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budapest

  • d

i am in budapest over new years, any must go places? in addition i could use some vegetarian friendly menus for the boyfriend. thanks!

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  1. Here's a list and you can do some web searches to see if they fit your price range:

    Gundel (expensive but a not-to-be-missed experience if you can do it); note that gentlemen must wear jackets.

    Menza (very reasonable and delicious, lively atmosphere)

    Cafe Pierrot (high moderate, extensive menu, delicious food, elegant and cozy)

    Aranyszarvas (moderate, great game dishes)

    1 Reply
    1. re: rrems

      While searching for something else I found this Budapest food travel diary: http://thatswhatyouthink.wordpress.co... - it is dated 2005, but most of it should still be the same.

    2. I would also appreciate direction for Budapest - places where a man can eat without proper jacket attire - cozy, good food and drink.

      10 Replies
      1. re: chitta chef

        Hi dansk and Chitta Chef,

        Forget about Gundel. It is totally overrated and insanely expensive. I would avoid Menza as well. Utter crap.

        I would put Café Kör at the top of your list. Great, great food in an elegant atmosphere. Prices are not bad at all. (Not to mention easy to find location near the basilica). Try the grilled foie gras. Sensational. Recent review here (http://www.chew.hu/five_big_reasons_c...

        )

        Bock Bisztro is excellent as well. We've had multiple family get togethers there. I really like it. It is run by a guy named József Bock who is a famous Hungarian vintner from Villány (Southern Hungary). His winery's website: http://www.bock.hu/

        If you want rustic Hungarian with the gypsy music experience, try Margitkert. The food is fantastic as well.

        A place that is somewhat touristy, but still recommended is Fatál. (Don't be put off by the name, it means 'Wooden Platter' in Hungarian.

        )

        I assume you cannot read Hungarian, here are two excellent English language sources that will help a lot.

        A Hungarian Foodie Blog:
        http://www.chew.hu/

        and their top 33 restaurants in Budapest:

        http://www.chew.hu/top33.html

        A Budapest restaurant directory by the same people:
        http://caboodle.hu/nc/directories/cat...

        Have fun and let us know what you thought.

        Café Kör - http://www.cafekor.com/
        Bock Bisztro - http://www.bockbisztro.hu/
        Margitkert - http://www.margitkert.com/
        Fatál - I cannot seem to find their website --- but they are easy to find.

        1. re: vlad

          <Forget about Gundel. It is totally overrated and insanely expensive.>

          Insanely expensive for Budapest, perhaps, but in Paris or New York you would pay 2 to 3 times as much for a meal like this. We had 4 courses, a bottle of wine, 2 glasses of Tokaj, coffee and digestifs, for $270 including service. You get what you pay for. The atmosphere is gorgeous, one of the world's most elegant, and the food is excellent. It would be a shame to go to Budapest and miss out on this unique experience.

          <I would avoid Menza as well. Utter crap.>

          I can't imagine what you ate at Menza (have you actually eaten there?) to call it "crap" but we had very tasty food and it was very reasonable. I have eaten in many of the world's top restaurants and am not ignorant when it comes to food. You are entitled to your opinion, but to make statements like that is simply irresponsible, not to mention offensive.

          1. re: rrems

            rrems - I totally agree with you. I am Hungarian and have visited Budapest multiple times. Our last trip included a dinner at Gundel and it is still one of my favorite dining epxeriences. We had a table full of Hungarians (8) and everyone raved. We also had multple courses, three bottles of wine, tokaji, dessert, etc. and it was very reasonable (comparatively speaking).

            M

            1. re: rrems

              @rrems

              Sounds like you really like Gundel. I can't say that I or any of my family or my friends do (all native Budapesters, I might add). I stand by my original statement: Gundel is overrated and overpriced. One can get as good or better food with better service and lower price points from, say, Café Kör.

              Take a look at what this expatriate has to say about Gundel:

              (http://www.pestiside.hu/archives/the_...

              )

              As far as Menza is concerned...yes, I have eaten there. No, I was not impressed. Yes, Menza was trendy for a while. So what? I guess I have to apologize for saying, what I feel is the truth, that it is utter crap. But to whom do I apologize?

              BTW here is why Chew.hu dropped them from the best 33 list:
              http://www.chew.hu/reader_tips_automa...

              @MunkeeCIAO

              Szevasz MunkeeCIAO! I am sorry you feel that way about Gundel. Gundel may have been among the best restaurants (if not the best) in Hungary before 1989 -- but times have changed. Food options and services have become a lot, lot better since then. Gundel, much like the Gellért, is determined to ride on its rapidly ageing reputation and refuses to change with the times.

              If you want true luxury gourmet dining and want to spend a bunch of money in Budapest, try Lou Lou. It is much better than Gundel.

              In sum, Gundel is a dinosaur.

              1. re: vlad

                szevusz vlad. Koszonom!

                I couldnt agree with you more about the Gellert. Our last trip (two years ago) was a LOT different than I remember it in '84. We will never stay there again. What is happening in Hungary is interesting, and to see establishments in this rut is I guess all part of the process.

                I did not agree with you about Gundel, however. But, thats what makes this website so great. Who's to say who is right. You know what they say about opinions, right?

                M

                1. re: vlad

                  vlad,

                  Gundel may be a "dinosaur" but in a good way. I think you are comparing apples and oranges by citing Lou Lou vs. Gundel. I did some research on the web and though it is very possible that the food at Lou Lou is superior, the attraction at Gundel is that in addition to the food (which is nonetheless quite good) one can experience what we Americans imagine a classic old-world formal restaurant to be. Something that is difficult to find in western Europe except at much higher prices. I doubt that any other restaurant in Budapest could match the grandeur of Gundel. That said, I am not even certain that I would return to Gundel on a future trip to Budapest, but I feel strongly that anyone traveling there for the first time should not miss the experience.

                  Your mention of the Gellert prompts the same response from me. We stayed there (in a deluxe room, I wouldn't risk a standard room). The room rate was almost in the budget range. We were aware of its faults beforehand, but again for a one-time experience it was worth it. The room was very nice and though the public areas could stand a major restoration, it was a way to experience an old-world grand hotel for not a lot of money.

                  As far as Menza is concerned, it may well have gone downhill. I was there over a year ago, and it was obviously very popular, and perhaps we just ordered the "right" dishes. Things do change.

                  1. re: rrems

                    Fair enough.

                    I'll grant you two this much. Gundel is singular in that it offers a certain je ne sais quoi restaurant experience. The closest I can come to describe it would be booming Budapest at the turn of century pre-WW I. And yes, that quality is hard to come by elsewhere.

              2. re: vlad

                vlad, can you tell me if jacket is required for men at Cafe Kor? And what is that mound of poppy seeds dessert at the bottom of the link? I'd be picking my teeth for a week if I consumed all of that, and would not pass a drug test for certain!

                1. re: chitta chef

                  Hi chitta chef,

                  No, a jacket is not required for men at Café Kör --- the mound of poppy seeds you see in the picture is called mákos guba. Pronounced "MAH-kosh gooba".

                  (The best literal translation I can think of would be 'poppy seed-y dough').

                  Mákos guba is sort of a bread pudding thingy. It is delicious.

                  Here are some more pictures and the recipe as well:

                  http://mygastronomy.blogspot.com/2007...

                  Hungarians love poppy seeds. For the Christmas season, we make 'beigli' sort of a strudel made from either poppy seeds or walnuts. Take a look:

                  http://www.tcm.phy.cam.ac.uk/~da209/b...

                  I should also add, poppy seed ice cream and poppy seed noodles are some of my favorites.

                  Let us know how your trip went.

              3. re: chitta chef

                Did you get a chance to try Café Kör?

              4. a quick addendum to a thread that already pretty much captures the range of sources and views about Budapest dining

                i'm in the process of trying to gather some of this stuff at:

                http://everythingbudapest.eu

                (still under construction, pardon the typos and omissions

                )

                I'd add the Cafe Bouchon and Cafe Gerloczy to your list; Bouchon in partticular has a rather grand New Years Eve dinner (likely already sold out); Bouchon was started by staff from the Cafe Kor and is now I think both a better place to eat, more comfortable, and more leisurely. Wonderful warm staff (trust their recommendations...when they suggest a half-portion, they're always right; and I say this from the perspective of suggesting that people going to Peter Luger in NYC order "steak-for-1-more-than-the-number-of-people-at-the-table" I'm a big eater, but I yield to their suggestions having learned through experience).

                Segal is a place not to be missed if you are serious about food and not serious about looking for Hungarian-ness in the food. It's fusion cooking of a delicate and high order, limited only by the range of ingredients available in the markets (Viktor Segal seems to scour the markets for what's newest and best)

                For traditional Hungarian dishes, Bouchon does a nice job, the Gerloczy does well, and there's a very kitschy place with excellent food in Buda, the Busulo Juhasz.

                All of these are described in some detail and I believe linked to on

                http://everythingbudapest.eu/restaurants

                Some of the best Hungarian cooking is at lunch places ... etkezdek ... (the 'k' is the plural form in Hungarian); these days I'm partial to Norbi, not far from the Pest side of the Margaret Bridge

                Speaking of the Margaret Bridge, on the Buda side there';s a branch of Trofea, an all you can eat, very authentic, surprisingly good and consistent buffet. I prefer the other branch, in Pest, which always seems to have a wedding or birthday or graduation celebration going on, but the food is good. And the Gellert Sunday brunch is surprsingly good, and has a great view over the Danube. I say surprisingly, because in general the Gellert is still in the midst of a rocky transition from being a socialist monument to capitalist tourists to trying to re-establish itself as a destination in post-1990 Budapest. But the brunch is a pleasure. Other brunches with better food but less of a gestalt, can be found Sundays at the Meridien and at the Corinthia Royal Hotel.

                On the Gundel controversy, I think one needs to view the Gundel as more theme park than restaurant. In the immediate aftermath of 1990, two entrepreneurs with deep Hungarian roots -- George Lang (the fabled restaurateur who has probably the best surviving memory of Hungarianb food in Budapest between the wars) and Ron Lauder (sone of Estee, a Hungarian expat) -- got the rights to restore the Gundel, and restore is exactly what they did; not update, not revise the menu, not create a new place in the old space. It's a tribute to something of historic and nostalgic significance. Lang and Lauder understand modernizing this cuisine (Lang's Cafe des Artistes in NYC started out more or less doing just that; the restaurant in Lauder's NYC museum the Neue Galerie serves exactly that) but that's not what they were doing here.

                What they were trying to do, I think, is introduce Budapest back to the premise that good ingredients, attentive staff, and careful presentation can generate a very upmarket business. In today's Budapest, there's a way in which the Gresham does a better job of all of that, but in a sense it's a lineal descendant of what Lang and Lauder dis at Gundel. Gunbdel is an IDEA more than a restaurant, perhaps even more a remembrance of things past than an idea. And it's worth the rather moderate (by international standards) cost if that ius what you're looking for. If you're looking for the best chicken paprikas, with apologies to Ron Lauder's grandmother, it ain't there (actually, the Gresham's isn't very traditional, but it's pretty good; mine's not bad either and the recipe is on the http://everythingbudapest.eu/restaurants website). But if you are looking for Fin de Siecle Hungary, it is.

                Lou Lou competes with Gundel in the Most Expensive Restaurant category, and the food is surely far superior (though not really Hungarian). But Lou Lou is a quirky place. Worth a trip and wonderful food, but the service is a bit over the top and its self-importance a tad hard to bear. And it's not trying to be or do the same things as Gundel. Possibly the New York is trying for something similar, but it got hijaclked by a bunch of nouveau riches Italians along the way, and so its nostalgia is more for Fellini film backdrops than for 1920s Hungary.

                A final word on Menza...I've never understood what the big deal was about the place. Possibly that's because I never got the joke, since it's a culinary pun of sorts, referring back to a kind of pre-1990 institutional food that I have no associations for...In my limited experience with the place it's always been an ok place to eat in a neighborhood that has many better choices (though few that are much easier or more convenient).

                1. dansk,

                  How was your experience and where did you go?

                  1. I am going to Budapest in April and appreciate all the comments and especially the links, your making my research much easier. Any suggestions on Vienna or Salzburg?

                    3 Replies
                    1. re: bigbob

                      We really enjoyed Plachutta and Hauswirth in Vienna. Plachutta specializes in Tafelspitz and is definitely the place to sample this Viennese classic. Hauswirth has an interesting variety of food, the highlights of our meal were venison and monkfish, traditional food creatively prepared. In Salzburg the place to go especially if you like game is Goldener Hirsch. The food is excellent, the service is particularly pleasant, and be sure to have the Salzburger Nockerln for dessert, it is the best anywhere.

                      1. re: bigbob

                        I'm sorry, I can't help with restaurant recommendations, but I highly suggest checking out marketplaces at any of those places. I don't know Salzburg well, have been there only once, though it's probably the most beautiful city in Austria. However I've been to a market in Vienna, and many of them in Budapest.

                        In Budapest there is the Grand Market, a recently restored building, right across the river form the Gellért Hotel and Bath. It is somewhat touristy, but it is still a real market as well, and a very impressive place. For atmosphere I like smaller markets. They are harder to find, hidden in many nooks and crannies of the city, often just a couple of blocks away from major streets. I would link photos I took at my last visit, but the moderators are touchy about linking.

                        1. re: bigbob

                          Oh I almost forgot: If you travel from Budapest straigth to Vienna or the other way around, consider making the trip on boat. There are regular cruises between the two cities. It should only take a couple of hours and it's probably the most scenic route you can take. Especially in the spring it should be beautiful.