Each city you travel to has its past and culture reflected in its streets, museums, traditions and its food and Budapest is no exception to that rule. The nomadic past of Hungary is quite apparent in most of its main dishes, along with the many influences of neighboring Slavic countries, the Ottomans and the Turks. The tasty dishes in Budapest you see today date back to the times when nomads survived on mushrooms, and roasted wild board, and you’ll find that most of the cuisine has the sole purpose of getting you full and providing you with enough fat.
The climate conditions are also reflected in the food, so since Budapest doesn’t have a coastline, most of the meals depend on pork, beef, and poultry – all mostly cooked over open fire.
One thing you need to know however, that no matter how many days in Budapest you spend, or how many meals you eat, you will be bombarded by paprika everywhere. And by everywhere, we mean in every single food you eat. Most of the traditional Hungarian dishes use this fiery spice extensively ever since it was brought over by the Turks and is a national staple. You can even go as far as saying it’s the culinary symbol of Hungary!
The best of all tasty dishes in Budapest: Gulyás
Without a doubt, this is the famous of all tasty dishes in Budapest. You simply cannot visit and leave Budapest without trying a taste of this delicious dish present on most menus there.
Better known as goulash in Europe, gulyás directly translates to herdsman. It has a long history dating back to the 9th century where Magyar shepherds used to cook food with as little ingredients as possible and prepared it on iron kettles, more popularly known back then as bogracs.
Then came the Ottoman rule, and paprika was introduced – thus creating an exotic mixture resulting in the formation of Gulyás. The dish is high in fat, rich in flavor, and shows that you can have a tasty meal without the use of too many ingredients.
The Gulyas is not a stew, but it’s made from chunks of beef cooked with onions, paprika, tomatoes and peppers. Most restaurants in Hungary serve it with a side of white bread and the choice of using hot paprika instead of normal paprika. Gulyás are usually made either in brika (mutton) or marha (beef).
The go-to snack for Hungarian people is called Lángos. It is a type of deep-fried dough that is usually served with different toppings including sour cream, garlic butter, shredded cheese, mushroom, beef, or sometimes whatever your heart desires. Lángos is one of the most important tasty dishes in Budapest.
Lángos perfectly blends crispy with soft to create a balanced snack that instantly warms and fills you up – especially on those cold winter nights. It’s large, flat and round and can be made with yoghurt, sour cream, or milk.
We’re not saying Lángos is not delicious (it is! And the perfect food for a 3 am after-party expedition for food) but it’s not the healthiest of foods out there! Originally it was baked in front of a bake oven close to flames, but nowadays it is deep fried in a lot of oil.
Pörkölt may at first seem quite similar to Goulash, but in fact it’s a stew with a thick sauce and only meat pieces inside, differentiating it from the renowned Goulash, which is more liquid-y and has vegetables on top of the meat.
Pörkölt is basically everywhere, from restaurants, to cafes, and it’s not just another of those tasty dishes in Budapest. There are stands in festivals where shops compete to see who can make the best Pörkölt. It was also a peasant dish traditionally and in that dish. Pörkölt can used any type of meat, from beef to lamb to tripe and even to fish. The options are practically endless!
Not only a delight to your taste buds, this incredible pastry is a lot of fun to eat! Coming from the words kürtő (chimney) and kalács (cake), this dish is the oldest Hungarian pastry known! The “chimney cakes” are made of a yeasted dough, which is then rolled into long strips. Those strips are put over the embers in an open fire. After they get cooked over the open coals (the same way you get to roast your marshmallows!), you can choose whichever type of coating you want on them. They usually vary from crushed nuts, honey, cinnamon, cocoa and much more.
It’s a lot of fun trying to unwind the different layers to eat it. Also, the juxtaposition between the outer crunchy layer and the inner soft layer makes them quite simply irresistible. Most street vendors, markets, and stores offer variations of those tasty dishes around Budapest.
This Christmas Eve dinner staple is one of the most beloved tasty dishes in Budapest. It is an absolute must-try, bringing over feelings of warmth and giddiness. The dish lives up to its history when it was prepared by fishermen and their families who lived along the banks of Danube, Tisza river and Lake Balaton. The main dish consists of fresh carp, paprika and chili powder.
There are quite a lot of ways this dish can be cooked. However, the main ingredient is the ground red paprika. It is the material that give it its renowned consistency and its ruby red color.
Some regions mash the fish, while others use noodles, and some serve it with sour cream. The perfect companions to this dish are a glass of white wine along with a slice of bread and this way you can end up eating an authentic Hungarian dish.
Even though Hungarian cuisine is all about meat stews and hearty dishes and there is an abundance of meaty tasty dishes in Budapest, there are some exceptions to that rule!
Főzelék is a beloved dish in Budapest, bringing back old nostalgic memories to when it was served in school cafeterias and is one of those dishes that remind people of summertime.
It is not a soup, it is not a stew, but it’s more a thick vegetable mixture that incorporates pretty much any vegetable into its recipe – from spinach, green beans summer squash to peas, lentils and beans.
It’s super quick and easy to make. It offers quite an authentic Hungarian dining experience, and makes a great lunch. What’s not to love about this dish? Usually served with eggs or meat, Főzelék is a great lunch choice.
7. Töltött káposzta
This dish, brought originally from the Turks, is currently a very typical Hungarian dish. Creativity runs free when making this dish, as cabbage leaves are used to be stuffed with all types of stuffing – from ground pork and beef, to rice, tomatoes, or vegetables.
Drowned in paprika, the stuffed cabbages come in so many different variations. It can also be considered one of the healthier food options as they’re boiled instead of cooked with a lot of fat. The tasty dishes in Budapest are shared around the world. People of Egypt, Syria, Jordan and Lebanon are also in love with those dishes as well!
8. Dobos Tarte
A delicious sweet treat with an interesting history – the dobos tarte cannot be missed! It all started when Jozsef C. Dobos, who owned a famous food shop specializing in gourmet foods and prominent Hungarian dishes, decided to introduce the cake at the National General Exhibition of Budapest in 1885.
He was a well-traveled man, often importing all types of foreign fine wines, cheese, and cakes, and he used to travel around the world gaining inspiration so he can create more delicacies. After coming from France, the Dobos torte was introduced with the main ingredient being buttercream.
He actually kept the recipe secret for quite a long time, until it was finally revealed to the public. You’ll stumble upon it in cafes, bakeries, restaurants and at most weddings and parties and you’ll instantly know it from its distinctive appearance. Usually it’s made up of 5 to 7 sponge layers, spread with buttercream and topped with sugar.
The sides’ toppings usually vary with walnuts, hazelnuts or ground nuts. The dobos tarte is different than the other tasty dishes in Budapest – it’s not a dish but a dessert that is worth trying!
Did you enjoy this list of the top tasty dishes in Budapest? It’s important to know what types of dishes to try before visiting a city, usually tourists do not end up having the full authentic experience of traveling like a local because they’d rather stay in their comfort zone and eat the foods they already know, but where’s the fun in that? Get out of your comfort zone and indulge in those tasty dishes in Budapest now!
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About the Author
Ryan Smith is a full-time traveller and founder of MrAbroad.com. Our site focuses on travel destinations, helpful tips&tricks. It is built to inspire you to live a life full of adventure, joy and experience.
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