As the national dish of Hungary, “gulyás” is prepared in many different ways here – and at these three excellent eateries, we can enjoy it in varied versions. From a classic recipe created with top-notch local ingredients to a new-wave gourmet variation prepared by a Michelin-starred kitchen to a spicy selection made with fresh style, we tried a trio of Budapest’s greatest goulash offers, and recommend all of them depending on every eater’s preferred taste.
In this charming contemporary eatery of the Castle District, chef Zsolt Litauszki serves customary goulash soup with super-fresh local meat and produce, made with no surprises, twists, or rethought elements – it is simple and great. Skipping the abundance of carrots that frequently dominates this dish, the bowls of goulash at Baltazár are still rather thick because of their excellent beef, potatoes, and csipetke noodles. The dish is served in a small red pot with bread baked on-site, which we can boldly dunk into the traditionally flavored soup. We heartily recommend this to any Budapest visitor, since the meat, seasonings, and serving size are all perfect, and should be acknowledged as the epitome of classic goulash, both by foreigners and Hungarians.
Price: 2,960 HUF
The goulash soup of Onyx is very special, and was first prepared for the 2013 Bocuse d’Or by chef Tamás Széll; since then it became a permanent dish on the menu of this Michelin-starred restaurant. This version is not reminiscent of traditional goulash in its appearance or flavors – the very rich and full-bodied soup is also complemented by some shoulder-blade meat hidden in ravioli. Bezdan paprika, orange, lemon, and coffee beans make this dish equally extreme and elegant. Anyone who has already been to this restaurant knows that the flavors really “explode” here, which happened this time too: the soup and the meaty ravioli are intensive when sampled individually, but they are best enjoyed together. Naturally, this goulash is the most expensive of the bunch, but for epicures, it’s worth every forint.
Price: 5,000 HUF
One of the newest hotspots of District V deserves attention not only because of its views of the Basilica and its evening concerts, but also because of the kitchen. Before our first visit to Bestia, we thought that this was just another minimalistic bar with an industrial interior, but we knew after the first bite that we would return often for the superb music and even better flavors. Goulash soup is a highlighted dish on their menu, and is served in a small, heatproof glass bowl, with a lot of meat and even more color. It is spiced up with chili balanced by crisp celery to create a thick soup with a fresh appearance, which we wholeheartedly recommend to anyone.
Price: 1,250 HUF