Budapest’s increasingly sophisticated gastronomical scene can provide every ingredient necessary for world-spanning culinary cravings, whether you desire Italian olive oil, Russian caviar, English tea, Indian curry, Chinese noodles, or a Turkish dessert – and naturally, the delicatessens of the Magyar metropolis provide the world’s best selection of fine Hungarian foodstuffs. Here is a baker’s dozen of Budapest delicatessens all perfect for inspiring an elaborate dinner party of ethnic specialties, or to fill up a basket for an impromptu gourmet picnic.
BalatonÍzlelő provides the finest gastronomical products from the small farms and dairies located around Hungary’s own Lake Balaton to promote the region’s diverse delicacies. Foods are sold with the images of their producers, establishing a direct connection with customers. Mouthwatering cheeses, sausages, fruits, and much more all flow in continuously, fresh and in harmony with the season.
Address: 1053 Budapest, 10 Királyi Pál Street
Recently opened on the ground floor of Budapest’s five-star Kempinski Hotel Corvinus, this sister eatery of the nearby ÉS Bistro is absolutely focused on providing high-quality cuisine. You can access the shop from Deák Ferenc Street (aka Fashion Street) or Erzsébet Square, and quickly grab a freshly made gourmet sandwich, crispy pastry, or fresh-squeezed vegetable or fruit juices any time of the day. The coffee selection is based on speciality blends selected and roasted by Máté Nezvál, with flavors ranging from dark roast to sour-and-fruity. The ÉS Deli signature blend is a light-roasted coffee of fresh flavors, a 50%-50% blend of Rwandan (Cyebumba) and Guatemalan (Finca Santa Paula) beans.
At Cmak, you can buy almost everything Russian – apart from nuclear-power plant components and Putin’s bear. The selection ranges from marinated goods through the legendary Russian black bread, along with staples like cabbages, caviars, and sauces. The spice shelves are also worth a look: you can find special mixes here for cooking Ukrainian and Georgian specialities at home.
Address: Budapest 1052, Apáczai Csere János utca 1.
If you want Russian foods, there is another option: Arbat. This chain sells ready-made dishes (try the meat salad or the smoked fish) in addition to goods like vodka, jams, kvass, and caviar on the shelves. Check out the ten different flavors of Russian túró rudi (curd cheese in chocolate) available here.
Address: 1071 Budapest, Dembinszky utca 33.
The British Store
A few minutes from Szent István Park, The British Store has everything necessary for traditional English cuisine, like black tea, Cadbury’s chocolate, and orange marmalade. You can also buy the ingredients for a traditional English breakfast, along with various beers, ciders, oat flakes, peanut butter, and even Marmite here. The shop is a great field-trip destination, for it reveals what the Brits eat and drink apart from fish and chips or tea.
Address: 1136 Budapest, Tátra utca 26.
Szép Kis India
If you’re yearning for a coconut milk curry or wanted to cook something that you didn’t know existed, head straight to Szép Kis India. You probably won’t be able to pronounce the majority of the goods at this store on Wesselényi Street, but you needn’t worry: it's enough to take them to the cashier. The place has a strong selection of deep-frozen seafood, as well as fresh fruits and vegetables – plus, this is the best source for plantains in the city center. On top of all this, you can also buy incense sticks, statuettes, carpets, and pots on the upper story.
Culinaris was one of the pioneers of delicatessens in Budapest, and the popularity of the shop has never faltered. The stores of this chain sell rare ingredients, fresh vegetables, and specialty kitchen utensils, as well as olive oils, spices, cheeses, hams, and wines: everything for a gourmet dinner. There are altogether three Culinaris shops around town: one in District III, another by Hunyadi Square, and a third on Balassi Bálint Street near the Parliament.
There are numerous delis specializing in Chinese cuisine around Budapest, but one of the best is Yong Fa at Rákóczi Square, selling ten-kilo bags of rice, cooking wine, dry pasta, soy sauces, instant soups, noodles, teas, spices, and kitchen accessories. There's even beef jerky, which has nothing to do with the customary tastes of Asia, but is highly sought-after there.
Address: 1084 Budapest, Rákóczi tér 8.
Anytime we hear about Turkish cuisine, most of us immediately think of kebab places, but not so many people know that Turkish gastronomy goes far beyond that. Türk Bakkali sells canned goods, jams, pickles, spices, pastas, sweets, honeys, and oils, as well as teapots, beauty products, coffee, and pre-cooked pasta. They have a butcher's shop selling fresh products in the adjacent parlor. There are 40,000 Muslims in Hungary, and this store strives to supply them with halal ingredients. There is also home delivery available.
Address: Budapest 1082, Baross u. 109
Kosher food is strictly regulated, from the butchering of animals to cooking. The most important rules are to not mix meat and milk-based dishes, and to avoid non-kosher meat like pork, shrimp, snail, and so on. This shop primarily sells pre-cooked goods, but it also stocks the popular Israeli spice zatar, along with kosher wine and pálinka, dairy products without artificial additives, and ingredients for Sabbath dishes like matzo balls and cholent. There are also kosher Haribo sweets. The District VII shop is primarily but not exclusively frequented by the local Jewish community.
This special nonstop store opened about ten years ago. 8&8 Deli stocks about 300 kinds of beer, and sodas rarely available in Hungary, like mango Fanta, diet Cherry Coke, and Dr. Pepper. You can find Japanese Genmaicha, organic cola, and original Hungarian soda water. The majority of the hundreds of wine varieties are Hungarian, but there are also bottles from Transylvania, Vojvodina, and Ménes-Hegyalja. And we haven’t mentioned the chips and chocolate varieties, Russian vodka specialities, cheeses, pastries and five-liter whisky bottles.
Address: 1124 Budapest, Fürj utca 2.
You can choose from about 1,000 Italian products here, including jams, oils, coffee, rice, risotto, cheese, flour, vegetables, pasta, and Sicilian specialities. We usually visit for pesto and dried tomatoes, but they have everything for a simple penne arabbiata as well. They also compile custom gift baskets.
Address: Budapest 1024, Lövőház utca 2-6
Piknik Pavilon (near Matthias Church in the Castle District) functions as a deli and a restaurant, meaning that you can taste everything before buying. The selection ranges from homemade pastries to cold cuts, horse meat, sausages, and hams. We enjoyed the fresh goat’s cheese with seasoned oil, eggplant spread in baguette, cold goose liver with red-onion jam, the selection of olives, a gazpacho plate with Serrano ham, a gourmet cheese selection, and the Iberico ham plate.
Address: 1014 Budapest, Tárnok utca 15.