Budapest Eats: 5 Must-Try Hungarian Dishes

Budapest, Food Lovers — By Ryan James on November 16, 2009 at 12:30 pm

To fully experience the essence of travel, it is necessary to indulge in the local cuisine. Waistline concerns should be pushed to the wayside, this is a vacation after all! With this in mind, here’s a list of the top five things you absolutely need to taste in order to say that you’ve truly experienced Hungary.

  1. Gulyas – Most English speakers think of goulash as a stew, but in reality it is a soup. So don’t be disappointed with a rich brown broth filled with chunks of beef and chopped vegetables. Where to find it: The best place to get a huge bowl is at Paprika Vendéglő where a bowl is enough to share with another if you intend to order an entrée besides. Otherwise, the bowl will be a whole meal.
  2. Halászlé – This is fish soup made with pike, carp, or perch, but often a combination of different fish. A national meal, its considered to be the main dish at Christmas. Where to find it: You can easily find this soup on many restaurant menus, but those that serve the Szeged variety are the best. Surround yourself in a rustic Hungarian country setting while slurping to your heart’s content at the Kulacs Étterem.
  3. Főzelék – While we are in the soup category, this is a particularly regional dish. It is not a soup, yet it is not a stew either, but in between the two. Having the consistency of a stew, it is pureed vegetables. The most popular is split pea or potato. On a cold autumn or winter day, this will take the chill from your bones. Where to find it: For a bowl of főzelék that will set you back less than a beer check at cafe-bar Fozelek Falo, but be prepared to stand in line if you go at lunchtime.
  4. Lángos – Many cultures use fried dough as a snack or meal. In Hungary, it is called lángos. The traditional version is topped with thick grated cheese, ham, sour cream, and garlic juice. Catering to tourists, many lángos stands offer a number of non-authentic varieties like an Italian or Mexican lángos. Go for the real thing, but eat on an empty stomach. A lángos will fill up and keep you full for hours to come. Where to find it: There’s a great lángos stand at the Great Market. To find it, head up the stairs and and to the right hand wall.
  5. Palacsinta – The French call these crepes, but the Hungarians call them delicious. Crepe like pancakes can be filled with anything from savory to sweet making them a meal or dessert. Where to find it: These are often found on many restaurant menus under desserts, but if you want to try a whole meal of palacsinta for a budget price, head to Batthyáni tér to Nagi Nonstop Palacsintázója, open 24/7.

Still hungry for hungarian cuisine? Check out Five of the Best Sweet Eats in Budapest.

[Photo: Jon Aslund/Creative Commons]

Tags: Budapest, cuisine, Hungary

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