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November 2015

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Budapest Food & Drink

Written by , Posted in Restaurants, Travel

It’s no secret that I love food. My mouth waters at the thought of a ribeye steak cooked to a perfect medium rare, a slice of pizza with the perfect crust:cheese:sauce ratio, or a generous slice of my favorite chocolate pie. Maybe your thing is fried chicken or a giant ice cream sundae. Hey, maybe a juicy peach is what really gets you going. We all have foods we love because they’re just flat out delicious, but I’m a firm believer that the foods we love the most become our favorites because of the memories that lie within each bite. Whether it’s a mystery fried dish from a street vendor, a perfectly plated course at a Michelin-starred restaurant, or that long-time family recipe you used to make with your grandmother, good food becomes great food when there’s a story.

Budapest, Farmers' Market, Paprika

One of my favorite ways to get to know a city is by eating and drinking my way around town, seeking out local spots, and creating as many new memories as I can possibly squeeze into one trip. The streets and alleyways of Budapest were filled with so many great bars and restaurants, each beautiful in their own unique way, and when we set out every morning I was nearly giddy with excitement to see what was hiding around the next corner. A broken camera left me with less photos than I’m used to on a trip, but my heart and mind will forever be full with all the wonderful memories. We had a feeling we’d enjoy our time in Budapest but had no idea we’d love it so much. If a trip to Budapest wasn’t already on your travel radar, I hope my experiences inspire you to get there sometime soon!

Budapest, Neon Lights,

Eats

Borkynha
Sas u. 3, 1051

Borkonyha Winekitchen is one of three Michelin-starred restaurants in Budapest, and one of our favorite meals of the trip. As soon as we were seated our server arrived and offered assistance choosing one of their many Hungarian wines; after my first sip of a fantastic sparkling white he chose, I handed him the reins and he brought glass after glass to pair perfectly with each course. They offer a very reasonably priced set tasting menu but we opted to order several dishes a la carte to create our own. From the squid ink bread (that we nearly inhaled) to the silky smooth duck liver to the flavorful lamb and everything in between, it was one hell of a meal. If you’re not able to get a reservation, I’d still recommend stopping in and trying to grab a seat at the bar to enjoy a glass of wine!

Budapest, Borkonyha, duck liver

Budapest, Borkonyha, beef tenderloin

Budapest, Borkonyha

Zeller Bistro
Izabella u. 38, 1077

We dined at Zeller Bistro on our last night in Budapest and it was the perfect way to end our stay in this beautiful city. Zeller is a family-owned and operated restaurant and from the moment you walk down the steps to the warmly lit cellar, you can tell they are all fully invested in giving you a memorable dining experience. I spoke with Anna, one of the owners, to make a reservation, and we were given a run-down of the menu, specials, wine list, etc by the other owner, Peter. We even had the most adorable youngster, clad in a full length apron, show us to our table and fill our water glasses. It was seriously adorable.

The food was fantastic – made with Hungarian ingredients but not your traditional dishes. Many of their ingredients including sausages and their tasty “Crispy Small Fish As My Mom Makes Them” come from family and friends at nearby Lake Balaton. Their wines are from family vineyards, they have their own beer from a friend’s brewery, and they make a wonderful elderflower champagne that everyone receives when they arrive. If you’re visiting Budapest I can’t recommend Zeller Bistro enough, just make sure to make a reservation!

Budapest, Zeller Bistro, Crispy Fish

Crispy small fish from Lake Balaton at Zeller Bistro

Menza
Liszt Ferenc tér 2, 1061

We had lunch at Menza once during our stay, but could have easily been convinced to return if we had more time. They have a large outdoor terrace that is the perfect spot to grab a glass of rosé and people watch to your heart’s content. The interior has a very cool retro/mid-century design so be sure to take a trip to the bathroom if you’re dining al fresco. The menu is filled with delicious Hungarian and European classics with a modern presentation. Mike’s Schnitzel was fantastic – super thin and perfectly crisp breading, and I loved my Beef Stew with homemade noodles, but the clear winner was the Garlic Cream Soup topped with a traditional Hungarian Lángos (lahn-gosh). Lángos is a simple yet amazing creation – essentially a large circle of fried dough (think giant doughnut without the hole) that is typically topped with sour cream, cheese and garlic. The cup of soup could have been an entire meal, so if you’re ordering a main course I would plan on sharing because it will not be easy to put your spoon down!

Budapest, Menza, soup, langos

Budapest, Menza, Grilled Goat Cheese

Budapest, Menza, Schnitzel

Budapest, Menza Restaurant, Goulash

Bock Bisztró
Erzsébet krt. 43-49, 1073

We dined at Bock Bisztró on our first night in Budapest and we were very happy with this decision. Their wine list is filled with Hungarian wines we weren’t familiar with, so we left our selections in the hands of our very competent waiter who came back with several winners. The cuisine is Hungarian with a bit of Spanish tapas flair thrown in. We ended our delicious meal with a shot of Pálinka, a traditional fruit brandy, because, when in Budapest! (*On a Monday night the dining room was completely full by the time we left and they were turning everyone away who stopped in without an advance reservation, so I would definitely suggest calling or e-mailing ahead of time to reserve your spot.)

Budapest, Bock Bisztro

Budapest, Bock Bisztro

Costes
Ráday u. 4, 1092

Costes is another Michelin-starred restaurant in Budapest and while we didn’t get a chance to dine here during our visit, I felt they were worth a mention since they were next on my list had we of stayed another day. Costes offers tasting menus with your choice of courses and wine pairings. Dishes are beautiful and elegantly plated. Costes is a step or two above Borkynha in terms of price point but a bit more relaxed (based on reviews and articles I read before our trip) than Onyx, Budapest’s third Michelin-starred restaurant.

My Little Melbourne
Madách Imre út 3, 1075

Our absolute favorite coffee/breakfast spot right around the corner from our Airbnb rental, I was so sad to leave My Little Melbourne behind! Their chocolate-filled croissants were buttery, flaky, and filled with gooey chocolate, and their croissant sandwiches (pictured below) were so fresh and delicious – does anyone else feel like the simplest things seem to taste better in Europe?!

Budapest, Croissant, Breakfast, Sandwich, My Little Melbourne

New York Café
Erzsébet krt. 9-11, 1073

If you’re feeling fancy, stop in to New York Café for your daily dose of whipped cream and all things gilded. New York Café is located inside the Boscolo Hotel and while I wouldn’t necessarily make a special trip here, it is definitely a very cool interior to see if you’re in the neighborhood. Thanks to a bit of jet lag I was up early walking around town one morning and stopped in for a cup of coffee with the entire place to myself!

Budapest, New York Cafe

Budapest, New York Cafe, Coffee

Juicy
Hongrie, Dob u. 22, 1072

This teeny-tiny juice bar in Budapest’s Jewish Quarter is the place to go for all your fresh juice and raw/vegan/gluten-free treats. Juicy‘s tasty nectars are also sold at My Little Melbourne coffee shop nearby.

Budapest, Juicy, Juice Bar

Sarki Fűszeres
Pozsonyi út 53-55, 1137

If you spend any time exploring Budapest’s Margaret Island, Sarki Fűszeres is a cute little shop and café to visit nearby. Grab coffee, breakfast, and picnic snacks and wine for the island, or stop in for lunch and drinks on your way back.

Trófea Grill Étterem
Multiple locations

It’s not very often that I can recommend an all-you-can-eat (and drink) buffet outside of Vegas, but Trófea Grill Étterem in Budapest is definitely a buffet I can get behind. They’re a one-stop-shop if you’re looking to taste traditional Hungarian dishes, but they also have other offerings like sushi if that’s what you’re goulash-ed out. The beer, wine, champagne, and select cocktails don’t stop flowing until you say so – boozy buffet brunches are what afternoons are made for, right?! For only 20-22€/person, Trófea Grill is your best bet for a quick, inexpensive meal in Budapest.

Street Food Karaván
Kazinczy u. 18, 1075

Wandering the streets of Budapest, especially in the Jewish Quarter, it seriously felt like there was an amazing bar or restaurant around every corner – including a bunch of cool little spots tucked away in alleys like the Street Food Karavan. We passed this trendy row of food stands on our way to Budapest’s famous ruin pub, Szimpla Kert (see below), and stopped by afterwards to check it out. I went straight for the Lángos topped with goat cheese, roasted red peppers, and arugula; it was the perfect late-night bite to soak up the copious amounts of Hungarian rosé I’d consumed throughout the evening!

Budapest, Street Food, Karavan

Lion + Maven | Budapest

Gelarto Rosa
Szent István tér 3, 1051

With temperatures reaching the low 90s during most of our stay in Budapest, we made a point of working a daily gelato stop into our schedule. Gelarto Rosa was our first, and most frequently visited shop, and to be honest, we would have come back every day even if we weren’t dealing with record-breaking temps. Not only are their cones oh-so-pretty, their flavors were outstanding. My favorite was the basil-lemon; mixed with strawberry this was always the perfect refreshing treat!

Budapest, Gelarto Rosa, Gelato, Rose

Levendula Kézműves Fagylaltozó
Multiple locations

While their cones aren’t the rose petal masterpieces created at Gelarto Rosa, Levendula‘s gelato offerings definitely did not disappoint. They have several locations around the city including a small pop-up stand we found at Deák Ferenc tér. If odd flavors like Gorgonzola, Camembert, and Red Wine interest you, then Levendula is your spot. If you’re not quite so adventurous when it comes to frozen treats, don’t fret – Levendula has a solid line-up of other imaginative flavors that aren’t quite so out there. Fresh mint and raspberry was my go-to combo.

Drink

Caffeine Fix

My Little Melbourne
Madách Imre út 3, 1075

Mentioned above as our favorite spot for breakfast every morning, My Little Melbourne was also our go-to coffee shop in Budapest. They offer a full selection of espresso drinks and their brew bar next door deals exclusively in filtered coffee. They also offer a variety of fresh, raw juices from local juice bar JUICY as well as a variety of quality snacks – a great spot to fuel up before a day of sightseeing!

Budapest, Coffee Shop, My Little Melbourne

A few other coffee shops around the city that deserve an honorable mention…

Fekete
Múzeum krt. 5, 1053

Espresso Embassy
Arany János u. 15, 1051

Tamp & Pull
Czuczor u. 3, 1093

Bars

Boutiq Bar
Paulay Ede u. 5, 1061

Another gem of a find just a block away from our apartment, Boutiq Bar offers tasty, inventive, expertly crafted cocktails at shockingly low (compared to similar cocktail bars in Chicago and other cities we’ve visited) prices. Speakeasy, laid-back kinda vibe – a great spot to end the night.

Budapest, Cocktails, Boutiq Bar

Léhűtő
Holló u. 12-14, 1076

We were very pleasantly surprised to find several great beer bars in Budapest and LÉHŰTŐ topped the list as our favorite. Great selection of local and international craft beers and a lovely outdoor seating area – the perfect spot to grab a drink or two before dinner nearby.

Lion + Maven | Budapest

Szimpla Kert
Kazinczy u. 14, 1075

It’s nearly impossible to put into words the strange awesomeness that is Szimpla Kert. Szimpla Kert is Budapest’s first and most popular ruin pub – bars created inside abandoned, run-down buildings with unused outdoor space and decorated with an eclectic mix of vintage decor that many would consider garbage. We first explored Szimpla Kert one afternoon before heading out for dinner and I highly suggest a visit during daylight hours to fully appreciate this unique spot. At night the place is packed wall to wall but during the day it’s an almost quiet, peaceful spot to kick back and enjoy a beer or giant glass of rosé for under $2. Stay tuned for a separate post exclusively devoted to Szimpla Kert!

Budapest, Ruin Pub, Szimpla Kert

Budapest, Ruin Pub, Szimpla Kert

Gozsdu Udvar
Király u. 13, 1075

Have I mentioned that Budapest seemed to have an amazing surprise down every alley? Well, Gozsdu Udvar is no exception. This alley between Király utca and Dob utca is lined with bar and restaurants, all with outdoor seating along the alleyway. The perfect spot for a relaxed evening and a perfect people-watching perch.

Budapest, Gozsdu Udvar

DiVino Wine Bar
Multiple locations

If you’re looking to get a taste of Hungarian wine, or just relax and people watch outside of St. Stephen’s Basilica, DiVino Wine Bar is the perfect place to stop. They also have a second great location in Gozsdu Udvar.

Budapest, St. Stephen's Basilica, Divino Wine Bar

Hops Beer Bar
Wesselényi u. 13, 1077

Another great beer bar in Budapest with an impressive line-up of craft beers.

Csak a jó sör
Kertész u. 42, 107

We stumbled upon Csak a Jó Sör (Only Good Beer) on accident while in search of another beer bar and we were shocked when we walked up to order and saw Founder’s All Day IPA on tap! Somehow a little keg had made its way all the way from Michigan to Budapest! This shop and bar carries an impressive collection of craft beers from around the globe, bartenders are very friendly, and the small space and vintage couches made us feel like we were back home having drinks in a friend’s basement – if we had a friend with an insane craft beer selection.

Budapest, Beer Bar

Mentioned in this post
  1. Borkonyha Winekitchen Restaurant
    Restaurant in Budapest Hungary

    3 Sas u.
    Budapest Hungary
    http://borkonyha.hu/
  2. Budapest
    City in Hungary

    Budapest Hungary
  3. Zeller Bistro
    Restaurant in Bp Hungary

    38 Izabella u.
    Bp Hungary
    (30) 651 0880
  4. Menza
    Restaurant in Bp Hungary

    2 Liszt Ferenc tér
    Bp Hungary
    (1) 413 1482
    http://www.menzaetterem.hu/
  5. Bock Bisztró
    Restaurant in Bp Hungary

    43-49 Erzsébet krt.
    Bp Hungary
    (1) 321 0340
    http://www.bockbisztro.hu/
  6. Costes Restaurant
    Restaurant in Budapest Hungary

    4 Ráday u.
    Budapest Hungary
    (1) 219 0696
    http://www.costes.hu/
  7. My Little Melbourne Coffee and Brew Bar
    Restaurant in Budapest Hungary

    3 Madách Imre út
    Budapest Hungary
    (70) 394 7002
    http://mylittlemelbourne.hu/
  8. Juicy
    Restaurant in Bp Hungary

    22 Dob u.
    Bp Hungary
    (30) 453 6399
    https://www.facebook.com/juicy.hu
  9. Sarki Fűszeres
    Restaurant in Bp Hungary

    53-55 Pozsonyi út
    Bp Hungary
    (1) 238 0600
    http://sarkifuszeres.hu/
  10. Trófea Grill Étterem - Király utca
    Restaurant in Bp Hungary

    32 Király u.
    Bp Hungary
    (1) 878 0522
    http://kiraly.trofeagrill.eu/
  11. Street Food Karavan Budapest
    Restaurant in Budapest Hungary

    18 Kazinczy u.
    Budapest Hungary
    http://www.streetfoodkaravan.hu/
  12. Gelarto Rosa - Ice Cream shop
    Attraction in Budapest Hungary

    3 Szent István tér
    Budapest Hungary
    (70) 930 2217
    http://gelartorosa.com/
  13. Levendula Kézműves Fagylaltozó
    Attraction in Budapest Hungary

    21 Szent István krt.
    Budapest Hungary
  14. My Little Melbourne Coffee and Brew Bar
    Restaurant in Budapest Hungary

    3 Madách Imre út
    Budapest Hungary
    (70) 394 7002
    http://mylittlemelbourne.hu/
  15. Boutiq Bar
    Restaurant in Budapest Hungary

    5 Paulay Ede u.
    Budapest Hungary
    (30) 229 1821
    http://boutiqbar.hu/
  16. LÉHŰTŐ - Kézműves Söröző
    Restaurant in Budapest Hungary

    12-14 Holló u.
    Budapest Hungary
    (30) 731 0430
  17. Szimpla Kert
    Attraction in Budapest Hungary

    14 Kazinczy utca
    Budapest Hungary
    (20) 261 8669
  18. DiVino Wine Bar
    Attraction in Budapest Hungary

    3 Szent István tér
    Budapest Hungary
    (70) 935 3980
    http://divinoborbar.hu/hu
  19. Csak a Jó Sörök
    Restaurant in Bp Hungary

    42 - 44 Kertész u.
    Bp Hungary


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