The best local restaurants in Budapest serve up some of the best renditions of classic Hungarian dishes. Venues range from standing-only or self-service eateries to lunch-only venues and sit-down restaurants. To ease your search, we’ve listed some of the best local restaurants in the Hungarian capital.

    Hungarian cuisine has imprints of Turkish, Austrian, and Jewish influences. These paprika and sour-cream laden food are meaty and packed with vegetables. The local wine is either sweet or savoury, while desserts are usually pastries and cakes with generous fruit jam fillings and nut toppings. Some places serve them the old-fashioned way, while others give meals an innovative twist.

    1

    Street Food Karavan Budapest

    The heart of the city's street food scene

    Street Food Karavan is an outdoor parking lot that’s been converted into a courtyard of food stalls in Budapest. Also referred to as the Karavan Food Park, it’s located in District 7 or the Jewish Quarter, which is known as the capital's party street. This venue only operates from April to early autumn as the weather can get chilly once the Hungarian winter season nears.

    You can grab a bite at Langos Burger and enjoy fröccs (wine spritzer) with langos, a deep-fried flatbread with cheese and sour cream on top. Kolbász sausages, vegan food, fried cheese, and chimney cakes are also sold at Street Food Karavan.

    Location: Kazinczy u. 18, Budapest, 1075 Hungary

    Open: Thursday–Saturday from 11.30 am to 12 am, Sunday–Wednesday from 11.30 am to 11 pm

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    photo by Jorge Franganillo (CC BY 2.0) modified

    2

    Belvárosi Disznótoros

    Self-service sausage and meat shop

    Belvárosi Disznótoros, which also operates a butcher's shop, caught the eye of late celebrity chef, Anthony Bourdain. He described it as a "field of dreams" that dished out braised, fried, and cured delights during a visit to Budapest in 2015. There are actually 2 venues in Budapest – in Karolyi and Kiraly – but both are equally good.

    Belvárosi Disznótoros isn't strictly a restaurant, having only high-top tables and standing counters. It grills pre-cut marinated meat, as well as sausages, stews, fried duck and chicken. Locals and tourists usually pair dishes with bread and a variety of sides, such as salads, fried potatoes, and pickles. The establishment has a fixed and a du jour (changes daily) menu. 

    Location: Károlyi utca 17, Budapest, 1053 Hungary

    Open: Monday–Friday from 11 am to 6 pm, Saturday from 11 am to 5 pm (closed on Sundays)

    Phone: +36 (06)1 267 3795

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    3

    Café Kör

    Intimate dining spot with pre-WWII ambience

    Café Kör (Circle Café) is an old-time favourite dining spot in Sas Street, which is turning into an upscale dining zone. Located near St. Stephen's Basilica, the restaurant's homey atmosphere draws employees and executives from the business offices around it. Curvy Thonet Bentwood chairs and Persian carpets are laid out inside its snug interior.

    Café Kör has a fixed menu and daily specials. Try its daily-changing soups, főzelék (vegetable stew with meatballs as a side dish), foie gras, and veal schnitzel. They prepare cold fruit soup during summer. You can also go for gesztenyepüré (chestnut puree) and somlói galuska (3-layer sponge cake) if you're craving something sweet.

    Location: Sas u 17, Budapest, 1051 Hungary

    Open: Monday–Saturday from noon to 10 pm (closed on Sundays)

    Phone: +36 (06)1 311 0053

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    4

    Kispiac Bisztro

    Casual, meat-heavy dining place near Liberty Square

    Kispiac Bisztro is a great place to stop by for lunch when you're touring Budapest's Liberty Square and the nearby financial district. Professionals and executives mix with tourists in this restaurant, which specialises in hefty, high-calorie dishes.

    Some of the most popular choices at Kispiac Bisztro include fall-apart tender pork belly, roasted chicken and duck, as well breaded veal liver. Kispiac Bisztro's smoked sausages and bean soup with sour cream are also highly recommended. With a limited capacity of 20 seats, it's a good idea to get there early.  

    Location: Hold u. 13, Budapest, 1054 Hungary

    Open: Tuesday–Saturday from noon to 10 pm (closed on Sundays and Mondays)

    Phone: +36 (06)1 269 4231

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    5

    Szimpla Kert

    Pioneer of Budapest's ruin bar craze

    Szimpla Kert (Simple Garden), which opened in 2004, started the trend of turning the Jewish Quarter's war-damaged and abandoned buildings into hip bars. Formerly a factory and family apartment, the 2-level venue features 9 rooms, including Mad Scientist's microbrewery and a shisha bar.

    The place is filled with eclectic furniture, including a stripped-down Trabant (Soviet-era car) and sawn bathtubs. Neon lights, disco balls, old computer monitors, and all sorts of bric-a-brac will welcome you. There's also an open courtyard that hosts a farmer's market on Sundays. In the morning, drop by Szimpla Bakery for local waffles, or Szimpla Haztaji for a variety of breakfast dishes made with produce sourced from local farmers.

    Location: Kazinczy u. 14, Budapest, 1075 Hungary

    Open: Daily from 3 pm to 4 am

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    photo by Yelkrokoyade (CC BY-SA 3.0) modified

    6

    Bambi Eszpresszo

    Retro presszós overlooking Bem Tér Park

    Bambi Eszpresszo is one of Budapest's remaining original presszós, which is a neighbourhood breakfast joint and bar. Its doily tablecloths and red, faux-leather chairs have reportedly been used since its operations began in 1961. With waitstaff in dated uniforms serving food on retro plates and cutlery, dining at this beloved establishment will make you feel like time has stood still. 

    Here, locals love to enjoy sausages and scrambled eggs, with coffee served with sugar cubes. During summer, you can order a cold beer and relax on the outdoor terrace after a day of sightseeing. Bambi Eszpresszo is within walking distance of the Bem József Memorial Park. 

    Location: Frankel Leó út 2-4, Budapest, 1027 Hungary

    Open: Monday–Friday from 7 am to 10 pm, Saturday–Sunday from 9 am to 10 pm

    Phone: +36 (06)1 212 3171

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    7

    Drum Cafe

    Wide selection of goulash and lángos

    Drum Cafe helps you to discover the dozen or so ways Hungarians prepare lángos (flatbread) and goulash. Its lángos come with a variety of toppings, like basic cheese and sour cream, mozzarella with tomatoes, chicken ham with cheese, ham with salami, and beef tenderloin. You can also find cholent (Jewish beef stew) and letcho (vegetable stew) on the menu. Those with a sweet tooth can try langos with blueberry jam or Nutella cream with nuts and honey.

    You have a choice of meats to go with your goulash, including beef, chicken breast, mushrooms, and pork. Cheese soup, noodles, and Somló sponge cake are also bestsellers at Drum Cafe.

    Location: Dob u. 2, Budapest, 1072 Hungary

    Open: Daily from 8 am to 11.30 pm

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    8

    Frici Papa Kifozdéje

    Authentic comfort food with an easy-going atmosphere

    Frici Papa Kifozdéje (Grandpa Frici’s Diner) serves up local home-style cooking in a lively and informal setting. The 2-level restaurant has both a weekly menu and a daily-changing menu.

    Frici Papa Kifozdéje specialises in very meaty goulash, roasted pork knuckle, fried rabbit shoulder, and green pea stew. Its chicken paprika, túrós csusza (pasta with cottage cheese), rakott krumpli (layered potato dish with smoked sausage and boiled egg), and mákos guba (poppy seed bread pudding) are also worth trying.

    Location: Király u. 55, Budapest, 1077 Hungary

    Open: Monday–Saturday from 11 am to 10 pm (closed on Sundays)

    Phone: +36 (06)1 351 0197

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    9

    Pozsonyi Kisvendéglo

    Northern Pest resto with an extensive menu

    Pozsonyi Kisvendéglo is a great place to refuel while exploring Budapest's Pest side, including the Újlipótváros neighbourhood. Its long weekday menu includes soups, ready-made dishes, stews, and desserts that cater to a laidback, residential community.

    You'll enjoy their big bowls of jókai bableves (bean soup containing egg noodles, smoked pork, crispy sausages, pinto beans, and root vegetables), csontvelő (bone marrow), and borjúpaprikás (veal paprikash). Different kinds of pörkölt – a type of stew containing meat simmered in paprika, garlic, and onions – are also available at Pozsonyi Kisvendéglo. You can end your meal with túrógombóc (cottage cheese dumplings) or gundel palacsinta (ground walnut-filled crepes drizzled with chocolate sauce).

    Location: Radnóti Miklós u. 38, Budapest, 1137 Hungary

    Open: Monday–Friday from 9 am to 11 pm, Saturday–Sunday from 10 am to 11 pm

    Phone: +36 (06)1 787 4877

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    photo by Illustratedjc (CC BY-SA 3.0) modified

    10

    Padron Budapest

    Spanish tapas bar in the Palace Quarter

    Padron Budapest is great for those looking to try spicy and creamy Hungarian food. Members of the family who own the business are hands-on in running daily affairs. You'd often see the father behind the counter, the son serving food, and the mother taking orders.

    Standouts include piquillo peppers containing cheese-infused béchamel sauce, lamb shoulder with goat cheese topping, moricilla (blood sausage), gambas pil-pil (chilli-garlic shrimp), and Padron peppers. Padron Budapest also serves homemade sangria and notable Spanish wines. Reserve a seat in advance, as the dinner-only restaurant fills up fast.

    Location: Budapest, Horánszky u. 10, 1085 Hungary

    Open: Tuesday–Saturday from 5 pm to 11 pm (closed on Sundays and Mondays)

    Phone: +36 (06)30 900 1204

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    11

    Kívánság Étkezde

    Mom-and-pop eatery with a 1980s vibe

    Kívánság Étkezde is among the few etkezdes (lunch-only restaurants) that continue to operate in Budapest. Its décor and furniture haven’t changed since 1985, and its food offerings have retained their timeless appeal. The restaurant whips out a mean mátrai borzaska (pork chop with potato breading, and topped with cheese, sour cream, and garlic).

    Give yourself plenty of lead time when dining here at noon. This way, you can avoid competing with the many locals, who also come for the large portions and friendly prices.

    Location: Alsó erdősor 36, Budapest, 1074 Hungary

    Open: Mondays–Fridays from noon to 4 pm (closed on weekends)

    Phone: +36 (06)1 352 1450

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    Geri Mileva | Contributing Writer

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