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Ever toasted with pálinka and tucked into chicken paprikash in a Hungarian home? Hungry for Hungary offers this experience.
We've got you covered with the go-to spots to ease those post-night-out munchies.
21 Magyar Vendéglő is one of our favourite gastro spots in the Castle District for Hungarian classics. The area is teeming with tourists, yet this part of the Castle seems less busy. The restaurant has been at the forefront for 13 years now, welcoming guests intrigued by the Hungarian-styled kitchen and spices (an abundance of garlic, onion, and paprika). Many people come for their goulash, farm chicken soup, Hortobágyi chicken pancake, and chicken paprikash, as these are regular items on the menu. But they also prepare pike perch fillet Rácz style and 21st-century spinach pottage, which you can order with fried lamb ribs and breaded eggs.
Stand 25 is our go-to place when a friend or relative visits us from abroad. It is partly because the bistro is nestled in a lovely neighbourhood, at the foot of the Buda Castle, near the Tunnel. But more importantly, it is a much-appreciated bastion of Hungarian cuisine, presented by the expert hands of Szabina Szulló and Tamás Széll. Goulash soup is iconic, as is the roasted pork tenderloin “Brassói” style or the Mangalica Cordon Bleu, the best stuffed and fried meat in town. You can choose the three-course Stand25 menu, but you can also get lost in the à la carte favourites. Here you’ll be treated to a masterly feast.
With a 20-year history, Menza’s continuous full houses prove its perpetuity. Thank goodness! It is one of the most reliable restaurants in town, with unwavering quality and many classics that have been on the menu since its existence. They have a great lunch menu and a weekly offer, too. Our favourites on the regular menu include garlic cream soup with lángos topped with sour cream and cheese, homemade egg spaetzle with lettuce, fresh ratatouille with eggs and sausages, duck liver pâté with onion chutney and toasted homemade wicker cake, Menza Wiener Schnitzel, roast beef with crispy onion rings, gravy, steak potatoes, and homemade chopped pickles. It’s a long-lasting love affair, close to Oktogon.
Gettó Gulyás is a gem in the Jewish Quarter. We love their retro photos and how they can spice up a plain Tuesday lunch with a photo of a last-century dough stretching. Their other trademark is that they’re called a “stewery”, and yes, that sums them up. The à la carte selection includes beef stew with red wine, gizzard stew, knuckle stew, and catfish paprikash. But let’s get wild: they also cook rooster testicles and cockscomb stew, so if you feel experimental or are up for digging deep into Hungarian classics from a different era, Gettó Gulyás is the answer. You can also order Hortobágyi pancakes, beef Tartare and goulash ‘Alföldi’ style, and the dipped bread starter is to die for.
In vibrant Újlipótváros (13th district), VakVarjú is a cosy restaurant with a diverse menu but a focus on Hungarian cuisine. A big perk is that it is family-friendly, coming with a menu for kids, an indoor children’s corner, and an outdoor playground. There’s a covered and open terrace, too, and in the evenings, you can enjoy a live piano solo. The menu offers both traditional flavours and surprising combinations, including classic chicken soup with noodles, goulash soup served in a pot, and pan-fried duck liver mousse, with fresh lecsó. You can even try squealer knuckle, pulled and pressed with trotters stew. They offer about 50 different wines by the glass, so there will be plenty to pair with the classic menu. (The restaurant is inside the RaM-ArT Theatre building.)