Start your morning right at one of Budapest’s best breakfast spots. Local tour guide and food writer Gabriella Andrónyi gives her rundown of unmissable breakfasts in the Hungarian capital.
With a coffeehouse tradition dating back to the late 1800s, cafés are still an essential part of life in Budapest. Trendy third-wave joints are popping up alongside the city’s historical coffee shops, once frequented by literati and revolutionaries. Beyond their excellent brews, many such cafés are helping to build Budapest’s burgeoning breakfast and brunch scene.
Budapestian Gabriella Andrónyi is a self-professed café expert. As a local English-language tour guide and author of the recently released My Hungarian Cookbook, she knows the city’s food scene inside out. Whether it’s a traditional meat-centric Hungarian breakfast or something on the healthier side, such as avocado toast, the capital’s ever-changing culinary landscape is as diverse as it is delicious.
Champagne breakfast at Villa Bagatelle
Restaurant, European, Hungarian, $$$
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Enjoy the bright, airy interior of Villa Bagatelle | Courtesy of Villa Bagatelle
If you’re looking to get out of the city, visit Villa Bagatelle in the Buda Hills. Serving breakfast all day long and located in a stunningly restored late 19th-century villa, the restaurant also has a bakery named Brót, where you can pick up organic home-made bread and pastries. “You can’t go wrong with the enticingly named ‘Champagne breakfast’,” says Gabriella of her favourite bistro. The dish includes kalács (a sweet bread that’s a lot like French brioche) with smoked salmon, citrusy cream cheese and goat’s cheese, washed down with a glass of Hungarian sparkling wine. On sunny days, guests can enjoy their meal on one of the terraces or in the tranquil gardens surrounding the villa.
For a peaceful breakfast in the middle of Budapest’s buzzing District V, stop by Gerlóczy, which is both a café and an elegant hotel. Located on quaint Kammermeyer Square, it is reminiscent of Paris, thanks to the charming street-side terrace and surrounding Art Nouveau architecture. For breakfast, Gabriella recommends the goat’s cheese quiche with ham. This delicious dish forms part of the Gerlóczy breakfast, which also includes your choice of pastry – the classic croissant is a must-have.
Named for its proximity to the Hungarian stock exchange building (Börze means stock exchange in Hungarian) in Szabadság Square, this café is not as prim and proper as its name might suggest. Just look at the playful logo: a guinea hen wearing high-heeled boots. Turn-of-the-century charm meets modern chic in its decor, while the food is a mix of Hungarian classics and recent culinary trends. “The breakfast menu includes everything from scrambled eggs to granola,” says Gabriella, but one standout is the bundás kenyér, a savoury version of french toast that many Hungarians grew up eating. Here, it’s stuffed with ham and cheese and served with garlicky sour cream.
A stalwart of the Budapest dining scene, Déryné has been around since 1914 and has become one of the trendiest places to have weekend brunch in Buda, with Hollywood stars such as Robert Pattinson frequenting the bistro while filming in the city. Located near Krisztina Square, the bistro has a bakery with a small wooden booth on the street from which you can purchase pastries to go. Arrive early for the best selection, including perfectly flakey croissants. “I have friends who go there every weekend for brunch,” says Gabriella, pointing out how much local people adore the bistro. The house speciality is eggs benedict on a nest of shoestring potatoes, topped with caramelised duck liver. Afterwards, you can work off the meal by climbing up the Zerge Stairs to the Castle District.
Cirkusz roasts its coffee in-house | Courtesy of Cirkusz Budapest
After a night out in Budapest’s party district, you’ll undoubtedly need a hangover cure. Just steps away from Gozsdu Udvar – a complex of buildings and courtyards packed with options for eating, drinking and partying – the bohemian-style Cirkusz Budapest serves breakfast and brunch all day. Options include a hearty English breakfast, the traditional Hungarian breakfast of salami and sausage, french toast, and a New York-style bagel. For something truly exceptional, the eggs royal spenóttal – like eggs benedict, but with smoked salmon and spinach – is a must-try. “Make sure to end your meal with the in-house-roasted coffee, named Bagira,” says Gabriella. Should you feel inclined to learn how to pull the perfect shot from one of the café’s coffee experts, there’s even a barista school next door.
After earning a degree in economics, Franziska Horváth decided to take a pastry course, which led to an at-home business of selling allergen-free desserts. Eventually, the business grew into the breakfast spot Franziska, located near Batthyány Square, tucked away on quiet Iskola Street on the Buda side of town. “I love the ambience,” says Gabriella of the café. Once you look beyond the elegant tiled counter, earthy colour scheme and plush furnishings, you’ll see Franziska offers an impressive selection of healthy dishes, including vegan options. Try a smoothie bowl, such as the ‘green bowl’ with avocado, spinach, spirulina, seasonal fruit and coconut milk. There are also omelettes, avocado toast, oatmeal or a waffle made with almond and oat flours. The café offers healthy lunch options, too, and the owner’s famous vegan desserts and cakes.
If you find yourself on Andrássy Avenue taking in the local architecture or getting ready to learn about Budapest’s dark history at the nearby House of Terror Museum, you might like to re-energise at Flow. The coffee shop has gained quite a following in the short time it’s been open, not least because it serves coffee from Casino Mocca – a local roastery that sources beans from the best farms around the world. “It’s one of the best cups of coffee in the city,” says Gabriella. Besides the cup of joe, the menu has nothing but vegan and vegetarian options. Try the Flow vegan palacsinta (crêpe) filled with hummus, vegetables and vegan bacon.
Also serving the popular Casino Mocca roast, as well as one from Denmark called The Coffee Collective, Budapest Baristas has gained a loyal crowd of patrons with its quality coffee. Until 1pm, it offers a wide range of breakfast dishes, including omelettes, pancakes and its speciality, avocado toast. “For someone who doesn’t want a heavy Hungarian breakfast, get the avocado toast,” Gabriella recommends, noting that the dish can be jazzed up with a fried egg and bacon. The coffee shop’s location on the Inner Ring Road is perfect for fuelling up before visiting the National Museum or afterwards for a quick pick-me-up that might include a pastry or dessert.
Located on elegant Pozsonyi Street, Három Tarka Macska (which translates to ‘Three Calico Cats’) has held its own ever since French-born Hungarian owner Dávid Márton opened it in 2017. Bringing a true taste of France to Budapest, it exclusively uses flours milled just outside of Paris for all the French-style bread and pastries. “My favourites are the fig bread and chocolate-chip bun,” says Gabriella, pointing out that the best selection is available in the morning. Be sure to try the breakfast specialities such as the baconos napocska (‘bacon sunrise’), which is a circle of pastry made from laminated dough with a baked egg in the middle, or the vegetarian version with ratatouille in the centre.
Arán Bakery is run by a travel-mad Hungarian couple who returned home after years of living in Dublin and traversing the globe – which explains why the bread and pastries on offer are inspired by their Irish, French, American and Hungarian counterparts. You’ll find sourdough bread made with a starter named ‘Paddy’, along with a multitude of breakfast pastries, including the signature ‘cruffin’, a cross between a croissant and a muffin, which Gabriella declares a “must-have”. Arán is perfect for when you’re just passing by in need of a quick coffee and pastry as you explore Budapest’s old Jewish Quarter, characterised by narrow streets and ornate synagogues.