A Taste of Budapest – Traditional soups and main dishes

Hungarian gastronomy is famed through the world, and for a very good reason. Its soups, roasts and one-course meals pack a lot of flavour and appeal to everyone, including those who usually prefer lighter meals. Granted, should you decide to taste all traditional Hungarian dishes, you might feel a few pounds heavier by the end of your stay.

Sunday lunch in Budapest is simply unthinkable without a soup dish. If you choose the classic goulash soup, be prepared, since it might not leave much room for the second course. This delicious soup, made with vegetables and meat, is best accompanied with a decent slice of fresh, crusty white bread. Another scrumptious dish is Jókai-style bean soup, enriched with knuckle and sausage, which demands a good dollop of sour cream for added flavour. You can’t go wrong with meat soup, either. Whether it is prepared with beef or chicken, it is guaranteed to warm heart and soul.

Most restaurants offering Hungarian-style dishes will have these delicacies, but if you do not want to leave it to chance, try Mákos Guba Bistro. The people running this restaurant, located a few minutes’ walk from Buda Castle, really know how to cook.

Address: 1016 Budapest, Krisztina krt. 65-67.

Just a short stroll from Parliament, and you can be in one of the best eateries in downtown Budapest. Tüköry restaurant’s chef has been preparing traditional Hungarian dishes for 25 years, and she has set the bar very high. For your starter, why not choose Hortobágyi pancakes? You won’t regret it! These meat-filled pancakes are prepared with a paprika sauce and sour cream, and will surely whet your appetite for the rest of the meal. It’s no wonder that most people think of paprika when discussing Hungarian cooking. This spice is also a key ingredient in beef pörkölt, but there’s nothing to fear: rather than making the dish spicy, it lends it a subtle hot note. “Cigánypecsenye” (spit-roasted pork cutlets) is recommended for those who are into garlic, while “hagymás rostélyos” (steak with onions) will simply melt every carnivore’s heart.

Address: 1054 Budapest Hold utca 15.

If you don’t want to spend too long in a restaurant during your sightseeing, but still fancy a substantial lunch, just head towards Király Street. Belvárosi Disznótoros awaits the hungry traveler with the most delicious grilled sausages, blood and liver puddings, steaks, and a new menu every single day. Not to mention the best French fries in Budapest. Having said that, a word of caution is in order. Locals are equally appreciative of good cooking, so be prepared for a bit of queueing around lunchtime.

Address: 1075 Budapest, Király utca 1d.

If your mouth is watering already and all you want to do is dive head-first into tasting, just make your way to the Christmas Fair at Vörösmarty Square. The capital’s best-known restaurateurs have set up shop on the square, with a view to familiarise visitors with the traditional dishes of Hungarian cooking, from stuffed cabbage to steaks, through game and fish dishes. The challenge is to try and taste all of the delicious dishes available!

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