- James Norman
Budapest, a beautiful historic city, is a melting pot of different peoples, languages, and cultures, and home to a number of significant monuments, libraries, museums and bath spas. Hungarian food is just as varied, and goes far beyond the typical goulash. We explore the top ten restaurants across Budapest, showcasing great Hungarian food and international flavors.
Open since April 2007, the Onyx Restaurant has maintained a philosophy of always striving to be a venue of high international standing. Executive chef Szabina Szulló, sous-chef Tamás Széll, and the kitchen team have worked tirelessly to deliver both traditional and modern Hungarian cuisine. The staff here take part in a rigorous training scheme, winning various awards, and participating in competitions worldwide. Considered one of Budapest’s best restaurants, Onyx is centrally positioned on Vörösmarty Square and has been awarded a Michelin Star for excellence.
1051 Budapest Vörösmarty tér 7-8, Hungary, +36 30 508 0622
Megyeri Csárda Tavern
Built in an area with relics dating back to Roman times, the Megyeri Csárda has a proud connection to its historic past. During the 18th and 19th centuries, the tavern was altered and enlarged, with a stable and inn attached to the main building on the site. Historic arches of doors and windows created during this time can still be seen. Traditionally servicing farmers on their way to Pest, the restaurant’s rich history is fascinating. Traditional Hungarian dishes are served, and a wide selection of meat, fish, and pickle dishes is available. The tavern also offers a wide range of pálinka (Hungarian brandy) and wine options. Diners can also enjoy traditional music and folk dancing.
1044 Budapest, Külső Váci út 102-104, Hungary, +36 1 230 3465
Fisherman’s Bastion (Halászbástya)
Effortlessly blending the might of a military fort with the elegance of a fairytale castle, Fisherman’s Bastion is a sight to behold. Built between 1895 and 1902 following plans of the architect Frigyes Schulek, the building was then restored by his son after severe damage during the Second World War. Perched high above the city in the Buda Castle District, this famous landmark offers stunning views of Budapest. The restaurant itself offers panoramic views of the city for diners and multi-level seating on different floors and terraces, dependent on party size. The high-quality menu combines traditional steak, soup and seafood dishes with global infusions including noodle and chili-focused dishes. Live Gypsy music and chilled refreshments are available during summer and in winter a delicious variety of warm drinks are on offer including mulled wine, hot chocolate and rum punch.
Múzeum Café and Restaurant
Open since 1885 in the historical downtown of Pest, the Múzeum Café and Restaurant retains the core essence of traditional, high-quality Hungarian cuisine, served in luxurious surroundings. Situated next to Budapest’s National Museum, many high-profile dignitaries including politicians, writers and actors have signed the pages of their historic guest book. The menu carefully balances old Hungarian gastronomy with modern international flavors, accompanied by several varieties of wine and brandy. Diners with an eye for antiques will appreciate the classic Zsolnay porcelain art tiles, Károly Lotz ceiling art and an exquisite 19th-century Venetian mirror.
1088 Budapest, Múzeum körút 12, Hungary, +36 1 267 0375
Great Market Hall (Nagycsarnok)
For those seeking to experience the full rainbow of the Budapest food scene, the Great Market Hall (also known as the Central Market Hall) is not to be missed. Built in 1897, this is one of Europe’s finest indoor markets, spanning three floors, and a great place to become immersed in the everyday culture of the city. Many different food products can be snapped up from the stalls, including meats, vegetables, cheeses and the delicious local lángos, a deep-fried flatbread, topped with sour cream and grated cheese. Extensively damaged in the Second World War, the market was restored in the 1990s, while the former canal running through the market was replaced by walkways for the public. Visitors can enjoy numerous fine craft stalls, cafes and bars along the first floor. The award-winning market also regularly plays host to country-themed food days, celebrating food from countries all over the world.
1093 Budapest, Vámház körút 1-3, Hungary, +36 1 366 3300
This venue is known as one of the first ‘ruin pubs’ of Budapest, opening in 2002. Ruin pubs follow a procedure of converting dilapidated, ruined buildings into venues capable of culinary and cultural delights. In the case of Szimpla, this old building now houses a large open-air cinema and pub, a modern ‘cultural reception place’ to celebrate music, love, and life. Visitors may even get to enjoy Anilogue, a popular European film animation festival, while feasting on Hungarian cuisine and craft beers.
1075 Budapest, Kazinczy utca 14, Hungary,+36 20 261 8669
This brainchild of Károly Gundel has helped refine Hungarian cuisine into a whole new direction of taste. After documenting the gastronomic history of the region, he compiled different recipes from all over the Carpathian basin to make magic in the kitchen. Opened in 1910, the award-winning (and Michelin-recommended) Gundel has cemented its reputation as one of Hungary’s leading restaurants. Diners will enjoy exquisite Hungarian and international cuisine while soaking up the traditional atmosphere accompanied by the in-house Gundel Band. Handpicked wines accompany fine meals, and the richly adorned walls feature paintings from famous Hungarian artists.
1146 Budapest, Gundel Károly út 4, Hungary, +36 1 889 8100
Situated next to the glorious St. Stephen’s Basilica, this is the place to visit if you have a sweet tooth. Serving what is often considered to be the best ice cream in the city, owner Niki Szokron brought back the recipes Italy. Niki combines historical recipes and styling with modern twists to cater to a global palette. One of the specialties at Gelarto Rosa is aesthetics; the staff individually create artistic patterns out of ice cream for diners. Coffee, macaroons, teas and cakes are also waiting for thirsty and hungry travellers.
1051 Budapest, Szent Istvan ter 3, Hungary, +36 70 383 1071
Located on the second floor of the former Paris department store, The Alexandra Bookcafe benefits from the exquisite talents of painter Károly Lotz. This building, originally built as a casino in 1884, is a feast for the eyes. Stepping back in time, visitors can take in the awe-inspiring splendour of the building, with superb examples of Art Nouveau throughout. The cafe area itself offers diners a selection of tasty light meals including bagels, cheese platters and Francia kremes, all served in a ballroom-style environment complete with in house pianist.
1061 Budapest, Andrássy út 39, Hungary, +36 461 5830
This sophisticated, century old restaurant offers the finest in Hungarian and international cuisine. Cold cuts, goose liver, cattle tongue, poultry and fish dishes line the menu, all served in traditional surroundings. As well as the carefully crafted menu, visitors can relax with pleasant live music. Up to 80 guests can enjoy the dining experience, with separate rooms for parties, and a romantic outdoor terrace during the summer months. For over 181 years, Százéves Étterem has maintained impeccable standards of service from its staff, and high levels of satisfaction from its customers.
1052 Budapest, Piarista utca 2, Hungary, +36 1 230 0329
By James Norman