If 2018 saw the most new venues open in Budapest, then 2019 looks like beating it. We are already a third of the way into the year and the city has witnessed any number of new concepts, as well as old proven models. From vegan gastronomy to a croissant haven and a champagne bar, novelties abound. Here’s our selection of Budapest’s best new spots – with a Top 10 list for easy reference.
Restaurants & bistros
FELIX is a top-notch restaurant, cocktail bar and Danube-facing terrace that occupies an ornate landmark created by Budapest’s most renowned architect of the Golden Age, Miklós Ybl. Named after Ybl's only son, FELIX is the kind of place where you can dine on oysters from Brittany and Wagyu beef from Japan – and breakfast on superior Eggs Benedict. It can shake a decent cocktail, too.
Another significant new opening is DNB Budapest, whose mix of contemporary and Magyar cuisine can be enjoyed with jaw-dropping Danube view. Over in District VII, Laurel Budapest is part of a new concept where Ádám Mede creates outstanding harmonies of taste.
Il Giardino was opened at the site of the old Sophie & Ben Garden in Buda, underscored by Italian flavours and a convivial atmosphere. Despite a few recent changes, the pizza-pasta offering remains sacrosanct.
Speaking of Italy, at Belli di Mamma on Akácfa utca, the antipasti and quality pizzas not only echo Naples but also the Lazio region.
It’s hard to pin down the lunch we had at AUM – surreal, incredible, brilliant and niche. This new restaurant on Flórián tér should attract advanced gastronomes.
The Madách tér Konyhája has been retagged as Blitz and matured somewhat: more sophisticated dishes are the basis of this revamped venue, also improving where wine is concerned – and don’t forget to keep an eye on its events calendar.
Nearby on Dob utca we find the TLV Eatery, where the kitchen and the drinks menu are tuned in to Israel. Hummus, fried cauliflower, baba ganoush await hungry diners every evening.
Lajos Takács does the cooking at Kobuta, where dinner parties are organised and fantastic Japanese dishes made, tonkatsu and ramen, but there is no shortage of lovely fusion dishes. It’s a super concept backed up by long-lasting flavours.
Best termed a meat-free gastropub, the friendly Szabad sources none of its food from animal origin but instead relies on imaginative and tasty solutions, creating an eatery with the courage of its convictions.
Cafés, confectioneries & bakeries
Brimming with ideas and creativity, the team at Horizont is already well known. Based at a former cinema, this breakfast spot is still very innovative and continues to keep a sharp eye on foreign trends. The interior is stylish, the food and drinks more straightforward.
Elsewhere in District VII, an Iranian expat prepares Middle Eastern cakes based on traditional recipes. The Iranian confectionery has a special charm and the sweets are supersweet and moreish.
We were also delighted to see two wonderful new bakeries: the Lisboa has brought Portugal’s finest pastries and bakery products to the city centre, so you can always get a pastel de nata whenever you need it. No less wonderful is Freyja on Barát utca, which started a croissant craze around town. Here we’re talking about both sweet and savoury: the port-and-duck mousse and pistachio varieties captured our hearts.
The café and confectionery at the Lotz room of the Párisi Department Store also reopened on Andrássy út. In the Café Párisi, the city has regained a key historic space where locals and tourists can sip drinks in ornate surroundings.
Plantmilkyway caters to vegans looking for a cake or dessert, or to those in need of gluten- or soya-free goodies. In fact, they also sell pastries without oilseeds, and those with peanut allergies should be safe here.
In the same building as Laurel Budapest, the Babérliget Bookstore & Café is imbued with the inspiring personality of Béla Hamvas. Enjoy breakfast and new-wave coffee surrounded by the printed word.
In Hollan Ernő utca, under the direction of András Berényi, they have overhauled the takeaway side of things. The KuszKusz offers Levantine flavours to go – healthy and delicious.
The Fasírt is built on the humble meatball of the same name, a new eatery on Paulay Ede utca. Prices are moderate and portions fair, all handy for a quick bite on your lunchbreak.
The fried-meat sandwich is a Hungarian staple. Though they don’t push the envelope at Devil’s Prézli on Lövőház utca, they are trying to envigorate the genre. All kinds of breadcrumbs, buns, meat and creative sauces go into these well conceived beauties.
With the coming of spring, the Vegan Garden has burst into life for the 2019 season. One of the new arrivals at this street-food courtyard on Dob utca is Kristóf Steiner, a culinary wanderer who has sampled and recorded many types of cuisine on his travels. Here his food truck offers vegan dishes based on his favourite recipes.
With his Vaslap on Dohány utca, Barnabás Csipes has answered the prayer of many a burger lover: unforgettable, no-nonsense eats produced on-site. The house sauces are great, giving these two-handed treats real zing.
It’s not easy to categorise Champoint 4 Monkeys, only to say that it’s by the Downtown Market. It’s primarily a champagne bar, with many varieties chilling in its fridges. You can also start the day the right way with a glass of Laurent Perrier beside you, a sandwich, an egg dish of some kind or one of Lajos Bíró’s more outré ideas such as toasted brawn sandwich or a standard curd-cheese pastry lined with salmon.