#Food & drink /

25+1 Hungarian food you need to try when you visit Budapest – part 1.

Hungarian cuisine is heavy on meat, spices, dairy and cheese, however in the recent years as  fine dining and creativity refined the dishes and added culinary  fusion touches, you'll be able to find lighter versions of the traditional dishes, served in such an attractive way, even Hungarians are eager to try and compare to the traditional and often hearty ones they grew up with. While you are visiting, try to add some local eating habits and touches to your daily routine (and cuisine), so you won't only be eating as a local, but sometimes these tricks come handy while digesting. Some may say that Hungarian cuisine relies on the trinity of fat-onion-paprika, and we need to admit this is kind of true as most recipes - especially the hearty dishes - start with heating some oil or lard and fry some finely diced onions until it's transparent. Adding some powdered paprika definitely brings out the flavours. Thick sour cream is another magic touch to the hearty dishes, imagine a slightly savoury Greek yoghurt. Quark cheese (alka "túró" = thoo-row) sometimes is defined as cottage cheese, which is misleading, the texture is much finer and dryer, don't be suspicious. Try Túró Rudi at any supermarket as a sweet treat - rolled quark cheese dipped in chocolate - sound weird, but tastes delicious. Hungarians are also bread lovers and eat fresh bread to nearly all hearty dishes, sometimes even they opt for bread instead of side dishes for the kolbász, hurka, pörkölt - to dip the lovey juices.We are also a soup nation, a good meat broth with chicken or beef and vegetables is a real soul food, cures the mind and the soul, but creamy fruit soups eaten cold in the summer heat are real refreshing. Főzelék aka vegetable pottage is another popular choice to consume vegetables and some fibres accompanied by sunny-side up eggs, meat rolls or a splash of stew. Below you can find a starter Hungarian food dictionary to get you going and tasting, plus click on the highlighted names and you will be transferred to the Facebook page of the venues.


Streetfood 

  • Lángos (fried dough) - a deep fried dough, eaten fresh and warm, topped with cheese, sour cream and grated garlic. This is the classical version, but you ask for some more toppings or remove the ones you dislike. even eating the  lángos naked with only some salt is well delicious. Try Retró Lángos outside Arany János metro station or Lángosh near Gozsdu Udvar (Király u. 13). and it's other spot near the Bazillika (Z(rínyi u. 14).
  • Kolbász (spicy sausage) - this version is the fried/grilled one and we recommend you to eat at Kishusom or Töltő to sample various tastebud tantalizers in a soft bun.
  • Hurka (blood sausage) - similar to haggis, but in a form of a sausage: fried blood or liver bits mixed with spices and rice, you place is Belvárosi Disznótoros
  • Palacsinta (crépes) - The Hungarian version is either filled with apricot marmalade or sweet quark cheese. Th Gundel crépe is filled with ground walnuts, raisins, and rum and topped with dark chocolate sauce. There are savoury ones such as the Hortobágyi one, filled with ground meat, fried onion, and topped with a sour cream/paprika sauce. Most Hungarian restaurants have palacsinta on their menu. The real Gundel is found in his namesake Gundel Restaurant.
  • Kürtőskalács (chimney cake) - rolled in cinammon, sugar, cocoa and nowadays even to coconut flakes, the dough stripes are spirally rolled over a wooden drum baked over high heat, turned continuously and the finish is an amazing caramel glaze due to the dough's sugar content. You can find little Kürtőskalács booths in Andrássy or Ferenciek tere.
  • Túrógombóc (sweet quark cheese dumplings) - a sweet treat of airy quark cheese rolled in crispy breadcrumbs with sweetened sour cream is a delight at Budapest Bisztró.

Hearty dishes

We warmly recommend you to visit Getto Gulyás for teh ultimate stew experience, other Hungarian dishes are available there too, with a District 7 coolness. Also Rosenstein is another amazing choice for the Hungarian family cuisine, though this restaurant is a white napkin one, so dress appropriately and beware the owners are always  around to greet you and share a story. Pest Buda is hidden in Buda Castle, you will have a chance for a nice stroll to ease your belly after you filled it up.

  • Gulyás (goulash) - big chunks of beef, potatoes, and vegetables, plus plenty of paprika and spices, accompany it with bread and dip the last drips.  At Rosenstein you will taste the finest in town.
  • Pörkölt (meat stew) - similar to goulash, but the consistency is thicker. The dish is often cooked outside, over fire in a large cauldron to get that extra smokey flavour.
  • Halászlé (fisherman's soup) - paprika-spiced broth and thick cuts of river fish and surely it has 3-4 different version according to the region - Baja, Tisza, Szeged or Balaton - or how the fish was used. Horgásztanya Vendéglő is the home of the fish soup.
  • Töltött káposzta (stuffed cabbage) - Soured cabbage leaves are stuffed with ground meat and rice, and these nicely rolled-up packages are cooked in a savoury jus. Topped with sour cream and accompanied with fresh bread is a real filler at Pest Buda Bistro
  • Töltött paprika (stuffed bell peppers) - Pozsonyi Kisvendéglő is popular with the neighbourhood regulars, where r checked table cloths are a throwback to what Hungarians call  the happy peaceful age. The bell pepper is stuffed with ground meat and rice balls and cooked in tomato sauce until its tender.
  • Paprikás csirke (chicken paprikash) - chicken in a thick paprika sauce served a dollop of sour cream and garnished with grated dumplings and cucumber salad, a must taste at Kiosk
  • Rakott krumpli (layered potatoes) - Stand25 is the joy of cuisine taken as seriously as possible by Szabina Szulló and Tamás Széll, at the market of Hold utca. Their lunch menu has the best rakott krumpli in town!

Watch out for our part 2: vegetarian dishes and desserts are coming up! Until then check out this video, where college students try Hungarian cuisine for the first time, expect some laughs!

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