Expert recommendations for the best places to eat in four price ranges: budget ($), moderate ($$), expensive ($$$), and luxury ($$$$)
The house specialty is Főzelék—vegetables, such as lentils and green peas, prepared in a creamy sauce. Meat lovers have plenty of options to accompany the veggies. Located off to Andrássy út. VI. Nagymező utca 18.
“Lovely to have an almost ‘homemade’ hearty paprika chicken or a large bowl of mushroom soup at such reasonable prices.”—Katalin Rácz, food section author, Blue Guide Budapest. A small, cozy place packed with people, especially at lunch time; quick and friendly service. V. Október 6 utca 17; tel. 31 1 269 3861.
Serves many Hungarian specialties, including excellent goulash soup. Popular lunch spot for professionals from nearby publishing houses, ministries, and lawyers’ offices. Near Parliament; pleasant terrace in the summer. V. Honvéd utca 18; tel. 36 1 269 1072. www.rokfortetterem.hu
“Excellent matzo ball soup and a very creative matzo flodni, a Jewish dessert made with walnut, poppy seed, and apples, but here with matzo instead of the usual pastry.”—Katalin Rácz. In the heart of the Jewish district; no pork dishes, though not kosher. VII. Dob utca 26; tel. 36 1 322 1011. www.koleves.com
The name means “wine courthouse,” and 120 varieties from Hungary’s best cellars are available, 60 served by the glass. Wide choice of dishes, including the house favorite roast knuckle of lamb. Located close to the Central Market. IX. Csarnok tér 5; tel. 36 1 219 0902. www.borbirosag.com
Reliable Hungarian fare with an international flavor, near the Basilica. Relaxed atmosphere, cash only, reservations essential. Breakfast is served from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. V. Sas utca 17; tel. 36 1 311 0053. www.cafekor.com
A stone’s throw from the Opera House, on Budapest’s Broadway. Short but constantly changing menu with seasonal ingredients. Open late so it’s ideal for a post-opera meal, though reservations are recommended. VI. Nagymező utca 14; tel. 36 1 343 1984.
Náncsi Néni Vendéglője
“Good traditional food in homely surroundings.”—Andreea Anca, style editor, Budapest Sun. In the green area of Buda, lovely big garden in the summer; curd cheese dumplings are an all-time favorite. II. Ördögárok utca 80; tel. 36 1 397 2742. www.nancsineni.hu
“Great place in summer if you are with kids, as they have a secure outdoor playground.”—Allan Boyko, editor, The Budapest Times. Menu often changes depending on the season; favorites include crispy catfish and spicy pasta with truffle. Piano and trumpet duo in the evenings. II. Budakeszi út 5; tel. 36 1 275 1396. www.remiz.hu
Centrál Kávéház és Étterem
This traditional Budapest coffeehouse became the center of intellectual discussion when it opened in 1887. Renovated in 2000 after a 50-year hiatus. Hungarian and international cuisine; marble tables, comfortable leather armchairs and sofas; gourmet coffees and draft beers. Frequent Gypsy and piano music. V. Károlyi Mihály utca 9; tel. 36 1 266 2110. www.centralkavehaz.hu
KOGART Étterem • Kávézó
“The French chef adds a touch of sophistication to nice Hungarian and Mediterranean dishes.”—Andreea Anca. Formal wood-panel interior and more casual garden terrace. VI. Andrássy út 112; tel. 36 1 354 3820. www.kogart.hu
Kárpátia Étterem és Söröző
“If you want a feel for fin-de-siècle Budapest, this is the place.”—Robin Marshall, editor, Budapest Sun. Traditional Hungarian dishes with creative variations on goose liver by new generation chef Tamás Bereznay. Listen to Gypsy music in the elegant main restaurant and grab a beer in the brasserie. V. Ferenciek tere 7-8; tel. 36 1 317 3596. www.karpatia.hu
Múzeum Kávéház és Étterem
By the National Museum; dating from 1885. Open kitchen where guests can view sea and freshwater fish dishes being prepared; also Hungarian specialties, including game, goose, and lamb. Evening piano music; closed Sundays. VIII. Múzeum körút 12; tel. 36 1 267 0375. www.muzeumkavehaz.hu
One of the city’s most famous restaurants, noted for its excellent cuisine. Exclusive interior with period furnishings and paintings; lovely garden; behind the Fine Arts Museum in the City Park. Queen Elizabeth II and other royalty have been guests, but lunchtime menus attract ordinary folk with more affordable prices and friendly service. XIV. Állatkerti út 2; tel. 36 1 468 4040. www.gundel.hu
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