29 Sep 10 Must-visit Restaurants for Hungarian Food in Budapest
Whether you’re a long-time lover of Hungarian cuisine or a newcomer eager to dive into local flavors, Budapest offers a plethora of places to savor traditional Hungarian dishes. Here are ten must-visit eateries that serve authentic Hungarian food in the capital city.
Make sure to explore these locales to experience the true essence of Hungarian cuisine in Budapest, from sophisticated dining to hearty, everyday fare. Every place listed is a testament to the rich culinary tradition of this vibrant city.
Dive into a cozy sit-down dinner where Jewish cuisine intertwines with Hungarian flavors, delivering a unique culinary adventure. Rosenstein offers a mosaic of tastes, providing a harmonious blend of traditions and authentic recipes.
They are particularly well known for their Jewish-Hungarian dishes, such as their famous cholent, pictured above.
They also run the gamut in terms of traditional Hungarian fare, such as goulash, paprikash and stuffed cabbage. A place to go if you have a hearty appetite and want to combine white tablecloth elegance with cozy neighborhood vibes.
TATI Farm to Table
Tati is smack dab in the middle of the famous Budapest Jewish District, yet the newly opened farm-to-table restaurant is far more sophisticated than most establishments in its immediate surroundings.
Co-founded by Barbara Poisson-Angeli, who is also behind smash success tropical jungle-themed Twentysix over on Király utca, Tati is, as it says in the name, all about farm-to-table dining. This means fresh, hyper-local ingredients, focused on ecosustainability for the planet, and gastronomic health for the customer.
As with all farm-to-table restaurants, the menu is inherently seasonal, and head Chef Attila Gáspár deftly works the freshest Hungarian produce into creative dishes. His experience in the Scandinavian and British dining scenes certainly shines through in the exemplary selection of modern Hungarian dishes.
The free-range Hungarian chicken paprikash is no joke and all of the vegan desserts are a true delight. Be sure to sample from their extensive list of natural Hungarian wines. The place to go if you want to have a taste of Hungary in a progressive, ethically-minded setting.
Now for the other end of the spectrum, you can head over to Retro Lángos for a massive selection of the Hungarian street food classic. Lángos in its most elemental form is a fairly simple dish. A glistening pocket of fried dough is filled with sour cream, shredded cheese, garlic and sometimes if you are feeling exotic, purple onion and paprika dust.
Most Hungarians have some combination of the previously listed ingredients which they mix and match depending on mood, time of day, number of beers consumed, etc.
And you can get those types of toppings at Retro Lángos. But you can also choose from a laundry list of different combinations and ingredients that one would never imagine on the dish. Their list reads quite similarly to a Hungarian pizza menu with classic parlor options such as Mexikói (chili bean ragu and cheese) and Sonkàs (sliced turkey cold cuts, chopped paprika and tomato.
There is a whole razzmatazz of different combos to sample as well as a dessert langos with Nutella if you are feeling particularly unconscionable.
Whatever you pick, this crispy, golden-fried dough topped with an assortment of toppings is sure to satisfy your hunger pangs.
Rumour by Rácz Jenő
If you are looking for a true fine dining experience then there is no better place to try than the gastronomic theater presented by Shanghai-trained Hungarian chef extraordinaire Jenő Rácz over on Petőfi tér.
Rumour opened its doors back in 2021 and quickly gained a reputation for its risk-taking and modern approach towards Hungarian gastronomy. For better or worse, traditional Hungarian cuisine has stayed mostly removed from the onset of modern cooking trends. This is what makes rare establishments that combine the classic and the new in such high demand when they manage to pull it off.
The prices are certainly higher than any other place on this list, and some would argue veer into the ridiculous category, but for those who are interested in European fine dining, this is one of the best stops you could choose in Budapest with a full-blown performance included by the Chef and his colleagues over the course of your tasting menu fine dining experience.
For those who prefer authenticity coupled with a classical touch, Cafe Kör is the place to be. Located in the heart of downtown near St. Stephen’s Basilica and Liberty Square, Cafe Kör has been serving up their classic fare for decades.
The atmosphere recalls a bygone day when sit-down restaurants acted not only as places of dining but also as cultural hubs where writers and poets and artists could carve out a full-day corner to digest several small meals and ungodly amounts of wine and liquor.
And though such behavior is considered relatively delinquent in this day and age, the atmosphere remains at Cafe Kör. Sparse, white tablecloth decor within an arched dining room plastered with black and white framed pictures of a bygone era. And the food is quality Hungarian classics, but done with a bit more intentionally than the family-sized portions served at a roadside Csárda.
Great wine list, daily specials, and knowledgeable waiters in white coats (real professionals – rare nowadays). Terrific place to squeeze in for a late lunch between seeing the sights.
So now we can finally start to talk about what all these bizarre Hungarian words mean when it comes to dining. We’ve referenced csárda’s in the previous selection. A csárda is more like a roadside dining establishment that seats huge groups at big tables and does all the classics in huge portions. Like a diner meets grandma’s house. Étterem’s on the other hand, are just restaurants. Any place that serves food can be an étterem, though only some have this moniker attached to their name.
A vendéglő, however, such as the Pozsonyi Kisvendéglő (‘little’ vendéglő) is most comprable to an inn. Though most no longer have accommodation to stay the night, they do tend to serve more traditional-style dishes.
Pozsonyi is a great place to try some of these classics, such as stuffed cabbage, fish soup, and pörkölt (Hungarian meat stew ladled over a gnocchi-like base). The best part of all is that it’s located on Pozsonyi Street, arguably the best walking street in the whole city, just beside the yellow Margaret bridge on the Pest side of the river.
For a taste of classic local fare at unbeatable prices, Frici Papa is the spot. This canteen-style restaurant delivers on the promise of “cheap, sloppy, yummy”, making it a favorite among locals and visitors alike. It’s technically what’s known as a Kifőzde, to add to the ever-growing list of words you can try to say after drinking pálinka, which are usually even more casual than the vendéglő and étterems.
It’s much larger than most other restaurants in the genre, however, with a cavernous dining room on the popular Király Street.
Unpretentious, unabashedly unglamorous, but an absolutely suitable and affordable option for those hoping to dip their toes in the world of Hungarian eating before a night out on the town.
You can sample the Újházi chicken noodle soup as a starter, before moving on to any number of stews, sausages, pickles, cabbages, and spicy paprika-based mains. Checker cloth tables, classic atmosphere, great location, and a mix of tourists and locals alike.
Szaletly is a cool spot that most tourists won’t get to because it’s on the other side of the city park in the family-friendly neighborhood of Zugló aka
District XIV. But this district is a great place to go if you want to see how trendy Budapest residents actually live.
And Szalately is a great example of that. Its interior is the most aesthetically pleasing of any on this list, with huge windows providing tons of natural light and a trademark monument of wooden shelves complimenting ceilings high enough to clear an adult giraffe with room to spare.
The restaurant took over from the famous Thököly Vendéglő, much beloved during the socialist era. Steaks, stews, and roasts rule the roost for the main dishes, with a great selection of cold starters and Hortobágy pancakes which will stick to your stomach for days.
There are delicious desserts and plenty of wines to enjoy in the gorgeous dining room or out on a breezy terrace when the weather is nice. The establishment’s youthful vibe and innovative approach to traditional dishes make it a culinary hotspot.
Step back in time and savor Hungarian tapas in a 19th-century-style wine house. Cintányéros combines rustic charm with a fine selection of wines and small bites, creating a cozy and welcoming environment for all who enter. It’s in District VIII as well, so could be a great place to have a couple of drinks and bites after finishing one of our off-the-beathen-path District VIII 8 tours.
Cintányéros is the least deserving of the word “restaurant” on this list, but it is definitely deserving of immense praise. In a narrow, lofted space, incredibly knowledgeable bartenders preside over a litany of high-end wines and cocktail ingredients at affordable prices. Drinks-wise they specialize in fröccs which is taken far more seriously here than you ever thought wine mixed with soda could be taken.
As for the food, they do mostly small bites here. Well, they are small bites in theory. But after finishing the beef tartar, served with the freshest and most high-quality meat you could hope for, and a well portioned out selection of accouterments (pads of butter, spicy paprika, onions, tomato), you would have a hard time even thinking about the word small.
This is a real hidden gem in Budapest and is great for just drinks as well, but you can get some serious insight into the culture of classic bar food which is difficult to do in a high-quality setting such as this.
Régi Jó Kifőzde
Another kifőzde to close things out and this one is a lot more like a classic kifőzde than Frici Papa. Régi Jó means old and good and that is exactly what this place is. An old school dinner with good food. This is why it is a budget-saving favorite of Budapest locals and should definitely be on your list if you want to save money and time and try food that real people eat here on a daily basis.
Also located in District VIII just around the corner from the Rákóczi tér metro stop, Régi Jó Kifőzde offers any number of fried options, plenty of stews, and all the delicious pickled sides you could dream of in a buffet setting with a true Budapest vibe.