Just because many of the big names in Budapest’s restaurant scene emanate from the busier District VII or upmarket locations in the Castle District doesn’t mean there aren’t other places to get great food. Central enough to be one of the better, more cost-effective options for accommodation makes District VI a popular choice for tourists, but with a wide selection of outstanding restaurants it’s certainly a place to head to in the evening, too.
Restaurant, Hungarian, $$$
VakVarjú Restaurant, Budapest | vakvarju-budapest
Hidden away on the narrow Paulay Ede Street – parallel to the considerably more boisterous Király Street – is VakVarjú. It’s one of the few places in the centre of Budapest that draws in a consistent local crowd, mostly because of its affordable prices, varied cuisines and delicious meals. Its cosy if simple interior makes for a welcoming atmosphere, and in the warmer months the retractable windows are opened – not to a grand view, but pleasant for people-watchers.
This long-running restaurant sits on Andrássy Avenue, making it a fine destination to stop off after a stroll alongside the ‘Hungarian Champs Elysee’. It’s a cultured mix of Hungarian and international cuisine, blending the two in a homely yet classy environment. The restaurant doubles as a wine shop, too, for one of Hungary’s bigger chains of wine sellers, making it the perfect place to taste Hungarian wine as much as food.
Despite its popularity among Hungarians, one sort of food that doesn’t get much of a look-in within the city’s eateries is főzelék – or thick soups and stews made with a variety of beans and peas. Hokedli is without a doubt the best place to try such dishes, with flavoursome varieties of these meals complete with a greater depth of flavours than a home-cooked equivalent might offer. It’s not a big place and so better for lunch than a full dinner, but worth a visit for an inexpensive taste of Hungary you might not find offered elsewhere.
The pedestrianised Hajós Street makes for a great place to visit, its proximity to the Opera meaning it’s close enough to tourist attractions to conjure up a number of great places to eat. Drop is perhaps the best of the bunch, and not solely for its great food and good wines. Drop is a gluten-free restaurant, and provides a number of meals to cater for those either unable or unwilling to include the menace in their diets. Even those who can tolerate gluten will find a fantastically prepared meal and very friendly service.
The name Tuning has some recognition for its outstanding burgers, but the popularity of its first location has since led to this new operation: Beef Heaven. The same devotion to high quality ingredients is true here, but instead of burgers – though, of course, those are available – the focus is on the various qualities of meat more generally. The tender brisket is especially worth trying, but there’s a wide range of dishes available for those craving some vitamin B.
Though it is one of the newer eateries in the district, Mania Gourmet Bar has already built up a good number of fans. The open kitchen allows a good view of the precision its chefs undertake, where they mix classic Hungarian dishes – the particularly tasty goulash is worth a try – enhanced by the chef with a slightly Scandinavian flair. It’s not a complicated place, however, and highly recommended for a meal before hitting the tiles in the nearby party district.
Perhaps not the grandest of dining experiences this one, especially considering the worse-for-wear buildings of the area. However, Most – meaning ‘now’ in Hungarian and pronounced ‘Mosht’ – blends high quality ingredients and presentation with a friendly service and setting. There’s a wide selection of options, with traditional Hungarian sharing menu space with American, Italian and even Indian. It’s particularly worth a visit in the warmer months when the huge terrace is open, perfect for enjoying their excellent cocktails with your meal.
Literally meaning ‘Fish workshop’, Halműhely is unsurprisingly the place to go if you want to eat some of the best fish in the city. While Budapest might not be as famous for is fish meals as, say, Szeged, this restaurant at least caters well for the seafood fan. It doesn’t just exclusively serve traditional style fish soup but everything in between, from prawns and roast bream to fish and chips and fish crackling.
Located a bit further out from the more happening part of the district, La Perle Noire is a French-Hungarian style restaurant sitting on Andrássy Avenue that is highly recommended as a place to stop off before or after a trip to the city park. It’s secluded and quiet enough to mean you can enjoy a bit of peace from the hectic city life, with incredibly high quality ingredients and presentation to ensure the walk out here will be worthwhile. One for the summer, though, if you’re to enjoy the combo of the outdoor dining and a visit to the park or zoo.
The Pest Pig aims to reinvent typical Hungarian flavours, utilising the likes of kolbász (sausage), töltött kaposta (stuffed cabbage) or bableves (bean soup) in more original ways. The majority of these revolve around the mangalica, an exclusive Hungarian breed of pig whose breeding is protected by the government to such a degree that you can guarantee any slice of it will be the purest quality.
Despite its spot on a busy road, this place is still sheltered from the busyness of the world and located not far from the gorgeous opera house. Translated to ‘two roles’, the name is apt since a visit to Két Szerecsen can cater for all needs, filling in as a restaurant or coffee shop whatever the weather. But more than that it offers a bounty of tapas dishes, from Hungarian tastes and flavours to those more common in the Mediterranean. It’s particularly popular with tourists, but there’s naturally a reason for that.