Ideally, you would be on your way home after a light drink with friends or a party, but after one too many wine spritzers, beers, or long drinks the body is screaming for a little carbohydrate. Not to mention that morning is more bearable if you don't wake up to the sound of a rumbling stomach. Even though we're nowhere near the pre-2020 late-night street food offerings, there are still a few safe spots open after midnight if you feel hungry after the evening drinks with nothing but an empty fridge waiting at home.
We tried to pick places that rarely let us down, where the food was really tasty and filling, even at night. The basic principle of the list is for places to be open after midnight at least one day a week, but unfortunately, places that serve food until midnight are not included. This is how it happened that even though Szeráj is an iconic spot on Szent István Avenue, it is no longer open until daybreak, and is therefore omitted from this list. Although there were times when we couldn't imagine the early morning without Turkish kebabs.
On the same note, after a rough night, sometimes we're happy to find an open spot where we can settle or be served steaming food through the window, and often the early morning snacking is not a matter of choice, it’s rather up to the space available and the contents of the wallet. Naturally, the pulse points have more players, but the eateries that are open at night have not kept pace with the changes in the city's nightlife scene, so there is plenty of room in Buda for pizza, Greek gyros, and the now 'retired' hot dog, which is not in our selection, although is a great late-night snack.
They're veterans at late-night street pizza slices: Pizza Me has long delivered the consistent quality that has made them the market leader in their genre. Fortunately, they are found in many places all over the country, at major hubs in the capital, and in places close to the party, they will even stay until 7 am to serve you a steaming diavola or tartufata. You can get their pizzas until dawn/morning in units on Dob Street, near Budapest–Keleti, Király Street, Oktogon, Astoria, Móricz, the Basilica, Kazinczy Street, Károly Avenue, Wesselényi Street, Fővám Square, the Fashion Street, Ferenciek Square, Blaha Lujza Square, Erzsébet Avenue, Jászai Mari Square or Széll Kálmán Square – please consult their website for the opening hours. One slice will satisfy your hunger, two will be enough until breakfast.
Night cravings often lead to a burger bar. Zing is a great choice with its juicy, large sandwiches. Luckily, two of their units are available late at night: on Király Street, Street Burger and Guitar Hero are on until 2 am on Thursday, 4 am on Friday and Saturday, and the Margit Avenue unit welcomes you from Thursday to Saturday until 1 am, while the Nyugati unit is open until 1 am on Friday and Saturday. Not only the sandwiches and side dishes but also jalapeño poppers or plain fries are perfect after a beer.
Falafel bar, hiding on Wesselényi Street, is where foreigners and Hungarians are usually mixed, with quite a few young Israelis, and the selection and flavours are highly praised. They are open until 1 am on Saturdays and Sundays, and whether you opt for the large sandwich piled into pita bread or the assorted delicacies on a plate, you'll be in for a treat.
REBEL Burger & More
We're back on Király Street, in the part closer to Deák Square, at REBEL. Open until 1 am on Fridays and Saturdays, they offer a wide selection, from burgers to Mexican comfort food. And thanks to Csaba Ádám, they also have vegan burger options, so guests avoiding animal ingredients are also welcome. If you're more into the Mexican line, burritos, tacos, and quesadillas are also available, which is also nice if you've gone a little overboard with your G&Ts.
You haven't had a good party yet if you're unfamiliar with Csirke Csibész: their red gate logo has made so many people give up their diets, if only for a night. This fried chicken sandwich nirvana has been feeding partygoers and night owls of all ages, genders, and statuses for 30 years. It's where the night patrol meets the teenage party hooligans not yet allowed into the tobacco shop, badass kids arriving with a Hammer, girls just ending their night shifts in clubs, and accountants feverishly preparing the end-of-month books. And we've got the all-time-favourite Russian salad and fried liver bun with a sesame seed topping, which gives you more than any other fast-food restaurant at 4 am on a Friday morning.
Chicken sandwiches find a market in every era, and rightly so, as the luscious and pleasant-tasting fried chicken assemblies are absolutely peachy. Pesti Pipi has been a well-known and popular chain for a couple of years now, and they have also spread their wings and are now running two nightly feeding spots. At Nyugati, you can visit them from Sunday to Wednesday until 2 am and from Thursday to Saturday until 4 am, while at Deák, you can chew on their wings for even longer: from Sunday to Wednesday until 2 am, on Thursday until 4 am, and on Friday and Saturday until 6 am.
Pizza e Prosecco
There's a place on Madách Square where they serve both prosecco and pizza al taglio, and from Thursday onwards, they keep toasting and slicing until 2 am. On Fridays and Saturdays, they are open until 3 am, but it's worth keeping your wits about you because they'll keep pushing you until you don't even notice having a glass in your hand, well after the last round. The pizzas are crispy and the atmosphere is straight-up Italian at Pizza e Prosecco.
The classic kebab would be a shame to miss out on, as the city is full of them, but the round-the-clock opening is more typical of the larger chains. However, we'll add a smaller one to our list, the Urfa Kebab on Wesselényi Street, which is tiny but cosy place, and it's open until early morning most days of the week.
We know of two Melissa's in the city, close to each other, one on Wesselényi Street and one on Kazinczy Street. They make Greek-style gyros in pita bread, lots of fries and sauces, but there are other dishes to choose from, most days of the week until the early hours of the morning. We'll confess, so far we've only tasted the juicy gyros at the crack of dawn, but we've also had them recommend their moussaka. We play safe at Melissa. The atmosphere is always upbeat, and it's really nice to see the fries included in the pita, plus they make a vegetarian version with grilled cheese.