Hungarian food is well-known worldwide. It might not compete with the fame of the Italian, Mexican, French, and Indian kitchens, but it is still widely known and famous. So it is no wonder there are Hungarian restaurants located in big cities all around the world. But you expect the best Hungarian food to be served in Hungary and the country’s capital, Budapest. So where should you go to eat the best Goulash soup and other traditional Hungarian dishes as you come to Budapest? This article will tell you about several restaurants worth considering!
We will not only tell you about some of the best places for a traditional Hungarian dinner in Budapest. That is the article’s main focus, but if you keep reading until the end, you will also find recommendations for what to order as you visit the different restaurants. Hungarian Goulash soup is the most famous course, without a doubt, but it doesn’t mean that you should eat Goulash three times a day during your stay in Budapest. Fantastic meals are waiting for you, and we share information about different meals worth tasting at the end of this article.
11 Restaurants in Budapest for those who want to eat a traditional Hungarian meal.
A traditional Hungarian restaurant normally serves you a giant portion of food on a big plate. At least, that was the way it used to be. However, times and the culinary picture of restaurants in Budapest are changing. Instead of giant portions, restaurants are moving toward fine dining. The large plates are still there, but the portions are smaller, and the prices are higher. Luckily, it tastes amazing and looks fantastic. Let’s get started!
Traditional Hungarian restaurants with Gypsy music.
The so-called Gypsy music is trendy in Hungary and an essential part of the culture. The musicians are incredibly talented, meaning you can get a nice musical experience accompanying your food if you visit such a restaurant. In some of these restaurants, the musicians offer to play a song of your choice by the table during the evening, but you can say no if you don’t want that to happen.
Gundel might be the most famous restaurant in Budapest. It is located in the beautiful City Park, next to popular activities such as the Zoo, the Circus, and the Szechenyi thermal bath. This restaurant has served celebrities and royalties for over a decade, and it is where you can feel like a royal if you decide to dine there. Gundel is one of few restaurants in Budapest with a dress code, meaning that you should dress up if you choose to eat your dinner in the restaurant.
Gundel renewed their menu recently, meaning that it is now all about traditional Hungarian courses in a modern way. As a result, this might be one of Budapest’s best places to taste the best Hungarian food in royal surroundings.
Gundel serves the Goulash soup with homemade noodles, making it unique compared to other restaurants.
For generations, Egri Bikaver (a blended wine from several blue grapes) was the most famous wine produced in Hungary. During communism, it was exported in all directions and was known as a cheap but delicious red wine from Hungary. That has changed, and currently, the most famous wine from Hungary is named Aszu and origins from the Tokaj region. This region is primarily known for its sweet white wine. What better place to combine a traditional Hungarian meal, Gypsy music, and fantastic Hungarian wines than in Aszu?
The restaurant is in a nice area packed with fantastic restaurants; some even have Michelin stars. The restaurant has won several awards and is ideal if you want an upper-class Hungarian dinner in the center of Budapest.
Why not try beef prepared with red wine sauce made from the Bikaver wine? Or the traditional Hungarian stuffed paprika? What about a stuffed pancake as a starter? You will find all this and much more on the menu in Aszu.
Eat a Hungarian dinner on the Danube.
There are different options if you want to eat dinner on the Danube. It is obvious that you don’t eat on the Danube if you are interested in the best ingredients and the most celebrated chefs in Hungary. But if your goal is a nice Hungarian dinner with a magnificent view, you should consider dining on the Danube in a boat traveling up and down the river.
One option is to eat a buffet dinner with traditional Hungarian courses and desserts accompanied by live Gypsy music and Hungarian folk dance. However, a four-course dinner with some laidback live music in the background is a different option. Once again, these might not be the best gastronomical experiences you will have in Budapest, but they are still an excellent way of combining Hungarian food with an extraordinary view.
Opposite the Aszu restaurant in a street known for outstanding restaurants, you can find Rezkakas. It is almost identical to Aszu’s style and has more similarities with Aszu than differences. There have been some complaints that service is slow and that it takes a while for the food to be served, but many also praise the quality of the food, the service, and the musicians present in the restaurant every evening.
The restaurant often has tables available for last-minute guests. That makes it a good option if you are looking for a table for tomorrow evening or the upcoming weekend.
Have you been longing to taste Hungarian goose liver? Or an ice cream based in which they use the famous Hungarian sweet Aszu wine from Tokaj? You can taste these and other fantastic dishes in Rezkakas.
Hungarian food with a Michelin star.
Would you like to eat food made by Michelin-awarded chefs in fantastic restaurants? There are some restaurants in Budapest focusing on Hungarian cuisine with Michelin stars. Remember to reserve a table in advance if you want to dine in one of these restaurants.
The most famous chef in Hungary is Tamas Szell. He has participated and performed very well in competitions such as Bocuse d’Or. In addition, he was the chef in the Onyx restaurant, which became the first Hungarian restaurant with a Michelin star during his time as a chef. Since then, Tamas has moved on and is now running the restaurant Stand 25 with Szabina Szullo.
The restaurant quickly received a Michelin star and is one of the finest places in Budapest if you want to eat Hungarian made by the best chefs in the country.
The restaurant isn’t in the center of Budapest, but if you walk across the Chain bridge (the most famous bridge in Budapest) and through the tunnel on the other side, you are suddenly very close to the restaurant.
Have you ever wondered what a Michelin-starred Goulash soup tastes like? Or would you instead taste a roasted duck leg with cabbage and potatoes? It might sound easy, but hopefully, you will experience miracles as the food hits your tongue in Stand 25.
Babel isn’t a restaurant; it is an experience. You don’t order from a standard menu. Instead, you buy a degustation menu consisting of eight courses (or more). Babel is about reinventing traditional Hungarian dishes with modern cooking techniques and presentation. As a result, the degustation menus frequently change according to the season and which fresh ingredients are available.
The restaurant is on the Pest side, close to the Elisabeth bridge. As a result, it is easily accessible for all tourists in Budapest.
What should you taste in Babel? Whatever they serve you!
Salt is yet another Michelin-starred restaurant in Budapest, focusing on Hungarian cuisine. Just like in Babel, you buy a degustation menu and eat whatever they bring to the table. The poultry served in the restaurant comes from the chef’s family’s meat manufactury. Besides this, the chef (Szilard Toth) often heads out to the wild to pick wild plants that he uses in the food served in the restaurant.
As you can see in the picture, the dishes might not be gigantic, but they are attractive, local, and tasty!
Other restaurants where you can eat delicious Hungarian food.
If you want to eat Hungarian food in a Michelin restaurant or with Gypsy music in the background, you have already read some suggestions. But would you rather dine in a nice Hungarian restaurant without those extras? Here you have some remaining tips.
Trofea Grill is a restaurant chain in Budapest with six restaurants in the Hungarian capital. The restaurant operates with a buffet system where you can eat and drink as much as you want for a set price. It might sound primitive, but the quality is surprisingly good. In addition, you can taste a large number of Hungarian dishes during one single meal. You can choose from soups, starters, main dishes, and desserts. The main focus is on Hungarian food, making it easy to get a quick introduction to the local kitchen.
Since you serve yourself, it looks less nice on the plate than in a regular restaurant, but it still tastes incredible!
You can find the most central Trofea Grill restaurant near the State Opera, making it easy to access for everyone.
Would you like a restaurant serving giant portions and gigantic wiener schnitzels? Then, fatal is the place to go. The restaurant is in Vaci utca, Budapest’s pedestrian street, and it is terrific for Hungarian food the way a grandmother would serve you.
This restaurant is not so much about fine dining. Still, I suspect kids and those hungry will appreciate a dinner in Fatal more than the previously mentioned restaurants in this list.
As mentioned, this is the place to visit if you want to eat a 250g wiener schnitzel in Budapest. The menu is extensive, meaning you can choose from a wide selection of starters, soups, main courses, and desserts if you decide to dine in Fatal during your Budapest stay. Throughout the years, celebrities such as Ralph Fiennes, Brian May, Antonio Banderas, and Ferenc Puskas have used this restaurant as the location for their dinners.
What to eat and drink in Hungary?
It is one thing to find a good restaurant and another to know what to order. Here we will briefly introduce some of the most famous and traditional Hungarian courses and drinks.
Traditional Hungarian food worth tasting.
Stuffed cabbage, also known as “töltött káposzta” in Hungarian, is a traditional dish in many European countries, including Hungary. The dish consists of cooked cabbage leaves filled with a mixture of ground meat (such as pork, beef, or lamb), rice, onions, and various seasonings. The filling is then rolled up in the cabbage leaves, and the rolls are typically braised or baked in a tomato-based sauce.
The exact recipe for stuffed cabbage can vary depending on the region and the family preparing it. Some versions may use different types of meat, while others may include additional ingredients such as paprika, sauerkraut, or bacon.
Goulash soup, also known as “gulyásleves” in Hungarian, is a traditional soup from Hungary typically made with beef or pork, with lots of onions, paprika, and other vegetables and spices. The soup is flavorful and popular in Hungary and other parts of Central and Eastern Europe. Some people fear the soup’s spiciness, but that isn’t usually a problem.
If you want to spice it up, ask your waiter for some strong paprika and you will quickly feel the heat!
A Wiener Schnitzel is a traditional Austrian/Hungarian dish made from veal, pork, or chicken. It is breaded and fried until it is crispy and golden brown. The dish is often called a “Wiener Schnitzel” because it originated in Vienna, Austria. But since Hungary and Austria have a common history in many ways, the Wiener Schnitzel is considered a Hungarian meal by Hungarians, just like the Austrians consider it Austrian.
To make a Wiener Schnitzel, a thin slice of veal, pork, or chicken is first pounded with a meat tenderizer to make it even thinner and more tender. It is then seasoned with salt and pepper, coated in flour, dipped in beaten eggs, and then coated in breadcrumbs. The breaded veal is then fried in hot oil until it is crispy and golden brown.
Chicken paprikash, also known as “paprikás csirke” in Hungarian, is a traditional dish from Hungary that features chicken cooked in a paprika-based sauce. This is one of the most popular Hungarian dishes among foreigners, which means you can find it almost everywhere.
The chicken and the sauce are normally served together with homemade noodles, often called “galuska” in Hungarian.
Hungarian cuisine features goose liver as a delicacy and is often served as an appetizer or as part of a larger meal.
Goose liver can be prepared in a variety of ways, including searing, poaching, and pan-frying. One traditional Hungarian preparation is to slice the goose liver into thin pieces and sear it in a hot pan with a bit of oil or butter until it is crispy on the outside and creamy on the inside. The liver is then typically served on a slice of toasted bread or a bed of lettuce with a side of jam or chutney.
Cottage cheese dumplings
Cottage cheese dumplings are a traditional Hungarian sweet dessert made from cottage cheese, flour, eggs, and sugar. The dumplings are formed into small balls, boiled in water, and then served with a variety of sweet toppings.
The Gundel pancake, also known as “Gundel palacsinta” in Hungarian, is a famous Hungarian dessert that is named after Károly Gundel, a renowned Hungarian chef and restaurateur. The dessert is a thin pancake filled with a mixture of ground walnuts, raisins, and rum, then covered in a sweet chocolate sauce and flambéed with rum.
Somlói galuska is a traditional Hungarian dessert that consists of three types of sponge cake layered with vanilla pastry cream, chocolate sauce, and rum-soaked raisins, and topped with whipped cream and caramelized walnuts. The three types of sponge cake used in Somlói galuska are often made from a combination of flour, sugar, eggs, and often ground walnuts or breadcrumbs. The cakes are baked separately and then cut into small pieces or broken into crumbs.
“Gesztenyepüré” is a Hungarian dessert made from pureed chestnuts, sugar, vanilla, and sometimes rum. The chestnuts are boiled until tender, then peeled and either mashed or pureed into a smooth consistency. Sugar, vanilla, and sometimes rum are added to taste, and the mixture is typically served chilled with a dollop of whipped cream and a drizzle of vanilla sauce on top.
Golden dumplings (aranygaluska) is a sweet Hungarian dessert made with sweet yeast dough, butter, sugar, cinnamon, and chopped nuts. The name describes the dessert’s color and shape.
To make aranygaluska, a sweet yeast dough is prepared using flour, yeast, milk, butter, sugar, and eggs. The dough is then divided into small pieces, rolled into balls, and dipped in melted butter before being coated in a mixture of sugar, cinnamon, and chopped nuts, often walnuts.
The balls of dough are then placed in a baking dish and left to rise for a second time before being baked in the oven until golden brown. Once baked, aranygaluska is typically served warm and can be accompanied by a sweet vanilla sauce or a dusting of powdered sugar.
What to drink in Hungary?
Which are the typical Hungarian drinks that you should taste while enjoying your meal in Budapest? Here you have a couple of suggestions.
Palinka (Hungarian fruit spirit)
Palinka is a type of fruit brandy produced in Hungary. It is made by distilling fermented fruit mash, typically from plums, apricots, pears, or cherries.
Palinka is a clear, colorless liquor with a high alcohol content, usually around 40-50% ABV. Most restaurants serve the Palinka as an aperitif or digestif in small glasses. It is worth drinking slowly to fully enjoy the fruit taste.
Hungary is known for its wine production. In this article, we have already mentioned the sweet white wine from Tokaj and the wine Bikaver from Eger. There is so much to taste as Hungary has 22 wine regions producing wines from all sorts of grapes. In some restaurants, especially the Michelin-starred restaurants, you will often be offered a wine menu specifically made to match the degustation menu.
No matter what you do, taste lots of fantastic Hungarian wine in Budapest.
Unicum is a traditional Hungarian herbal liqueur. They make the drink from a secret blend of over 40 herbs and spices. It has a dark brown color and a bitter, slightly sweet flavor with notes of citrus, cinnamon, and clove. Unicum was created in 1790 by a Hungarian physician named Dr. Zwack, who developed the recipe as a medicinal tonic for the royal family.
Over the years, Unicum has become a popular alcoholic beverage in Hungary, often served as a digestif after meals or as a remedy for stomach ailments.