.

What and where to eat in Budapest, Hungary - Szimpla Kert ruin bar

3. Szimpla Kert

One of if not the biggest and best known of Budapest’s famed ‘ruin bars’. This huge crumbling edifice has a great atmosphere and attracts an amazing mix of people—even on a Monday night.

It’s almost like a department store of bars with each little room offering different drinks and a different vibe. Not sure what the food is like here, but come here for a couple of drinks and soak up the vibe.

4. Savoyai Terasz at Budvári Palota (Buda Palace)

Outside the main doors of Buda Palace, this place has probably the best views of any bar of the Pest side of the city from across the water. It’s a tourist bar, but it’s also a welcome break if you’ve walked all the way to the top of this hill instead of using the nearby funicular rail. Like us.

Great for a cheeky beer with a view—very cheeky actually at $10 a pint, but worth it all the same.

What and where to eat in Budapest, Hungary - Leo Rooftop Bar

5. Leo Rooftop

Also on the Buda side near Budvári Palota, the rooftop bar above the Clark Hotel is absolutely lovely. Also with incredible views of the river and the city, this cool little bar does great drinks and food.

Book a table if you can, otherwise you’ll have to chance it at the weird reception at street level.

What and where to eat in Budapest, Hungary - Twentysix Budapest

6. Twentysix Budapest

This beautiful bar in District II does excellent cocktails and wonderful food. Set in a huge building—or more the atrium of one—Twentysix feels more like an arboretum with tables surrounded by plants and a triple-height ceiling made of panels of glass.

What and where to eat in Budapest, Hungary - Ildiko Konyhaja etkezda

7. Ildikó Konyhája

If you’re looking for an authentic Hungarian food experience, look for etkezda restaurants. Usually run by older locals as a mom-and-pop cafe, the food is always hearty and tasty, and the prices are usually very low.

This—Ildikó Konyhája—one is just a block back from the Danube on the Buda side and is wonderful. Christina’s creamy chicken stew and my beef stew were both great. Both came with nokedli—gnocchi-esque dumpling squiggles.

What and where to eat in Budapest, Hungary - Ildiko Konyhaja etkezda food

They also have kaplinka here, a traditional Hungarian digestivo spirit. It’s potent, but tasty.

Sadly, etkezde restaurants are becoming harder and harder to come by. Here’s an interesting story on how and why they’re dying out.

What and where to eat in Budapest, Hungary - Millennium Da Pippo Italian restaurant

8. Millennium Da Pippo

In the lively city suburb of Terézváros, Ristorante Millennium da Pippo shows off Hungary’s international side. From the red and white gingham tablecloths to the prosciutto slicer, this place is about as Italian as it gets.

The food is excellent serving real Neapolitan style pizza, plump and oozy burrata and superb vitello tonnato—a dish you rarely see outside Italy.

What and where to eat in Budapest, Hungary - Getto Gulyas Restaurant

9. Gettó Gulyás

This friendly yet upmarket restaurant in District II serves traditional Hungarian dishes, but at the other end of the culinary spectrum to an etkezde, where the kitchen is keen to show off real flare.

We shared a few dishes to make the most of the menu. Entrees of grilled bone marrow left in the half-bone, beef tartare and goulash were delicious. Then mains of beef tenderloin special and veal paprikash.

What and where to eat in Budapest, Hungary - Getto Gulyas grilled marrow

The professional service guiding us through menu felt like we were being up-sold at first, but actually resulted in a better meal. This was our last dinner in Hungary—a suitable highlight to finish on.

10. Mazel Tov

A similar, though more down-to-earth vibe as Twentysix Budapest, this cavernous eatery is full of greenery and is topped with a high glass ceiling.

Serving beautifully made Mediterranean and fusion Middle-Eastern dishes, Mazel Tov is another great example of Budapest’s broad food vocabulary.

What and where to eat in Budapest, Hungary - Mazel Tov restaurant

We shared a mezze selection (the hummus was outstanding) and a meat platter of sausage, patties and pittas, and a huge pile of chargrilled chicken pieces. If you have a table reservation, ignore the queue and go straight in. If you don’t have a booking, prepare yourself for the possibility of a semi-long wait.

11. Retro Lángos

If you’re really hungry and want a delicious, heartwarming snack, you’ve got to try the traditional Hungarian lángos.

This dish hits so many of our guilty-pleasure bliss points and the busy Retro Lángos on Bajcsy-Zsilinszky Way (Bajcsy-Zsilinszky út), one of the main arterial streets through the Pest side of Budapest, is a lángos specialist.

What and where to eat in Budapest, Hungary - Retro Langos

Somewhere between a pizza, a donut, a pancake and okonomiaki, lángos is a flat puffy crunchy disc of deep-fried dough covered in your choice of toppings. These usually start with a base of sour cream and Retro Lángos offers everything from turkey, tomato and mozzarella to spicy Mexican chilli.

The Hungarian lángos we both order, with sour cream, roasted bacon pieces, red onion and grated cheese, are not only formidable, but incredibly satisfying.

12. Széchenyi Thermal Bath House

Strictly speaking, not a bar or restaurant per se, this magnificent thermal bathhouse inside the Neo-Baroque palace built specifically to house the baths in 1909 is a must-visit while you’re in Budapest (here’s our full review of the Széchenyi Thermal Bath House).

While you’re here, you can pick up snacks and drinks from the cafeteria, but that’s not why we’ve included this venue here.

Szechenyi Baths Budapest - main outdoor pool

One of the private bathing options here is the Thermal Beer Spa, where you can relax in 36°C water infused with hops, yeast and malted grain. And for the 45 minutes that you’re soaking in your beery wooden tubs, you can pour yourself as many glasses of local lager from the tap next to you as you like!

Bonus food!

Kürtöskalács (you might’ve seen it as kurtosh) or ‘chimney cake’ is a popular sweet you can find all over Budapest, mostly from little food vans.

What and where to eat in Budapest, Hungary - Kurtoskalacs

Built in a spiral shape, this tasty snack is in fact a kind of cake that’s twisted into a helix shape then cooked until crisp. It’s called chimney cake because when it’s hot, steam pours out the top like a chimney.

You can get a variety of coatings on the outside of your Kürtöskalács and some are filled with things like cream too. I can’t remember what we had, but it was tasty and fun to eat.

Kürtöskalács is – or was – specific to Transylvanian Hungarians (now Romania) and goes back to at least the 1600s.

What and where to eat in Budapest, Hungary

Be first to comment