Contemporary Budapest offers a gastronomical experience to be reckoned with. Leading Hungarian food writer, blogger and TV cooking show host Zsófia Mautner offers her pick of Budapest’s best restaurants.
Whether you’re in the market for traditional Jewish-Hungarian fare, a Japanese pork sandwich accompanied by breathtaking views of Budapest’s skyline or a Michelin-star vegan tasting menu, Zsófia Mautner has you covered. The author of 14 cookbooks (including one in English, 2016’s Budapest Bites), Mautner contributes to a number of food magazines and also runs her own blog, Chili & Vanília.
Destinations Unlocked:Let our travel expert Stefano help you find your perfect Culture trip
Looking for an expert's perspective?Uncover my top 3 recommended places from each continent on the map.
1. GuatemalaAn express adventure for those with limited time off. Prepare yourself incredible experiences. You will hike a volcano, visit mayan temples and witness a ceremony and take in beautiful colonial Antigua.
2. BelizeA quick trip not too far away for those seeking a relaxing mini break. You will have plenty of free time to relax but also some awesome activities to experience the rainforest and the caribbean sea.
3. MexicoAn exciting mini trip exploring the lesser known colonial towns of central Mexico. This is hte perfect trip for someone with limited time off and still wants to turn on explorer mode and do something different.
1. EcuadorA remarkable 8 days adventure through the Andes and the Amazon rainforest. The best choice for adventure seekers wishing to visit the 2 most iconic areas of South America, in only 1 week and no flights.
2. PeruAn alternative itinerary to classic Peru, from Cusco to Arequipa. This itinerary is great combination of highlights Cusco and Machu Picchu with the lesser known Arequipa and Colca Canyon.
1. ItalyThe ultimate Italian experience from the vibrant streets of Naples to the breathtaking sceneries of the Amalfi Coast followed by Matera and down to Puglia with its golden beaches, intense flavours and fascinating destinations.
2. ScotlandEmbark on this great adventure starting from London all the way to Scotland with a true Scottish experience made of breathtaking sceneries, whisky tasting and ..lots of fun! Ideal for train lovers and explorers.
3. PortugalA wonderful train journey around Portugal, from the romantic city of Porto to the Douro Valley, to the beautiful Aveiro all the way to Lisbon and Sintra. The perfect trip to train, culinary and culture lovers.
1. South KoreaDiscover incredible temples, mountains and modern cities on this 10 day adventure. This trip is perfect for those seeking immersion in the cuisine, culture and natural wonders of South Korea.
2. ThailandFrom Bankgok to Angkor Wat to Ho Chi Minh City and everything in between - adventure through the heart of South-East Asia. Taste the delights, see history brought to life and unwind on a Mekong River cruise.
3. Sri LankaA fantastic adventure that showcases Sri Lanka's fantastic landscapes, wildlife and flavours. With 3 epic rail journeys, 3 UNESCO heritage sites and time to relax, this trip has loads to offer at a great price
1. MoroccoAn epic journey across Morocco: from Casablanca to Marrakech, through the blue city of Chefchaouen to the wonders of the desert and deep to the High Atlas Mountains - this trip has it all! Ideal for true explorers!
2. EgyptFrom Cairo to Aswan, this trip brings the land of the pharaohs to life. You'll visit the Pyramids, Valley of the Kings and Luxor Temple and cruise down the Nile in style. This is the perfect way to explore Egypt.
Stand25 is the low-key alternative to its sister restaurant, Stand. Located in District I, it’s a friendly bistro run by Michelin-star chefs Szabina Szulló and Tamás Széll. The menu here changes all the time, but Mautner recommends trying the goulash and potato casserole. Beyond this traditional fare, the menu focusses on recipes based on seasonal produce. What truly stands out, however, is the wine pairing offered for every dish at Stand25 – accompanying your dinner with a glass or three of fine wine is almost unavoidable.
When it comes to street food in Budapest, Mautner quickly points out Cupákos. Located in the heart of the lively party district, only a few metres away from the Szimpla Kert ruin bar, the restaurant is a haven for meat lovers, complete with an interior akin to a traditional butcher’s shop. Whether you are after ribs, sausages, crunchy duck or pork knuckle, only the freshest meats are on offer, and dishes are prepared right there and then. Among Mautner’s favourites are the bone marrow on toast and roasted pork sausages. But whatever it is you decide to feast on, Cupákos has one key suggestion: “lose the fork and use your hands!”
The concept at the heart of Michelin-star Babel is that of nostalgia. Specifically, the menu harks back to the childhood memories of the restaurant’s young, visionary chef, István Veres. Hailing from Transylvania, Veres uses ingredients that evoke a distant yet distinct memory of this region, such as the earthy flavours of lichen, hay and nettle. Mautner defines Babel as the ultimate destination for contemporary Transylvanian cuisine in Budapest, delivered via a variety of tasting menus. Dishes on the five-course menu include lamb neck with lavender cheese, and the ‘Snow White’ dessert with tomato, elderflower, rhubarb and yoghurt. Babel also offers a seven-course vegan tasting menu – a rarity in Budapest.
Every day from 3pm to 6pm, a live piano soundtrack sets the mood for an unforgettable experience – the Herend Afternoon Tea – at the Four Seasons Hotel Gresham Palace. Under its glass cupola inside the beautiful Peacock Passage, the Lobby Lounge welcomes guests with a cup of tea and delicate appetisers and pastries – a grand, luxurious experience. What makes this a uniquely Hungarian affair, Mautner points out, is that the food and drinks are served on fine local Herend porcelain tableware. For those who wish to make their afternoon truly decadent, tea and scones may be forgone in favour of a glass of perfectly chilled Sauska Brut Blanc and truffle egg cream sablés.
Set on what is known as the ‘Broadway of Budapest’ thanks to its numerous theatres, Két Szerecsen dubs itself “a coffeehouse in the old sense”. Mautner describes the venue as casual, and it is this relaxed vibe that makes Két Szerecsen such a great choice for any time of day. You can drop by the bistro for breakfast, lunch, dinner or coffee and expect to be captivated by the diverse array of flavours on offer. With options ranging from Spanish tapas to Moroccan-inspired dishes, the bistro’s changing weekly menus span global cuisines. If you prefer to stay local, Mautner suggests trying the chicken paprikash or the red wine-braised beef cheek with cottage cheese pasta – along with all of the desserts!
If you’re still feeling peckish after a day of exploring, TOPRUM Rooftop Bar is the place to go. Situated on the seventh floor of one of Budapest’s finest boutique hotels – Hotel Rum Budapest – the bar offers stunning panoramic views of the city. What makes TOPRUM stand out from the rest of the capital’s rooftop bars, however, is that guests can enjoy al fresco drinks here 365 days a year, including the colder months when the outdoor area is kept warm and cosy. For foodies, TOPRUM’s main attraction lies in its selection of bar food, which Mautner considers the best in the city. Don’t leave without trying the tonkatsu sandwich, the beef ribs or sorrel soup with smoked sturgeon.
If you’re looking to have a break from the hustle and bustle of downtown Pest or happen to be exploring the peaceful Buda side of town, Mautner’s recommendation is Vendéglő a KisBíróhoz (KisBíró). Although KisBíró is 10 years younger than its renowned sibling Bock Bistro, it boasts the atmosphere of a more refined restaurant. Here, traditional homestyle cooking is served with elegance; try, for example, the pike-perch fillet with delicate red cabbage cream and dumplings filled with blood sausage. Mautner’s favourite dishes are the Hungarian fish soup and the foie gras-stuffed roast chicken, while the range of wines on offer is also second to none. The wine menu at KisBíró offers the entire József Bock Winery selection, making it difficult to refuse a glass or two with your meal.
For cake lovers, Mautner recommends Desszert.Neked – a centrally located, corner café in District VI. Whether you prefer a mouthwatering French-style mousse, macaron, or a contemporary take on a classic Hungarian cake such as the rákóczi túrós (baked meringue cheesecake) or the zserbó (a layered apricot and walnut cake), there’s a treat here to suit every sweet tooth. The café’s interior is bright and airy – the perfect spot to while away a few hours in the company of some excellent cake.
To get a taste of traditional Jewish-Hungarian gastronomy, head to Rosenstein. Although its location in District VIII might seem a little off the beaten track, the Keleti train and metro station is less than a five-minute walk away, and Mautner assures that it’s worth the trip out of the centre. A family affair for generations, Rosenstein dubs itself as “the cosy restaurant where the owner is the chef”. Here, Mautner recommends the roast duck with cabbage pasta and the flódni cake, layered with poppyseed, apple, walnut and plum jam.
One of Budapest’s six Michelin-star restaurants, Stand showcases its unique vision of contemporary Hungarian gastronomy with deceivingly simple yet undoubtedly well-thought-out dishes – its signature duck liver with tokaji aszú wine being one of them. The restaurant also proudly places emphasis on its relationship with Hungarian producers, supporting sustainable development and safeguarding the terroir that provides its ingredients. Mautner describes Stand as “perfectionist Hungarian fine dining”.
Volcanic Iceland Epic Trip
meet our Local Insider
HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN A GUIDE?
WHAT DO YOU LOVE ABOUT YOUR JOB?
It's the personal contact, the personal experiences. I love meeting people from all over the world... I really like getting to know everyone and feeling like I'm traveling with a group of friends.
WHAT DESTINATION IS ON YOUR TRAVEL BUCKET-LIST?
I have so many places on my list, but I would really lobe to go to Africa. I consider myself an “adventure girl” and Africa feels like the ULTIMATE adventure!
Every CULTURE TRIP Small-group adventure is led by a Local Insider just like Hanna.
KEEN TO EXPLORE THE WORLD?
Connect with like-minded people on our premium trips curated by local insiders and with care for the world
Since you are here, we would like to share our vision for the future of travel - and the direction Culture Trip is moving in.
Culture Trip launched in 2011 with a simple yet passionate mission: to inspire people to go beyond their boundaries and experience what makes a place, its people and its culture special and meaningful — and this is still in our DNA today. We are proud that, for more than a decade, millions like you have trusted our award-winning recommendations by people who deeply understand what makes certain places and communities so special.
Increasingly we believe the world needs more meaningful, real-life connections between curious travellers keen to explore the world in a more responsible way. That is why we have intensively curated a collection of premium small-group trips as an invitation to meet and connect with new, like-minded people for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in three categories: Culture Trips, Rail Trips and Private Trips. Our Trips are suitable for both solo travelers, couples and friends who want to explore the world together.
Culture Trips are deeply immersive 5 to 16 days itineraries, that combine authentic local experiences, exciting activities and 4-5* accommodation to look forward to at the end of each day. Our Rail Trips are our most planet-friendly itineraries that invite you to take the scenic route, relax whilst getting under the skin of a destination. Our Private Trips are fully tailored itineraries, curated by our Travel Experts specifically for you, your friends or your family.
We know that many of you worry about the environmental impact of travel and are looking for ways of expanding horizons in ways that do minimal harm - and may even bring benefits. We are committed to go as far as possible in curating our trips with care for the planet. That is why all of our trips are flightless in destination, fully carbon offset - and we have ambitious plans to be net zero in the very near future.