Budget and blowout guide to Budapest
The skyline of Budapest and the Danube River. (Melissa Arditto/BBC)
The city of paprika and Tokaji wine has a lot to offer food-loving travellers.
Budget: After World War II, Budapest lost its traditional restaurants, but 21 has revived the national style. Try the fish soup, £5.50, or the Hortobágy Palacsinta (pancakes filled with minced chicken), £9. The wine list is also exclusively Hungarian.
Klassz has divided Hungary’s food-bloggers over its refusal to serve beer. The reason? Its owner is Bortársaság, Hungary’s premier wine retailer. Order the Mangalica pork belly, £6.50, and wines such as Szepsy István Édes Szamorodni, Tokaj 2003 and Vylyan Cabernet Sauvignon, Villány, 2002. (00 36 2 342 2587)
Blowout: Popular with Budapest’s intellectual crowd, Café Kör’s signature dishes include homemade smoked salmon, £7, and beef tenderloin goulash, £11. Wash them down with a glass of Sparklers (Hungarian fizz), £2.
Budget: Menza has authentic 70s décor and an outdoor terrace with views, plus good Hungarian cuisine. Order classics such as beef stew, £6.50, or chicken and Somló sponge cake, named after a small Hungarian mountain, £3.
Always the place for Budapest’s elite, Gundel’s Restaurant reopened in 1992 as if Communism had never happened. It serves mains such as Hungarian paprika chicken, £17, and slow-roasted tenderloin of pork, £19 – but the prix-fixe menu is great value at £38.
Blowout: Onyx Restaurant received its first Michelin star this year. Chef Szabina Szulló’s signature dish is goose liver torte with Tokaji furmint jelly, £11.50, or try a Hungarian Evolution tasting menu, £58.
Budget: Drink Pálinka at classic Mo Restaurant and Bar, where black and white photos of old Budapest line the walls. Ask for Árpád (plum flavoured), Szicsek (red pear) both £4, or Szicsek made with raspberry and strawberry tree, £5.50.
The terrace at Negro Café Bar has great basilica views and an interesting line in Gyomorkeserű (Hungarian bitters), which come in sensible 4cl shots. Locals order a Hunter – Jägermeister mixed with Red Bull, £6.50.
Blowout: Dez and Gabor preside in their natty bow ties and braces at the recently refurbished Boutiq’bar. Order martinis, all £5 – specialities include Cardomomed, made with cardamom, vodka, strawberry and lemon.
Budget: Hotel Palazzo Zichy offers exceptional value in the old palace quarter. Once home of Count Nándor Zichy, it has been converted into a modern hotel where classic marble meets flat-screen TVs and leather sofas. A buffet breakfast is served in the lofty glassroofed restaurant. Doubles from £68.50.
With views of Budapest’s Royal Castle and custom-designed furnishings, Lánchid 19 has scooped numerous design awards. L19, the hotel’s restaurant, serves stylish dishes such as salmon roasted in a black mustard crust. Doubles from £60.
Blowout: The gloriously opulent Four Seasons Gresham Palace is housed in one of the city’s most impressive Art Nouveau buildings. Its Gresham Restaurant also boasts the best burger in Budapest. Doubles from £255.
Budget: Budapest’s Great Market Hall with its distinctive roof tiling is the place to go for classic Hungarian produce – salami, paprika, Tokaji wines and caviar. You can eat dishes such as white sausage and stuffed cabbage on the upper floor.
Pick was founded in 1869 in the town of Szeged. It’s a big brand nationwide now, and sells the best winter salami in Budapest from its shop on Kossuth tér. Also available are juliska salami, ungar paprika salami and szegediner.
Blowout: Founded in the 1930s, Szamos Mátyás has shops all over the city. Don’t just take home the marzipan – buy some Hungarian dragées (almonds, hazelnuts, raisins and marzipan balls dredged in sugar) and pralines.
Adrian Mourby has visited Budapest for more than 25 years, and his love of goulash remains undiminished. He writes regularly in The Independent on Sunday, Evening Standard and Sunday Times Travel magazine, and has written and contributed to guides for the AA, Dorling Kindersley and Michelin.