From Fine Dining to Ruin Bars: Everywhere I Ate and Drank in Budapest
Every article and blog post I read about Budapest before I went told me it would be a cheap city. What I found was that it was not that cheap.
I got the impression that Budapest as a whole is geared towards tourists and so prices to enter tourist buildings are high and there are a lot of fine dining restaurants, especially near Chain Bridge. Obviously we indulged, especially as it was my birthday while we were there, but we ate out cheaply too (and cooked for ourselves in our Air BnB on occasion). If you put a lot of planning into it you could stay in Budapest on a backpacker’s budget.
Here is every bar and restaurant we set foot in during our trip to Budapest. There’s something for every budget so there’s tips for everyone, regardless of how you want to spend your holiday.
On the edge of Hero’s Square and City Park, is this lovely little bistro, Varosliget, which has a stunning backdrop of the park and the replica fairy tale castle within. We stopped for a midday coffee after having a wander around the park and there was a jazz singer serenading diners. I had a hazelnut latte and my pal had the dreamiest hot chocolate I’ve ever tasted. Hot drinks were a little over 3 Euros each, but were served on a tray with a little bit of water and a biscuit. They also served a wide array of cakes and sweet treats. Highly recommend if you’re in City Park; it would be a good place to stop after a dip in the thermal baths.
Address: Olof Palme setany 5, Budapest 1146, Hungary
This lovely French-Hungarian bistro is attached to The Four Seasons hotel, but we didn’t know this until half way through our meal… As it was my birthday we decided to go somewhere a bit more upmarket and found this lovely little place on the street leading up to St Stephen’s basilica. The waiters were attentive, the ambience was lovely and the food was heavenly. It wasn’t too expensive either – I think a meal for the two of us (two mains which included a steak, pudding and cocktails cost around 70 Euros). The food is a mixture of French and Hungarian cuisine so a lot of the appetisers are cold and there are quite a few dishes with frogs legs.
Address: Budapest, Széchenyi István tér, 1051 Hungary
Tom George Italiano:
We went to this restaurant for my birthday lunch. It’s at the other end of the street leading down to the Basilica to Kollasz and it has a conservatory with a detractable roof. When we were it was mid-afternoon and very warm considering it was the end of October, so we ended up dining Al Fresco. I had a simple pasta dish which had just the right amount of spice (the waiter asked if I knew it was spicy when I ordered…) and a couple of glasses of wine. The food was delicious and it was lovely to sit and watch the world go by. My only complaint is that the staff weren’t that attentive.
Address: Budapest, Október 6. u. 8, 1051 Hungary
A nice, atmospheric restaurant right under the basilica. We were in here after my birthday lunch for a few drinks. I had more wine and it was the nicest wine I had during my trip. There were also a couple of singers which I thought made the time we were there much better. If we hadn’t have just had lunch I would have really liked to eat here as it smelt divine inside.
Address: Budapest, Szent István tér 9, 1051 Hungary
I managed to drag my meat loving pal to one of the most well-known vegan restaurants in Budapest. Yes , he complained the whole time and scoffed a giant sausage roll when we got home, but I thought the food was amazing. It was lovely to be able to choose from everything on the menu, especially in such a meat-heavy city. I had the teriyaki noodles and my pal had stewed seitan. I wish I’d had his food as it was so good; it was a vegan take on the classic hearty, beefy dishes that are so well loved in Hungary. No alcohol is served in here but they do filling smoothies (and a bit of healthiness is welcomed when you’re spending a week eating and drinking your way around the city). My only complaint is that the inside looks like a conference room done up to be a restaurant. I don’t really know how else to describe it.
Address: Budapest, Ferenciek tere 2, 1053 Hungary
I believe this is a chain of donut shops as I saw one near the train station and one near the basilica. Inside smells as amazing as you would expect from a donut shop. They have lots of different square donuts which are all priced according to how much filling/topping they have (there’s a key on the counter telling you prices). I didn’t actually have a vegan donut as I was craving lots of chocolate, but I saw a good range of vegan treats.
Address: 1066 Budapest, Teréz krt. 62. Hungary
We ate here on our first night and it was the most traditional place we went to. It was done up inside to look a bit like a hunter’s lodge with wooden beams and (fake) deer heads on the walls. It was very hot inside and we only got an hour to eat as they had a lot of bookings. I really liked the vibe in here but the food was very stodgy.
Address: 1071 Budapest, Dózsa György út 72
Szimpla Kert :
I absolutely loved this ruin bar. It was huge with a shisha lounge, wine bar, beers, a restaurant upstairs , a couple of bath tubs to take photos in and an old Trabant to sit in. Most of the roof has gone so bring a coat in Autumn/Winter, but this bar is a must-do on your trip to Budapest. I got very drunk in here and loved every second . Make sure your take a pen so you can add to the graffiti in the toilets. It is worth noting that, while I have it under ‘traditional Hungarian’ as it is a ruin bar, this is very touristy and not full of locals.
Address: Budapest, Kazinczy u. 14, 1075 Hungary
Dining on a Budget
I hated this Chinese restaurant so much. We went as it wasn’t far from our apartment and we’d spent all day on a little day trip so it was easy. The food, admittedly was delicious, but the atmosphere was horrific. There was one Hungarian guy working there who seemed to hate his job so much that I can only assume he was working there while carrying out community service. Everything seemed like it was too much effort for him and he even walked off before we’d finished ordering. Also, despite there being massive speakers inside there was nothing but silence to listen to as we ate. I recommend delivery only for this restaurant.
Address: Budapest, Dózsa György út 56, 1071 Hungary
Coffee House Korona:
This is a café in the castle district of Buda. It is situated in the loveliest little square with quaint shops and old buildings. We only went in as we were hungry but the food was actually quite nice. It was a French café and they sold a wide range of Patisseries, which we, unfortunately, did not sample but the family on a table next to us had desserts that made my mouth water just looking at them. A nice little stop off between the castle and the labyrinths.
Address: Budapest, Dísz tér 16, 1014 Hungary
We went here as it is on the same street as Szimpla Kert and we didn’t want to eat at the street food market next door. They had a sign outside saying they had a wide range of vegan food but the menu said otherwise. Still, the food was nice and the band playing were okay. There’s a hostel next door so it’s a good place for solo dining (there were quite a few people dining alone when we went so it would be a good place to go if you haven’t quite got enough courage to eat alone).
Address: Budapest, Kazinczy u. 24, 1075 Hungary
Very studenty but very cheap. We went in here on our walk home one night as everywhere else had closed. The design inside is old, communist-era mixed with modern day. It has flat screen tvs, table football and pinball machines. This bar is apparently very popular, especially with tourists, and you often have to book tables at the weekend. The strip club opposite provided us with entertainment in the form of half-cut British men trying to persuade the bouncers to let them in.
Address: Budapest, Erzsébet krt. 28, 1073 Hungary
The Pointer pub:
Very embarrassed to admit that we went to a British pub in Budapest but it was raining heavily and we were craving chips. Ironically the chips they served were more like warm crisps. There’s not really a lot to say about this pub except it looks exactly like a British pub, it’s full of drunk English people (one guy became the entertainment of the afternoon as he got so drunk that he fell asleep and left his wife with the bill as the poor staff had to try to usher them out), and it sells cheap beer and cider. Still better than Wetherspoons.
Address: Terez korut 34 | Near Oktogon square on Grand Boulevard, Budapest 1066, Hungary
Jack Doyle’s Irish bar:
Smaller and not as nice looking as The Pointer Pub but the customers were much nicer and more well behaved (probably because they weren’t all English. Funny that). They had live music and cheap beer but the toilets were disgusting.
Address: Budapest, Pilvax köz 1-3, 1052 Hungary
Belgian Bar Henri:
A lovely little underground Belgian Bar on the Buda side of the city. Nestled on the banks of the Danube underneath Fisherman’s Bastian, this bar has a wide array of Belgian beers and the décor makes you feel like you’re on the streets of Bruges. We happened upon this bar as we were trying to dodge the rain before making our way back across the bridge and I’m glad we did. As someone who is not a beer drinker I really recommend this place for a couple.
Address: Budapest, Bem rkp. 12, 1011 Hungary
The tiniest bar I’ve ever seen but it’s exactly what I imagined a ruin bar to be. The inside is red and there’s only room for about ten people in there at once, so get there early if you want a seat. There are seats outside though if it’s warm enough.
Address: Budapest, Irányi u. 25, 1056 Hungary
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