My hometown, Budapest, the capital of Hungary, has increasingly become a top destination for tourists as well as dedicated foodies. There’s no doubt a bit of a culinary revolution happening at the moment, so while you can expect some comforting, traditional Hungarian grub, you can also find innovative, contemporary takes on classic dishes all over the city – just make sure to book ahead. Most of these restaurants are within walking distance from the city centre, and have free WiFi, making them perfect for the busy traveller. Here are my top 6 restaurants in Budapest.
As one of the oldest restaurants in the Buda districts, found at the foot of the wonderful Castle Hill, Deryne no doubt offers a host of traditional Hungarian cuisine, including a schnitzel as big as your face. This is one of my all-time favourite spots; they sometimes host piano players and have an incredible wine selection, so you can grab a glass and just lose yourself in the history of this 18th-century soup kitchen-turned-bistro restaurant.
TIP: Shnitzel, schnitzel, schnitzel!
Click here for more information about Deryne.
Budapest, Krisztina tér 3, 1013 Hungary
Right on the River Danube, next to the Elizabeth bridge, you’ll find the “shabby chic” hangout, KIOSK. Once the basketball court of an old priest school, the tall, brick walls give the place a wonderful ambience. One of the most amazing things about this place is the humungous wine fridge you’ll find at one side, which connects the restaurant to its sister restaurant, Babel (which is great if you fancy something closer to a Michelin star experience). Here you’ll find traditional Hungarian food brought in to the 21st Century. This place is also ideal for larger groups, as they have plenty of room.
TIP: Make sure to try their breaded cheese!
Have a look at their website for more information.
Budapest, Március 15. tér 4, 1056 Hungary
Konya means ‘kitchen’ in Hungarian, but don’t be fooled by the simple name or the small menu – this place is phenomenal and proves that ‘less is more’. I’m gonna be honest, I may be a little biased, as the owner is my nephew, but believe me when I say that this place is a knockout. You’ll find this place in district 7, just around the corner from the ever-hip Gozsdu Courtyard. Konyha has a sister bar next door, Telep, so if you’re looking for post-dinner drinks then give it a go. Although small, it hosts fantastic Hungarian DJs and with locals spilling into the streets. This place is non-pretentious and not advertised, meaning only those in the know can find it. A total gem.
TIP: On the first floor there is a curved window all the way around and a massive sofa to enjoy a drink and the view on.
Check out Konyha’s website if you’re feeling hungry.
Budapest, Madách Imre út 8, 1075 Hungary
A big favourite among the locals and ex-pats alike, they play with the old word for after-school Hungarian dinners – their namesake, Menza. They offer a menu of typical communist school dinner food, but with a contemporary touch. The décor of this place is retro yet classy and is found near the famous Octagon in the city centre, which means it has a lively buzz.
Read more about Menza here.
Budapest, Liszt Ferenc tér 2, 1061 Hungary
Mazel Tov is part of a derelict building complex, neighbouring with the famous ruin pub Instant/Fogas. It’s the perfect place for a date; you feel like you’ve gone back in time to an 18th Century Parisian bistro and that, combined with the ivy-adorned walls and high-quality wine list, is enough to impress anybody. In line with the name, this place offers Jewish-influenced food, as well as burgers and plenty of vegetarian options. They also regularly host live music and DJs if you fancy a bit of music while you dine.
TIP: Ready to pop the question? This is the perfect place to propose…
Have a look at their website for more information.
Budapest, Akácfa u. 47, 1072 Hungary
Kor, meaning circle, used to be exactly that, a place for all types of creatives – authors, journalists, you name it – to gather around tables and have meetings of the minds over a tasty bowl of gulyás. Now, they offer an exquisite menu of authentic Hungarian dishes with an innovative touch, which are always beautifully delivered. The restaurant is intimate, maybe even a little too close for comfort for some, but the food makes up for it. You can find this huge local favourite just around the corner from the stunning St. Stephen’s Basilica.
TIP: Make sure to bring cash with you as they don’t accept cards. However, there are plenty of ATMs nearby so don’t worry!
Click here to read more about Café Kör.
Budapest, Sas u. 17, 1051 Hungary
At Mak, which means poppy seed, expect immaculately presented, exquisite food. It’s inventive but without any pretentions and is absolutely delicious. This progressive Hungarian restaurant, which can be found at the heart of Budapest, has won numerous awards and has been recommended by Michelin for seven years running. What makes this place so special? Find out for yourself – you won’t be disappointed.
Learn more about Mak Bistro and their food here.
Budapest, Vigyázó Ferenc u. 4, 1051 Hungary
There you have it; my top 7. As mentioned before, you must always book ahead for these restaurants to avoid disappointment – they are usually very busy. And, when booking, don’t use any of your regular reservation apps as none of the above restaurants is registered. This is not a problem though – just ring them up as 99% of them speak great English. For important information about tips and taxis, have a read of this.
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