I'll be going to Budapest in a few weeks. This is travel for work, and often I get to some place because of my job and then just at the very last minute when I'm there I remember that I want also to enjoy the place, and especially the cuisine.

So, I'm going to Budapest. I know that Hungarian food is known to be spicy and that a good dish is the goulash. But I'm not sure.

Which is a very typical Hungarian food from Budapest that I MUST taste?

  • 3
    This is going to be a little hard since the cuisine is very diverse. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hungarian_cuisine
    – Karlson
    Commented Apr 19, 2013 at 18:00
  • 1
    If it is within your budget, you should consider eating at Onyx restaurant, which is the only Michelin-starred restaurant that serves Hungarian food (the other starred restaurant in Budapest is more international in its offerings).
    – Sarastro
    Commented Apr 20, 2013 at 5:02
  • @Karlson yep, then wikipedia was saying it right! I was reading it before my post but it seemed to me to be too diverse... In any case I really would like some 'skilled' suggestion. Maybe I can change my quesiton in "whciha are at least 3 dishes I cant miss"? What do you think about it?
    – Daniele B
    Commented Apr 22, 2013 at 6:41
  • @Sarastro Thankkksss! That's really a good suggestion. Is it expenisve?
    – Daniele B
    Commented Apr 22, 2013 at 6:42
  • 1
    @DanieleB You can see their menu and prices here: onyxrestaurant.hu. They serve Hungarian wines as well.
    – Sarastro
    Commented Apr 22, 2013 at 9:26

2 Answers 2


So in general, food in Hungary (eating out) is a lot less expensive than Western Europe, which is handy :)

Note that - due to a historical translation error - "goulash soup" is indeed a soup, not the "goulash" that visitors may be familiar with from home which is known as "pörkölt".

Local dishes often revolve around meat, include lots of paprika in their seasoning - not necessarily the hot kind.

Some to consider having:

  • gulyás(leves) usually translated as 'goulash soup' - a filling meat soup (usually beef) with potatoes and paprika, among other ingredients. Served as main dish or as a (heavy) starter. The name refers to the Hungarian version of a cowboy taking care of a 'gulya' (cattleherd).
  • paprikás veal or chicken cooked in delicious creamy paprika sauce (not spicy) pörkölt a stew with of sautéed onions and - paprika. Similar to what is served as 'goulash' abroad.
  • halászlé - fishermen's soup served differently depending on region
  • töltött káposzta - stuffed cabbage, the cooked cabbage leafs are filled with meat and in a paprika sauce, served with sour cream (similar to crème fraîche or crème acidulée)
  • Balaton pike-perch (fogas)
  • gyümölcsleves - fruit soup - cold, creamy and sweet, consumed as a starter.

If you're vegan/vegetarian, you may wish to consider the restaurant Govinda, in Budapest.

  • 1
    Although I'm quite sure with a name like Govinda's you will be trying the Indian cuisine of Hungary rather than the hungarian cuisine.
    – Simon
    Commented Apr 29, 2013 at 8:13

This is one of the more controversial topics in Hungary.

You need a little historical background: as you might know, Hungary was under Soviet occupation between 1945 and 1989 and had this system which is usually called socialism. In this era Hungarian gastronomy was destroyed, anything but the most basic ingredients were impossible to get (perhaps this changed by the end but it doesn't matter for our story) so most Hungarians had no idea what good food is. If you understand Hungarian, read István Váncsa's article from 1979 where he is making a not even particularly fancy meal and describes a) what ingredients are not available b) why he needs to do it at home as the restaurants at the time served nothing worthy of a restaurant. Let me add: they were called "hospitality industry units" with an emphasis on industry. There was one cookbook to be used and boy, did they use it. However, everyone grew up eating this gruel and it's familiar to them so when you call it inedible crap they tend to get offended a bit. (Let's not even mention the deluded people who have nostalgia towards the whole era.)

Most restaurants haven't recovered until the 2010s and still there are a lot of places which serve this horrible fare (what the Ramada Balatonalmadi dared to serve as lunch just this month wouldn't been out of place thirty years ago). Right now there's something of a gastronomy revolution sweeping the country where the new craze among the newly rich is flaunting their wealth by funding good restaurants and attracting good chefs. It's practically impossible to have an up-to-date "good places" list. http://www.gaultmillau.hu/ettermek is one of the reliable lists.

So Mark Mayo's list is not bad. But the Balaton pike-perch (fogas)? Sure, world famous fish for centuries. But when was the last time anyone has seen that in a restaurant? 1942 or so, probably. Certainly not in the last fifty years (first some pesticide overused washed into the Balaton in the sixties then non-native fish were released which didn't help). The last few years commercial fishing is banned on the Balaton anyways.

Also, the halászlé is not Hungarian, it came to Hungary from Serbia and actually some of the best could be found in Serbia close to the Hungarian border: Čarda Pikec in Bezdan. Nonetheless, halászlé became popular in Hungary in the last hundred or so years but again, be very careful where you eat it because a typically restaurant will use very low quality fish as they hope the strong peppers will cover the taste (this also explains the popularity -- it is possibly to make it on the cheap).

  • 1
    Manufacturing controversy where there is none?
    – Martha
    Commented Dec 31, 2018 at 23:11
  • These are very sad facts but facts nonetheless. Counter me if you so desire.
    – user4188
    Commented Jan 1, 2019 at 19:44

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