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Posted by on Oct 30, 2016 | 96 comments

What and Where to Eat in Budapest

What and Where to Eat in Budapest

I am not sure if this is a secret or a well-known fact: the food in Hungary is delicious!

I read several food related articles before my first visit to the country and found them spot on.  We found freshness, uniqueness and flavor.  To sweeten the deal, we felt the prices were modest for the amount and type of food we were getting.

This post aims to familiarize the reader with the food you will find on the streets of Budapest. Please, keep in mind the following:

  • By no means this is a comprehensive article about Hungarian food
  • Some of the dishes or drinks presented may not be “typical” Hungarian at all
  • This is a long article
  • There are tons of food pictures in here. You may feel (very) hungry while or after reading this!

So, let cut the chase and start talking about some food.  Shall we?

Breakfast

In Budapest, breakfast is a no brainer.  For what I learned, Hungarian enjoys large breakfasts consisting of a variety of breads, cheeses, ham, salami, mortadella, liver pate and head cheese.  You will have no problem finding eggs cooked to order and served with sausage, mustard and veggies.

Breakfast, What to Eat in Budapest, Hungary

On the lighter side, you can opt for coffee and a pastry.  Or, you can go with muesli, jam and fruit (oh so good).

In addition, there are a lot of coffee shops offering a variety of sandwiches, cakes and others sweets.  Hey, sometimes you need to rest your feel and connect to the Wi-Fi network.

California Coffee Company What to Eat in Budapest, Hungary

Main Courses

Before discussing the dishes, it is important to understand paprika is Hungary’s national spice.  It is obtained by grinding the air-dried fruit of the Capsicum annuum (long red chili, several varieties are used). Therefore, a lot of dishes in the country are seasoned with or based on this spice.

Paprika, What to Eat in Budapest, Hungary

Paprika, What to Eat in Budapest, Hungary

Goulash is a soup or stew of meat and vegetables, seasoned with paprika and other spices.  Several countries in Central and Eastern Europe prepare goulash too.  But, the dish is attributed to the Kingdom of Hungary which thrived during medieval times.

Goulash is one of those things you can eat over and over again (my husband is obsessed with it).  I suggest trying it in its many forms.

Try it as a soup (starter or main)…

Goulash, What to Eat in Budapest, Hungary
Or, try it as a stew with dumplings.

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My husband tried the venison version too.

Goulash, What to Eat in Budapest, Hungary

There are many more variations of this stew.  If you want to learn more, I suggest you start by reading the Wikipedia article about the dish.

Another popular dish is Chicken Paprikash. The chicken is served with a sauce made of sweet paprika and cream).  This one can be called an obsession too.

Chicken Paprikash, What to Eat in Budapest, Hungary

The stuffed cabbage (ground meat, rice and spices are used for the filling) is good too.

Cabbage rolls, What to Eat in Budapest, Hungary

I love duck, so, I was happy to discover it is featured on many dishes in Budapest.  One night, I had a pan- roasted duck breast served with sweet potato puree and broccoli.  It was hard not to eat something like this every single day.

Roasted Duck, What to Eat in Budapest, Hungary

Hungarians are very proud of their sausages, salamis and cold cuts.  Towns in the country are well known by the quality of their sausages.  They even have a sausage made of horse meat.

You can sample the sausages in stands located all over the city.  What is better, go straight to the Great Market Hall to get a sampler of 10 to 12 varieties (it includes bacon and fried pork rinds). And, do not forget to buy salami in the duty free areas of the airport.

Sausage and cold cuts, What to Eat in Budapest, Hungary

While in Hungary, there are opportunities to try Mangalica pig products.  Mangalica is a Hungarian breed of domestic pig and they are characterized by having long, curly hair.  Their meat has been described as the Kobe beef or pork.

Kazinczy Street , What to Eat in Budapest, Hungary

Street Food

The great thing about Budapest is that you do not have to eat at a restaurant to eat well.  The city is filled with stands and carts selling delicious food.

Street Food, What to Eat in Budapest, Hungary

Street Food, What to Eat in Budapest, Hungary

While walking around, we saw places selling everything from sausages to a complete meal composed of a protein, a starch and a side. Plus, the prices in these places are (usually) lower than in a restaurant.  As a rule, the farther you go from the river, the cheaper the food gets.

Street Food, What to Eat in Budapest, Hungary

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Street Food, What to Eat in Budapest, Hungary

Street Food, What to Eat in Budapest, Hungary

If you want to stay in the Hungarian realm, you have to try Langos, a deep-fried flatbread. It is traditionally topped with sour cream and cheese or rubbed with garlic or garlic butter.

Of course, I opted for a less traditional Langos and ended up with a monster topped with 8 (or more) ingredients).  The combination of flavors is endless (literarily).

Langos, What to Eat in Budapest, Hungary

By the way, Langos have sweet versions too.  Do you understand better why I like Hungarian food so much?

Langos, What to Eat in Budapest, Hungary

And then, there is Kolbice.  Not sure who come up with this idea but I love that guy or gal. They consist of a whole wheat bread cone filled with small sausages, sauerkraut and cheese sausage.  My husband ordered one with six sausages (two duck, two pork, two beef).  I wasn’t sold on the concept when I saw it for the first time but I was hooked the minute I tried it.  It was so good!

Kolbice , What to Eat in Budapest, Hungary

International Food

I added this section because I want to make a point about Budapest being a city with a diverse culinary extent.  You can find food from all over the world on its many corners.

Popular places to eat include Andrassy Avenue, Vaci Street, the area surrounding St. Stephens Basilica and the area facing the Danube.

There are great restaurants and establishments on those places but I found the eateries on the Jewish Quarter more interesting. For example, on Kazinczy Street you will find Mexican, Thai and Japanese restaurants.  I felt like I can move to the area!

Kazinczy Street , What to Eat in Budapest, Hungary

Street Food, What to Eat in Budapest, Hungary

In addition, the area is famous for ruin pubs like Szimpla Kert.

Szimpla Kert , What to Eat in Budapest, Hungary

Szimpla Kert , What to Eat in Budapest, Hungary

The street has its own food garden too.  It gets very lively at night.

Kazinczy Street , What to Eat in Budapest, Hungary

Kazinczy Street , What to Eat in Budapest, Hungary

Raday and Kirali streets offer the same experience (lots of restaurants, great food and ambience).

I cannot talk about the food in the city without mentioning the kabob establishments.  They are disseminated throughout the city and offer cheap, tasty and filling food.

Doner, What to Eat in Budapest, Hungary

Sweets

This is an area that needs its own section.  You can survive in Budapest eating sweets all day.  Sounds wrong but it is true.  The variety of dessert reminiscing dishes is mind blowing.

The city has a strong café culture.  Powerhouses such as Café Gerbeaud and Café New York have been opened for more than a century.  As a result, the selection of cakes, pastries and marzipan is extensive. I think you will need a year to try all the scrumptious offering on these cafes.

We visited Ruszwurm (in operation since 1827) and ordered the Dobos Torta (sponge cake layered with chocolate and glazed with caramel and nuts) and the Cream Cake. I know I am not going to be popular for what I am going to say next but the cakes from this place were just fine.  Nothing spectacular (but I am biased since my husband is a baker).

Dobos torta, What to Eat in Budapest, Hungary

In a traditional restaurant, we had the Gundel palacsinta, a crepe filled with ground walnuts, raisin, candied orange peel, cinnamon, and rum filling, served flambéed in dark chocolate sauce made with egg yolks, heavy cream, and cocoa.

Gundel palacsinta, What to Eat in Budapest, Hungary

Kürtőskalács (stove cake or chimney cake) was one of the specialties I wanted to try the most.   I saw some videos on how to they are prepared before visiting the country.  A piece of dough, roller over a cylinder, is cooked over an open fire and is considered Hungary’s oldest pastry.  Once it is cooked, it is dusted with sugar, nuts or cocoa powder.  My favorite way to eat is with caramelized sugar.

Kürtőskalács, What to Eat in Budapest, Hungary

Kürtőskalács, What to Eat in Budapest, Hungary

Strudel and poppy seed rolls are all over the city too.

Strudel and poppy seed roll, What to Eat in Budapest, Hungary

The rose shaped gelatos from Gelarto Rosa attract big crowds.  The flavors are good and very reminiscent of the actual fruit, spice or nut (which talks about their freshness).  Having said that, I would not make a long line to get one (since we are discussing the amount of sweets that can be found in Budapest).

Gelarto Rosa, What to Eat in Budapest, Hungary

Gelarto Rosa, What to Eat in Budapest, Hungary

That is not all.  I do not have space in here to describe the chestnut based desserts, tarts, sponge cafes, cookies, candies, jams, jellies, sweet dumplings and the delicacies inherited from the Austro-Hungarian empire.  You get the idea.  People with a sweet tooth will feel on cloud nine.

Cookies, What to Eat in Budapest, Hungary

Candy, What to Eat in Budapest, Hungary

What is you favorite Hungarian dish? What you would like to try?

Pin it for later?

What and Where to eat in Budapest, Hungary

96 Comments

    • I totally understand! Sometimes you feel like eating even when you are full.

    • Thank you! It was all really good!

  1. You can tell you really did love the Hungarian food. It isn;t somewhere I have ever been but we aiming to do much more of Europe over the next few years so you never know. Thanks for linking up to #MondayEscapes

    • I was elated about all the good food discovered in Hungary. I can go back just for the food. Hope you make it to the country one day.

    • We brought some ingredients in Budapest but we haven’t prepared any meals with it. Would love to try some dishes in my kitchen.

  2. Yum! This post is making me Hungary…. (sorry, bad joke I know). I had no idea there was so much incredible street food on offer in Budapest. I’d really like to try hte Mangalica pork – it sounds amazing.
    Nell (the Pigeon Pair and Me) recently posted..Our highlights of Brittany videoMy Profile

    • Ok, not the first time I hear that joke ;0) The Mangalica pig is very good (and it is something from the country).

    • I wasn’t that enthusiastic about the Langos but, at the end, I liked them a lot.

  3. Geesh you just made me hungry and I’m still full from dinner! I’ll definitely agree with you thought that chicken paprikash can be an obsession! mmm #CityTripping

    • That chicken was so good! I finished it in a couple of minutes.

  4. I’d sure like to try out langos, the sweet version. Enjoyed your foodie post.

    • Thanks Ahila. I didn’t have the chance to try the sweet langos. They were huge! One was enough for me and my husband.

  5. So much food – so little time! 😉

    • You are totally right. There was much more stuff I wanted to try.

  6. Goodness, I was full about a third of the way down the page, Ruth, and I haven’t even had my breakfast yet! 🙂

    • Well, maybe you should skip breakfast ;0)

  7. Wonderful compilation list of places where one can eat delicious food.

    • Thanks Rajesh! Great you liked the post.

  8. It sounds like Budapest is a foodies paradise! When we were in Prague I seriously couldn’t get enough goulash! I loved it so much, and have heard that I should try it with some Hungarian paprika. I know now why you should because it’s Hungary’s national spice!

    • Budapest is a city any foodie will like. There is a lot of variety and the prices are decent. I had a lot of problems choosing from the menus. There were so many options!

  9. Reading about food in Hungary reminds me of what my boys kept saying during the Olympics whenever Hungary was on TV. They would be like, “Are the people from Hungary hungry?” and then they would laugh at their own joke. But okay, after reading this, I conclude people from Hungary are probably never hungry. How do you go hungry when surrounded by all these great food? All those Langos are making my stomach growl! And I think my sausage-loving boys would probably like the Kolbice? Though I’m sure they would pick out the Sauerkraut. #CityTripping
    Bumble Bee Mum recently posted..Collecting Magic From Stamps to Wand – Harry Potter Themed Exhibit @ Singapore Philatelic MuseumMy Profile

    • Your kids are so funny! I would love to meet them. I think you have express it very well. It is impossible to go hungry in Hungary. Like I have previously mentioned, this does not even scratches the surface.

  10. I guess I’d have to live off cake and pastry when visiting Hungary (not the biggest meat fan) but I definitely wouldn’t mind. Those cookies look delicious and I’m sure my boyfriend would love all the meat dishes!

    • I think living off pastries and cake would not be a problem in Hungary. If you have a sweet tooth, this is the place to be. You have to see the selections in the cafes. And, it smells so wonderful when you enter.

  11. Everything looks so delicious – you’ve made me hungry!

    • I guess I accomplished my mission then!

  12. Hi, Ruth. I loved the food in Budapest. Thanks for bringing back some great memories. I also ate at the market, which had some delicious offerings. Thanks for co-hosting this week. #TPThursday

    • The market is wonderful. I will dedicate a post to it.

  13. I would love to visit Budapest, which I believe is divided into two cities – Buda and Pest. The food does look delicious. Thankfully I read this post after I had eaten!

    • You are right Kathy! Buda is the hilly, old part and Pest the flat, new town. Most of the food I tried was on the Pest side.

  14. I’m glad you have overturned my opinion of Hungarian food. I went with a friend around 15 years ago and was not enamoured with the cuisine but it was a bit limited to goulash. This gives a completely different perspective. I certainly wish is known about Mangalica! Thanks for linking to #citytripping

    • Some people try the spicier version of goulash and do not like it that much. There are several versions of goulash and I believe because of that there is a version for each palate. But, as you can see, there is more than goulash in the city.

  15. I would say you did Budapest right – dang! How long were you there? So much good food! We went to Karavan too – it was super cool! Really impressed by the food scene there. I wish I had gone to that meat stand you went to at the market hall – looks so good.

    • I was a total of 4 days there (3 consecutive and a fourth day after Vienna, Prague and Krakow). Would have loved to stay more.

  16. Oh wow – I’m glad I ate before reading, although I suspect I could still work my way through some goulash. The Langos sound really tempting too, and I never say no to somewhere with great cafe culture. I had such a short trip to Budapest far too many years ago, so it’s been high on my wishlist to return for a while. #citytripping
    Cathy (MummyTravels) recently posted..Five things to do in Bandung with kidsMy Profile

    • You should return. The cafe culture is awesome! And, you will not have problems finding good food from simple to sophisticated.

    • Great Becky! You should visit one day! The food is delish!

  17. Street food really is the best isn’t it? I’m with you on the dessert – I’ve have to try that chimney or stove cake. Looks delicious! And well, gelato – I never can say no to that! Thanks for taking us on this food tour!

    • What can I say about the chimney cake? I saw video about it before visiting Budapest. I had to get one out of the coals (and I did).

  18. OMG, it looks so heavy. I could do the goulash. We have the Kürtőskalács here in Wollongong, Australia where we live and they are nice.

    • Oh, that is awesome! I would love to be able to find chimney cake in here.

  19. Hungarian food is very good but most dishes (eg. goulash) are very spicy. Hungary is a country of hot peppers and very good wines 🙂

    • Well,my husband likes spicy, so, that is not a problem for him. I didn’t find the dishes I tried that spicy. I guess I am cured with Mexican food.

  20. I love this post! I am dying to go to Budapest and now I know what to eat. Definitely saving for later! I love a city that has street food options, that is very popular in Portland, Oregon where I am from and in Copenhagen where I live! Thanks for sharing and have a great weekend, Erin #CityTripping

    • Wonderful Erin! I haven’t been to Portland or Copenhagen but would love to visit.

  21. That looks amazing! Love the vibrant street food scene!

    • Thanks! I loved walking around the Jewish quarter discovering different restaurants.

  22. I think some people write off dishes like goulash and stuffed cabbage as old fashioned and not particularly appealing but to me when they are good they are warming and amazing comfort food. I’d eat them all!

    • Since I have never tried them before, I found them very good. The think is that these dishes have a long history and are part of the national identity. You have to try them if you want to better understand the people and traditions.

  23. Oh my! I am so hungry right now after looking at all your wonderful food photos form Budapest! I like goulash and we are happy to have a restaurant nearby that is Hungarian and makes it well. They don’t offer all teh variety of foods that you enjoyed however, so I’d love to try more Hungarian cuisine someday, especially the mazing looking desserts!

    • Lucky you! I do not think we have Hungarian restaurants around here. I found a Polish restaurant in Santa Monica. I am dying to try it.

  24. You reminded me of the delicious Hungarian dishes, Ruth. Did you try eating at the Great Market Hall (Nagyvásárcsarnok)? They have very good traditional food there and very reasonable prices.

    • Yes, I had several things there. It was very good.

  25. I didn’t think I was going to like the Goulash but I loved it. I am also obsessed. And it’s really hard to find outside of Hungary! Thanks so much for sharing on #TheWeeklyPostcard

    • Like you said, I am not sure I am going to find Hungarian food outside Hungary. We did find a German markets with many products from Central and Eastern Europe.

    • Something hot and hearty. Just so you think about goulash ;0)

  26. Mouthwatering post Ruth! I only spent a couple of days in Hungary but I did notice the food was delicious and I’d love to try more of it. The Kolbice looked particularly awesome! The chimney cake is quite common through Central Europe and so delicious. Definitely need to return to Hungary, so pinned for later. #TheWeeklyPostcard

    • David, I also think you need to return to Hungary. There is so much to eat. I would like to see how you compare the food of the country to other countries in Eastern Europe.

    • I think you would love Budapest. It is a fun and pulsating city. There is a lot to see, do and eat (especially that last one).

  27. I would never expect them to have so many cool foods in Budapest! planning to go there soon, so took some notes from your post! I can´t miss Kürtőskalács. Thanks for sharing #TheWeeklyPostcard

    • Yes, you can’t miss the chimney cake. That one is a must.

  28. Who knew that Hungary was so delicious? Not me! Just out of curiousity, how do you go with language gaps while travelling? I remember having to point at a lot of things and smiling A LOT when I was in Barcelona because I’m hopeless with languages.

    • I didn’t have any problems communicating in Budapest. Most people (at least in the service / tourist industry) speak English. What is more, schools teach three languages. Therefore, there is a high probability English would be one of those languages.

  29. Your right our mouths are watering! We love a Goulash and the stuffed cabbage sound amazing. Great post and photos. #TheWeeklyPostcard

    • Thanks guys! I am happy knowing you enjoyed the post.

  30. You were right about warning us that we might get hungry. I just had breakfast and I feel I could still eat some goulash and some of that chimney cake haha! It might be because we have goulash in Estonia too and it reminds me of home here in Australia and I had Kürtőskalács in Prague as well where they are very popular on the streets. Thanks for sharing!
    Kreete recently posted..On my way to EverestMy Profile

    • It is good to know there is goulash in Estonia. Are you referring to Hungarian goulash? Or, does Estonia has its own version of the dish?

  31. Wow, all of that looks amazing: I just had dinner and it’s made me hungry again. I’d go to Budapest just for the food.

    • That sounds like a good idea! I will go back just for the food.

    • I had to include the photo of the pickles. It is one of my favorites.

  32. Ugh, now I’m starving!! 🙂 We are headed to Budapest in January and as someone who only eats birds and fish as their meat source I was a little afraid I would struggle to eat. Fortunately it sounds like there will be plenty of options based on this post particularly the chicken paprikash dish you described. Yumm!! #flyawayfriday
    Danielle recently posted..Life at the Top of the Rock in West Cork, IrelandMy Profile

    • I am sure you are going to find plenty to eat in the city. Like I mentioned, there are tons of options. Happy travels!

    • It is true, they have a lot of what you mention. The thing is that the more diverse food is a little bit farther from the center (so it may not be practical to eat midday). The thing is that menus specify what food is gluten free (I saw this in many restaurants).

  33. I loved the food in Budapest, too! Unfortunately I was last there for only three days, so I didn’t get to try as much of it as I would have liked. Funny about the Kürtőskalács – in Prague, they have the same thing but they call it Trdelník! It was one of my favorite treats, too. =) Did you try or hear of a restaurant in Budapest called Karpatia? We went there one night and it was great!
    Emily @ Out and About recently posted..Oct 24-Nov 6 training, saying hello to my alma materMy Profile

    • Yep, I tried the Prague version too but I liked the Budapest one better. I haven’t heat about the restaurant you mentioned. Would have to make a note for my next visit.

  34. I loved Goulash, Kebabs and Kürtőskalács when I visited Budapest! Unfortunately I was only there for 2 days, so I didn’t get to explore the culinary scene as much as I would’ve liked. This looks like a great comprehensive guide though and I’ll definitely be putting it to use if I return!

    • I was there a total of 4 days and I wanted to eat even more. There are so many good places to eat!

    • Sally, yes, there way more than goulash. You do not even have to eat traditional Hungarian food if you do not want to.

    • I am glad you discovered the food scene of Budapest thru this post. Trust me when I say there is a lot of good food in the city.

  35. I’ll need to refer to this when we head to Budapest in February!! I’m so excited to try all these yummy dishes!!

  36. Oh my gosh now I’m super hungry! I love duck too and it looks delicious! Thanks for joining Fly Away Friday, see you again this week! xo

  37. When I read the title of your post, I was certain I wouldn’t like anything you mentioned, but instead I found myself quite surprised at the number of Hungarian foods that actually looked good. I’d love to try goulash for example. And that breakfast looks really good! 🙂 Thanks for sharing. 🙂

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