I have been lucky enough to have enjoyed various home cooked Hungarian fodder in my lifetime; Pörkölt a delicious chicken ‘stew’ of sorts & an excellent cure for a poorly head; Leves (this just means ‘soup’ in Hungarian) in various guises as there be meat ones, bean ones, creamy ones etc etc… and the sweet tooth is entirely catered for too with the endless choices of cakes, pancakes (a particular speciality) and strudels that can entertain you in a different form every day of the week for months.

So I bring to you some of my favourite spots in Budapest, as well as some areas I am still yet to explore myself.  Before I begin though, there are a few dishes that you MUST try when exploring this new cuisine, should you be unfamiliar.  Of course I would encourage your order to take place at one of the following establishments, however if not, be wary that you may not be enjoying the dish at its full potential.

Gulyás – The infamous slow-cooked beef soup (sometimes in more stew-like form too). Comforting, difficult to get wrong, so a good choice for at least 1 meal.

Lángos – A summer snack from many a Magyar; a stretched piece of deep fried bread, to be topped with grated cheese, sour cream, garlic or for sweet, icing sugar or cinnamon. Crunch and gulp down, trying not to be affected by calorie count.

Dessert – I highly recommend trying something sweet; Dobos Tortas, dumplings, pancakes, sweet soups – pick any one of them and you will be chasing after the recipe.

Café Kör

This is an excellent example of Hungarian food at consistently tasty standards and the finest service from staff that I have experienced (so far) in Budapest. The menu is available in English & Hungarian and the prices are well matched to the quality of dishes.

Staff are extremely welcoming & accommodating, offering to recommend wines to pair with food, sweeping up empty dishes/glasses in a blink of an eye and ensuring that your entire meal experience is nothing less than fulfilling.

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My recent visit included a fish starter of home-smoked salmon (the portion size could have been a main however I was not to complain as each mouthful was delicious), followed by roasted Pike (a fairly typically served fish, as well as Carp) served with roasted vegetables.



Home-Smoked Salmon starter

Roasted Pike with vegetables

Dessert HAD to be Gundel palacscinta, another must-do for the sweet of tooth; a pancake filled with a paste of raisins, nuts & chocolate, smothered over and folded, then covered in a warm, usually dark chocolate sauce & flambéed with rum. Satisfaction every time.

The heavenly pancake

Please do visit this restaurant, I plan to going back every time.

Napfényes Étterem

A Vegetarian restaurant in Budapest? Is it real? Yes and yes. Of course, it is understandable to question such a thought as Hungary is plentiful in its ability to cater for meat-eaters however do not underestimate the up and coming ability of its plant based approach. In fact this menu is more inclined to be Vegan as their dishes are dairy-free.

Cake fridge

Napfényes simply translates as ‘Sunny’ and it certainly is when you enter inside. Bright orange, calming music and candles deck out the interior, with welcoming staff to provide an English or Hungarian menu. They are open daily and offer specials in addition to their main menu that rotate on a monthly basis. They also have a delightful salad bar at the front which you can fill up a bowl, small or large, to accompany your menu choice.

As newcomers, my friend and I chose the Sunlight Platter, an amazing meal for 2 (or 3) to share which incorporates a range of dishes in a tapas-like plate. It included rice and peas, Seiten cutlets, Dairy-free cheese fritters and Falafel, as well as potatoes and red cabbage. It seemed to make the additional Caesar Salad ordered quite redundant as there was an enormous amount of food to eat our way through.

Sunlight plater

Luckily, they encourage taking leftovers home and will wrap up remainders in boxes to take away.

Don’t forget to try one of their desserts which you can spy in the fridge on entry. Their home made Ginger lemonade was my beverage of choice, however they also have a huge range of teas too. 

A fine addition to the restaurant list in Budapest.

QUICK LINKS

Not enough time was spent in some places to fully document their fine offerings, however I can at least suggest these for quick fixes if your wanderings find you nearby.

Places to Eat

Menza – Simple menu with various offerings, incorporating a Hungarian/Mediterranean approach. Not expensive and reliable eating.

Hummus Bar – Another good choice for more vegetarian inclined palates as well as meat. I would not normally recommend chains, however to avoid the awful ‘Coca-Cola’ bespeckled food spots lining the streets and dishing out deep-fried this and that, this is a far safer, tastier solution.

Great Coffee/Dessert

Printa – a design shop/exhibition space and coffee spot. Trendy, off the beaten track & a good side step from the touristy areas.  Oh yes, good coffee too.

Sugar! – Great concept, deadly for kids, mainly due to the poor parents that will no doubt have to deal with the hyperactive reaction on consumption of any goods here.  Inventive display of desserts and very reasonably priced for a dessert destination.  Not particularly Hungarian however it will sate your sugar craving.

Ice-cream colours

Művész Kávéház – One of the oldest cafes in the Opera District, there was a review recently stating its prices had reduced its customer base and the quality was not as good. I disagree.  The staff were friendly and they had an impressive display of cakes and desserts on offer, all of which were very gentle on the pocket and resplendent in the mouth. Delicious.


Cherry & Poppyseed cakeEsterhazy Cake

Lila Korte Cafe – Another wonderful dessert destination, in the Kecskeméti Street area near Kalvin Ter (I highly recommend eating in this area in general as there are many fine choices and not typically touristy so should be able to find a good meal).  I tried a pear sorbet and white chocolate with dill ice-cream which I thoroughly enjoyed. All the cakes on offer were magnificent, almost regal in their presentation and mostly Hungarian.  Great spot.

 

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