Sightseeing is great and all. Museums are interesting, monuments are cool… But let’s be honest. I’m really here for the food. Do I believe it’s the best way to learn about a culture? Nah, but it is the tastiest way.
And Budapest, you did not disappoint. No sir. Not only was the food fantastic but it was unbelievably cheap. I don’t know how they keep restaurant prices so low and I’m not entirely sure I want to find out.
We ate exclusively in the Jewish Quarter and did not even come close to fully exploring our options. Restaurants in the Jewish Quarter are as unique as they are affordable, ranging from traditional Hungarian dishes to collaborative kitchens where the customers get a cooking less by preparing their own meals.
A fair warning about the list compiled here: we ate no goulash and nothing all that traditional during our time in Budapest. It’s just not really our thing. However, that did not stop us from finding tons of fantastic cheap eats. All the restaurants listed below had employees who spoke English. We had no communication problems anywhere we went.
A note on tipping: Check your receipt to see if a service charge was included in your bill or not (it’s usually easy to tell either way). It’s considered rude to leave a tip on the table, so if paying in cash make sure you include your tip (usually 10 to 15%) with the bill.
High-quality Middle Eastern food in a cool, open space. Lots of string lights, plants, and exposed brick makes this place absolutely beautiful. This is the most expensive place we went, but the portions are good and the atmosphere made up for the few extra dollars. They serve classic dishes like falafel, shawarma, and shakshuka along with modern twists on old favorites. Their desserts didn’t look half bad either. Our waiter wasn’t the best… But we had no issues with being ignorant Americans who spoke one language and knew nothing of Hungarian customs.
A more casual, cheaper option to Mazel Tov. The falafel sandwiches were filling and tasty (lots of pickles though, which was strange). The menu has plenty of authentic options to choose from without being too adventurous for us uncultured foodies. They were helpful and kind and clearly care about the product they serve you. Also, they have excellent fries. The fries are big enough to split, but why would you?!
Pad Thai Wok 2 Go
Jackson liked this place so much, we went twice. It’s like Noodles and Co, but with noodle stir-fry. The ordering system is easy and streamlined. Choose a noodle, choose a sauce, choose add-ins. Super tasty, cheap, and easy. They also have fruit teas to choose from that looked like an awesome addition to the meal.
We stopped by this place on the way back from the thermal baths. We were ridiculously hungry (okay, I was ridiculously hungry) so many things were ordered. We each ordered a panini, I ordered a side of potato wedges and Jackson got the cinnamon churros with dipping sauce. Turns out “side” actually means enough to feed a small army. The sandwich selection was plentiful, the potato wedges were well-seasoned and crispy, and the churros were crunchy on the outside and chewy on the inside. I enjoyed every bite of the meal then happily slipped into a food coma.
This place was so good that we also went here twice! It’s this little pasta shop in an alley filled with restaurants aimed at tourists. The restaurant is incredibly simple. You point to the pasta you want, tell them the sauce you want, say yes or no to the, “do you want parmesan?” question, then a few minutes later you have your dinner. So simple, but so so good. Everything is fresh, the portions are just right (for us Americans), and the employees are wonderful.
This place was my personal favorite. Giant bowls of ramen. The ingredients were fresh, the atmosphere was simple but cool, and the dish spoke for itself. Best ramen I have ever had. Plus I love giant bowls of food so that helped too. Oh, and they had homemade popsicles for dessert. Perfect after a steamy bowl of ramen.