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  • Writer's pictureVanessa Valenti

What and where to eat in Budapest: Street Food and Cafè, my favorite ones!

If you have already read my Budapest guide, now you just have to think about the delights you will taste once there and make a list of what you absolutely cannot miss. Regarding the culinary tradition, Budapest is a unique mix, with German, Ottoman, Balkan and typical Hungarian influences. Street food, cafes, goulash, kebabs and much more: the food offer of Budapest is endless. The city is full of clubs of all types and all price ranges, leaving you spoiled for choice. But let's see the must-try foods, and the must-see places on your trip to Budapest.


Chimney Cake, Budapest Christmas Market, Budapest

LÁNGOS

Langos, la pizza fritta Ungherese

Lángos is an ancient traditional Hungarian dish that takes its name from láng, the Hungarian word for flame, because in old times it was cooked in front of a brick fireplace, near the fire. It's a dough made with milk or water, fairy, yeast and salt, basically the same dough as pizza, except that it is no longer baked in the oven but fried. It's served cold or hot, covered with cream and goat cheese, ham or sausage, or simply without anything, with just a little garlic on top. It's a poor dish, very cheap, that you will find in every street food or Christmas market in the city. We tasted it at Karaván Street Food in a hamburger version, instead of bread and it was exceptional: not too greasy or heavy, really tasty, super recommended!


GOULASH - Goulyás

Goulash in crosta di pane, Budapest, Ungheria

Goulash is the very famous traditional Hungarian dish consisting of a rich and thick soup of meat, potatoes, vegetables and spiced with lots of Paprika (which you will find in every corner of the city, and also an excellent idea as a different souvenir from the usual). You'll find it made from lamb or beef, and is usually served in a large, hollowed-out loaf. It's definitely one of my favorite dishes, I ate it a couple of times even though we were only there for three days: it's truly a must during a holiday in Budapest.


CHIMNEY CAKE - Kurtlskalacs

Chimney Cake in Budapest, Ungheria

And here we are finally at my favorite part of the trip to Budapest: Chimney Cake. The first time I tasted them it was always in this city, with my parents, and since then, whenever I see them, wherever I am in the world, I can't help but eat them. This typical dessert is baked on a kind of wooden rolling pin sprinkled with brown sugar that slowly rotates over the fire, and you will find it literally in every corner of the city, street food and Christmas market, at around 1050-1500 HUF. The dough is very simple: flour, milk, butter, sugar, eggs and yeast; you have to work it for many hours and then let it rise. The Chimney Cake can be plain, vanilla, or filled with chocolate whatever you want, from nutella to ice cream. I always take it simple, with vanilla, because I love to taste it, it's really delicious, definitely one of my favorite desserts: in 3 days in Budapest we had at least 6!


Kebab in Budapest, Ungheria

KEBAB

The first thing that will surely come to your mind is: "what does Kebab have to do with Budapest?", But yes. I spent three days telling Enrico how much I still remembered the kebab eaten on New Year's Eve in Budapest with my parents, one of the best I've ever had. Thanks to the occupation of the Turks, the Ottoman influence in Budapest is well established, especially at the culinary level. Here you can really enjoy excellent kebabs, excellent low-cost food, and find them in every corner of the city. Try it and then you will tell me, I'm sure you won't be disappointed.


Street Food, Cafè and restaurants you must try when in Budapest


New York Cafè, Budapest, Ungheria

A few meters from our hotel there's the New York Cafè, built between 1891 and 1895 in an eclectic Italian Renaissance style with Gothic touches; after the second world war it fell into disrepair but since 2006 the new owners of the place have made numerous efforts to regain the old patina and its original splendor. It has been called the most beautiful cafe in the world and is really worth a visit, even without eating inside, because I must warn you: it's definitely not a low-cost place, the prices are very high, a cappuccino will cost you around € 10. So let's make an exception to the low-budget rule because it really is exceptional.

Cafè Gerbeaud

Cafè Gerbeaud, Budapest, Ungheria

In the heart of Buda, in Vörösmarty Tèr, there is one of the most beautiful and ancient coffee-pastry shops in the city, the Café Gerbeaud, located in a splendid building overlooking the square. The company was founded in 1858 by Henrik Kugler and the restaurant was opened in 1870. The interior consists of several large and elegant rooms, which create an atmosphere of other times. Drinking and eating is mandatory at the table, and generally there is a bit of a queue, but inside you will find very famous and delicious sweets and spectacular cakes. During the Christmas period, in front of the cafe you will find the Christmas market, and a splendid light show on the facade of the building.


Szimpla Kert

Szimpla Kert ruin pub, Budapest, Ungheria

Szimpla Kert is a romkocsma (in Hungarian), a ruin pub built inside an abandoned factory. Ruin bars are the symbol of Budapest, built inside abandoned buildings and spaces. The idea was initially born from the (more or less illegal) occupation of these premises by groups of young people who first decided to occupy them and then redevelop them with recycled objects and materials and various extravagances, thus creating places that over the years have become real must-haves in Budapest. The Szimpla Kert was the first ruin pub in Budapest and therefore the most famous and the most popular. Fortunately Szimpla Kert was just a few minutes walk from our hotel because we went there for two nights in a row: the clubs are spectacular, super special, colorful and extravagant, I fell in love with them! We explored it far and wide, and on the first night we even managed to attend a live music concert. I was very undecided whether to include the Szimpla Kert among the attractions to visit or here, in the list of places to drink or eat, because it is worth a visit regardless of whether you want to stop there for a drink. It's truly spectacular and unique, a must see in Budapest. If you are hungry I suggest you move next door to Karavan Street Food.


Karaván Street Food

Karaván Street Food is next door to Szimpla Kert, which is also perfect for filling your stomach between drinks, and is probably where we ate best on our Budapest holiday. It's definitely the street food par excellence in Budapest, with various stalls and a wide selection, in a youthful, simple and fun environment, all outdoors. Burgers, the typical sausages, Goulash or Langos, as well as the famous Chimney Cake. Great food at an excellent price: we dined for € 16 for two for two langos burgers and two drinks.


360 BAR - Roof Top Garden Budapest, Ungheria

If you are looking for a place to recharge your batteries, drink and nibble something and shelter from the freezing climate of Budapest, the Rooftop 360 is an excellent alternative. Yes, it's not the classic Hungarian restaurant / club, but it's one of the few places in the capital to have a drink with a breathtaking view of the entire city. It's a Rooftop bar in the center, built on a series of delicious heated bubbles, where you can drink and eat while enjoying the view from above. I had booked from Italy a couple of weeks before departure, choosing approximately the lunch time. The place opens at 2pm and offers two-hour slots per booking, with no upfront payment. The initial idea was to drop by for a drink, rest for an hour and warm up, but in the end we also had lunch there and I must say that we both ate well and spent little. We ordered two mulled wine, delicious and very spicy, a Goulash traditionally served in a loaf and a Mac and Cheese for € 15 each.



Budapest Christmas Markets

The Christmas markets are an excellent destination for a stroll and a quick snack on the street, perhaps sipping a hot chocolate or a cup of mulled wine, but I do not recommend them for lunch or dinner, as they are not at an excellent market. They are full of stands where you will find expanses of very inviting food, with which you can fill your plate as much as you want, but be careful: the price is not written in the various dishes, so be careful not to do like us who have definitely got caught from greed and we spent € 34 for two very greasy and definitely exaggerated dishes. After getting fooled once, we have always limited ourselves to Chimney Cakes, strictly at any time of day.


If you are planning your trip to Budapest, click here to discover our travelogue of this splendid city and find some useful information to better plan your low-cost trip to the Hungarian capital.

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