Budapest is a great city to visit for a lot of reasons, and one of those reasons is how well you can eat there. Another? How well you can eat there relatively little. Over recent years, Budapest has cemented its reputation as a great destination for foodies, with four different Michelin Star restaurants gracing its streets and countless more excellent dining choices of all kinds there for the sampling. From cheap eats to fine dining, here are some of my top Budapest bites...
Enjoy the most opulent eggs you’ve ever eaten in Budapest’s famous New York Café. Ok, these eggs will be pricey. It’s not the best value for money in Budapest, as far as food on the plate goes... but when you sit down for coffee and breakfast in New York Café, it’s more than just the eggs you’re paying for. It's the history, elegance, and atmosphere. The New York Café website claims it's 'The World's Most Beautiful Café', a claim that I took with a pinch of salt when I saw it... until I walked through the doors of the place. It really is beautiful, and well worth having breakfast,or at least a coffee and some cake in.
This is a tiny little all day breakfast joint that has become renowned in the city for its modern and interesting brunch menu that changes regularly. The food is really excellent – beautifully put-together brunches make the most of fresh seasonal ingredients, and you get an awful lot of bang for your buck here. Expect to have to wait to eat, this is a very popular spot. But don’t be put off, you can chill in their coffee-shop while you wait and peruse the menu.
I've always been a big believer in cheap, cheerful and quick lunches when I'm travelling, and then splashing out on nice dinners in the evening. With that in mind, here are the best mid-day refueling spots I found in Budapest...
This is a relatively new little spot in the city that serves chimney cakes, but it takes them to a whole new level of flavour with its menu full of sweet and savoury filled chimney cakes (they’re called kürtőskalács in Hungarian). I’d tasted sweet chimney cake before, but never with Hungarian meatballs, juicy tomatoes and local cheese. Let me tell you, they are good. And they’re cheap too; even a ‘premium’ filled cake will set you back just €3. It’s a great place to go for a lunch that’s cheap, tasty, fast, and a little bit different.
If you want to try the truly iconic Hungarian street food that is lángos – a fat disc of deep fried dough, slathered in sour cream and cheese among other toppings – then try it at the Retró Lángos near Arany János metro station. Their menu is pretty extensive and the choice of toppings you can get is huge, but I have to say, the very simple combination of sour cream, cheese and roasted onion is a winner in my humble opinion. These ones are soft, freshly fried, absolutely loaded with…. Ahem… vital calories for a day walking this big city. They cost around €3.
Another great place for a hearty lunch is ToLTo on Wesselenyi Street. It’s street food with a gourmet twist – these bad boys are not your ordinary hot dogs, or even regular traditional Hungarian sausage. You can choose a sausage made from either chicken, beef, pork, or wild boar, and enjoy it on home-made bread for the grand sum of between €4-€5.50. There are fresh, well-made and really tasty - a perfect pit stop during a busy day walking the city. They serve beer here too :)
Wrap your mouth around some proper, authentic Hungarian cuisine at the charming Hungarikum Bistro. It’s old-fashioned and very traditional, and you’ll get a very big, very hearty, very flavourful Hungarian dinner here for between €10 and €15 (their beef tenderloin isn’t even €15). It is, you will be unsurprised to hear, a very busy spot – so make sure you book ahead to avoid disappointment. A great place to try goulash, and the pork loin is absolutely mouth-watering.
One of Budapest’s four Michelin starred restaurants (it’s earned two stars), Onyx is a superb place to go for a special occasion, so be prepared for a meal that you won’t forget. They open for lunch and dinner – lunch starts at around €50 for three courses and dinner at €100 for six - it’s not cheap but for what you get, it’s really great value.
The food here is exceptionally well thought-out, from the flavours, combinations and quality of the ingredients used through to the extremely instagrammable, impeccable presentation. This is food that's beautiful in every way, and a perfect memorable meal to mark a trip to Budapest.