The dining scene in Budapest has undergone a sea change in recent years. Hungarian food has ‘lightened up’, offering the same wonderfully earthy and spicy tastes but in less calorific dishes. The number of vegetarian (or partially meatless) and even vegan restaurants has gone up, and the choice of eateries with cuisines other than Magyar is greater than ever before.
- Castle District It’s relatively expensive and touristy on Castle Hill, but more serious (mostly Hungarian) restaurants have recently arrived on the scene.
- Gellért Hill & Tabán A substantial choice of assorted eateries in the shadow of Buda Castle and along the Danube.
- Óbuda & Buda Hills Some eateries in Óbuda date so far back they appear in literary works; the Buda Hills are known for outdoor restaurants and barbecues.
- Belváros The choice is good but prices are not always right in what is expense-account territory; head north or south for better deals.
- Parliament & Around Some fine eateries catering to all budgets are scattered around the basilica and Central European University.
- Margaret Island & Northern Pest Limited options on the island, but well-heeled Újlipótváros has excellent restaurants and cafes.
- Erzsébetváros & the Jewish Quarter This area has the largest choice of cuisine – from French and South Slav to Jewish/kosher.
- Southern Pest Ráday utca is 'Restaurant Central' in this neighbourhood.
- City Park & Beyond Splurge territory – be it at fancy Gundel or lakeside Robinson.
Wining & Dining
Both the food and wine are excellent in Budapest. And there's something for every taste – from fresh produce and sweet cakes to fruit-flavoured brandy that kicks like a mule.
A wide choice of ethnic food – from Middle Eastern and Greek to Japanese, Indian, Chinese and even vegetarian has become almost the norm in Budapest. And the fast food of choice in the capital is no longer cheap-and-cheerful lángos (deep-fried dough with various toppings, usually cheese and sour cream), but kebabs and falafel.
Many midrange and top-end eateries are concentrating on wine as never before, and they are excellent places to try some of Hungary’s superb vintages. It won’t be long before you discover some of Hungarian cuisine’s ‘matches made in heaven’: sweet Tokaji Aszú with goose liver; ruby-red Kékfrankos with pörkölt (goulash); bone-dry white Furmint with fish.