Don't let the gloomy weather put you off, reward yourself with a hearty Hungarian dining experience instead!
Whether you live in Budapest or only came to visit, you can not leave trying traditional hearty meals and experiencing the famous Hungarian hospitality to luck. Finding the best spots is not easy, but we are here to guide you in the direction of 7 amazing restaurants that won't disappoint. All of them opted for a simple but effective trio of principles: quality ingredients, homely flavours and cosy vibes.
Pick Bistro & Deli
Formerly a crowd-favourite butcher's shop, now a bistro, Pick has a cosy, high-quality, and specifically Hungarian cuisine, right next to the Parliament. Despite of its central location, it goes against the touristy grain, as they kept the deli character. In addition to the affordable and diverse daily menus, you can find traditional dishes such as chicken paprikash with homemade noodles or grated veal liver with mashed potatoes. The Pick Bistro & Deli may be a bistro in name, but its atmosphere is of a restaurant. You might spot locals having their lunch here - which is always a good reference.
"A good choice for tourists, a must-see for locals" – this is how we can sum up the Jewish District's Kazimír restaurant in one sentence. It is an oldie but goodie, which opened about 10 years ago in the capital's multicultural main street, Kazinczy, and is thriving ever since. This is not for the innovation-seeking heart, the direction is not the reinvention of Hungarian dishes but the classic traditional flavours. Which is exactly the reason we love this spot so much. In fact, we dare to say that we had one of the best – if not the best – tripe stews in our lives here, served with smoked beef tongue, homemade pickles, and toasted, pithy dumplings. Don't be intimidated by the party district location, just walk past the pub crawlers with the knowledge that Kazimír was made for you.
Update: Kazimír is temporarily closed.
If you seek traditional Hungarian delights in Budapest, chances are you will find them over checkered tablecloths. Well, Retek Bisztró is different. This fairy-tale Hungarian restaurant recreates traditions in a modern guise. Here we can forget the old misconception that real Hungarian cuisine is all about heavy dishes, as experience shows it can be much lighter. The goulash soup, the deep-fried meatballs, or the Hungarian poppy seed bread pudding "Mákosguba", the attention to every detail, and the environment with its small touches all combine to create an authentic and excellent restaurant, with all the elements perfectly in place.
People were already dining under the plane trees of the legendary Szép Ilona Restaurant in Buda a century ago, but nowadays, with a modern concept change, the popular 2nd district eatery is called Szépilona Bistro. The Art Deco interior is in perfect harmony with the Parisian bistro vibes, and fortunately, the menu does not lack dishes worthy of a classic Buda restaurant. It is easy to seize the day here, just order a tafelspitz, Wiener schnitzel, pork chops "Vadas" style or Kaiserschmarrn.
You might have to travel a bit to reach chef Olivér Heiszler's fantastic, locally made pastries and trademark dishes - but trust us, it will be worth it. Located on the Római-part (Roman Embankment), you will leave the buzzing city and crowd behind to be greeted by an enchanting neighbourhood and a cosy atmosphere, with locals all around and the Danube at an arm's length. Divinus Római offers homely yet modern and overwhelming dishes: they are light, nutritious, extremely elegant, and streamlined. Avoiding the label bistro, Divinus Római is a kind of 'contemporary restaurant', where everyone can find their place and even a community.
Update: Divinus Római is temporarily closed.
If you are already in the spirit of venturing to the outskirts of Budapest, and don't mind going even further to explore more local places, also add these two restaurant to your list of proper Hungarian feasts.
The rustic family restaurant Cukorborsó Garden Restaurant, established a few years ago in Páty, was perhaps one of our biggest hits this year. Attila Balázs and his team have found a great balance between honest, family hospitality and quality ‘bistro cuisine’ while trying to use local ingredients. Fantastic Neapolitan pizzas, perfectly full and fresh flavours: Cukorborsó in Páty is worth a detour.
Speaking of the agglomeration, the Rutin restaurant in Budaörs also has a place in our selection, as owner-chef Dávid Pallag's dishes, prepared traditionally and yet a bit differently, stroke us as diamonds in the rough last autumn. The restaurant, located on the border of the old town and the village of Budaörs, has an intimate atmosphere with a Swabian touch to the outside. While inside, you are greeted by a friendly, clean, and casual show kitchen space. Tasting the food, we are convinced that – if the term wasn't already used for everything – this is what a classic and modern bistro kitchen should be all about.