First-time visitors are often surprised by the sheer beauty of Budapest, from Buda’s leafy residential streets and royal castle perched atop the Danube to the lively streets of Pest on the opposite side, where the striking Hungarian Parliament stretches along the riverbank. Within that splendor, however, the city bears the marks of a turbulent history under the rule of Ottoman pashas, Habsburg emperors, and Communist Party leaders, which has yielded a uniquely Central European style: Budapest combines the conveniences of a modern Western European city with the dynamic energy, faded grandeur, and relatively affordable prices of Eastern Europe. This eclectic mix of cultural influences is also evident in the capital’s culinary traditions and restaurant scene.
A young crop of foreign-trained chefs has taken advantage of improved access to quality ingredients to once again make Budapest an exciting place for dining out. Spurred by booming tourism and a growing local economy, new restaurants are popping up across the city, offering updated takes on local peasant fare like goulash soup alongside Michelin-starred modernist meals. At the same time, there’s still plenty of reason to celebrate the neighborhood stalwarts that have been churning out tasty pörkölt (beef stew) and töltött káposzta (stuffed cabbage rolls) to locals for decades. As a few meals quickly show, there are more than two sides to Budapest.
Tas Tóbiás is the editor of the food, wine, and architecture guide Offbeat Budapest.Read More