Best Places to Eat in Budapest and KrakowRuss Bily
Eastern Europe extends from Poland to Hungary. The climate here is mostly cold, and the landscape varies from grassy plains and forests to mountain ranges. Poland and especially Hungary provide themselves with agricultural products. Because of the cold climate, hot and hearty dishes are typical for Eastern European cuisine.
Continuing my series of articles about the cuisine of Eastern and Central Europe, this time I turn to the gastronomic traditions of Budapest and Krakow. Restaurants and cafes are a significant component of tourist life. But how to find a suitable one? Nourishing cuisine and affordable catering facilities are all you need! And we’ll tell you where it is possible to eat delicious and inexpensive food!
In this article, I won’t write about fast food restaurants, pizzerias, sushi bars, Chinese and street food. I’ll recommend you the restaurants, pubs, and cafes where it’s better to try the national Hungarian and Polish cuisine.
I hope this post will be relevant for those who are going to hang out in these European cities. The number of restaurants and bars with appetizing snacks and dishes in Poland and Hungary is just off the scale. You’ll need to buy new clothes, as on the way home you just won’t fit into your usual size!
National Cuisine in Budapest
For your convenience, I’ve made a selection of restaurants and cafes in Budapest for their location on the Buda or Pest side, and proximity to attractions. So you can combine the walk with Budapest with the excitement of delicious Hungarian dishes. You can simply add the address of the chosen restaurant to the route of acquaintance with the city.
The most expensive restaurants and cafes are located near the famous tourist attractions: the Royal Palace, Fisherman’s Bastion, Andrassy Avenue, Vaci Street and the waterfront. It is worth to move away from them a little, turn to the neighboring streets, and you can find good inexpensive establishments.
Many restaurants hang out the menu outside, so you can see the prices before entering. But even on the tourist streets of Budapest, you can have a tasty lunch. Many restaurants during lunch hours, from about 12-00 to 15-00, offer a comprehensive daily menu “Napi Menu” or “Tzedek”, which means “cheap lunch”, which consists of 3 dishes: soup, main course, and dessert.
In the names of many institutions you can see the word “Bistro” – it’s an inexpensive cafe. “Charda” means restaurants with national Hungarian cuisine, interiors in ethnic-style and live folklore music. It was in these traditional restaurants that a famous dance called “Csárdás ” arose.
National Hungarian cuisine is rich in meat dishes with paprika. Food, generously flavored with spices, can be hot. It is worth trying goulash, a fish soup called halaszle, bograč, paprikás, pörkölt, as well as a duck leg or a pork knee. Popular dishes also include lecsó, prepared from sweet peppers, tomatoes, and onions, tarhonya or turoscsusza, pasta with sour cream, cheese, and bacon.
From sweets, you will surely enjoy such cakes as Dobos, Eszterházy, palacsinta pancakes, the poppy seed roll called makosh, and strudel. Favorite Hungarian pastries are often sold on the streets and in the cafes: kürtőskalács, an empty tube made of dough, and pomácsa, delicious buns.
In our selection there are different cafes and restaurants: with simple home interiors, classic elegant restaurants, with a modern style and vision of Hungarian cuisine, with a buffet, with an original concept, and with a children’s menu. Therefore, everyone will find a cafe to their liking.
Where to Eat in Budapest on the Pest Side?
Pest is the economic, administrative, cultural center of Budapest. On this bank of the Danube many inexpensive establishments with delicious Hungarian cuisine are located. Here are a few interesting options.
It’s a great option for lunch or dinner. The bistro is located 5 minutes walk from the Parliament and 10 minutes from the Basilica of St. Istvan. Therefore it can be added to the route of the walk between these sights.
Related: Best Things to Do in Budapest in 3 Days.
Hungarikum is a symbol of Hungary, with everything connected with authentic Hungarian traditions, customs, history, cuisine, culture, language. This is all that the country is proud of. Hungarikum Bistro idea is not just a traditional Hungarian cuisine, but a real Hungarian home-made meal.
The cafe is small and cozy, only for 12 tables. Local people and tourists like to go there, so you need to book a table in advance. Hungarikum Bistro offers a comprehensive menu. It consists of traditional Hungarian dishes: goulash soup, duck leg with potatoes and cabbage, apple pie with vanilla sauce. You can also make an order separately from the menu.
Address: Budapest, Steindl Imre u. 13, 1051
Kiskakukk is translated like “little cuckoo”. This institution is 100 years old. This is a classic restaurant with an elegant interior. It serves delicious traditional Hungarian cuisine. Portions are large. The special pride of the restaurant is the best wines of Hungary.
It’s most suitable for a quiet lunch or an elegant dinner with traditional Hungarian wines. There is a restaurant near the bridge Margit híd. 15 minutes walk from the Parliament. Better plan a visit in the evening or combine it with a day trip to Margaret Island.
Address: Budapest, Pozsonyi út 12, 1137
And again the birds) The name of this restaurant is translated as “blind crow”. You’ll like a stylish interior, deliciously prepared and quickly served food. This is where you can have dinner with children in Budapest. For kids, there is a special children’s menu and a game corner. On Sundays from 12-00 to 16-00 a “children’s restaurant” operates with delicious dishes, entertainment, and games.
In VakVarjú you’ll find a profitable daily offer “Napi Menu”: soup, main course, and dessert. You can choose a menu of two dishes at a price of approximately 4 euros or three meals at a price of 5.5 euros.
Related: How to Travel with Kids. Part 2.
It’s a really good option for a family dinner and a friendly dinner in a relaxed atmosphere. VakVarjú is a network of inexpensive cafes with national Hungarian cuisine. Of the six establishments in the city, the most convenient for tourists are two restaurants on the Pest side.
If you are on a street parallel to the famous Andrassy Avenue, it will take you a 5-minute walk from the Basilica of St. Istvan, 10-15 minutes from the Opera House and the Miniversum Miniature Museum to get there.
Address: Budapest, Paulay Ede u. 7, 1061
Trofea Grill is a popular restaurant chain of authentic Hungarian cuisine, perfect for lunch or dinner. Locals like to celebrate family holidays or corporate parties there. Three restaurants are located on the Pest side and two ones are on the Buda side.
The Trofea Grill is a buffet style. You can try any of the proposed traditional dishes and desserts for a fixed fee. The choice is great. In addition to Hungarian cuisine, there is a lot of seafood, sea fish, sushi. The price includes champagne, wine, beer, mineral water, soft drinks, coffee, cappuccino in unlimited quantities.
Addresses on the Pest side:
- l. Király útja 30-32 – a 5-minute walk from Andrassy Avenue, Miniversum Miniature Museum, Opera House, 10-minute walk from the Synagogue, St. Stephen’s Basilica.
- Erzsébet királyné útja 5 – located on the other side of the Varoshliget park near the Heroes’ Square. From Széchenyi baths, Vaidahunyad Castle, Zoo to the restaurant, it’s about 15-minute walk through the park.
- Visegrádi útja 50 / a – a 20-minute walk from the Parliament, 15 minutes from the Margit híd bridge, not far from the classic restaurant Kiskakukk, about which I wrote above.
This popular restaurant is located near Andrassy Avenue, on the Liszt Ferenc Square. It’s 3 minutes from the Opera House and the House of Terror, 10 minutes from the Miniversum Miniature Museum, 15 minutes from the Basilica of St. Stephen. It is convenient to come here during a walk along Andrassy Avenue. It’s a vintage place where you can find all modern options on the menu – even hamburgers. Supposedly, they invented the idea of serving all the vegetables, extra meat and dumplings in a separate bowl, and then they pour the soup on it from something that looks like a teapot. It’s definitely worth to drop by for a lunch menu, and for a nice cocktail outside on the terrace on a lovely summer day.
Address: Budapest, Liszt Ferenc tér 2, 1061
For Sale Pub
For Sale Pub is a place advertised in many TV shows. It attracts by an unusual original concept and affordable prices. It is located at the beginning of Váci street, opposite the Central Market. This area is also famous for ruin pubs. It will take you 5 minutes to get there from the Synagogue, 10 minutes from the Gellért bath, and Mount Gellért on the bridge Erzsebet. You can come here to eat while walking along the embankment and Váci Street.
Related: Best Things to Do in Budapest in 3 Days.
Creative disorder reigns on two floors of this ruin pub. All walls and ceiling are covered with a “thick layer” of paper sheets with reviews, drawings, wishes of guests. There are large baskets of peanuts on the tables.
You can eat nuts for free and throw the shells directly on the floor, covered with hay. On weekends and in the evenings it is better to book a table in advance. The best of Hungarian cuisine is on the menu. Guests especially like goulash soup there. One serving should be ordered for two or three people, as the portions are huge.
Address: Budapest, Vámház krt. 2, 1053
Café Gerbeaud is a famous old classic confectionery, the branded culinary attraction of Budapest. Since 1858, it’s considered one of the most famous and largest cafes in Europe. Many celebrities visit it.
The aristocratic atmosphere of Hungary of the 19th-century reigns in this cafe. It is located at the end of Vaci Street, on Vörösmarty Square, closer to the waterfront.
Gerbeaud is a rather expensive café; however, you can’t miss drinking coffee with a dessert. Try Gerbeaud cake, Dobos and Esterhazy cakes, Gerbeaud cream caramel and branded ice cream.
Address: Budapest, Vörösmarty tér 7-8, 1051
Szamos Gourmet Ház
Today it is one of the largest family enterprises in Hungary, created in the 1930s. The cafe on Vaci Street was opened in the 1990s as the first institution of the network. Thanks to the exquisite tastes of sweets, the company “Szamos” quickly became popular in the country, and now has 20 cafes and shops.
It offers delicious marzipans, exquisite handmade chocolate, which is made right in the hall in front of you, cakes, ice cream, traditional pastries. The cost of coffee and cake is approximately 5-8 euros. Szamos is also a good option for breakfast beginning from 4-8 euros.
Addresses on the Pest side:
1. Szamos Gourmet Ház: Váci u. 1, on the square Vörösmarty tér.
2. Szamos Marcipán Cukrászda: Párizsi u. The street goes from famous Vaci Street in the direction opposite from the Danube. It’s 2 minutes from Vaci street.
3. Szamos Marcipán: square Vértanúk tere 1, located behind the Parliament building, opposite the Imre Nadu monument (sculpture on the bridge). The second floor houses the Szamos Chocolate Museum.
Where to Eat in Budapest on the Buda Side?
In the Buda Castle (near the Royal Palace and the Fisherman’s Bastion), it’s difficult to find affordable restaurants, where locals go. Here everything is designed for tourists. Even street food is more expensive than in the city. But there is one cafe-dining room where you can have lunch and try Hungarian cuisine.
Fortuna Onkiszolgalo Etterem
Fortuna Onkiszolgalo Etterem is a cafe-dining room with self-cooking, a buffet of 12-15 dishes and simple interior. Delicious Hungarian homemade food at affordable prices. It is designed for local residents, employees of neighboring institutions, students, schoolchildren, and tourists. It is located in a small street near the Cathedral of St. Matthias.
It’s a little bit a quest to find this restaurant. Focus on the sign Onkiszolgalo Self Service. From St. Matthias Cathedral, follow the street Hess András tér. On the yellow house, you’ll see the advertisement of the expensive restaurant Budavari Matyas Etterem. Go through the arch, then into the wooden doors on the left, up the stone stairs to the second floor, and find the dining room Onkiszolgalo Self Service.
Address: Budapest, 1014, Fortuna u. 4, 1014
Vadaspark étterem (Wildlife Park Restaurant)
It’s the Hungarian authentic restaurant or “charda”. The family restaurant Vadaspark étterem is decorated in an ethnic-style. The institution has been operating for more than 30 years. For the weekend, you can try Hungarian national cuisine and hear live Hungarian and Gypsy music.
Also, this charda is known for dishes cooked in the oven. It is located on the outskirts of Budapest, near the town of Budakeszi, near the Vadaspark Wildlife Park.
Address: Budapest, Szanatórium utca, 1121
Related: Travel from Krakow to Budapest
Local Spots in Krakow
There are a lot of local spots in Krakow. If you want to eat and drink your way through Krakow, with some outdoor activities scattered throughout, and of course some shopping, then this list is for you.
Located east of the Old Town, in the district of Nowa Huta, Stylowa is one of the most authentic restaurants in Krakow. Serving traditional Polish dishes such as veal escalops in a mushroom sauce with buckwheat, Stylowa prides itself on its long and winding history, dating back to the 1950s. Throughout the years, the restaurant withstood the shifts of liberalization brought by the Polish communist regime.
Address: Kraków, Osiedle Centrum C 3, 30-001
Pod Wawelem-Kompania Kuflow
Located halfway between the Main Square and Kazimierz, Pod Wawelem-Kompania Kuflow cooks up generous portions at reasonable prices, while offering a step back in time. The experience of dining during the Austro-Hungarian Empire is recreated through the décor and smaller details such as the waitresses’ uniforms and the original one-liter beer steins.
The restaurant features Under the Wawel, a chopped steak with herb butter and fries, which can be enjoyed while admiring the sights of the Wawel Castle.
Address: Kraków, Świętej Gertrudy 26-29, 33-332
Cyrano de Bergerac
Cyrano de Bergerac ranks among the top restaurants in Krakow and is a treat for visitors looking for a French-style restaurant in the heart of the city. Its location in the cellars of a medieval building from the end of the 15th century is one of the factors that put the venue on Krakow’s map of the best cultural restaurants. Roman Polanski and Prince Charles have enjoyed a meal here.
Address: Kraków, Sławkowska 26, 31-014
With its medieval atmosphere, history, and charm, Pod Aniolami is a hidden gem on Krakow’s culinary scene. Located in the Gothic cellars of a 13th-century building that once served as a goldsmiths’ workshop, Pod Aniolami showcases medieval interiors that transport guests to another era.
The menu offers lovingly prepared, mouth-watering delicacies of Polish cuisine such as homemade lard, Polish dumplings, succulent wild boar steaks and grilled duck fillets.
Address: Kraków, Grodzka 35, 33-332
Dawno Temu Na Kazimierzu
Dawno Temu na Kazimierz is a modern-day tribute to Krakow’s complex, fascinating history. The décor here is a mix of shabby chic, old-school vintage, and genuine ruin. Two highlights of the menu are the honeyed lamb and the melt-in-your-mouth roast duck with cherries.
From the outside, this venue is disguised to look like a row of early 20th-century trade shops and is decorated with awnings relating to the area’s Jewish heritage. Things are no less colorful on the inside with mannequins, sewing machines and carpenters’ work surfaces adorning the interiors.
A great attempt at capturing the old Kazimierz spirit, and a must-visit for those tracing the district’s past, enjoy live klezmer, folk or ethnic music every evening except Saturdays.
Address: Kraków, Szeroka 1, 31-052
Few places offer such a panoramic view of Krakow’s landmarks, the Old Town, the River Vistula and the Wawel Castle, as this trendy rooftop restaurant. Located on the top floor of Hotel Kossak, Café Oranzeria features a large terrace, open from spring until autumn.
Even during cold Polish winters, large windows allow customers to enjoy delicious dishes, including vegetarian and gluten-free specials while taking in a scenic perspective of the city.
Address: Kraków, Plac Kossaka 1, 31-106
There you’ll have a great opportunity to try different Polish dishes at a rather low price. It’s an ideal lunch stop on your tour of the Old Town and close to all major attractions. Besides the pierogi, kiełbasa and stuffed cabbage; they also have ribs, fish, and a variety of homemade soups usually changing daily.
Address: Kraków, Gołębia 8, 30-001
One of the first bars in Kazimierz, Singer set the table for all that was to come, essentially inventing the evocative aesthetic of cracked mirrors, dusky paintings, rickety antiques and candlelight associated with the district today. Despite its long tenure, lofty reputation and intrusion of tourists, today Singer still holds much of the magic it did when it first opened.
A charismatic, even chimerical cafe by day, Singer hits its stride around 03:00 when tabletops turn into dancefloors, the locals dance and listen to the energetic mix of gypsy, klezmer, celtic and swing music.
Address: Kraków, Estery 20, 31-056
Bunkier Cafe is a true gem, with a garden in the middle of the Planty Gardens open all year round.The transparent walls are open in warm weather and lowered when it’s cooler.You could order a delicious coffee or an exceptional unpasteurized draught beer.
You can order a salad, a burger or a slice of delicious cake. In summer there’s also ice cream. It’s one of the most popular places among locals, the favorite place for food and beers in the summer. It’s located along the Planty, often considered Krakow’s version of Central Park.
Address: Kraków, pl. Szczepański 3a, 31-000
From April until about mid-October, this is one Kraków’s most glorious beer gardens. If that parade gets rained on, or you find yourself here during the off-season, take solace in the cross-street interior with its Old World atmosphere of worn fabrics, rickety furniture, and murky portraits. Full of sunlight in the afternoon, candlelight in the evening, and otherwise unbound by time, Mleczarnia is perfect for daydreaming and catching up on your reading.
Address: Kraków, Beera Meiselsa 20, 31-058
Eating out in Budapest and Krakow is a wonderful opportunity to sample the history, culture, and heritage of Poland and Hungary, as restaurants range from haute cuisine to medieval cellars. As Hungarians and Poles are very proud of their culinary tradition, dining in these cities promises to be an unforgettable experience.
In our collection, there are only 10 restaurants with a really delicious cuisine for each city. Of course, there are many more! Delicious and bright journey!
By the way, if you are thinking about the most suitable, economical, and easy way of transport during your trip, be sure that traveling in a private car with a local driver guide, using our service, is an ideal solution for you!