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10 exceptional restaurants serving Hungarian classics

Goulash soup, chicken paprikash, roast beef with crispy onion rings (hagymás rostélyos), cordon bleu, or rooster testicle stew – which is the one you would try while in Budapest? In our round-up, we handpicked 10 top-notch restaurants and bistros offering Hungarian favourites.

1/10

Szaletly

Dining at Szaletly is a pleasure for many reasons. For one, it is close to the City Park, so it comes with a suburban feel and pretty walking routes for before (or after) your meal. Also, it gives you a taste of the former glory days of the neighbourhood (see old photos here). But most importantly, the restaurant boasts brilliant gastronomy. The dishes are mostly traditional but sometimes get jazzed up with a fusion. And although Hungarian cuisine is famously heavy on meat and fat, their vegetarian selection is imaginative, too. Yet, we would never miss an impeccable chicken paprikash, potato casserole, pork tenderloin, or Stroganov steak. If you were to venture a bit, try the chef’s offer, which is the chef’s excursion into a more unorthodox world. Either way, leave space for dessert: the Floating Island and the Somlói (classic Hungarian sponge cake) are excellent! We love to experience this bourgeois atmosphere in Zugló.

2/10

Remma's Bistro

Our latest discovery is the slightly secluded but all the more excellent Remma’s in the 7th district. Behind the modesty is pinpoint professionalism and food prepared with love and integrity. It’s a very genuine place, simple and cosy, where you won’t feel out of place in your jeans – on the contrary! With tradition in mind, they build on the foundations of French cuisine to create ingenious dishes, whether it’s a simple lunch menu or an à la carte offering. Both are given equal importance, with no favouritism, which is very appealing. From their limited but all-the-more exciting menu, we highly recommend the lamb ragout soup, the potato pottage with breaded black pudding, and the Mangalica pork leg stew with noodles and roasted cabbage. If you’re in the mood for modern classics, book a table here!

3/10

21 Magyar

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.

4/10

Stand25

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.

5/10

Séf Asztala

Here is a restaurant that doesn’t seek a Michelin star and world fame but aims to enhance your everyday life with great flavours, intimate surroundings, and expertise. The Hungarian dishes at Séf Asztala are of consistently high quality, from the goulash to the potato noodle desserts. Their Wiener Schnitzel is excellent, but they can also prepare a simple breaded cheese in a way that leaves a good taste in your mouth for a long time. The restaurant works perfectly for a quick, hurried lunch, but we prefer the chatty version on the terrace, which comes with Parliament views. Afterwards, there’s plenty of time for a walk along the Danube! 

6/10

Menza

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.

7/10

Gettó Gulyás

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.

8/10

VakVarjú

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.)

9/10

Pörc & Prézli Restaurant

Pörc & Prézli is an outstanding Hungarian restaurant close to the Basilica. It offers remarkable cuisine, while checkered tablecloths add to the ambience (but not in a tacky way). They showcase classics that will make a foreigner curious and a local enthusiastic. The perch fillet comes with remoulade sauce, the pork tenderloin with roasted potato dumplings and oyster mushroom, and the Somlói sponge cake cannot be complete without golden raisins. The saviour of family lunches, this is the place where grandma and the sulky teenager will find their match.

10/10

Macesz Bistro

Hungarian-Jewish cuisine is a perennial favourite, whether it offers meat consommé with matzo ball, soup, Ludaskása (duck wing & liver, goose gizzard, pearl barley risotto), or even Flódni (a multi-layered pastry, with jam, walnut, poppy seed and apple). Macesz Bistro has been open since 2012, in the heart of the Jewish Quarter, with a pleasant, bourgeois interior, attentive service, and plenty of expertise. Innovation goes hand in hand with keeping the authentic character of the dishes. More recently, contemporary inspirations from Israeli cuisine have emerged, but we always go for the classics, which are in abundance. The cholent with duck leg is truly a must-try, but the menu also includes pork chop confit 'Pékné' style. The Somlói sponge cake is also excellent here, especially for those who don’t like raisins: you can opt for having this delicacy without them.

Cimkék

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