Budapest is not particularly thought of as a food capital, but if you’re traveling to the capital of Hungary, you should arrive hungry. Upon returning to New York from Budapest, I couldn’t eat for three days because I was still full. I called my mom to find out if I needed to go to the doctor due to a possibly over-stretched stomach organ. This sounds like a joke, but I was serious. Hungarians are incredibly hospitable, and everywhere you go is almost like taking a trip to grandma’s house. In between courses, Hungarians typically feed you even more items that you didn’t order and they keep the complimentary wine flowing. Don’t try and turn any of it down though, because you’ll just get more!
The food at Bock Bisztro is a gourmet take on traditional Hungarian dishes. Try the pork goulash and the beef tenderloin Budapest style. Expect complimentary amuse bouche and wine. If you’re sweet tooth is feeling adventurous, try the ice cream flight of bizarre flavors such as tobacco, goose foie gras, and sausage.
Though this is not Hungarian cuisine, do yourself a favor and stop at Comme Chez Soi. This quaint Italian restaurant is run by a husband and wife, and their food rivals a lot of food in Italy. The wife manages the front of house, while the husband and team are cooking in a partially-open kitchen. The whole grilled squid and the spaghetti and meatballs are both something to write home about, but the lasagna is BOSS! When you and your friend both have to take a moment of silence after your first bite, you know you’ve found something special. Not to mention, there are constant “compliments of the chef” moments in the form of caprese, apertif, wine between each course, dessert, and then chocolate. Even when you’re
walking rolling out the door, they will give you more goodies to take with you. Make a reservation well in advance, Comme Chez Soi is small and fills up quickly. If you can’t get a reservation, try your luck walking in around 2:30pm. Pro-tip: clear two hours in your schedule post-Comme Chez Soi to fall into a food coma.
Borkonyha is one of three Michelin-starred restaurants in Budapest featuring an ever-changing menu of contemporary Hungarian cuisine. The plating is like a work of art, the flavors robust, and the prices less than what would be expected at a Michelin-starred restaurant. If not for the food, go for the wine. Hungarian wine is an underrated wine which seems to be rather scarce stateside. Borkonyha, which translates to “wine kitchen” boasts a collection of 200 Hungarian wines and eager sommeliers to help you make the best selections.
For the traveler who’s always looking for Insta-worthy food, stop by GelARTo Rosa for a cone of rose-shaped gelato. Not only is it pretty, but the flavors are more diverse than your typical rose-shaped gelato haunt. Think chili chocolate, lavender white chocolate, strawberry elderflower and basil-lemon. Take it outside and eat it on the stairs of St. Stephen’s Basilica, the perfect backdrop for your gelato Insta.
Ruin bars = more excuses for Hungarian wine. Budapest is known for it’s ruin bars, which are housed in abandoned buildings transformed into these eclectic hangouts. Think anything from old department stores to dilapidated factories with their flaws incorporated into the decor. Start your bar crawl at the O.G. of ruin bars, Szimpla Kert. With good, cheap drinks and quirk in every nook, it’s a fun place for people-watching through its several themed rooms. Next stop, Corvin Club for everything from international DJs to outdoor rooftop movie screenings. Also visit: Dürer Kert, a college throwback theme in an old university building, Instant is a labyrinth of twenty-themed rooms, and Fogaz Ház (House of Teeth) named after an old dentist office sign found in this formerly abandoned squat house.
Kürtőskalács, a Hungarian festival cake, is like donut or funnel cake taste in the shape of a hollowed cone. You can get one of these sweet delights at various street vendors throughout Budapest. Molnar’s Kurtoskalacs specializes in the pastry and different flavors such as vanilla, cinnamon, walnut, almond, chocolate, coconut and poppy seed. They also serve ice cream, which you can have served in your chimney cake. Don’t forget to take some extras for your long flight home!
Written by Danika Daly
Feature image via Bock Bisztro