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Restaurant and menu options

My husband and I are spending a week in Budapest at the end of this month. Have read RS book, reviewed this forum, and researched online. We have a good itinerary established that meets our travel goals.

I would like specific restaurant and menu choices that can meet our dietary goals. In general we avoid red meat, starches, and refined sugars. We are very interested in focusing on fresh local ingredients, especially greens, vegetables, and fruit. Chicken and seafood are also on our diet.

Can you advise restaurant or menu options that minimize red meat, potatoes, noodles, breads, and dessert? Very interested in restaurants that serve great food, interesting or inventive combinations, using seasonal and local produce/ingredients. Any price range is acceptable.

We are staying in an apartment near St. Stephen's Basilica so will be buying groceries at the local markets for most breakfasts and some dinners. Expect to eat lunch out. Restaurants near our apartment or in typical touring sites/neighborhoods are ideal, but we will travel if the spot is worth it.

Thank you!

Posted by
154 posts

I don't have specific restaurants I could recommend but if you use a translation program to write/print your dietary needs (what you can or cannot eat) on note cards in Hungarian that will help you avoid any food surprises. Most restaurants are happy to point out meals that will fit your needs even before you sit down after you show them your dietary cards. Don't be afraid to say you will get very sick or something along those lines to help reinforce you don't want to eat certain foods.

Posted by
5 posts

Hi Tamara. My diet is similar to yours & it can be difficult to find a healthy, veg-friendly restaurant when traveling in Europe. There is a great website where you can search for vegan, vegetarian and veggie friendly restaurants. You can search many cities worldwide & they even have an app you can download to your phone or tablet. Doing a search of Budapest brought up many restaurants. Hopefully, you can find something to your tastes.
Happy travels!

Posted by
18775 posts

I am not going to defend Hungarian food as being healthy. As a matter of fact it’s pretty heavy and pretty meaty. But you can still get some impression of Hungarian while maintain some semblance of health by working the edges a bit and by sticking with the better restaurants that source better ingredients. You can check out the menus at these better restaurants.

And fortunately you have an apartment so you can go to the market and purchase fresh ingredients then cook at home. One other think you might be interested is a cooking class. The instructor will meet you at the market, shop for the ingredients with you (or optionally have them all pre purchased) then the three of you cook in her apartment in Buda. Cook a little, then a little Palinka, then cook, then palinka, then ….. and so on.

Posted by
3 posts

Thank you, these are all great suggestions.

Kevin, I'd never thought about pointing out specific yes/no foods to the waiter. I will look at translations to learn some of the basics to watch for or avoid.

Dawn, I like that happy cow website. I tried it out with my local area (central California) and it was spot on in selecting appropriate restaurants. Will try it out in Budapest.

James, so many good restaurants to choose from. I've delegated menu reviewing to my husband and we can select a few to add to our itinerary. And the cooking class is something we have already signed up for. I was so impressed that Agnes could customize the menu we will be preparing. Like cabbage rolls stuffed with turkey.

Thanks again!


Posted by
18775 posts

I am going to bet that the overwhelming majority of the waiters you meet speak very good English and all the menus you see have English descriptions. Agnes is a gem and indicative of most Hungarians.

Posted by
594 posts

You will find plenty of English speaking waiters and menus. I just returned from Budapest and I have to say you MUST try ZONA, which is right across from the Chain Bridge on the Buda side. A local recommended this place to me and he is vegetarian. I don't recall if they had a specific vegetarian menu, but being that my friend is vegetarian and he eats here there must be plenty of options on the menu. You must go for lunch and have their great prix fixe menu which will cost you only $20. Onyx (expensive) also has a vegetarian menu.

Posted by
594 posts

I sure did! I fell in love with Budapest (minus the constant smoking lol).

Posted by
18775 posts

@worldinbetween I bet you don't like bacon either? You will outlive me by many, many years. One of reasons that I have always enjoyed Hungary is that so much seemed so familiar and surrealistic at the same time. The food is also a good example of this. Different, but still very comforting in its familiarity. Like the US, healthy? Naaaaaaa; and I have the heart condition to prove it (actually I batted a 1,000 with my last stress test).

What is the new trend in restaurants? Something like from the farm to the table? Here, this is even closer to the earth. Its from the farm to ................. well you never really leave the farm please don't open this if you are vegan or vegetarian

There are some rituals that tourists can participate in if interested but its pretty seasonal.

Getting past the un-healthy side and forgetting vegan for a moment, don't be worried as there are plenty of places in Budapest with healthy food and most people who return from Budapest comment oh the sheer quantity of good (if not particularly healthy) food. Its just that so much of what is good isn't really good for you. Most of the mid-range places like Macesz Husza (on Dob) will have enough spectrum on the menu to meet most peoples needs.

For someone on a restricted diet I think no matter where in the world you go its good cause to seriously consider renting an apartment. It's what we do and we enjoy the flexibility it provides.

Finally, @Fred found a fish place he really liked near the Buda side of the Chain Bridge. But I cant remember the name. Maybe he will see this and chime in.

Posted by
2081 posts


This is just my opinion and results of my weight loss every time i travel.

but i think the USA processes their food way too much. So, imo, if you avoid those types of place, you should be okay. If you have allergies to certain foods, then i can understand avoiding those.

I had at a lot of desserts in Budapest and it didnt affect me. I also had 1 good sit down meal there since that was all i had. most of the other meals were "on the go" or "to go" and enjoy eating on the street somewhere people watching or a view. i wish i did more sit downs, but i will try on my next trip there.

good luck and happy trails.

Posted by
14580 posts


If you're looking for a fish restaurant, I went to one for lunch when I did my day trip in Budapest in early May 2014. Located on a corner, Restaurant Horgasztanya Vendéglö is well worth it. The menu is in 4 to 5 languages, as is the announcement on the premises, the staff is professional and multi-lingual, speaking Italian, Hungarian, English, German.

Would I go back for the cuisine...absolutely. Just a very pleasant experience.

Posted by
18775 posts

@Fred, thanks for posting the name again. I hadn't been able to find it and I promised my daughter we would go to a good fish place on our trip back in a few months. Went to the web page and looked at the menu and its pretty amazing. Fish to Goose to Venison.

A little further down Fő utca at number 56 more or less is the prison that held Endre Marton and his wife prior to the '56 revolution (find the list of books posted in this forum). Still a prison today we walked in the front door one day and a very kind guard ushered us to a window so we could see the prisoners exercising in the courtyard. Very creepy. You will also find Batthyány tér which has a less than remarkable market and a lovely church and a stop of the M2 metro line and the H5 commuter train to Szentendre. Continue past Batthyány tér to Margit krt and you will find one of my favorite Antique Shops (and a few others in the area), hand made shoes and the 4/6 Tram to the Oktogon. Not a bad walk for your 4th or 5th day in Budapest.