If you’re after an amazing foodie experience then Budapest is where you need to go. The best restaurants in Budapest are some of the best in the world with a mix of innovation, hearty home cooking and fashionable brunch locations. I really did not expect this gastronomic paradise to the extent that we discovered. I’d been told that Budapest was a great city to explore, that we should eat goulash, but no one had prepared me for the trendy restaurants and amazing food. One of the best parts about it is that it’s cheap for Europe. You can have a five-star dining experience for the price of a normal restaurant in France. If you’re looking for an amazing foodie experience, then here’s where you should eat in Budapest.
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Lions Locker is a brunch style restaurant hidden down a side street on the outskirts of the Jewish Quarter. The inside is decorated minimally with soft pastel colours and plants to keep the vibe relaxed. The food is brunch with a few special twists. They have a selection of epic bagels that are stacked with fried eggs, smoked salmon, cheese and avocado cream to name just one of them. You can order the usual eggs benedict or keep it healthy with a chia bowl.
The service is extremely friendly. They’ll greet you with a smile as soon as you walk in and their English is excellent. They have a selection of coffees and teas to choose from. An added bonus is that the backroom is actually a locker storage room. It’s extremely cheap and you can store your baggage there if you need to wait for your accommodation or check out earlier than your flight.
Szimply is one of the most popular cafes in Budapest and is always on any list for best restaurants in Budapest. It’s a hard place to get into because the restaurant is epically tiny. It’s so tiny that the actual kitchen is in another building across the street and their coffee comes from Kontakt café next door. The design is simple and scandic with a few plants, a map on the wall and plane tables. Turn up early if you want to secure a spot easily.
The menu is simple like the café, with only a few items. The food is a mix of brunch and lunch dishes, which you can choose between at any time. I tried the avocado on toast and my husband had the omelette. The food is bright and fresh with unique parts to it. My avocado toast came with sweet potato puré, mushrooms and radishes. All the colours fit together as beautifully as the flavours. The drinks menu is just as simple. You have a choice of freshly squeezed orange juice (which was delicious), or excellent coffee from Kontakt next door.
Kontakt is a coffee shop next door to Szimply and is owned by the same people. It goes by the same idea that simplicity is key. Above their counter is a sign that proudly says no sugar, no americano, no milk in drip coffee, yes good coffee. They take this very seriously. It is an extremely simple menu. There are a few types of coffee to choose from, ginger tea or hot chocolate. There’s no fancy chai latte or matcha (which I was sad about). The baristas are very serious and like most restaurants or cafes in Budapest speak excellent English.
If you order coffee at Szimply this is where it will come from. They have a little hole in the wall where they pass orders through. Kontakt sells a few snack items, but it’s really all about the coffee here. Why I’ve added it to my list of best restaurants in Budapest is because it’s the best coffee that my husband has had in Europe. It was the absolute perfect temperature, they’d pressed it perfectly, and the coffee was smooth and tasty. This is not a place you need to eat in Budapest, but it’s definitely where you need to drink in Budapest.
Úri Cipö Kaptafa
Kaptafa is a tiny café and bar located in the heart of the old Jewish Quarter and is one of the best restaurants in Budapest. It’s just down the road from Mozel Tov. The interior has a threadbare, well-loved vibe with mismatched furniture and bright colours. The menu is very simple and centres around cheese. There are toasted cheese and bacon sandwiches or sausage and cheese breakfasts. Everything looks perfect for a morning after a big night.
There are two stars on the drinks menu depending on how you want to start your day. They have coffee, but what they also have are many epic hot chocolates. There’s Irish cream, oreo, peppermint, dark chocolate, and toffee. The list is huge and sounded mouth-watering. The second part of the drinks menu is breakfast beer, which is a thing in Budapest. You can eat your cheesy, delicious breakfast and knock back a beer. Each item on the menu had a recommended breakfast beer to go with it.
Street Cakes is a tiny café across the road from the House of Terror. This is where you can try the famous chimney cakes of Budapest. You can go traditional and just get the chimney cake by itself. This is sweet dough with cinnamon and sugar on the outside. Or you can go all out and add ice cream and Oreos, or skittles with toffee or chocolate sauce and Nutella. There are fruits and whipped cream and any imaginable sweet that you can add.
If you decide you don’t want the chimney cake then you can also have an epic bubble waffle with all the fillings or a milkshake or smoothie. They have a little café area. Everything is sweet or pink with a teenage chic vibe.
This restaurant is quite new to the dining scene but is already one of the best restaurants in Budapest. The food is mostly French and is a modern menu. The inside of the restaurant is also very modern with a glowing neon sign and funny little plants on all the tables. The service was five-star quality, but the prices were still cheap.
We ordered the bouillabaisse soup and the beef burger. The soup was full of flavour with a wonderful mix of garlic, seafood broth and prawns. The burger was cooked perfectly with a shiny bun and roughly cut chips. They also provided us with a surprise foie gra starter, which was sweet and very smooth. They have an extensive wine list to choose from as well as some delicious homemade lemonades.
Hungarikum Bisztró is where you eat in Budapest for traditional Hungarian food. The restaurant is set up with a homely vibe. There are photos of food on the walls and checkered tablecloths and curtains. The idea behind the restaurant is to create home-cooked food in a homely setting. They proudly tell you that there is no modern twist or innovation on their menu. The food is exactly like their grandmas taught them to cook it. They also go out of their way to treat you like family. Everyone is super friendly and attentive.
The items on the menu are all staples in Hungarian cooking. There are pickles and dumplings, lots of potatoes and paprika and of course goulash. They even provide you with a small iPad so you can browse pictures of the food to understand what you’re ordering. When the food came out it was as they described, hearty, simple and very tasty. They even provide you with a shot of a Hungarian liquor with the bill to finish up the experience. Hungarikum Bisztró is definitely one of the best restaurants in Budapest for a traditional experience.
Mazel Tov is one of the best restaurants in Budapest, but also one of the best ruin bars in the city. It is aggressively trendy with unfinished walls, lots of plants and sparkling fairy lights. The space is large, which is lucky, as it’s extremely popular. You can book online to make sure you get a table, but they also keep tables free for walk-ins. There are many different rooms and levels to explore. During the day and early evening, it’s a restaurant serving delicious Israeli cuisine. Later in the evening it turns into a ruin bar with DJs and live music.
The food is great for sharing with different platers and dips to add to your choices. They serve creamy hummus, delicious baba ganoush and chicken shawarma with many amazing dips. The pita breads are amazing. You just want to break off a bit of pita and scoop the dips into your mouth. The food is rich and filling and came out quickly.
Street Food Karavan Budapest
This trendy food park is a great place to eat in Budapest. There are many food trucks selling burgers, cheesy paneers, tasty vegan dishes, Italian and Mexican. There are benches to sit on in the middle or you can grab and go. At night the park is lit up with fairy lights and glowing signs. You can also purchase drinks and start the night in a casual setting. The street food is excellent quality, cheap and delicious. The added bonus is it’s right next door to Szimpla Kert, one of the best ruin bars in Budapest.
Szimpla Kert is an institution in Budapest. One of the first ruin bars to start the craze. It’s like walking into a genius’s crazy imagination. Every room is cluttered with things and painted in different colours. You’ll sit in bathtubs next to cement mixers and have plants growing across walls and protruding from brickwork. This is one of the best ruin bars in Budapest, but it’s also where you can grab something to eat. In the top level of the complex, there is a canteen-style restaurant. You can sit at the simple long benches and order from the Mexican inspired menu. Add a margarita to it to start your night.
Costes Downtown is one of the few restaurants in Budapest awarded the prestigious Michelin star. It’s also unquestionably one of the best restaurants in Budapest. It was one of the first restaurants I looked up once I started planning our trip. Dining in a Michelin star restaurant has been a buck list item for me, but the price of one has always been too steep. Discovering how cheap it was to eat in Budapest I immediately looked up the menu and ended up booking a table.
The experience starts as soon as you walk in. The restaurant is dimly lit to create an intimate vibe and the wait staff are highly attentive. A maitre d’ takes you to your table and then introduces your waiter to you. You can discuss any dietary requirements with them and they will explain each part of the menu to you in detail when it arrives. The service was five-star quality and very smooth and efficient.
The food is the star of everything at Costes Downtown. Everything has been created with innovation and a desire to showcase the flavours of the food in different ways. Each different course is a taste sensation that you want to savour for as long as possible. Small parts of the dish will surprise you with a subtle smoky flavour or a burst of pickle or sweetness. We tried their five-course menu and enjoyed every part of it. You also receive a few extra dishes, which means you leave full and satisfied.
You can pair a drinks package with the food and they will come out with your entre, main and desert. My husband added the beer package, and I added the non-alcoholic package. Every beer was considered a craft beer and was Hungarian in origin. They all had different flavours and were matched carefully to the food they were accompanying. I wasn’t sure about the non-alcoholic drinks package, but I ended up loving it. The three juices that accompanied my meals were absolutely amazing. The first juice was made with apple, celeriac, orange and lime. The second was apple, almond and lime, and the last was an apple juice that had been concentrated into something similar to a dessert wine. I’d almost recommend the juices over the alcoholic packages as they were just so amazing. Even my husband, who doesn’t like apple juice liked them. It was subtle and each flavour had its moment on your tongue.
If you want to have one of the best foodie experiences in Budapest then make sure you book Costes Downtown. They do a lunch menu during the weekdays that is extremely good value for money and you can also select à la carte options from their menu if you want to keep the cost down. Always book in advance. If you want an unforgettable dining experience in Budapest then go to Costes Downtown.