The Best Meals We Ate in Budapest

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Having previously visited Budapest, I had already developed a taste for Hungarian cuisine and its liberal use of paprika. The distinctive spice is derived from capsicum peppers and can be mild and sweet or hot and zesty. Hungarian paprika is known for its rich red hue and robust flavor which can elevate any common stew to something extraordinary.

While nearly every dish we sampled in Budapest was a winner, here are the standouts:

Fülemüle 

For dinner on the final night of our week in Budapest, we tracked down a place called Fülemüle and soon found ourselves swooning over the greatest meal of the lot. Why is it that we always seem to find the best restaurants at the end of the trip?!

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Fülemüle, which translates as nightingale, serves a delightful mix of Hungarian and Jewish specialties. We ordered from the pre-set menus, which each consisted of three courses, two glasses of wine and a shot of pálinka, the local fruit brandy. I chose the fantastic “Hungarian Touch” set which began with an appetizer of lecsó, a piquant pepper and tomato stew, with spicy sausages. This was my first experience with lecsó (a vibrant stew of peppers, tomatoes and onions) but it certainly won’t be my last! After a bowl of savory bean goulash came paprika chicken with gnocchi, unequivocally the best version of the entire trip.

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The most delectable paprika chicken of the week!

The playfully-named “Wonder of Goose” set included succulent goose cracklings, a hearty goose and matzo ball soup, and a spectacular crispy goose leg with potato latkes covered in sour cream and cheese. The “wonder” was that anyone could walk after such an avian feast!

On second thought, it’s probably a good thing we didn’t discover this restaurant earlier because my pants might not have fit by the end of the week!

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Menza

Should you find yourself in need of a good meal on Andrássy út, make a beeline for Menza restaurant. Located in one of Budapest’s most popular squares, Menza stands out for its classic fare and retro atmosphere. We started with the antipasti platter of grilled vegetables which came with a creamy cottage cheese dip that we enjoyed with a basket of rustic bread.

We ordered our entrees from the menu of weekly specials, though dishes this good ought to be on the regular menu! The Hungarian crepes were stuffed with chicken and smothered in paprika gravy and sour cream, while the chili-mustard pork medallions came with a side of cheesy noodles and roasted garlic. As if this wasn’t indulgent enough, we finished with sour cherry strudel and poppy seed ice cream. We needed a long walk after that incredible meal!

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Rivalda Café

Our best meal on Castle Hill was at Rivalda Café, a high end restaurant housed in a former convent. We enjoyed a casual lunch in Rivalda’s charming courtyard, taking advantage of the reasonably priced set menu. We started with hearty bowls of soup – cream of mushroom and boar with gnocchi – paired nicely with glasses of Hungarian beer and wine.

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For our main courses we opted for the bacon-wrapped chicken breast stuffed with goat cheese and roasted peppers, swimming in a sea of basil cream sauce, and the paprika pork chop with homemade noodles and pickles. If you are in the castle district, definitely do not miss this place!

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Paprika Jancsi

On our first night in town, the owner of our guesthouse directed us for dinner to Ráday utca, the street known by locals to be a culinary hotspot. (The cutlery on the street sign is also a good indication.) He specifically recommended we go to Paprika Jancsi restaurant for our first taste of Hungarian cuisine and we were not disappointed. In fact, we enjoyed the meal so much we came back later in the week! The veal stew with cottage cheese noodles was probably our favorite dish, but we might have to taste them all again to be sure.

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I can’t write a post about all the fabulous things we ate in Budapest and not mention the pastries. We happened across this table set up in Deák tér and the locals were as excited by the homemade treats as I was. The sour cherry strudel was divine! The only disappointment was that we only saw this entrepreneur once. Luckily, the Princess bakery chain has an outlet in every train station so I could get my pastry fix whenever the urge struck.

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We enjoyed Hungarian food so much, we came home with a cookbook and several bags of paprika! Which dish would you most like to try?

Fülemüle 
Address: 1085 Budapest, Kőfaragó utca 5, Hungary
Pricing: Set meals are HUF 5,500-5,900 (US$24-26); à la carte menu also available.

 

Menza
Address: 1061 Budapest, Liszt Ferenc tér 2, Hungary
Pricing: Dinner for two, including drinks, cost HUF 7,800 (US$35)

 

Rivalda Café & Restaurant
Address: 1014 Budapest, Színház utca 5-9, Hungary
Pricing: Two-course lunch menu, including drinks, costs HUF 4,800 per person (US$21)

 

Paprika Jancsi
Address: 1092 Budapest, Ráday utca 16, Hungary
Pricing: Dinner for two, including drinks, cost HUF 7,300 (US$32)

 

Heather Hall

Heather Hall

Passionate about travel, food, history and animals, Heather brings a curiosity and fun-loving attitude to most any experience that comes along. The Virginia native has lived abroad since 2011, and has visited more than 40 countries. Follow along as she explores the cultures and cuisines of the world on her blog, Ferreting Out the Fun!

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29 thoughts on “The Best Meals We Ate in Budapest

    • Everything IS better with bacon! I was surprised not to find it in more Hungarian dishes. Paprika really is the star!

  1. Clearly it was a mistake to read this post right before having to go make dinner! My hubby joined me while reading this and now we’re both slack-jawed and ready to buy a ticket to Budapest. I couldn’t choose a favorite ~ each one sounded most wonderful until we scrolled down to the next!

    • LOL! We certainly ate well on this trip. Fortunately we also did a lot of walking so I miraculously managed not to gain a single pound!

  2. All the dishes looked good. I don’t remember what I ate when I was there, but I’m sure it was tasty. I do think we ate at Menza, though. Good times to remember 🙂

    • Thanks! I didn’t realize paprika was such a major component either until we went there. They actually refer to paprika as “red gold” because it’s such a major cash crop!

  3. I’d do *almost* anything to visit Budapest again as I absolutely loved our time there last year, but we didn’t have an Lecsó which looks delicious. I’d love to make a return visit to try it and explore the city a little more.

  4. Oh yum yum… I am so hungry suddenly. I love Hungarian food too and could never get enough while I was living in Germany. Now that I have moved back to my homeland India, there aren’t too many Hungarian eateries around. Your post brought back so many memories.
    Anwesha recently posted…Street Performers in Aachen, GermanyMy Profile

    • Hungarian food is pretty scarce in Shanghai, too, which is where I’m currently living. Hopefully I’ll be able to recreate my favorite dishes with the cookbook and paprika I brought home!

  5. Looks yummy – love that they all seem to come with gnocchi or sort of creamy spatzle. I went almost 15 years ago and don’t think I appreciated the food or the restaurant scene hadn’t really become what it is now. Great film about Budapest and its history through the eyes of one family is ‘Sunshine’ with Ralph Fiennes – really fantastic.
    Jura Cullen recently posted…Turtle watching at Hoan Kiem LakeMy Profile

    • The accompanying noodles were a very nice bonus 🙂 Thanks for the movie recommendation! I love Ralph Fiennes so will definitely check it out!

  6. We know that when we get to Europe we are going to have cut a whole bunch of the countries we had wanted to visit because we just won’t have the money to see them all, but I have been resolute that we must visit Hungary for at least a little bit. And now I have all the photo evidence I need to know that we simply must spend a few days in Budapest—enough time so that we can stuff our faces with all this incredibly decadent looking food. I think I have gained 5 lbs just looking at your photos, but seriously, getting fat will never have been more fun! 😉
    Steph (@ 20 Years Hence) recently posted…What We Ate: HualienMy Profile

    • Some of my pants no longer fit when we got back but it was totally worth it 🙂 Seriously though, you really should spend some time in Hungary. We also visited Gödöllő and Eger which I highly recommend. (Posts on both forthcoming.) And Budapest is one of my favorite cities in the world; I’ve been twice and know I’ll go again. The attention to detail in their reconstruction work just impresses me to no end.

  7. Wrrrrr it’s so unfair! I’m back in China to my healthy diet and you keep reminding me of amazing European cuisine :). Never been to Budapest, but the food looks amazing. I would definitely go for Roast leg of goose with potato pancakes coated in sour cream and cheese and of course the sour cherry strudels! They look so yummy!
    Agness recently posted…Charging Batteries At HomeMy Profile

    • LOL! We just left China and now I am stuffing myself with all my favorite American foods like pizza and cheeseburgers. Will have to try to find a good Chinese restaurant in our new neighborhood!

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