Whether you’re seeking traditional Hungarian cuisine or a fusion of Japanese and South American flavours, each of Budapest’s fine-dining venues offers an unforgettable culinary experience.
In recent years, the Hungarian capital has cemented its reputation as Central Europe’s premier fine-dining destination. With a significant selection of top-quality restaurants on offer and no fewer than six awarded a coveted Michelin star, Budapest is a gastronomic force to be reckoned with.
Hungarian food writer Zsófia Mautner recommends Babel as one of her top 10 restaurants in Budapest, describing it as the ultimate destination for contemporary Transylvanian cuisine in the Hungarian capital. At Michelin-star Babel, executive chef István Veres uses ingredients that evoke the region where he grew up. The menu itself harks back to the childhood memories of the restaurant’s young, visionary chef, and the concept at the heart of Babel’s cuisine rests upon this nostalgia. The 10-course tasting menu features singular signature dishes such as trout with lichen, beef tendon and radish or a broth of Tokaj wine, celeriac and parsley. A seven-course vegan tasting menu is also on offer at Babel.
Since opening in 2010, MÁK Bistro has been offering patrons a state-of-the-art gastronomic experience within its signature relaxed, unpretentious atmosphere. MÁK’s manager Vajda Zsófia points out how chef János Mizsei’s love for different textures, acidity and unusual combinations of ingredients earned him the title of Hungary’s best young chef in 2014. While Hungarian culinary tradition remains the basis of MÁK’s cuisine, a clearly Scandinavian twist is also a firm part of its identity, with dishes such as the carrot, caviar and pine starter or its poppyseed and sour cherry dessert stealing the spotlight.
Located within the historical Dorottya Palace in Budapest’s elegant fifth district, Baraka has been a fine-dining destination for lovers of French and Asian cuisine since 2001. While the restaurant’s sleek, chic design is the culmination of co-owner Leora Seboek’s vision, her husband David can be found in the restaurant’s kitchen baking bread alongside Baraka’s chef Márton Keve. Although chef Keve is extremely proud of his plant-based degustation menu, he admits to have found it challenging and rewarding in equal parts. For meat-eaters, he strongly recommends his signature fusion dish of pigeon served with red cabbage, quince and buckwheat.
One of Budapest’s foremost fine-dining venues, Stand received its Michelin star only nine months after opening. Chefs Szabina Szulló and Tamás Széll describe how their approach is primarily a reflection on the possibilities afforded by Hungarian ingredients, all the while meeting the expectations of world-class contemporary gastronomic experience. Showcasing the chefs’ interpretation of Hungarian cuisine, Stand’s menu includes traditional favourites such as goulash soup or somlói galuska (a layered of sponge cake with crème pâtissière and chocolate sauce). Whilst these may not confer much pomp and circumstance, the precision and attention to detail dedicated to each is unmistakable.
A relative newcomer to the Budapest culinary scene (opened in 2019), Laurel offers patrons a more casual fine-dining experience, as manager and owner Gergely Báthory explains. Laurel’s eight-course Chef’s Menu consists of a symphony of head chef Ádám Mede’s signature dishes including rooster broth or his highly sought-after catfish stew. For non-meat eaters, the seasonal menu – changed four times a year – is also available in a plant-based, vegan version.
Nobu Budapest is the first and only Central European member of the well-known worldwide dining empire of the same name. Located at the very heart of the Pest side of town, inside the Kempinski Hotel Corvinus, Nobu offers the opportunity to explore a new culinary universe. Here, chef Nobuyuki Matsuhisa re-interprets traditional Japanese techniques to create innovative dishes inspired by South American flavours. The elegant restaurant’s signature dishes include Alaskan black cod with miso and yellowtail sashimi with jalapeño.
Owners Tamás Horváth and Zoltán Kalocsai explain how with the opening of Textúra they dreamt of bringing back the intimacy and informality that once defined their award-winning, Michelin-star restaurant Borkonyha. Although Textúra focuses on traditional cooking methods such as poaching, smoke-curing and slow-cooking, the kitchen is also a place for playfulness and experimentation. Executive chef Ákos Sárközi’s wild boar neck with cabbage comes highly recommended.
At Tigris, located within a historical building dating back to the 1830s, traditional Hungarian flavours meet fine dining in an elegant contemporary atmosphere. While the restaurant offers an expansive collection of almost 10,000 bottles of wine, it is most proud of its limited-edition bottles from the acclaimed Hungarian Gere and Szepsy wineries. Tigris is renowned for its unparalleled selection of foie gras, which it sources exclusively from the highest quality Hungarian producer.