Hungry for Hungarian? A Guide to the Best Budapest Restaurants

What we consider as “Hungarian cuisine” is largely based on the simplistic diet of the early nomadic tribes who roamed Hungary’s lands, combined with the delicious spices (i.e. paprika) that were introduced by the Italians and Turks who arrived in the 15th century. The result is a cuisine consisting of hearty meals packed with meat and veggies and enhanced by the addition of delicious flavors including paprika, peppercorn, cinnamon, garlic and coriander. Dessert is also an important part of the Hungarian diet and includes decadent pastries alongside various cakes and sweets.

As a quick Budapest guide to the local cuisine, examples of traditional dishes include warming stews known as gulyas (goulash), soothing soups including kohlrabi soup, which is based on an ugly turnip-style garden vegetable, and hearty meat-based dishes including csirke paprikas (paprika chicken and serteshus rizzsel (paprika pork). It’s delicious, nutritious comfort food designed to help the local people cope with the harsh Hungarian winters. If this sounds like your sort of scene and your style of food, check out the following top Hungarian restaurants in Budapest. You won’t be disappointed!


The team behind the Hungarian restaurant 21 describes their fare as being traditional, yet “updated to the 21st century.” A lighter spin on the heavier Hungarian dishes, 21 prides itself on using on the finest and freshest ingredients sourced early in the morning from the local markets. In addition to being an avid campaigner of traditional Hungarian food, 21 also only carries top Hungarian wines, making for a complete local food and wine experience. There’s even a few examples of wines that cannot be found anywhere else on the Budapest restaurant scene; just ask your waiter for more information.

Kárpátia Restaurant

One of the oldest restaurants in Budapest, Kárpátia has been a favorite haunt for locals and non-locals since it was first established in 1877. A mixture of traditional and contemporary cuisine, the food is incredible, the building it lies in is beautiful, the décor is gorgeous, and the experience is topped off with entertainment provided by a talented gypsy band. It’s the perfect setting for couples wanting to spend a romantic evening together and is a sure way to win brownie points with your other half. The main menu highlights include the goulash soup and the goose foie gras, which must be followed by a serving of traditional Hungarian strudel.

Százéves Étterem

Sitting in a gorgeous baroque palace, Százéves Étterem first came on the restaurant scene in 1831. Its menu is a mish-mash of wonderful Hungarian flavors, with must-do’s including the Hungarian goose, and the grilled pike perch dishes. Attention to detail is everything at Százéves Étterem, where history and experience come together in a soft candlelight setting complete with live music and esteemed service. The restaurant caters for all occasions and is a perfect place for date nights, business dinners and private parties.


Taking girl power to the extreme, Bagolyvár is one of the only restaurants in the world that is solely run by women. This is based on their philosophy that all of the best tastes in life are associated with women.  The focus here is on hearty, homemade Hungarian food — close to what you’d experience in a Hungarian grandmother’s kitchen. The setting is gorgeous: based in a cozy, quaint little cottage and conveniently located right next to Budapest Zoo. With its warm and friendly atmosphere and approachable staff, it’s a great place for families, so don’t be scared to take the little ones. Start with an early evening drink in the pretty garden area before making your way inside to tackle various home-made Hungarian delights.

Costes Restaurant

Quality is the basis of everything at this gorgeous gastro haunt. One of the newer restaurants on the Budapest dining scene, Costes has only been around since 2008, having recently celebrated its five-year anniversary. But young doesn’t necessarily mean inexperienced: Costes was awarded the first Michelin star a Hungarian restaurant had ever seen in 2010. Head chef Miguel Rocha Viera’s fresh and flavorsome menu is adapted every change-of-season and is always based on the ingredients that are available at that particular time of year. The food is excellent, the service is exceptional and the price is very reasonable.

Leave a Comment