Budapest is the capital of Hungary, an Eastern European country which borders Slovakia, Romania, Austria, Croatia, Slovenia and Serbia. As you can see, because of its many bordering countries, and as it is part of the Schengen agreement (allowing free movement between European countries), it’s an ideal place to make a stop while interrailing, or fantastic as a cheap short break.
Now I’m sure there will be an abundance of posts detailing the abundance of things to do in Budapest or even Hungary itself, so this article is going to be a little different….. I am going to give you the ultimate food and drink checklist of all the local delicacies you need to experience while in Budapest, after all food is a massive part of every countries culture and should be fully appreciated! So, when you get hungry in Hungary you’ll know exactly what to do!
#1 Chimney Cake, or by its proper name…. Kürtőskalács
This is a delectable sweet treat, excellent to fuel hungry tummies on the move. It’s made out of a sweet yeast dough which is spun into a cylindrical shape, roasted over charcoal and smothered in melted butter before being topped with your choice of; cinnamon, hazelnut, chocolate or coconut. This cheap, easy to eat pastry is an ideal mid-sightseeing snack, though beware…. Food venders have recognised tourist’s desire to try this Hungarian treat and in the more touristy areas have racked the prices up. Talk to the locals and see where they recommend, as a chimney cake should only be setting you back 100-200 HUF.
#2 Traditional Hungarian Goulash
Goulash has been adapted to suit the pallets of other cultures around the world, in the UK I always recognised goulash as a type of stew. In reality, traditional goulash is more of a soup and is classically eaten as a starter before the main meal. It contains beef, vegetables and an abundance of paprika (of course) and is eaten with bread. This dish is absolutely delicious and should not be missed by tourists wanting to experience a full cultural culinary experience.
#3 Lángos – a heart attack in snack form but boy is it good!
This was my absolute favourite culinary encounter in Budapest! Lángos is a deep fried flat bread eaten fresh out the pan and warm. Sounding good already? Well try adding a dollop of sour cream and lashings of melted cheese, onions and Hungarian sausage! It honestly tastes like heaven and in my opinion, no one should leave Hungary without trying one of these. After tackling the ruin bars, this is the best beer-soaking snack to end the night with!
#4 Speaking of Drinking, here are a few Hungarian specialities you should try …
First on the list, Hungarian wines. As we were told by the locals, Hungarian wine is beautiful but they aren’t very good at marketing it, so the rest of the world has to miss out! So, while in Budapest take full advantage of sampling their local produce! If you’re a red drinker, their speciality is Bull’s Blood of Eger or Egri Bikavér. If you’re a white drinker then Tokaji is for you. This comes in various forms ranging from sweet to dry to suit all tastes. In fact, if you really fancy yourself as a wine connoisseur, plan your visit at the beginning of September to catch the Budapest Wine festival where you will have the opportunity to sample Hungary’s finest wine selection.
Next on the list, two local spirits to sample… The first; Palinka a liquor made from various fermented fruits. You can select your flavour, though in my opinion, it’s hardly distinguishable over the burn of pure alcohol slipping down your throat! It’s pretty strong stuff with a significant alcohol content, one shot only for the experience would be my advice or you may need more than a Lángos or two to soak that up! The next alcoholic experience is Unicum, which can only be described as Jägermeister’s slightly harsher sister. It’s again a drink that is shotted and tastes like the inside of the medicine cabinet but again, while in Budapest….. why not give it a try!?
#5 Sample some local Chocolate bars!
On one of our guided tours we were advised to sample some of Hungary’s much-loved chocolate bars. The first, known as a Sport bar is dark chocolate with rum flavouring made as a by-product at the Rum factories of Hungary. This one was actually my favourite and had quite a soft truffley texture. The next is possibly one of the most bizarre creations I have heard of but tastes surprisingly good! It is called a TÚRÓ RUDI and can be found in the fridge with an unmistakeable red spotty wrapper and is quite literally chocolate covered cream cheese! This is most definitely a don’t knock it until you try it scenario so pick one up on your travels from the local supermarket.
#6 Pörkölt and Nokedli
This is probably more what I would identify as “English Goulash” as it is a stew like beef dish often eaten with Hungarian soft egg noodles, Nokedli. An absolute delicious combination I couldn’t recommend more highly for any fellow foodie! The Drum Café at 1074, Dob u. 2 would be my top recommendation to get most of these Hungarian food specialities. The menu will leave your mouth watering and you’ll be spoilt for choice with the vast, affordable range of Hungarian foody fare to try.
#7 Time for dessert!
The Dobos torta is a Hungarian layered sponge cake separated with chocolate cream and caramel and is definitely one to try if you have a sweet tooth. Another tasty Hungarian cake is the Eszterházy cake. This is an almond and vanilla flavoured cream sandwiched between two thin layers of buttery pastry, I am not a fan of the English vanilla slice so was skeptial that this dessert may share the same sickly tendencies but I was pleasantly surprised that it was really light and wonderfully tasty. My final pudding recommendation would be Rétes – Hungarian Strudel. This pastry can be found with various fillings but my advice would be to try the suspicious looking black one which is actually a tasty filling of sticky sweet poppy seeds which was amazing!
So, there you have it! My Budapest food-lovers bucket list! I hope you enjoy feeding your stomach as well as your soul in this fantastic city as much as I did. With that I will leave you with this….. Egészségére! Or cheers to the English speakers amongst us (just say “I can shake that tree” really fast and you won’t be far off the correct pronunciation).
I’m Jess, a baby vet at Liverpool University and lover of all creatures, no matter how weird or wonderful! I have a passion for adventure and plan to use my degree and skill set (which I am still working on honing!) to travel the world and do and see as much as possible! This is where I hope I can be of use to fellow travelers, not only to advise where to go and share a few tips between travellers but also to help push for eco-tourism and to promote conservation awareness to all fellow animal-loving travelers like myself. I am also a cheap-skate, and organization freak, so hope I could put these qualities to good use and give advice to fellow like-minded people (or at the very least can laugh at my misadventures)! Visit my blog http://travelsofababy-vet.com/ to find out more (you can also hit me up on my various social media pages), I’d love for you to share your experiences and give feedback on my posts, I love a good chat!