Between the Roman baths, the abundant vestiges of the Renaissance and the remnants of the Soviet Occupation, the capital of Hungary has a wealth of history and culture to see and discover. Experiencing it all for yourself is a must, but there’s no denying that you’ll work up an appetite. Luckily enough, the best restaurants in Budapest satisfy both a growling stomach and a curious mind—savory plates that provide a peek into the gastronomic culture of the city today. Luckier still, we’ve compiled a who’s-who of where you should stop to savor, so sampling the best bites in Budapest is as easy as deciding on an option below.
As much a piece of history as a dining venue, Bambi Prezzo is one of the last socialist-realist cafes still standing. With its original interior furnishings fully intact, any meal here feels like a portal back in time to the Eastern bloc. But with that said, the benefits of breakfast here are the most appealing. The unhurried pace elevates the selection of delectable toasts, frankfurters and coffees, while outdoor seating on the terrace provides an enchanting view of Parliament in the distance—ruminating on the philosophical distance between the two buildings makes for an excellent start to a sightseeing day.
Not so much a restaurant as a food-stall-Valhalla, The Great Market Hall of Budapest demands as many visits as you have days in the city (except Sundays, when it is closed). All sorts of authentic treats are prominently offered here, from savory langos and goulashes to succulent pastries. No two snacks are the same. Central in the city’s location, popping in to wander the massive hall between visits to other sights is easily realized—though it is advised that if you wish to avoid major crowds, visit in the late morning on the weekdays. Here, you’ll have the stalls slightly more to yourself, allowing for more perusing, admiring and enjoying without as long of lines. Or, if you’re looking to soak up as much of the food culture as you can, opt into a guided tour of the Great Market. Those that discover Budapest by way of Viking Cruises have access to Viking’s exclusive Market Tour—as well as a hand’s on lesson in creating your own palacsinta.
For a sit-down equivalent to sample traditional Hungarian food, Rosenstein Vendéglo unofficially reigns supreme. Part of its claim to validity lies in its authenticity: this eatery is family-run and local-frequented, nearly guaranteeing the chicken paprikash here is the stuff of legend. Plus, they serve some of the best pálinka you can hope to find outside of a ruin bar.
Having achieved a Michelin Star with their prior endeavor, the pair of Szulló Szabina and Széll Tamás have channeled their passion for cuisine into a venue that elevates the definition of Hungarian food. Sure, there’s no denying that Stand25 Bistzró serves a mean goulash or potato casserole, but the thrill of the bistro goes beyond the conventional. Ultimately, it boils down to this: their laser-like focus on the seasonal Hungarian ingredients (an intensity on par with any fine dining venue), paired with the noticeably cozy atmosphere of the casual bistro, makes for a meal wholly magical.
For those questioning a Chinese restaurant as one of Budapest’s best, authenticity in cuisine is fluid—regional menus (and their dishes) are constantly changing based on the waves of new ingredients and traditions being introduced to the established tried-and-true of a locale. Consider it just one beautiful side effect of the world shrinking and ultimately growing more open—Budapest is proud to have the largest Chinese community in Central Europe, after all.
And subsequently, Chinatown brings its A-game for Budapest.
He He Kína Étterem may look typical enough in appearance, but the tastes supplied by their menu are mind-blowing. This is seriously good Sichuan food, from the sizzling black-pepper beef to the hard-boiled duck eggs to the hot cabbage salad sprinkled with roasted pork belly. Add in the show of watching the in-house dedicated noodle chef handcraft noodles from wheat flour (this is as impressive as it sounds), and He He Kína Étterem more than earns the acclaim as one of the best restaurants in Budapest.
Finally, after all these recommendations, a word to the wise: Budapest, through and through, is an utterly stunning place to be out and about. As enjoyable as walking from site to restaurant is on foot along the scenic streets, the city has an established reputation for being a wonderful place to bike—there’s over 120 miles of bike paths threaded throughout the city. Should you sign up for a bike tour (such as Viking’s “Budapest by Bike” option), the benefits are exponential: fresh air, endorphins, immersion into the city’s charm and best of all—working up a hearty appetite.
Was this list of the best restaurants in Budapest enough to pique your interest in globetrotting through Central Europe? Give one of our travel agents a call before you do. Not only can their encyclopedic knowledge on the best of the best of every locale take all the guesswork out of your journeys, but also their professional relationships with the leading names in travel—such as Viking®—provides you with exclusive perks and amenities every step of the way.