A good strudel, the revered ‘rétes’, has a slightly golden, almost film-thin paste, does not break apart when you hold it, and its filling should be concentrated and tasty. We combed Budapest for this special strudel experience, and found plenty of quality spots, even though some of the stalwarts have closed down over time. We share some of our favourites.
Ambrózia Rétes Bár
Just a short walk from the Corvin Plaza mall, this homemade strudel haven has built its business strategy on the fashion for retro. The aim is to convince local visitors that the strudel they taste here takes them back to their childhoods, regardless of how old they are. And the thing works, the wide selection, no fewer than 15 options a day, really hits the nostalgia button.
In addition to traditional flavours, you will also find pudding and banana, as well as seasonal varieties, this year’s favourites being grape and pumpkin-and-poppy. Closed at weekends.
District VIII. Üllői út 66A
Open: Mon-Fri 9am-6pm
Price: 270 HUF
Első Pesti Rétesház
If there’s anywhere that respects strudel tradition, it’s this downtown establishment. Opened in 2007, in a renovated heritage house built in 1812, it not only offers strudel but also puts the legendary pastry in the spotlight by filling the menu with what’s available.
Again, the strudel here is champion, if a little bit dearer than most in the field, though you are sitting in a restaurant when you can enjoy it in comfort. In the Rétesház you can embellish your strudel with various sauces, ice creams and flavours, including salmon with asparagus sauce, Hortobágy meat with paprika sauce or filled with spinach, asparagus and carrot and covered in a creamy leek sauce.
District V. Október 6. utca 22
Open: daily 9am-11pm
Price: from 450 HUF to take away, 12.5% service charge added to eat in
This family business in operation since 2005 can be found in two places in the city: Frigyes Karinthy út on the Buda side and, on the Pest side, Pozsonyi út. The strudel served on a plate before you is so captivatingly delicious that you tend to fall in love with the view of Pozsonyi út, with its trees and little shops, giving you time to savour the flavour.
In addition to traditional strudel, they also have some of their own creations, such as our favourite, broccoli, but the sour-cherry-and-chocolate and rice-pudding options are also highly recommended. Sugar-free strudel is also available. This is a typical place where you can’t go for one variety – you’re sure to take a few pieces away with you. Closed on Sundays.
District XIII. Pozsonyi út 15
Open: Mon-Fri 9.30am-6pm, Sat 10am-3pm
Price: 380 HUF
Normafa Rétes Büfé
Budapest’s most legendary strudel spot has been standing on top of the Normafa woods by the ski house since 1978, serving consistently fine examples to a constant queue of people. Fortunately, service is fast.
Besides the superb strudel, the secret to the popularity of the place is probably its prestigious past, and the magnificent surroundings that increase the pleasure of the whole experience. No hike is complete without one.
District XII. Eötvös út 59
Open: daily, Jan-Feb, Nov-mid Dec 10am-4pm, Mar-Apr 10am-6pm, May-Aug 10am-7pm, Sept-Oct 10am-5pm
Price: 420 HUF
Rétesbolt Anno 1926
Founded in 1926, this strudel outlet offers homemade varieties using its own traditional recipes. You can watch a huge slice being prepared for baking, the dough being kneaded then rolled with apple, cottage cheese, chestnut, the list goes on… anyone will enjoy the taste and the experience. You don’t know strudel until you’ve tried it here.
District XIII. Lehel utca 38
Open: daily 10am-8pm
Price: 380 HUF
‘Strudel Island’, quickly and easily accessible from the city centre, is built on flavour. The interior does not attempt to match the latest designs, but that’s not the point. Strudel is what counts here, apple, sour-cherry, cottage-cheese, poppy-seed – whatever you choose, the pastry crumbles gently while keeping the filling secure. This is the kind of business that should be a must for every neighbourhood. Opens early, closed at weekends.
District XIII. Csángó utca 4A
Open: Mon-Thur 7.30am-5pm, Fri 7.30am-4pm.
Price: 340 HUF, some 380 HUF
Strudel at the Great Market Hall
Like lángos, Hungary’s equally revered fried dough snack, there’s a strudel spot at every regular market and market hall. This small outlet on the ground floor of the Great Market Hall bears the sign ‘Domestic Strudel Made by Hand’.
This is something you can verify because you can watch them making it on the other side. How much this adds to the taste experience is not certain, but yes, the strudel you receive isn’t bad at all.
District IX. Vámház körút 1-3
Open: Mon 6am-5pm, Tue-Fri 6am-6pm, Sat 6am-3pm
Price: 280 HUF
Strudel Hugó – Rétes és más
A favourite of many is this downtown, relatively new space that raises people from their slumber with its aroma. You don’t need to eat here to know that you’re in the right place. The mouth-watering scents and the small, friendly atmosphere cannot fail to disappoint. If strudel had a spiritual home, this would be it.
What makes the place special is the fact that it not only celebrates strudel but also Modernist painter Hugo Scheiber who once lived here, hence Strudel Hugó. It’s good to know that they bake lactose-free, sugar-free and even custom-made varieties, and they’re dog-friendly with it.
District VII. Kertész utca 22 (corner of Wesselényi utca)
Open: Mon-Fri 8am-7pm, Sat 9am-5pm
Price: 390 HUF