Hmmm what should I tell you about Hungarian food as a Hungarian?! It is very delicious! Read this Budapest food guide to traditional Hungarian dishes, from a local (that’s me) to know what to try out here. I share with you the best Hungarian restaurants, where you can taste these must-try traditional Hungarian dishes.
After this Budapest food guide, you will know what to order in a Hungarian restaurant 😉
We have traditional meals like goulash soup or meat stew with paprika, but you can also try the tasty street food.
Almost all of the traditional dishes are flavoured with paprika powder. It’s not spicy, just adds a unique taste and red colour to the food. At the Great Market Hall, you can also buy some paprika as a souvenir. Would you like to know more about the Great Market Hall and must-see places? Read my post about 40 reasons to fall in love with Budapest.
Let’s see the list of the must-try Hungarian food in Budapest!
Must-try Hungarian soup
Goulash soup (gulyásleves)
The soup is a mix of meat and vegetables, flavoured with paprika and other spices. The flavour is amazing, not that heavy as it looks like.
This one is from the Great Market Hall, Fakanál bistro. It costs 1370 HUF, might look small, but you won’t stay hungry after this one.
Many restaurants have it on their menu.
Fisherman’s soup (halászlé)
One of my favourites, I have to admit, I’ve never tried it in restaurants because my dad makes the best one at home 🙂
The soup is also made with red paprika. My dad also puts onion, red wine and fishes into the water mixture.
In South-Hungary (the area of Baja) it’s served with pasta, but they eat with bread at some areas. I prefer the “Bajai halászlé” with pasta.
The best traditional Hungarian main courses
The Hungarian stews are mainly seasoned with red paprika. Usually, the stew is called paprikash, but the restaurant can name it goulash to make sound tastier. This means it’s seasoned with paprika, so go for it 😉
It can be served with egg barley (tarhonya), noodles (nokedli), egg noodles (tojásos nokedli), cottage cheese noodles (túrós csusza), bread dumpling (zsemlegombóc) and potato (burgonya, krumpli). My favourites are noodles and egg barley.
As an additional side dish, we usually eat small salad plates (savanyúság), which can be pickles with seasoning (kovászos uborka), cucumber salad with sour cream (tejfölös uborkasaláta) or salad mix (csalamádé).
Hungarian meat stew (pörkölt)
The meat can be any kind of meat and part of the animal: chicken, lamb, stew, beef, veal, knuckle etc.
My favourite Hungarian restaurant is the Gettó Gulyás in Wesselényi street. The food is super tasty for an affordable price, the service is very good and the wine selection is just perfect. I always book a table in advance to secure our seats.
This is a beef stew with homemade egg barley for 2350 HUF.
Mushroom goulash (gombapaprikás)
This is the vegetarian version of the meat paprikash. The paprikash sauce and the mushrooms can be served with sour cream too, which gives a more creamy taste.
I had this mushroom goulash with noodles (nokedli) in Frici Papa kifőzde (Frici Papa’s local diner), costs 1350 HUF (mushroom goulash for 900 HUF and noodles for 450 HUF). Visit Frici Papa kifőzde for the real Hungarian mood. It’s cheap, the portion is big and the food is good.
Stuffed cabbage (töltött káposzta)
The situation is the same as with the fisherman’s soup, my family makes the best one, so I’ve never tried it in any restaurants.
This dish is a bit different than the previous ones. Okay, not that different, it also contains paprika. Big cabbage leaves are filled with meatballs and cooked together with pickled cabbage leaves and meat. It can be served with sour cream on top.
Lecsó is the Hungarian ratatouille, kind of “vegetable stew”. The main ingredients are pepper, tomato and onion. It can be mixed with sausage, eggs, someone makes it with rice.
This one was served in Esetleg for 1840 HUF.
Must-try Hungarian street-food
Lángos is a fried bread dough. The most popular version is topped with sour cream and cheese.
The best place for the traditional lángos is Retro Lángos at Arany János street metro station. Don’t expect a real restaurant, this is only a kiosk with some tables, seats aaaaand tasty lángos. They serve the original ones: plain, with cheese, with sour cream and my favourite, which is topped with sour cream and cheese as well. This version costs 750 HUF, the price of the plain lángos is 400 HUF, so the price depends on the toppings. There are even more combinations with ham, sausage, onion, tomato etc.
Omnomnom… nowadays modern adaptations are invented.
Lángos burger at Karaván Street food (next to Szimpla) offers filled lángos burgers as well. They have the classical version with sour cream and cheese (1000 HUF), but if you want to have something special, try out this beef lángos burger (1550 HUF). The burger contains layers of sheep cheese, arugula, grilled paprika, beef and 2 lángos “buns”, of course. You can choose a burger with chicken and pork as well. I’ve tried the beef lángos burger only, it’s amazingly tasty.
Kolbice by Kobe Sausages
Small grilled sausages are in a cone-shaped bread with sauces and extras. My favourite topping is the cheese sauce, you can ask for additional roasted onion, bacon, cabbage and all in one.
After their success, Kobe created more type of bread. The original cone bread is covered with linseed and sesame seed. They also have prebiotic cone bread and whole grain cone bread with chia seed. The price depends on the number of the sausages and the toppings, the average cost is around 2000 HUF.
Aaaaand more shapes (what I’ve not tried yet)! The tasty sausages can be ordered in a bun, baguette or without any bread. Check out the website of Kobe Sausages for the selection.
Kolbice is a very popular street food, so you can find them in many places. On a festival, a Kobe truck is always there with a big queue.
Chimney cake (kürtőskalács)
The chimney cake is made from sweet yeast and wrapped around a cylindrical baking spit. You can choose cinnamon, coconut, cacao, walnut and even more coatings.
At main touristic stations (Nyugati railway station, Deák Ferenc square, Jászai Mari square etc) you can find kiosks selling chimney cake. It’s easy to find them, just follow the scent with your nose. For example, this big chimney cake costs 500 HUF at Jászai Mari square.
Chimney cake has an advanced level. Visit Street Cakes in Andrássy street (it’s not the same company with the chimney cake food truck at Erzsébet square, be careful!!!), where you can choose fillings, toppings and even extra toppings for your chimney cake cone. Ooooooh, must-try if you’re into special sweets. It can be filled with fruits or various ice creams, topped with chocolate or fruits and many many options. I don’t want to tell you everything, go there and check it out!
The price depends on what kind of filling and topping you choose. The cone costs 600 HUF plus the fillings around 400 HUF, don’t forget about the toppings from 150 HUF to 400 HUF.
Must-try traditional Hungarian desserts
Sponge cake, chocolate “Somlói” style (Somlói galuska)
Somlói galuska is the most famous Hungarian dessert. Three kinds of sponge cakes are mixed with vanilla cream, chocolate cream, walnut and rum. Usually topped with whipped cream. It has more versions, I like when orange zest and raisins are added too.
The prices are various, it depends on the restaurant. This one in Gettó Gulyás costs 1120 HUF, the same portion in Frici Papa kifőzde (Frici Papa’s local diner) costs 600 HUF. I had the best and most beautiful sponge cake in Kispiac bistro for 1100 HUF.
Dobos cake (Dobos torta)
This is another kind of sponge cake, the layers are divided by chocolate buttercream and topped with caramel. The crispy caramel cover is the best part of the cake 😉
Gundel pancake (Gundel palacsinta)
The pancake is filled with creamy walnut and topped with chocolate and rum. Aaaaand the waiter will light it after serving.
I had this at Frici Papa kifőzde (Frici Papa’s local diner), there wasn’t any fire, but it was very tasty and cheap, only costs 600 HUF. If you order Gundel pancake in Gettó Gulyás, your plate will be on fire.
Cottage cheese dumpling (Túrógombóc)
Balls made from cottage cheese dough, topped with sweet sour cream and powdered sugar. Thanks to the cottage cheese the balls aren’t too sweet or heavy.
This one from Otthonka costs 890 HUF.
What to drink in Hungary?
These were the best Hungarian dishes. You also have to drink something…
If you are in Hungary, drink pálinka 😉
Yes, you have to try pálinka, which is a traditional Hungarian spirit. It is made of ripe fruits, the most commons are apricot (one of my favourites), pear, plum and cherry.
Be aware, it’s very strong. Its alcohol content can be from 40 to 70 %.
Sometimes we drink it before the meal as an appetizer, sometimes after the meal to finish the dinner properly. Or just for fun 😉
The right method to drink it: inhale deeply, drink(for one sip or more) and enjoy the fruity flavour during exhaling.
Egészségedre! Don’t know what “Egészségedre” means? I tell you in the 40 reasons to fall in love with Budapest post.
Hungarian wine is very good, we have white, rosé and red as well. My favourite is the red wine from the area of Szekszárd.
I could mention a few of the best wineries, but there are so many good ones…
On warm Hungarian summer days, we sometimes mix the wine with soda (sparkling water), which is called wine spritzer (fröccs). If you don’t want to get drunk that fast, ask for fröccs. I don’t mix good quality wine with sparkling water, that would be a sin.
I don’t like sweet wines, but I have to mention the famous dessert wine of Tokaj. The grapes of the Tokaji aszú are measured by baskets (puttony). More puttony means higher sugar content.
Okay, now you know what to eat and drink. Go and discover the must-try Hungarian food in Budapest. Which is your favourite from the Budapest food guide to traditional Hungarian dishes, from a local? Leave a comment below.
Let me tell you one more thing, we don’t like when someone says hungry Hungarian… You might think it’s funny, but not for us….
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