Budapest is not the easiest place for vegetarians: pork dominates the menu, and even if something looks veggie-friendly, chances are it’s cooked with pork fat or sprinkled with fried pieces of szalonna (Hungarian bacon). Until recently, vegetarians in Budapest were pretty much limited to a diet of salad, fried mushrooms or cheese, while being vegan probably meant you had to survive on bread and a tin of chickpeas.
The good news is that most restaurants in the Hungarian capital offer vegetarian dishes as a menu option, and vegan food has not only become more mainstream – it’s actually quite good. If you’re looking for herbivore-friendly cuisine in Budapest, here are some of our top picks.
Behind the green doors on trendy Bartók Béla Avenue in Buda, Vegan Love is one of the best vegan street food places in town. The hard part is deciding which plant-based burger to try, as the options include a sweet-potato filling, tofu steak, curried lentil, black beans and more – all packed with superfood greens, tasty sauces and vegan cheese. There are also vegan hot dogs and sweet-potato fries on the menu.
When you’re a vegetarian traveller, Indian restaurants are usually a safe bet. Govinda Restaurant is run by the local Hare Krishnas dishing out ‘karma-free food’ that’s either lacto-vegetarian (from cruelty-free farms) or vegan. You can get really good curries on a budget at this place. Make sure you try the pakoras (fritters)!
You’ll find Kozmosz in a cosy basement just off Andrássy Avenue. The menu is diverse, with a mix of classic salads, bean burgers, Mexican wraps, along with vegan-friendly interpretations of Hungarian dishes like bean goulash and seitan paprika stew with dumplings. Check out the daily specials: if they include vegan macaroni and cheese, go for it! It tastes as good as the non-vegan version.
There are Las Vegan’s food trucks all across Budapest, but the easiest place to find one is the Karavan Streetfood Court. Las Vegan’s specialise in burgers and they certainly get creative with plant-based ingredients and spices, drawing culinary influences from India and Thailand, as well as offering more traditional flavours with seitan burgers and battered aubergine. This is a good option if you’re travelling with non-vegetarian friends, as diverse food trucks serve everything from sausages to fried cheese burgers. It’s also conveniently located next door to Szimpla Kert, Budapest’s most famous ruin bar.
Édeni occupies an old townhouse just off Battyányi Square, where you can choose between the daily specials and burgers. The former feature various stews, vegan pasta dishes, soups, salads and more. The burgers can be prepared with gluten-free buns if requested. Those with a sweet tooth will be tempted by the yummy vegan cakes and desserts. In summer the terrace (with tables crowded around the fountain) is packed with both locals and tourists.
If you’re a vegetarian who really loves cats, Macska (meaning ‘cat’) is the place for you. Packed with cat-themed art and statues, it’s a friendly, cosy pub tucked away in the outer VIII District. There are great craft beers on tap or you can try non-alcoholic drinks such as the ginger house special. The menu has lots of vegetarian and vegan dishes, including green veggie soups and tasty quesadillas. They serve food late into the evening, so it’s a good option if you fancy a snack around 10pm.
Napfényes Étterem és Cukrászda
This restaurant and pastry shop is one of the oldest vegan places in Budapest. A real institution, it uses mostly organically sourced ingredients, and all dishes are preservative-, colouring- and additive-free. Herbivore crowds love it for the pizzas and the pastries on the menu.
The Hummus Bar is a chain you’ll find all over Budapest, so you don’t need to go out of your way to get some good and fresh food. The falafel plates with hummus and salad are a safe bet, but the best thing on the menu is shakshuka (note though, this does come with eggs), which you can get in the classic tomato-and-pepper combo or the green version made with spinach and courgettes.
Tökmag Vegan Street Food
This little hole in the wall in the XIII District’s trendy pedestrianised area is great if you want a snack on the go. In summer you can sit outside on the terrace, which is a welcome option given the interior is the size of a pantry; however the limited space doesn’t stop the chefs from making excellent daily soups, tofu sandwiches and beetroot burgers.
Get here early, because this tiny vegetarian restaurant usually runs out of food quickly. It’s a popular lunch spot where everything is homemade; try the nut burgers or the raw cakes. It’s budget-friendly and the food, although prepared in advance, is good – there’s usually a queue outside for a reason!