Where Pest offers the hectic city lifestyle that you’d expect of a capital city, Buda instead provides a more contemplative way of life – and its selection of eateries is no different. There’s just as many choices as Pest for places to dine, however, and here are some of our favourites.
Restaurant, Hungarian, $$$
Halászbástya Étterem, Budapest
We’re starting with this since there are perhaps no better restaurants in Budapest. That’s not a commentary on the restaurant’s quality – which is still impeccable, mind – but instead its location at Fisherman’s Bastion and, ultimately, the view over Pest. For as many fantastic views as there are in Budapest, few allow you to enjoy a classy meal at the same time.
Also located close to Fisherman’s Bastion, this place might not be the most classy of places, but it manages to offer hearty, generous-sized portions of classic Hungarian dishes – including layered potatoes (rakott krumpli), which isn’t a common dish at many restaurants. The colourful seating and outdoor setting with a shelter of trees makes for a delicious treat after climbing the tower of the Bastion.
Though it’s small and often full, you can’t get more traditional than Ildiko’s ‘Konyha’, equating to a lot of starchy food and meats prepared in a variety of ways. Its cute chequered tablecloths and stone-covered walls give it a feeling of olde tymes, perfect after coming down from the Buda Castle and heading back over the Chain Bridge to the decidedly more contemporary Pest side.
For a more upmarket Hungarian dining experience, Kacsa – or ‘duck’ – is the place to go. In fact its duck is one of the popular options from the menu, prepared in a surprisingly varied number of ways. With meals commonly accompanied with live piano or violin music and the restaurant tucked away down a sleepy side street, this place can easily feel like your own special venue – perfect for a romantic date.
While this is perhaps a bit far out to expect anyone to make the trek here just for a restaurant, if you find yourself in Budapest for a longer period of time and fancy the hike up to the recently built lookout tower at Hármashatárhegy, then on the way down it might be a nice treat to stop off at this homely restaurant with classic Hungarian dishes and regional drinks that you won’t find in many places in the city.
Typically it’s the Hunyadi Etterem (restaurant) around the corner that is recommended to visitors, and that’s certainly a place to go for something more typical of Hungary. And in truth you’re not going to get much more than exquisite barbecue: an impressively sized burger, Debrecen-style sausages or a variety of grilled meats. However, with over 40 different Hungarian craft beers available, Hunyadi Home Bistro manages to provide its own way to present the tastes of Hungary.
A pleasant courtyard defines Pierrot’s, one of the smarter restaurants in the district that at least lives up to the prices of the tourist area. It provides a variety of Hungarian options, but without the usual stodge that comes with its cuisine. Its goulash is especially worth trying, while there are a couple of Hungarian craft beers worth ordering, too.
Considering the bistro’s contemporary approach to dining, it’s surprising to consider it’s been around for over 100 years. If you’re looking for modern takes on Hungarian food then this is the place for you, which matches a modern aesthetic with high-quality ingredients. But it is somehow the bread of Dérnyé’s that is particularly memorable, with freshly-baked rolls and loaves coming from the adjoining store next door.
Snuggled into a quaint little area beside the start of the M2 Metro at Batthyány Square, this vegan place is the restaurant to visit for those who would rather not eat meat – a difficult task in Hungary, honestly. Its quaintly Parisian interior and exterior makes for a homely setting, but it’s the meals that stand out, proffering a wide selection of delicious non-carne and meat-substitute options.
Though there aren’t quite as many options for enjoying a meal beside the Danube on the Buda side as there is in Pest, Zona is most certainly the place to do so. Its position close to Chain Bridge means you’ll get a view just as delicious as its food, which is always impossibly well-presented. There’s plenty of options to try, too, from grilled meats and risottos to gourmet burgers or a platter of cheeses.
This option isn’t really one for its quality, but instead to fill a particular need. Perfect for families looking to keep their kids going, this chain of restaurants is scattered throughout Budapest and beyond and offers all-you-can-eat options. Its restaurant at the end of Margaret Bridge might be the closest the franchise gets to classy, but don’t expect a gastronomic delight and you’ll come away with a satisfying slice of Hungary at a slither of the cost of many places on this list.