Before we went to Budapest we didn’t know the food would shape our trip so much. Sure, we knew we would try some Hungarian goulash and wine, but with every meal it became clearer that Hungarian cuisine is a force with which to be reckoned – no matter where we went.
When we first arrived we were tempted to order traditional Hungarian dishes to properly immerse ourselves. Our first dinner was at BorLabor (wine lab), just around the corner from our hotel, Hotel Erzsébet.
We started with a large plate of Hungarian meats and cheeses. Yes, it’s similar to spreads in other countries, but it’s the flavor and spices that make it truly Hungarian.
For dinner I had chicken, which rested on top of what I guessed was gnocchi, except it was much lighter and fluffier.
Mike went all out with a massive pork knuckle, equally delicious.
One of our jaunts across the river in Buda took us to Ruszwurm, Budapest’s oldest cafe, a perfect pit stop between sites. It was small, welcoming and from what we read, not quite as touristy as some of the other locations closer to Saint Stephen’s Basilica and the Fisherman’s Bastion.
Mike and I enjoyed a potato scone…
…and some cheese scones with our cappuccinos, which – no matter where we went – were always accompanied with a shot glass of water and something sweet.
While we never traveled to any of Hungary’s vineyards, we would have been remiss to not find a proper place to enjoy the country’s unique and tasty wines. The history of wine in Hungary is complex. Most recently it was homogenized under Communist rule, but it’s making a serious comeback.
We accompanied our wine with another spread of Hungarian meats and cheeses…
…and some Pâté.
I can’t stress this enough. Hungarian chefs aren’t messing around.
Whether you order a traditional Hungarian dish or a bore it up with a plate of chicken (which I’m realizing as I write this post is something I apparently did a lot), you are going to be impressed. I discovered this fact when Mike and I first visited a place based on its affordability.
Gerlóczy Kávéház is an adorable restaurant at the foot of a hotel that has an outdoor patio, mood-lit and fenced in by a string of bulbs and decorated with a charming, old-fashioned bike hanging from a tree. We went twice. Despite the fact that it was incredibly affordable, the quality, presentation and deliciousness matched, and in many cases exceeded, the quality of more expensive restaurants and cafes.
On our first visit, I got some sort of game. It wasn’t a chicken and I don’t think it was a hen, but even though I ordered something that to me was so exotic I can’t remember the name, from what I can remember, it did taste like chicken. But it was a God damn good chicken.
Mike got the duck.
One one of our last days we returned for lunch. I got a bisque adorned with a delicious fried clam…
…and this pocket of goodness – chicken, tomato sauce and more – wrapped in filo dough.
…followed up by some chicken. The mashed potatoes sold the dish for me, which had sauteed onions for some Hungarian flair.
Mike tried the rabbit.
Of course, everything was delicious.
I’ve never been to a city where just a few restaurants convinced me that every future meal would not fail to impress.
Budapest did that.
Have you ever been so pleasantly and unexpectedly surprised by the food in a city?