In the gastronomic city of Budapest, one will find a diversity of flavours that combines food influences from both the east and west. Most Hungarian dishes, particularly traditional items, are heavily influenced by the nomadic lifestyles and tastes of the Magyar people. Livestock, seasonal vegetables and meats were cooked over the fire, and stews, such as beef goulash and fish soup, as well as pickled vegetables and spices are often featured in the diet of the locals. This wide variety of local food in Hungary may be overwhelming to travellers new to Hungarian cuisine…until you get a handy list of tips on how to eat like the local Magyars in Budapest!
1. Angelo Café Bar
Kalvin Ter, along with other central locations such as Deak, Andrassy Road or Octogon offers a good number of dining options. The eateries here will suit tighter budgets, and you will be able to find all kinds of traditional food items here. One restaurant that comes with my recommendation is Angelo Café Bar. You will not have a problem spotting this place – the menus of the cafe are huge, and it is one of the first few restaurants that you see when you enter 6 Raday Street.
Prices are affordable, and portions are generous for the food items sold here – a gigantic salami pizza costs just €5. Savour a taste of traditional Hungarian flavours by ordering the beef goulash, fish soup and cabbage wrap, or try out well-loved fare such as sandwiches and steaks. You must order the Elderflower wine spritzer to go along with your meal – the combination of aromatic elderflower and wine makes this a heavenly-tasting beverage not to be missed!
Location: 6 Raday St, alight at metro station Kalvin Ter
2. Nagyi Palacsintazoja (Granny’s Pancake House)
Hungarian-style pancakes are a must-try when you are in Budapest. A hiddem gem called Granny's Pancake House is tucked away at Batthyany Square. This eatery may not have an attractive location or fancy decorations, but it continues to draw flocks of diners keen on having a taste of its delightful pancakes. Browse through the menu, and you will find about a hundred different varieties of sweet and savoury pancakes, with fillings such as choclate, spinach and chicken stew. The eatery is open 24/7, so you can get a fix of pancake treat any time when the cravings hit.
Pest City Center – Petőfi Sándor utca 17-19, District 5
Buda – Királyhágó tér 2, District 12
Óbuda Aquincum – Szentendrei út 131, District 3
3. Local Markets
Avoid the over-priced souvenirs and food produce sold at the touristy Central Market Hall. Instead, explore local haunts, such as the market located next to Allee Shopping Centre at Ujbuda-Kozpont. You will find an abundance of vegetables and fruits, such as cherries, strawberries and paprikas, sold at affordable prices.
Location: October twenty-street 8-10
4. Spar / InterSpar
Supermarkets offer heaps of options to go truly local. In Budapest, you will easily find a chain of supermarkets known as Spar. Once here, do not leave without getting a box of Pöttyös, a well-loved snack of chocolate coated with sweet cheese. The coating does not taste like traditional cheeses, for it is sweet and sour. This is the most amazing snack that I have ever tasted!
All the Spar outlets offer a good selection of salamis with varying levels of spiciness and flavours. The salami with paprika is a must-try, and can be eaten as a snack, or used as an ingredient in dishes. Give the liver spread a try too – you will find tins of goose, chicken or cow liver spreads on the shelves. Spread over bread, and eaten with pickled cabbage and cold cuts, this makes for a simple breakfast often consumed by the locals.
Locations: All over the city
5. Anna Café
Venture to Vaci Ucta, one of the most popular tourist streets in Budapest, and you will find Anna Café. The cafe offers a variety of traditional Hungarian cakes and desserts, as well as salads, sandwiches, wine and specialty coffee.
Try the gundel palacsinta, a decadent treat made up of three gundel pancakes rolled up together, and coated with chocolate, peanuts and a scoop of vanilla ice cream. If you are not in the mood for an indulgent dessert, the cafe's strategic location makes it an excellent spot to spend a leisurely afternoon sipping coffee, people watching, and enjoying the views of the city.
Location: Vaci Ucta 5, 1051 Budapest Hungary
Yum! Creamy, filled with small wafer balls and containing a splash of rich chocolate, the Cornetto McFlurry is a treat that ice cream lovers will adore!
The baroque-style McDonald’s outlet at Nyugati Railway Terminal in Budapest is regarded as the most beautiful McDonald’s outlet in the world. Opened in 1988, it is the first Mcdonald’s outlet in Hungary, and also one of the first outlets opened in Eastern Europe.
Location: Right outside Nyugati Railway Station
7. Street Food Stalls and Food Festivals
Lucky holidaymakers traversing the streets of Budapest during the summer will have plenty of opportunities to explore a slew of food festivals. Make time to visit Oktoberfest, set up beside Deak Metro station in the heart of Budapest. You will find stores selling different varieties of beer, sausages, stews, pickles and crunchy, deep-fried fare.
Be sure to try out kolacs when you see it sold at the street food stalls. This traditional pastry is made by rolling pastry dough around a cylinder, before cooking it slowly over fire. When it starts to brown and turn crispy, a generous dash of sugar and cinnamon are spread over the pastry before it is served.
Nutritious and flavourful, the paprika is a favourite snack among the locals.
Want to tuck into a spread of Hungarian dishes in the cosy homes of the locals? A meal with Peter promises to be a culinary adventure. You will start dinner with a traditional soup served with Palinka, a local spirit made from fruits, and round off the meal with flodni, a layered Jewish cake packed with walnuts, apples and poppy seeds.