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Kosher in Budapest

We'll be traveling to Budapest in early October and would love to try interesting kosher restaurants. Any suggestions?

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  1. There's pretty much nothing "interesting" in terms of food but Hanna is an old-fashioned community canteen that is pretty interesting--think 19th century. Try to make friends with a local before walking in and you'll get a lower price. There's a fixed menu, usually a soup, a protein with potatoes and some kind of pastry. The food is OK at best but the experience is definitely memorable. The other options are Frohlich's Bakery, owned by one of the main rabbis of the Neolog (like conservative) synagogue at Dohany Utca (the biggest one); the restaurant in King's Hotel, which is the only shomer friendly hotel in the ghetto; Karmel, which converted to kosher last year after years of being a go-to Jewish restaurant in the ghetto--it's very good but overpriced; a pizza shop called Cari Mama to which I've never been.

    BTW, there are also two veggie Israeli places in Pest that are good--Falafel and Hummus Bar. They don't have hashgacha but some more modern folks that I know eat there.

    The Rothschild Super Market on the Nagy Korut near Dohany has a lot of Israeli and US kosher products. Also, there are two main butchers that are open 3-4 days a week (changes all the time). One is in the ghetto and one is near the newer modern community in the 13th district.

    I have gone to Budapest at least twice annually for 13 years so I'd be glad to answer any questions you may have.

    1. DeisCane...Thanks for your advice. Our next question is about hotel location..we want to be centrally located so that we can walk to major attractions. What area (hotel) would you recommend as centrally located? After the Jewish ghetto what would be your "must see' suggestions?
      Thank you so much!l

      4 Replies
      1. re: bubbyrebecka


        Here's a note I sent a friend headed there the last two weeks of August. I hope it's applicable to the same extent:

        So here's the scoop. Buda and Pest are essentially two separate cities, divided by the Danube. Buda is more residential, almost suburban in many places, while Pest is more businessy and urban. Staying in Pest, you will be near the subway, tram or bus in just about any decent hotel. It's a large city but it's well-designed and well-served by transportation.

        Some of the must-sees in BP:
        *Dohany Synagogue: world's largest in terms of capacity, where my wife and I got married, spectacular, 150+ years old
        *Gellert Spa and Baths: the Buda side is famous for its springs and the Gellert Hotel is the most famous spa that taps into them
        *Heroes' Square: where most public gatherings of note have taken place over the 20th century, it's a series of statues representing 1000 years of Hungarian heroes, in a monstrous public square.
        *Andrassy Street: THE boulevard of note in Budapest, it ends at Heroes' Square...has lovely shops and cafes, plus a few great spots including Liszt Square, with lots of bars and restaurants, the Opera House and the Oktagon, a huge intersection
        *Nyugati Train Station: spectacular old station, also houses the world's fanciest McDonald's
        *Vaci Utca (as opposed to Vaci Ut): the downtown shopping district, very touristy but even still, very quaint, ends at Vorosmarty Square, where many famous marches, etc. have been, VS is also the location of the most famous coffee shop in BP, Gerbeaud
        *Castle district: the oldest part of Buda, ridiculously quaint, on a hill, with great vistas, including the fisherman's bastion, cute shops, museums and cafes
        *Gellert Hill: biggest hill near the Danube with a giant statue of liberty
        *Parliament: spectacular faux gothic building, right on the river
        *Bridges: all of 'em, especially the chain bridge

        1. re: DeisCane

          Very nice synopsys. I went with my mother on a trip to Hungary, her "alte heim", quite a while ago, your list brought back memories - thanks!

          1. re: DeisCane

            Thank you so much for all the information. You have helped us understand Budapest a bit better and now we have lots of info to help us with our planning.
            Again, thanks

            1. re: bubbyrebecka

              Don't hesitate to reach out with any more questions. Incidentally, I will be there in August and should get to check out Carmel. Furthermore, I eat out (vegetarian) so I'd be glad to share tips in that realm as well, should you so desire.

        2. karmel is a great restaurant. I was there recently. the Kings hotel has closed down though.

          great Info DeisCane. Although i go these pretty often, I would have never remembered the names!

          1 Reply
          1. re: Malki

            Too bad about Kings though I can't say I'm surprised.

          2. I believe the Rothschild markets on the Nagy Korut is (actually, I think there are two, one past Oktogon and one not far from the Margaret Bridge) are fairly far from Dohany. The one on Karoly korut near Dohany, by Madach Imre ter, seems to have changed hands and now sports another logo on its front (CBA?), and may no longer stock Israeli items,

            6 Replies
            1. re: farago

              Thanks for the update, farago. I haven't been to Budapest since last April (my longest drought in 13 years of visiting).

              1. re: DeisCane

                curious what you found on this trip; the only certain kosher markets i'm aware of now are the rothschild at 12 Dob utca and the kosher butcher very near the orthodox synagogue (the latter is pretty much a catastrophe as butchers go)

                zaelic, do you exist? have you any input if you do? or have you slouched off chowhound to TimeOut forever?

                1. re: farago

                  We actually spent the whole trip in Balaton and didn't make it to anything in BP, unfortunately.

                  I totally agree about the butcher near Kazinczy but I'm surprised you don't know about the one in the 13th. Has it gone under or is not stringent for you...or did you just not know about it?

                  1. re: DeisCane

                    Deiscane, what did you eat in the balton. In the old age home?

                    1. re: Malki

                      No. I ate at home mostly and vegetarian out. We brought down chicken from the butcher in BP. It was fine.

                    2. re: DeisCane

                      I don't keep kosher myself, but field the question frequently from guests in the apartments we rent to tourists. I know a wonderful butcher shop in the 13th that i go to for goose, is it possible that that's the one?

              2. we just got back from a week in budapest and had shabbat dinner at hanna's (prepaid). the food was pretty bland -a preset menu that included a small carafe of wine, two dry challahs, chicken soup and matza ball, boiled chicken drumstick, a small slice of meat, coleslaw, cooked potatoes, dry cake dessert and tea-- their weekday menu was much better. there was a family there who were asked to stop singing their shabbat zemirot (shabbat songs) because the women in the family were singing along, and this was considered immodest. chareidi jews may feel most comfortable here. the other kosher restaurant that offers shabbat prepaid meals (carmel, also glatt kosher) may be more comfortable for modern orthodox folks. (unfortunately it was closed the shabbat we were there).

                1 Reply
                1. re: rivkah

                  Who were the charedi that were concerned about kol isha?! I'd guess they were tourists. I have never seen or heard of a Budapester black hat-type who fit that profile.

                  Anyhow, your description of Hanna is on target. I ate lunch there most days when I worked nearby and it was pretty much exactly that experience (minus the zmeros). Did you eat at Carmel at all the rest of the week? As mentioned elsewhere, it's only recently become kosher, and I have yet to try it.

                2. Any updates? I might go in March.

                  5 Replies
                  1. re: SimonF

                    The restaurants just didn't do it for us. Heavy bland food for the most part. The highlight for me was the salami at the butcher shop (oddly enough not quite as good as Romanian's in Chicago but a welcome treat for a traveler) - they had vacuum packed packets of sliced salami with and without paprika. Probably not for you but we also ate at the vegetarian Hummus Bar (they have a few locations, not all are vegetarian). The Central Market hall is absolutely worth a visit and when we went (late July) there was an abundance of fresh fruit and we bought two large shopping bags full for under $20 to keep in the minifridge in our hotel.

                    1. re: SimonF

                      I was in Budapest in late October and I really liked the food at Cari Mama (get the "langos" and the palacsinta for desssert-very good).
                      I also ate at Frohlich Cukraszda which is one of the last kosher pastry shops in Hungary. It was also quite good.

                      1. re: tichyek

                        I am in BP for business this week and went to Carmel tonight. It was quite good. And quite busy. I started with the pancakes stuffed with ground meat. I thought the sauce was a bit too starchy but it was nicely seasoned as was the meat and the pancakes were well prepared. My friend had the matzoh ball soup (beef broth) which was spot on. For my main course, I had grilled lamb with garlicky roasted potatoes. The dish was nearly overflowing with flavor. The lamb was fatty, oniony and loaded with garlic. The potatoes were dramatic. Nothing in an American kosher place has ever had that much non-salt induced flavor. It was a treat. Not great food, but thoroughly enjoyable. Prices were high but not terrible and service was good, though I ate as more of a native since I was with a local and speak the language. All in all, it's a great addition (though I'm only trying it three years late!) to the scene in BP.

                        1. re: DeisCane

                          I'm extremely jealous. Back in the 80s (still under Communist control) when I had to be in Budapest 4-5 times a year there wasn't much available. Tried Carmel last year with my ex's Hungarian relatives and thought I was eating at my ex's grandmother's table. Hearty, delicious and not pretentious. And NO SUSHI.

                    2. i have been twice in a few months firstly in feb and ij July as we had a cantors convention run by the European Cantors Association which welcomes everyone interested in liturgical and jewish music .It is an orthodox organisation but welcomes anyone from whatever background .The community is welcoming even though there is political jewish problems of who is holy and more kosherwith chabad trying to take over.On my first trip in feb i visited the jewish school ,kosher eateries and kosher caterers went to shul at bethlyn sq .Went to all the shuls and places of interst .The convention in July was held in Bethlyn shul as was the concert .they have a wonderful rabbi and chazan .On shabbat they opened the Rumbach St shul for the first time for services since 1962 .davening with us was Yaacov Motzen,Asher Hainovitz Yossi Saunders David Schwezoff who is now director of the jewish community in Budapest plus other cantors and the Jerusalem Cantors Choir .We had people from USA,Canada,Germany,CZ Republic,UK,Holland,Russia and Hungary .We did the tour and the most moving thing for me was by the shoes on the Danube where we said Kaddish and Kel Molei Rachamim .There are no reform shuls as such in Budapest .There is a minyan 3 times a day at the buiding next to Dohany St shul .I love the people and will be going again Chief Cantor Fekete is a wonderful host and very knowledgable and showed us around ,he also gave us a wonderful session at the convention

                      4 Replies
                      1. re: alexmrmusic

                        But what about the restaurants, which was the whole point of the thread?

                        1. re: alexmrmusic

                          I've never been to a status quo shul. How would you describe the nusach/tefilla?

                          Not sure what you mean about reform shuls. Sim Shalom has had a building of its own for 4-5 years. Also, FWIW, I am fairly sure that the rabbi, Katalin Kelemen, is Fekete's wife.

                          1. re: DeisCane

                            The 2 restaurants are different ,Carmel is more expensive and fancier decor wise .The hechsher has changed recently to Oberlander who is the chabad rabbi who wants to take over everything .he does not recognise anti neolog or whatever it is called .i davened at Bethlyn ,the davening was orthodox as is the rabbi and chazan so i do not like to be told the shul is non orthodox .The Kashrut of the Hanna is different from carmel but is 100%kosher .The menu is not as adventurous but the food is wholesome jewish and about half the price of Carmel.Fekete is a mentch and very helpful as is David Schwezoff.My wife and her sister are going on 17th August for the first time.I will be going again .They have a wonderful Jewish music festival in August .I have davened in a few shuls and enjoyed each experience

                            1. re: DeisCane

                              the shul i went to was status quo and the davening was nusach ashkenaz in the orthodox Hungarian traddition according to shulchan oruch