(Photo by: Ofer Deshe)
Hungry in Hungary? Find the Best Food!
Hungary has seen many cultures in its past. It’s been inhabited by the Avars, Celts, Gepids, Huns, Romans, and Slavs. In the 9th century, however, Hungary became Hungary under the rule of Hungarian Grand Prince Arpad, and it has been Hungarian ever since. The Hungarians are known for two things: hospitality and some rocking cuisine! Makes sense: The two go hand-in-hand. The Hungarians invented goulash, and they love their paprika – they created it. They also invented a sour cream they call tejfol to add a soft and creamy touch to their paprika-filled delicacies. I’m quite certain if you are hungry in Hungary, you’ll find the best food no matter where you go, but let’s talk about some places that consistently get the foodie thumbs-up year after year.
When in Hungary, do as the Hungarians do and eat goulash while listening to live music. Aside from this traditional dish, there are other Hungarian delicacies you simply must try while visiting this picturesque country. Hungary offers traditional cuisine in countless restaurants throughout the nation. Some notable establishments are:
- Gundel: I’ll begin with the most famous restaurant in Budapest (Hungary’s capital). This eatery is also the fanciest, so dress nice and plan to drop some serious euros. Founded in 1894, Gundel is a traditional Hungarian gem located behind the city’s Museum of Fine Arts. It feeds the descendants of the Habsburg monarchy when they’re in town, and it offers us commoners delicious traditional and modern Hungarian cuisine as well. Gundel is famous for its foie gras and offers a Sunday brunch where you can try a variety of tantalizing offerings.
- Kárpátia: Also located in Budapest and dating back to 1877, Kárpátia serves Hungarian and Transylvanian dishes with a modern twist. If you want to dine within a palatial ambiance, you can dine in the back portion of the restaurant; those traveling on a budget can dine in the less expensive brasserie. Kárpátia, which means Carpathia in Hungarian, serves up a wonderful goulash soup, foie gras, duck, and strudel – the perfect sweet to top off your modern-traditional Hungarian meal. Dine on the terrace if the evening is beautiful, and listen to Gypsy music between the hours of 6 and 11 p.m.
- Kacsa: The Hungarians like their duck, and Kacsa, which means “duck,” is the place to go for it. Located in Budapest, this elegant restaurant has also been a Hungarian fixture for more than 100 years. You will be served meals in courses, and you are going to pay a pretty penny. It’s worth it, though, to enjoy the goulash soup, spinach pancakes with cheese, beef from Hungarian gray-horned cattle, pork and potato casserole (another Hungarian tradition), and some amazing chocolate mousse. Rumor has it the servers are a bit, well, stuffy. I view them more as traditional and fitting within this elegant eatery!
Other Great Eats
You won’t just have to eat Hungarian food when you’re hungry in Hungary – although I highly recommend it! Hungarian is a society rich with culture, and it has many notable restaurants offering cuisine from other parts of the world. If you get tired of goulash and duck, don’t worry; you will find plenty of variety to choose from. Two of my faves are:
- Hemingway: Overlooking Budapest’s beautiful Bottomless Lake, Hemingway offers Italian food with a Hungarian flair. Whether you’re in the mood for pizza or pasta, you’ll find it here! Eating on the terrace is the ideal location to enjoy some incredible food while enjoying the beautiful scenery. Hemingway also offers an incredible fresh seafood menu filled with various types of fish, shrimp, and scallops. Start your meal off with paprika cream soup, and finish it with the restaurant’s unique white chocolate green pea cake. Sunday brunch is also a treat at Hemingway.
- Nobu: If you’re in the mood for Japanese food that has pleased the palates of Robert De Niro and “Brangelina,” visit Budapest’s Nobu. Chef Nobuyuki Matsuhisa offers an inviting variety of new-style Japanese dishes with a South American flair. Sounds interesting, you say? It is, and it’s really, really yummy! Aside from its celebrity clientele, Nobu also holds the distinction of being the first Central European restaurant to offer the menu and ambiance you will find when you walk through its doors. Enjoy the sushi, sashimi, and amazing tempura dishes in neo-classic Japanese style.
I’m going to stop writing now because I’m hungry – I hope you are, too! In fact, I hope you’re hungry enough to book your trip to Hungary and try all of the incredible eateries I’ve listed. When you visit Hungary, you will find food and hospitality that ranks among the best in the world. Sure, there are beautiful and historical sites to see, and you should visit those, too, but at the end of the day, there’s nothing better than eating some incredible grub and washing it down with some incredible wine. Enjoy!