The Best Restaurants in Budapest

In the past decade or so, Budapest’s restaurant scene has broadened beyond goulash and stuffed cabbage, with trendy new venues serving both a wider variety of international cuisines and elegant, innovative takes on traditional Hungarian fare.

Budapest, Dohány u. 29, 1074 Hungary
This intimate, bistro-like 16-seat restaurant in the heart of Pest’s trendy Jewish quarter brings a dash of Scandinavian cuisine (and Scandi decor) to the Hungarian capital. Chef Gábor Fehér spent time in Copenhagen mastering Nordic cuisine, which here comes as mini-courses (they’re flavorful but small, so the kitchen recommends ordering at least four for a meal). Hungarian and even French culinary influences aren’t ignored, either— Fehér studied at Le Cordon Bleu in Paris. There’s a huge variety of Hungarian wines on offer, and the regular crowd is artsy and cool. By the way, “Esca” means “food” in Latin, and it’s easy to see what’s most important here.
Budapest, Kazinczy u. 48, 1075 Hungary
One of Budapest’s newest hot spots for drinking, dining, and simply meeting friends takes its inspiration from New York City’s trendiest borough. BRKLYN serves up “street food” like burgers, tapas, and BBQ ribs, and drinks like gin cocktails and local wines, in a high-ceilinged, subway-tiled converted transformer station that can, and usually does, fill up and become a boistrous dance floor in the wee hours. In the heart of the Pest side of the city, BRKLYN has managed to capture at least some of the multicultural, creative, “open-minded” mix of its namesake. And yes, there’s even New York-style cheesecake.
Budapest, Dob u. 15, 1074 Hungary
This very attractive sidewalk café in the Jewish district is a popular destination for dining as well as for relaxing during the day. The venue includes both an art gallery and theater, where events take place from September to May, along with a restaurant and coffee house. The food is an unusual and tastebud-tingling hybrid of Hungarian and Mediterranean – and the signature chicken with honey and garlic or the roast goose leg with steamed red cabbage is not to be missed. There’s live music every night from 7 p.m. and a klezmer concert every Friday at 7 p.m.
Budapest, Vörösmarty tér 7-8, 1051 Hungary
One of Budapest’s best known and most ornately decorated coffeehouses—as well as one of Europe’s oldest—Café Gerbeaud has been satisfying the city’s sweets cravings since it opened in 1858. The decor in the cafe’s various rooms is pure decadence, with chandeliers, stucco, original exotic-wood panelling, and antique furniture; the traditional cake selection comes with slices of the café’s three most iconic cakes, including the both the Esterházy cake (buttercream and cognac) and the Gerbeaud, a cake layered with ground walnuts and apricot jam invented by Emil Gerbeaud, a Swiss national who took over the patisserie in the 1880.
Budapest, Vámház krt. 1-3, 1093 Hungary
The Great Market Hall in Budapest should be any visitors first stop in order to get acquainted to the people, goods and grub of Hungary. The market is one of those strange places that caters to both locals and tourists alike without losing its authentic appeal. Under one roof you can by meats and sausages, Royal Tokaji wine, paprika, hot Hungarian favorites, such as Goulash, an assortment of pickled vegetables and fresh produce. The upper floor has small eateries, where you can sample a variety of Hungarian favorites for very little money.
Budapest, 1051, Sas u. 3, 1051 Hungary
One of Budapest‘s Michelin-starred restaurants, this blend of a French-style bistro and a contemporary boite offers new takes on traditional Hungarian cuisine in an airy, elegant dining room. Ingredients in dishes like piglet shoulder with black pudding and chestnut, are sourced locally or come from nearby regions in Central Europe. The name Winekitchen is by no means an afterthought—the restaurant’s concept is based on a vast and broad list of 200 largely Hungarian wines (48 of them available by the glass), perfect food presentation, and an elegant, professional atmosphere that makes any foodie want to linger.
Budapest, Vörösmarty tér 7, 1051 Hungary
This luxurious restaurant next to the venerated Cafe Gerbeaud has been around for a decade but its combination of tradition and innovation remains as on point as ever. Chef Ádám Mészáros has earned a Michelin star with his intriguing takes on meats and seafoods, often served in six- and eight-course tasting menus with well-chosen wine pairings. The Hungarian degustation menu, for example, offers modern takes on local specialities, like beef stew. The dark-hued, comfortable interior, complete with gilt chairs, marble statues, chandeliers, and brocade wallpaper, as well as the impeccable service (not a given in this part of the world) invites guests to linger, and we highly recommend you do.
Budapest, Vigyázó Ferenc u. 4, 1051 Hungary
Mark my words, MAK will receive a Michelin Star! The Chef’s Tasting menu was sublime—innovative offerings with caviar, sweet breads, foie gras (not surprising because every menu in Hungary features foie gras), duck, cod, and trout. The New York Times has taken notice of Mak, too, so reservations are recommended.
Budapest, Kazinczy u. 14, 1075 Hungary
An edgy crowd gathers at Szimpla Kert, a wacky ruin pub in the old Jewish Quarter. On entering, you’ll be overwhelmed by the maze of rooms, where you might find recycled computer monitors, towering piles of books, hookah pipes, or live music. Bars throughout pour beer and, of course, shots of pálinka.
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