Best Places To Eat Like A Local In Budapest

By Katalin Válóczi, the lover of Langos, Goulash and Chimney Cake and regular wanderer of local markets

Edited by Holly Jenson

When deciding where to eat in Budapest, many visitors head straight for the first goulash restaurant they see and miss all of the hidden gems just waiting to be discovered. I’ve lived in this city of food for 12 years and am very passionate about our Hungarian cuisine; I’m always exploring the markets and independent shops. Here are the best places to eat like a local in Budapest, so you can dodge the tourist traps and get to the good stuff.

 

 

Great Market Hall

A great way to kick-start your trip to Budapest is to explore our famous food markets. The Great Market Hall is the most well-known and it’s not hard to see why! The biggest market in the city, there are 3 floors to explore here filled with local produce and handmade goods. This is one of the best places to experience Budapest street food like Fisherman’s Soup; a traditional hearty dish seasoned with paprika. There is some really lovely architecture in here (one of my favourite things about my home town) and the hall seems to go on for miles. Sellers display amazing Budapest local food like salamis, jams and conserves and freshly picked fruit and veg. This is one of my favourite places to go in the city, the atmosphere is always bustling and full of life and you can spend hours talking to the sellers; it’s a real local experience of the city. Exploring the Great Market Hall is definitely one of the best things to do in Budapest.

 

Leves

In you’re searching for traditional Hungarian food Budapest, Leves should definitely be at the top of your list. This small street food place is famous for its traditional soups. Even with only 3 varieties on the menu, the humble soup and a sandwich combination continues to draw in visitors and locals alike, there is always a bubbly atmosphere in here. The food is delicious and the flavours are traditional, it’s a great way to experience Bohemian culture and taste a bit of our history. Close to the Freedom Bridge, this place is perfect for a hearty lunch after a morning soaking in Gellert’s thermal baths. Come to Leves for some of the simplest and best food in Budapest.

 

Paprika Vendeglo

Paprika Vendeglo is definitely one of the best traditional Hungarian restaurants in Budapest. Famed for its Bohemian must-eats, this is a great place to taste our city’s history. The restaurant is traditionally decorated with lots of wood and candles, it has a really cosy and warm feel to it. While you’re here, try the best Goulash in Budapest. This spicy dish is traditionally beef, slow cooked with vegetables and paprika into a hearty stew; it’s our national delicacy and something you must try when in the city. Another Budapest local food you should taste is Chicken Paprikash. Cooked in a creamy sauce with a kick of paprika and served with egg dumplings, this is another authentic dish and one of my absolute favourites. Paprika Vendeglo is a must if you’re looking to really experience our culture.

Szimpla Kert Market

One of the key parts of Budapest nightlife, Szimpla Kert is the best ruin bar in the city and holds regular parties, concerts and outdoor cinema screenings. What most people don’t realise is that every weekend this bar ditches cocktails for cabbages and holds a boutique farmer’s market. Every Saturday and Sunday morning you can come and buy locally produced meats, cheeses, fruit, vegetables, jams and conserves in one of the quirkiest places in the city. I really prefer small markets because you can interact with the people, but the best part of this one is the atmosphere. They often have live music from local artists which means you can still experience the ruin bar lifestyle while sampling Budapest local food! I come here every weekend and would recommend it to everyone, it’s a true hidden gem of our city.

Cserpes Tejivo

When you’re looking at where to eat in Budapest, don’t miss out on our traditional milk bars. Celebrating all things dairy, Cserpes Tejivo is definitely the best place to see this tradition in action. Perfect for breakfast, this place have tonnes of authentic pastries on offer to help you start your day the right way. They also serve really yummy salads and sandwiches, Kakaós Csiga is my favourite. While you’re here, try one of our most famous Bohemian desserts; Chimney cake. A long roll of pastry, we usually eat this delicacy as part of a Christmas tradition but you can sample it year-round all over the city. You can have a simple version coated in sugar or coconut, or you can have them filled with ice cream, fruit, nuts and all manner of things! They’re really delicious and something you must try while in the city. With friendly staff and huge windows making the café light and airy, Cserpes Tejivo is great for a relaxed meal and one of the best places to eat like a local in Budapest.

 

Fehérvári Street Market

A visit to Fehervari Street Market is one of the best things to do in Budapest. Not too far from Gellert, this market is famous for its flower stands on the ground floor. With rows of beautiful stalls, locals come here in December to buy plants and lots of flowers to make Christmas wreaths, it’s a real hidden gem. The upstairs has a lot of small restaurants where you can enjoy traditional dishes, but my favourite part is the Fröccs Terrace. Fröccs is Hungary’s Pimms, a wine mixer with soda water that we love to drink in the summer sun with our friends. There are many versions of the drink with different names depending on the wine and soda ratio, they’re really refreshing and perfect for a relaxed afternoon. While chilling on the terrace, I would definitely recommend that you try Pálinka; the Hungarian spirit. This is a strong shot made from different kinds of fruits; it’s really unique to our country and another great way to taste Budapest’s rich culture.

Menza

Hiding in the small street of Liszt Ferenc tér just off of Andrassy (the longest street in the city) is one of the best restaurants in Budapest. Menza is well-loved by locals for its quirky take on Hungarian food and large variety of international cuisine. With warm lighting and cool modern décor, this is a place you’ll want to stay for the evening. I have eaten one of the best salads of my life in here; it’s my go-to restaurant for a night out with friends. They also have a little terrace area where you can enjoy a few drinks in the summertime; there is always a great atmosphere. If you only try one thing in here make it the Somloi Galuska. This delicious Hungarian sponge cake is available in lots of different flavours with different creams and toppings. You could try one with raisins and fruit, chocolate and walnut, vanilla, there is something for everyone! Have this with a hot coffee from Menza and sink into your chair; you won’t want the evening to end.

 

Akvarium

Hidden below the central Deak square is one of the locals’ favourite spots for a simple lunch and a few drinks with friends. Akvarium is a bistro in the day time which sits beneath the glass floor of the square; you can watch everyone walking around above you! My friends and I like to come here in the summer to drink Fröccs and fresh juices. They serve humble food such as nachos, fries and hotdogs here for anyone looking for a relaxed lunch away from the busyness of the centre. In the evenings Akvarium turns into a popular nightclub with tasty cocktails and live music. It’s a really cool place to watch a concert as all the colourful lights shine across the room and create amazing patterns on the glass. Whether it’s day or night that you visit, there is always something going on at Akvarium!

Fény Street Market

Another great place for Budapest local food is Feny Street Market on the Buda side of the city. Filled with fruit, veg and cured meat, this is somewhere many locals come to buy their ingredients. The reason I come here however is for the Langos. My favourite Hungarian dish, Langos consists of a deep fried flat bread coated with special Hungarian sour cream mixed with garlic and then covered in grated cheese. It is so crispy and delicious; it seems to just melt in the mouth. I have had my fair share of Langos over the years and Feny Street Market is by far the best place to sample this amazing Budapest street food.

Karavan

Located close to the city’s ruin bars in the centre of Pest, Karavan is a street food paradise. This market offers anything from burgers to tacos, Hungarian favourites like Langos and Goulash, sushi, sausages and shots of Pálinka. Locals love to come here for food after a night out in the summer time; they have everything you could ever want. They also sell Chimney Cake here with lots of flavours on offer, whatever you’re in the mood for, Karavan has it. They also have many bars along here, it’s a great way to start your night off before heading to Szimpla Kert and our other ruin bars; this place is always filled with people having a good time! Watch out in the winter as they often close from December to March, this is the ideal place for a spring or summer evening enjoying Budapest nightlife.

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