As one of the more up-and-coming areas in the Hungarian capital, District VIII still has to fight to prove its place in the city’s downtown. Its restaurants, however, are an eclectic mix for which you should explore the wilds of the city.
Restaurant, Hungarian, $$$
Neither the location nor the interior is especially glamorous at Fülemüle; while the décor may be homely, simple but unambitious, the restaurant is widely regarded as the best in the district. It’s not far from Astoria or Blaha Lujza Square, so it’s easy to get to from anywhere in the city. It’s worth hunting down for its outstanding mix of Hungarian and Jewish cuisines made from decades-old recipes.
While it might give the vibe of a typical Irish pub, that’s an unfair stigma to attach to Krak’n Town since the quality of its food is far beyond pub grub. Admittedly, the entries in its menu are familiar – including steak and ale pies – but there’s so much variety on there that everyone will find something to whet their appetite. An evening here is made all the more fun thanks to the unique Steampunk theme, but naturally, this means you shouldn’t expect fine dining.
Considered to be something of a hidden gem in the district, Carne di Hall will take some searching to uncover it properly. Near the quaint pedestrianised Mikszáth Kálman Square – also a great place to find some popular coffee options – this restaurant is tucked inside a cellar and serves a range of Hungarian veal, goose and steak dishes. It’s the sort of place that tries hard to seem fancier than it is, but the quality of the food needs no pretension. It comes highly recommended for its extremely friendly waiters and fair prices.
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Named after the spicy peppers of the same name, Padron is a tapas place that provides a tasting menu with an array of dishes. Much like the Spanish dining tradition, the focus here is on sharing smaller meals, which vary from smaller, cheaper plates to more complex dishes such as the lamb’s shoulder with an orange and fig sauce. For an area on the up, this is exactly the kind of restaurant of which you can expect to see more and more.
If you’re coming to Budapest via train, then in all likelihood, you’ll end up at Keleti, and while the recent renovations have kept the grandeur of the ornate train station looking smart, it is admittedly not an area you’ll want to wander off and explore. If you do find yourself there and need some great quality Hungarian food, then Rosenstein Restaurant is your choice. While its interior is extremely basic, the flavours of its hearty meals are not.