There are two kinds of tourists: the ones that would eat on the main shopping street at a restaurant that offers a fixed tourist menu, and the ones that are always looking for the most authentic places, “where locals eat”. If you are reading this, you must be in the second category, so I will share with you our current favourites. Just don’t tell anyone!
A pro tip: Restaurants with a strange Hungarian name are very rarely tourist traps. Our dear language is so difficult for others, that no place would risk their success if they wanted to see only tourists among their guests.
The next three places have a lot in common (and the fourth one almost fits into the list):
- they all opened recently in the fall of 2016
- they are all located in the hip Jewish district of Budapest
- they all offer great price-quality ratio
- their chefs are among the best of Hungary, yet they are affordable and cozy
- they are super stylish
- AND locals want to keep it a secret
2018 March update: Házi/Állat is closed again. Nothing lasts forever…
The newest of the three is a really easy-going bistro attached to a pub (Aznap). It’s the love child of Lőrincz György, chef of the year in 2015. At the time he worked at Babel, one of the fanciest restaurants of Budapest. Then he went on a few months of “holiday” at an office canteen (oh, weren’t we jealous of those office workers!) and finally opened Házi/Állat.
Their philosophy is to offer the classic “Monarchy’s kitchen” in a really high quality, mixed with typical bar food. Yes, their pizza and burger are great, but if you want the real Hungarian pub (“kocsma“) experience, pick a “zsíros kenyér“: bread with lard. Sounds weird? You won’t regret it, trust me.
They also offer a lunch menu on weekdays with seasonal specialties, and among others you will always find on the board a perfect beef cheek stew, rosé duck breast, goulash soup, and their signature dish, the bone marrow toast. Warning: it’s not really a place for vegans, but meat lovers are in the right place. And it is unbelievably affordable, the smallest pizza starts at 590 huf (1 eur), but even for the stew you don’t have to pay more than 1800 huf (6 eur).
Dohány utca 68, Mon-Sat, 11:30-21:30
See more pictures about Házi/Állat:
2018 February update: Beszálló is closed. Until they start again in a new place you can visit the more refined restaurant of Huszár Krisztián chef, Fáma on the Buda side.
The place feels like if they took a hip eatery from Saigon, stopped for some influence in New York and Berlin, and finally put it down in the most multicultural district of Budapest. The dishes show similar eclectic style: you will find the most Asian items on the menu like green mango or quail eggs with green chili, but most of it is a total fusion like Vietnamese goulash or Hungarian sausage with curry.
Although they don’t have a fixed menu, some of their signature dishes always return, like the up-scale fried chicken sandwich. Hungarians go crazy for this: the home made version is often our loyal companion on long train rides, and the typical traveller would eat the first bun before the train even leaves the station.
The starters and mains are really straight-forward, the desserts we tried were maybe even too complex for the place. It’s not a complaint, they were delicious and very memorable! Prices for the mains are around 1800-2500 huf (6-8 eur), but some dishes, especially the vegetarian ones are not going to satisfy the hungry ones, so maybe order two starters.
The “father” of Beszálló is chef Huszár Krisztián who cooked for Mák, Zona, and Konyha in the past, winning many awards. He’s going to open Fáma, a fine dining restaurant soon on the Buda side, and Beszálló is a casual playground for this next project.
Madách Imre út 1, Mon-Sat 12:00-22:00
More pics of Beszálló:
2017 October update: They are now open for breakfast and lunch, but only on weekdays.
We praised Esca after its opening, but a lot has changed since! They went for a darker design in the interior, it’s open only for dinner now, and they focus on the tasting menu. So I guess Fehér Gábor, the chef was too bored during the day, therefore he decided to open a place for lunch. Just kidding! No idea how he has so much energy.
Tábla means blackboard in Hungarian, and yes, the menu changes every day and it is written on a blackboard. It is always quite seasonal, and luckily they tend to include some vegetarian options as well. The food is great quality, but not trying to be too fancy, in the case of the desserts I even had a certain grandma’s cooking feeling.
The atmosphere is following Esca’s Scandinavian touch, the space is small and intimate with just a couple of tables, so definitely try to make a reservation before going. A 2-course lunch will cost around 3000 forints (10 eur).
Dohány utca 29, Mon-Fri 8:00-16:00 (lunch until 14:30)
Check out more photos of our lunch at Tábla:
+1: London Coffee Society
Okay, it’s not a restaurant, but they have awesome cakes, savoury breakfast, and of course coffee, so it’s the perfect place to start your day, and it’s located in the same neighbourhood.
The staff is extremely nice, you can tell that they don’t spare any effort to have you as a regular, and honestly, it’s working! The coffee beans come from selected farms from all over the world, roasted in London by Mission Coffee Works. For the first try the filter coffee was not fruity enough for my taste, therefore I will probably stick to the espresso based drinks here, but that’s okay. The olive oil cake compensates, and I can’t wait to try the Guinness cake! Furthermore, even the restroom made me smile.
Dohány utca 27, Mon-Fri 8:30-18, Sat 9-18, Sun 9-17
See more photos of London Coffee Society: