While it is true that seeing a wealth of delightful places strewn across this planet leaves me elated, years of travelling have taught me that the real MVP of travel is soaking in the local culture (a.k.a. food) of these places! Afterall, you wouldn’t want to go all the way to Naples and not have their signature thin crusted Margherita, right?
I know, I wouldn’t!
Food is an integral part of my life and like many foodies, eating delicious treats is the glue that holds my life together,
- Sad? Drown sorrow with good food!
- Happy? Celebrate with good food!
- Confused? Decide with good food!
Um, you get the drift…
Therefore, I decided (with good food, of course) to put together a mini-series titled, ‘5 Must Eats’ which will focus on five dishes that I think you ‘must try’ in your travel stories!
5 MUST EATS IN BUDAPEST
The cuisine of Eastern Europe has always been one of my absolute favorites. However, Hungarian cuisine (or Magyar cuisine) is unique in its own way. Paprika is the apple of every Hungarian’s eye. The abundance of this spice in their kitchens makes the cuisine of Hungary daringly different from any other indigenous cuisine that I have gulped down in the whole of Europe,
In no specific order, these are my top five recommendations for foodie souls in Budapest,
- Gulyás (Goulash Soup/ Goulash Stew)
Although this dish started its journey as a simple soup for the Hungarian common man, today it is one of the national dishes of Hungary! The traditional version consists of freshly cut beef or veal cooked in heaps of paprika, onions and garlic for an insane amount of time so that all the flavors get perfectly infused in the broth. Yummm!
I had goulash at several places and they were all delicious. However, if you are looking for authentic goulash, go for those eateries with a Hungarian menu plastered on the wall and an old grandpa by the counter! Trust me, sign language works and you will lick every bit of sauce from your plate!
- Lángos (Langosh)
Langos (or Hungarian Pizza) forms the core of Hungarian street food culture. It is a deep-fried flat bread that is generously smothered with sour cream and topped with everything your heart desires. The traditional version consists of just a garlic oil and cheese topping and it was one of the most delicious dishes that found its way to my tummy!
I had mine here and I swear by this place! If you are planning on going here, do get there early as it can get quite crowded during mealtimes!
- Töltött Káposzta (Stuffed Cabbage Leaves)
This has to be the ultimate Hungarian comfort food! I had one bite and I absolutely fell in love with it. As the name suggests, this dish is essentially just cooked cabbage leaves stuffed with meat and rice, served with a huge dollop of sour cream!
I had mine from the Central Market Square and cannot recommend this place enough if you are looking to hop from one stall to the other and try all things food!
- Paprikás Csirke (Paprika Chicken)
This was another one of my favorites! The chicken was so tender and the sauce was perfect with undertones of both sour cream and paprika. It is usually served with egg noodle dumplings (i.e., nokedli in Hungarian) with a generous blob of sour cream. One word to describe this dish? Flavorful! Definitely a must try!
I tried this dish from a cozy Hungarian restaurant called, ‘Ildikó Konyhája’ based on a recommendation from my Airbnb Host! If you are planning on visiting, do get a reservation as it gets quite crowded!
- Flódni Cake
This cake is a specialty of the Budapest Jewish community. It is semi sweet cake, with layers of poppy seeds, apple, walnuts and plum jam! It tasted very different from any cake that I have ever had before. While I didn’t find it particularly delicious, it is definitely something you should try when you are in Budapest to pay homage to the Jewish traditions here.
You can find it in almost all cafés close to the Jewish quarter!
While we are on the topic of food, the first thing I learnt when I went to a restaurant in Budapest was to say ‘Cheers’. If you ever intend to do that, let me stop you right away, because this word i.e., ‘Egészségére’ is the mother of all tongue twisters! If you still want to master it, a local who saw me struggle, told me to just say ‘I guess she can drive’ but in a very fast and slurred manner and this would be the closest English pronunciation of this Hungarian word.
To his credit, it did work (most times) ! Needless to say, I am not learning Hungarian.
If you want to read more about my Budapest experience, check out my blog post on Budapest!
Meanwhile, Bon Appetit!