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Beware eating at the Central market in Budapest

In reading about Budapest from Rick Steves it was recommended to eat from the food stalls in the central market on the Pest side of the river. We did and had an awful experience. Food was heated up in a microwave after it was ordered. The food that we ordered...sausages and vegetables over rice was very greasy and not good. The whole area around these food stalls was not clean. We both had gastrointestinal issues after eating the food here. We are on a 10 week Europe adventure and are using Rick Steves info as a resource for our trip. This is the first bad experience we have had doing so, but it was a doozy!

Posted by
1400 posts

I agree, we were very disappointed with the food market/hall. Our meal was passable. We would have been better off going to the supermarket.

Posted by
2081 posts

Over the past 3 years I've eaten numerous times from the stalls on the upper level of the Central market and never had an issue; usually langos but also one place along the right side as you face the market--wonderfully greasy (in a good way, to me) sausage and beans or stuffed cabbage. Not a place for fine dining, true, but good for a quick meal. It'll probably be the first place I eat when I return next year.

Posted by
10703 posts

Christa, you know I love everything Budapestian, but the market food is, well, not the best in town. Not so bad in my experience as the OP would suggest but still .....

Since you are an aficionado of langos, next trip try Vak Varju. They have elevated the simple langos to an entirely new level.

Posted by
2081 posts

James—adding to my list, along with finally visiting Kadarka, loooong overdue. I’m not staying off Fovam ter next visit so I’ll be in the market for a new langos dealer 😏

Posted by
10703 posts

It's on the lower end of Pauly Ede near the inner loop. Right around the corner from Andrassy ut. There is a new location too in District XII with this huge dining patio. Splendid place.

The last person who took my advice about Kadarka was a bit bothered with me. She complained that she spent so much time there that she missed much of Budapest. I even found her waiting for her cab to the airport there .... or rather she found me. Honestly, it's just a neighborhood dive. I will be there in about 8 weeks.

Posted by
13904 posts

My problem was that I was so happy at Kadarka, I never went anywhere else. On my last evening in Budapest, I did meet a lovely American couple, maybe from Texas . . .

Posted by
2011 posts

We did not eat at the food stalls but had great food in Budapest--no disappointments at all. For lunch we found a small sandwich shop (there were several) called Duran I think and the sandwiches were fresh, creative, and delicious.

Posted by
10703 posts

Kadarka is a variety of grape endemic to Hungary. It’s also the name of the neighborhood wine bar down the street from where we stay when we are in Budapest. The owner and the staff have been good to my family and my guests over the years and I have a very large soft spot for them. In the beginning, before we had become established, I would go in and try a few wines; once I found something I liked I would buy a bottle and borrow a cork screw and wine glasses to take home for the evening (of course he knew where we lived and it is 150 feet away). What place does that? When our guest have locked themselves out the Owner has taken care of them till help arrived. On a recent trip they must have spotted us as when I walked by the outdoor tables one had a tag on it; “Reserved” with our names. But don’t get me wrong. It’s just a neighborhood place; nothing exotic. Comfortable, inside and on the sidewalk, reasonably priced Hungarian wine by the glass or the bottle; and some really great food too the past few years… I keep a small wine stash and I tell my guests to drink what they want, just buy a replacement from Kadarka before you go home. There are a few posts on the forum on how to experience travel at another level. This is the sort of place for that. Ask the waiter for his name, talk to him. Ask him about the wines, try a few and find one to take back to the hotel or up to Gellert Hill for the lights.

http://kadarkawinebar.com/

Just dont end up like Chani. As the taxi drove away, towards that airport, she hung out the window shouting, Zoltan! Zoltan! another Kékfrankos! Kékfrankos!

Posted by
2081 posts

James, you are a hoot. And now I have read the menu and everything sounds dangerously good. I'm happy to see they open at 4, sometimes my day winds down right around then and it's time for an early dinner/snack and wine.

Posted by
365 posts

"What is Kadarka?"

I was going to say that it's James' second (third?) home but his reply was much more informative and useful. Now we just have to get him to tell us where the good wine bars are in Kiev.

Posted by
1997 posts

Thank you, James, for the info and the link! I have added Kadarka to my itinerary for September.
It's because of the extremely valuable information I find here that I love the forum!

Posted by
10703 posts

Keep in mind that this is just a neighborhood hang out. For upscale in classic surrounds you want a place like http://www.budapestwine.com/ Their list is a little more pretentious, in a good sort of way. They don't share much of the same wine list with Kadarka, but the one common wine I did see was 2.800 at Kadarka and closer to 4.000 at Dobolo. I've met the owner of Dobolo; decent guy who also owns the excellent http://maceszbistro.hu/en/ Still i prefer Kadarka to unwind in the evening.

Posted by
10703 posts

AND!!! Since this is about food. Forgive me for offering up two non-Hungarian places. First of all, if you want steak, don't order it in Europe. Nothing is as good as even "average" American steak; UNTIL NOW! This place has steak to die for. Actually, everything on the menu is killer: https://patanegra.hu/hu/asador/home/ But alas, none of it is Hungarian. Still you will find me there about 2/3rds of the way through our stay when i start craving familiar food. I've tried the local Argentinian steak houses and I wasn't impressed. Just for the cultural oddity of it, and particularly good food, I love this place: http://hachapuri.com/en/home/ Very affordable too. Especially given the location.

WAIT, I lied. There is another outstanding steak place in Europe. Every bit as good as the Spanish place above: http://en.pache.com.ua/ru/#/ I'll be eating there in about 9 weeks...... :)

Posted by
13904 posts

I don't know if it's true of other wine bars in Budapest (sadly I didn't get to any others LOL), but one of the things that impressed me about Kadarka is the sheer number of wines they pour by the glass . . . literally dozens, maybe 100? Reds, whites, roses, bubblies, sweet, and of course a variety of palinka. And they don't just bring you a glass. They bring the bottle to you, and pour a taste. If it's not to your liking, they bring another wine for you to try. I was also impressed by the wine knowledge of every server. The food menu is limited but good. Do not try the chocolate souffle!

Posted by
10703 posts

The other places in town may do it, not sure. But I've only been to one place in the states that offers a sample as routine before selling you just a glass. i thought it was class too.

Posted by
3904 posts

. First of all, if you want steak, don't order it in Europe. Nothing is as good as even "average" American steak

Whilst I find steak in most of continental Europe to be poor in comparison to what you cand find in the US the same isn't to be said for the UK. Britain's native rare breeds make for some fantastic beef whether it's Aberdeen Angus from Scotland, Longhorn from the Yorkshire Moors or Dexter from the West Country, all grass fed and better in taste in my opinion than a lot of the grain fed, intensively reared beef commonly found in the US.

I've eaten some fantastic beef in the States but it comes at a price.

Posted by
10703 posts

A lot of it has to do with how they butcher it too. I dont know how many large chunks of meat I have been served. Burnt on the outside and stone cold in the center; and rubbery throughout. The place i linked in Budapest I believe sources their meat in Spain, while the place in Kyiv sells USDA Prime.

Posted by
6537 posts

Kadarka is a great place, but I just didn't care to make a reservation to sit and drink. We were without a cellphone, and just didn't want to put up with the hassle. We're more of beer drinkers anyway, and a decent beer bar is across the street and up a block.
I agree about the food at the Grand Market. But we found a great restaurant/wine bar to the left of the building and a block behind the market--behind a little city park.

Posted by
13904 posts

Kadarka isn't always busy. Friday and Saturday nights, yes, when the locals are enjoying the weekend. And for a pre-dinner drink, there's usually room even then.

Posted by
10703 posts

David, i understand. A little further up Krialy utca (maybe 100 feet) is the Kupling Ruin Pub and there are a number more within about a 5 minute walk https://www.thrillist.com/travel/nation/the-coolest-ruin-bars-in-budapest and https://ruinpubs.com/index.php?id=romkocsmak_adatlap&kocsma=11

Like i pointed out, Kadarka is sort of a neighborhood dive and one i am comfortable with because its near the front door and old farts like me mix well in a place with clientele that ranges from 21 to 71. . Okay, and after all these years, they are sort of like family. There are all sorts of great places in town, its one of the selling factors. If you want to be among 21 to 30, the ruin pubs are great, for older the wine bars. There are even a few Hungarian redneck bars... Its hard not to find something that works for you and its all so close and accessible.

I'm not much of a sitter and drinker either. I have to work on vacation so i take my lap top, drink and work, drink, maybe a bit more work, drink, etc..... Then walk 150 feet to the bed.

Posted by
64 posts

Oh wow so sorry to hear that you had such an experience. Hope the gastro issues were not too serious.

Posted by
12 posts

Caveat emptor,
or do more research then what is conveniently available.
Watching Rick's travel shows it is obvious the HE eats at the best places, but has his co-authors check out other places.
The Central Market in Budapest is OK for fresh grocery shopping., that is what the locals do. Go there to take photos.
Near the market, on the Kiraly Street is a place where some of the locals have lunch: Belvárosi Disznótoros.
Budapest is increasingly becoming a tourist destination, so many visitors often end up in "dives" mostly run by foreigners.
Often I take the trolley and get away from the center of the city and find traditional restaurants where a person can eat well.
Egészségedre!

Posted by
10703 posts

Belvárosi Disznótoros on Kiraly utca is a good 20 minute walk from the Market Hall. There is one closer on Károlyi utca (10 minutes). Never been to either but have walked past the one on Kiraly utca many times - oddly never noticed it. Kiraly utca becomes more of a tourist road every year; and for good reason, worth the walk. If you want to escape tourist these days you have to go a lot further out. But the good thing about Budapest is that, outside of District V, most areas you will visit are still inhabited by Hungarians and you will see as many or more Hungarians on the streets than tourists.

As for the food stalls in the Market Hall, when the boats aren't in i suspect that 50% of the clients are local. The food is "fair", the experience is very good.

Regarding foreign ownership of restaurants? Maybe in the 5th District, i really dont know. The places i go, to the best of my knowledge, are locally owned.

Oh, and to lessen confusion. BKK the transportation company supports Metro Lines (subways), Trams (the famous "light rail" vehicles; that run on track and are powered from overhead cables) and the Trollybus (which is an electric bus powered from overhead cables like a tram) and of course standard gas or diesel buses.. EDIT: forgot the HEV Suburban Trains and the water taxis.