Restaurants in Budapest for all budgets and occasions recommended by a local

A quick, but tasty lunch during sightseeing? A romantic dinner? A good Indian, Italian or Japanese buffet? Vegetarian options? I have answers for all your questions when it comes to where to dine in Budapest. Born and raised in this lovely city, I have eaten my way through the culinary scene of Budapest and picked the best restaurants for you!

Cheap gourmet lunches on weekdays (2.000-5.000 forint)

Fricska Gastropub
From Tuesday to Friday, betweem 12 p.m. and 3 p.m.  two courses for 2.250, three courses for 2.450 Ft. A little, surprising gem hidden in a basement. Attentive service, consistent quality, handwritten menu on a blackboard from fresh ingredients. The owner and is happy to recommend good regional wines to match the food. Downtown location on the route of tram 4-6.

TÁBLA Budapest
Small, sophisticated dishes, i.e. not for great hunger, but rather for enjoyment of meals. A very tiny place, so reservations recommended. From Tuesday to Friday, 11.30-2.30 .m., menu and prices on the blackboard. Three courses are rougly 2.500-3.000 forint. Each day you can choose from three startes, three main courses and three desserts.

From Tuesday to Friday, 12-3.p.m., menu and prices on the blackboard.  2 courses 2.850 Ft, 3 courses: 2.990 Ft. A bit out of town, a couple blocks north of Keleti railway station. You can also have dinner there, at higher prices and no choice – you are just supposed to say a number, thus choosing the number of courses you want to have as there is fixed menu each evening. But no risk, they are always great!

2 courses for 2.990, 3 courses for 3.590 Ft, plus 12.5% service fee on weekdays. The dessert is fixed, but there are two choices for starters and main courses. Purified water included. Small, but interesting dishes in an open and modern style setting. Close to the funicular leading to the castle area from Buda side of Chain bridge.

Arany Kaviár
Top-notch Russian restaurant with impeccable decor close to Szell Kalman ter. It you want to experience the decadence and elegance of Tsarist Russia, here you go. From Tuesday to Friday, 12-3.p.m, 3 courses for 4.900, including mineral water. Consistent quality and always great service.

St. Andrea borbár
12-3.p.m on weekdays, 3 courses with a small glass of wine or juice for 3.200 Ft plus 10% service fee. Great selection, nice service, easy location – just a block from Nyugati pu, Western railway station subway stop.

Budai Milieu
Off the tourist trail, in a shopping mall on Buda side, a small and nice restaurant.  12-3.p.m on weekdays, 2 courses for 2.180 Ft, 3 courses for 2.780 Ft, 4 courses for 3.380 Ft. Easy parking.

Quick and cheap lunches for office workers and busy tourists on a small budget (under 2.000 forint)

Gettó Gulyás
This is your primary choice to grab the iconic goulash soup, but also great for quick lunch on weekdays – for a mere 1.300 forint. On menu are typical Hungarian dishes but with a modern feeling. The service is friendly and efficient and prices are reasonable even for the a-la-carte menu. Close to the great Synagogue.ű

A cheap lunch close to Basilica in elegant setting? Yes. Between 11.30 a.m. and 2 p.m., a 2-course lunch only for 1.290 Ft. Timeless elegance, friendly service. Also great for a-la-carte dinner and breakfast. Try the cottage cheese dumplings, a Hungarian speciality dessert.

Chablon Bisztró
Only open on weekdays at lunchtime, it offers starters for 460, main courses for 990 and desserts for 400 forint. The interior is very modest, small place with about 8 tables. Don’t expect professional service, it’s more like a nice, friendly little bistro. Opposite the Arany Janos subway station, just a jump from the Basilica or Andrássy street.

Sophie & Ben
2 courses for 1490 Ft, 3 courses for 1790 Ft. The lunch menu selection often includes burgers and pulled pork sandwich – the latter is heavingly! Staff are also chilled and friendly. Right in the party district.

D15 étterem
You would never find this place yourself. On Deak street, roughly opposite the Kempinski hotel, there is an office building, Deak Palace. You need to take the elevator or stairs to the first floor to find a canteen with suprisingly nice food. Two courses for 1.230 or 1.330 Ft depending on the size of your soup. They open at 11.30 and you need to hurry as they often run out of the best dishes by 1.30 p.m.

Very busy at lunchtime as popular with young people. Luckily waiters can cope with the crowd and they serve you efficiently. Nothing outstanding, but simple, decent fix lunch menu (no selection) for 1.240 (2 courses) or 1.490 (3 courses). Chilled athmosphere in the party district.

Anker Klub
Only steps from the transport hub, Deak ter, a large, bright restaurant with quick service. The 3-course lunch menu is 1.650 Ft.

If you like Italian, this is your place. Charming, rather old-fashioned small trattoria, just like in Italy. Three courses for 1.500 Ft at lunchtime every weekday. Close to Oktogon.

Best dinners in town

This extremely homey place is tucked away from all the hustle and bustle of the city center right by Keleti train station, offering quiet and relaxed atmosphere. Despite the bit dodgy and hard-to-find location, it offers excellent Hungarian-Jewish kitchen with the friendliest service in town. Operated by the lovely Rosenstein family, this place is often frequented by foreign actors and other celebrities.€€ – €€€

If you believed that all Michelin star restaurants were pretentious – try this one! An easy-going, friendly place serving the beautifully exquisite presented, exquisite creations of my favorite chef, Akos Sarkozi. Wonderful local Hungarian wine selection, you can trust your waiters with the pairng, they know their job. Great location – close to Deak ter – and in the summer there is also outside seating. €€€€

I fell in love with NOBU while studying in New York, so it was such a pleasure to have them in Budapest. Always top-notch quality, conveniently located in the luxurious Corvinus Kempinski. €€€€

We always wonder why they do not have a Michelin star yet. The dishes are always creative and exquisite, and the same high standard applies to the service. In the same building as the magnificent New York Cafe, a block from Blaha Lujza square (subway, 4/6 tram). €€€€

It is a bit out of way and the service is not that fast, but if you have a few hours to kill for a lovely lunch, try this place – you will not run into many other tourists here. Lovely interior, cute little details, kind service,  excellent food. €€ – €€€

Traditional, family style restaurants

Most restaurants in town with gipsy music are very touristy and usually have crap food. This is the exception. You if you insist on your live gipsy music, make your way to this hidden corner of Buda for traditional Hungarian dishes and charming, local feel. Take bus no 9 from Nyugati palyaudvar (Western railway station) to Kiscelli utca (8 stops). €€ – €€€

Cafe Kör
This place operates in Sas utca forever. At least as far as I can remember. And nothing has changed. The dishes are nice, although far from outstanding, service is ok, tables are too close to each other and you can only pay in cash… . no surprises, but no disappointments, either. Close to the Basilica. €€ – €€€

Tüköry étterem
If you want to eat very traditional Hungarian dishes at affordable prices in downtown location, head to Tüköry. My favorite selection here is the Marschall liver. Homely, warm, checked tablecloths, efficient waiters. Do no expect anything fancy, the place looks like it was forgotten here from the 70s., but it will fill your stomach with goulash and other Hungarian classic dishes. €

Ethnic food

Arriba Taqueria
Reliable Mexican chain – locations: close to Octogon and Szell Kalman ter, both on tram line 4/6.

Friendly bangladesh buffet with yummy lassi. It is also open on Sundays, on tram line 4/6.

My favorite tapas bar close to the Pest side of Margit bridge. Only opens for dinners.

Caffe’ Gian Mario
The most authentic Italian bar with friendly Italian owner. Very busy at lunchtime.

Funky Pho
Pho is very trendy now in Budapest and I find this one the best – although run by a Hungarian couple. You can also have the sweet Vietnamese coffee here.

A popular thai buffet in the iconic Kazinczy street, in the heart of the party district, just steps from Simpla ruin pub.

Komachi Bistro
An affordable Japanese bistro with lots of Asian guests, which is always a good sign.

Kyros Gyros
My favorite gyros place – very busy at lunchtime, expect to wait.

Montenegrói Gurman
The best cevap in town close to Blaha Lujza square and the best: it is nonstop!

Okuyama-no sushi
I belive, this is the best place to eat sushi, but a real challange to find. You need to find a staircase in a small courtyard, off the tourist track – but if you just need a sushi-fix, give it a try!

Close to the Kisparázs mentioned above, a modern place to eat your ramen. Good design, nice service, bit, hot soups.

I am vegetarian! Where should I go?

It is in a basement, but quality is good and consistent for ages. A small street close to the Pest side of Chain bridge.

Really interesting, tasty dishes, also for vegans. The only drawback is that service is sometimes slow. Their restaurant in the 7th district is not that great, I rather recommend their new one in the 5th district, just steps from Ferenciek tere subway stops.

Slow foodiez
An absolutely friendly little place with vegetarian, vegan and raw dishes, not too far from Western railway station.

Street food – burger etc.

Bors Gasztrobár
The highest quality soup + sandwich bar in town, in Kazinczy street.

Buja Disznó(k)
In the Hold street vegetable market, there are a number of great dining options in the gallery, including this buffet with HUGE fried pork schnitzel.

Tiny, but very tasty pizza slices.

La pizza di mamma sofia
A bit larger, but still very tasty pizza slices in Kiraly utca. It is always busy, so pizza is always just out of the oven.

The loveliest cafes for leisurely breakfasts and cup of coffee

The friendliest cafe in Buda side with a great selection of all-day breakfasts and some warm dishes at lunchtime.

Rojt és Bojt
A cafe run by a very symphatetic couple with great coffee and tons of love – also on Buda side, not far from the Alagút (tunnel).

Great selection of cakes, very high quality. It’s a bit expensive compared to other ‘cukraszda’s (cake shops) in Budapest, but believe me, worth it. Old furniture, nice service, feels like home. On the Buda side of Erzsebet (Elisabeth) bridge.

Dynamo Bike
Bike rental and yummy cakes – two in one! Close to Kálvin tér, a cute little place.

Massolit Books and Café
Primarily a second-hand bookstore, but also an island of peace in the town. Young people staring at their computer screens with nice smelling coffee and a cute little garden at the backyard – a secret oasis in a busy town. In the Jewish/party district.

Kelet Kávézó és Galéria
Great selection of books, magazines, periodicals, and newspapers – you can swap your book you finished into another one. Very friendly and cozy athmosphere.

Small, but nice and tidy, and utmost friendly little cafe with all-day breakfast. Also has a tiny terrace, which is heated in the winter. This place is a deli as well with good quality bread,cheese, tea, chocolate selection.

Cafe Zsivago
Food is very limited, but the athmosphere is very nice with lots of little private nooks

Corvin Cafe
Little cafe with a lovely outdoor area in a cobblestoned square

If you need a pasteis de nata in Budapest, this is the place you find it.

Coffee heavens

My Little Melbourne
Espresso Embassy
Mantra Specialty Coffee Minibar
Cafe Memories
Blue Bird Roastery
Cafe Memories

Special mention: All Day Coffee, where you find both top-quality coffee with fantastic home-made cakes!

Best bakeries

Jacques Liszt – Misi a pék
Opposite the Marriott, this is your primary place to pick up bread, croissant, etc.

Butter Brothers
On the Pest side, close to Raday utca, a friendly bakery with good bread and sweet treats.

Great variety of bread.

Három Tarka Macska
Nice little bakery in Újlipótváros.

Speciality places

Tiny shop with one table only serving pottages, close to Oktogon.

If you want to try the typical Hungarian sweet, the chimney cake, this is the highest quality despite the touristy location (Vaci utca). It is always made to order.

Retró Büfé
At Arany Janos subway stop, a non-stop langos place. Just order the simple, the way we eat it: garlic, sourcream and cheese! Delicious, crispy and fluffy is the best way to sum it up.

This is the location where you must go for a relaxed evening with wine if you near the Lovohaz street area. There is outdoor seating wheather permitting.

Bambi presszó
Do you want to feel the true atmosphere of the 60s? Head to Bambi, where the decor is still the old socialist feel – so are the selection and the service.  Try the cheese, mushroom and cheese toasts which are crispy outside while bread is soft and have a coffee in a polka dot cup.