Are you hungry in Hungary? One of the best ways to experience a destination is through its cuisine, and Hungary has some particularly delicious cuisine at that. But where to start? If you're new in town and asking yourself "What is the best food to try when visiting Hungary?", then we have a list for you! From Hungarian classics, to street food, to Michelin-starred restaurants, read on for a complete Budapest foodie guide. We will help you eat and drink like a Hungarian in no time!
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If you asked yourself what food is Budapest famous for, you might think of gulyás, or "goulash". This paprika-laden beef soup is one of Hungary's most famous cultural exports for sure, but there is a lot more to Hungarian cuisine. You must also be sure to try:
Lángos: This is one of the most popular Hungarian foods. A disc of fried dough smothered in toppings? What's not to like? A classic lángos is sajtos-tejfölös, which is sour cream and soft white cheese.
Rántott Hús: This dish is Hungary's version of the more famous schnitzel across the border in Austria. Typically pork or chicken, the meat is pounded flat and then fried in a golden and crunchy crust. Get with a side of rice or potatoes, and don't forget the pickles!
Pörkölt: This stew might be what you think of when you hear gulyás. Made with pork or beef, this thick stew also has pepper and tomato, as well as classic Hungarian spices. Stop by Gettó Gulyás, one of the most popular Hungarian restaurants in the city, and try it!
Rakott Krumpli: This might be the ultimate Hungarian comfort food. This dish has layered potatoes interspersed with sausage, egg, and sour cream. Leave room for seconds!
Of course, we can't write a Budapest foodie guide without mentioning Hungary's famous drinks. (You need to know what to order in one of the iconic ruin bars, after all!)
Pálinka: This fruit brandy is one of Hungary's proudest exports. Famous for its high level of alcohol content (between 37% and 86%), you can try some of the iconic flavors, like apple, pear, grape, or sour cherry. Just make sure to be careful--it can sneak up on you!
Unicum: Speaking of famous Hungarian liqueur, Unicum is a Hungarian herbal liqueur or bitters, drunk as a digestif and apéritif. Invented in 1790, it's still going strong as one of Hungary's most beloved drinks. You can even visit the Unicum factory to see it being made!
Fröccs: This refreshing spritzer--made with white or rosé wine--comes into its own during the summer months. You'll see people drinking it on terraces by the riverside or making it for themselves in one of Budapest's parks. Did you know there are quite a few variations of fröccs? The most common ones are
Kisfröccs: 1 part wine, 1 part seltzer water
Hosszulepés: 1 part wine, 2 parts seltzer water
Nagyfröccs: 2 parts wine, 1 part seltzer water
Check out our guide here to learn more!
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Of course, the price varies across the city, but it's not uncommon to be able to have an entree, alcoholic drink, and dessert for around 7000 HUF/~$17. For an alternative experience of Hungarian food that can make your money stretch, check out the street food scene in Budapest (Bors Gasztrobar and Karavan are two of our favorites). If you'd really like to get some bang for your buck, try one of these all you can eat restaurants in Budapest.
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You might wonder where the best place to try Hungarian food in Budapest is, and we wouldn't be doing our job if we didn't tell you about the Great Market Hall. This grand structure is a jewel on the Pest riverside, and quite hard to miss. You can easily get there by taking the number 2 or 47 tram to Fővám Tér.
This market is popular with locals and tourists alike. You can do your shopping on the lower levels, and once you're ready to eat a hot Hungarian meal, head upstairs to the food stalls above. Grab something to go á la carte, or sit down at one of the restaurants. As we said, this market is popular with tourists, so if you'd like an even more local (and likely cheaper experience), try one of Budapest's many other markets, such as Lehel Csarnok, Ráckóczi Téri Vásárcsarnok, or Fény Utcai Piác.
Although a lot of classic Hungarian cuisine incorporates meat and heavy sauces, Budapest itself is quite an international city, which means it's adapted to international tastes. As the desire for vegetarian and vegan food has grown, more businesses have sprouted up to accommodate that. The Las Vegans street food market, for example, has lots of options in a pleasant open-air setting. Find out more about vegan food in Budapest here.
Budapest is no stranger to fine dining. Did you know that Budapest is home to seven Michelin-starred restaurants? Gastronomy lovers come from far and wide to taste the most creative spins on Hungarian cuisine. If you want to make a Michelin dining experience part of your trip to Budapest, make sure to plan ahead and make reservations. For more information, visit our guide to Michelin-starred restaurants in Budapest!
You will definitely have an amazing culinary experience at one of these restaurants. Just don’t forget to book a table in advance. Also, check out the Michelin Guide recommendations for more options!
When it comes to Hungarian cuisine, you just can't go wrong. There are so many options for finding delicious food in Budapest. Let this Budapest foodie guide lead you in the right direction! Jó étvágyat!