As the vacation destination for Hungarians as much as tourists from other countries, it’s no surprise that Lake Balaton has a number of exceptional restaurants worth visiting, and since the shoreline spans roughly 240km (150 miles), a trip around this selection of eateries will mean you will get to see every corner of the popular holiday hotspot.
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Much like the iconic sound of crickets chirping in the summer that this restaurant is named after (the name means ‘little crickets’), this restaurant might not look like much, but it’s more than capable of creating a very special evening through more subtle means. Primarily this is thanks to its food, which is always expertly crafted and presented, but the service is especially attentive too. The cuisine is a selection of typical Hungarian meats and dishes, but even though its portions are more than enough, it still manages to avoid making you feel overly stuffed, which can be an issue with magyar meals.
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Located only a stone’s throw from the water’s edge and Balatonfüred’s sailing club and moorings, Baricska Csárda is a particular favourite for those having come back from a day on the yacht. It features a quaint canopy of leaves over its terrace, creating a wonderful atmosphere for the food. Despite the dense food – expect a lot of meat and potato here – it’s all fantastically presented, accompanied by a selection of Balaton exclusive wines.
The big focus of a trip to Lake Balaton is to bask in its nature, which is what makes Márga Bisztró with its view over the lake such a fantastic choice. It’s based in Csopak – a good spot for tasting Balatoni wines – but it is the raised terrace makes dining here really special. The food is the right balance of honest, classic dishes and fine dining; a sentiment matched in its homely yet classy décor with a blend of traditional wooden furniture with chic ornaments and knickknacks.
As one of the oldest restaurants in the region built in 1887, it’s not unusual that Vitorlás Étterem holds a certain prestige within Balatonfüred. It takes pride of place within the central square of the town, sitting proudly beside the harbour with its iconic yellow walls and deep-brown wooden posts. Expect the typical sorts of grilled meats and vegetables here, alongside a homely environment paired with quality service and presentation. There’s even a second location on the southside of the lake in Balatonlelle.
When it comes to fine dining, Balatonfüred’s Sparhelt is one of the best places to track down if you’re exploring the area around the lake. It might not have the grand vistas or lakeside views like some of the options on this list, but its chic interior and high-quality food more than make up for that. It manages to achieve a suitably cosy environment that will make for a very pleasant evening.
Teri Mama’s Restaurant
If you’re looking for something more traditional, then Teri Mama’s near the thermal lake at Héviz is the best option in Balaton. Not only does it look the part, thanks to the quaint tablecloths, wood-panelled ceiling and eclectic pictures hanging on the walls, but the food is also exactly how you might expect it. Perfectly prepared and presented, the meals are typically Hungarian and will be sufficient for even the most voracious of appetites.
With a focus on locally sourced food, this family-run restaurant continually brings in the guests (and the praise) thanks to its devotion to quality food and service. Traditional Hungarian food is the fare here, with a bigger emphasis on battered meats – perhaps to cater to the German crowd that so frequently visits Lake Balaton in the summer. Admittedly it’s hidden away from a lot of the more populated and tourist-friendly places, and it is only open on weekends, but if you’re exploring the whole of the lake, then you should certainly make time for Kukorica Inn.
Neked Főztem Gastropub
Tucked away by the northside of the lake within comfortable distance between Balaton national park and Tihány Abbey is this charming eatery. While it may well present itself, aesthetically at least, as leaning more towards the fine dining spectrum of restaurant, the food served is considerably more hearty. Expect delectable burgers, roast chicken and pan-fried pork, all crafted and served with care.
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