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What's a generous daily budget for dining?

I see that there are about 3 HUF to 1 USD at the moment.
If I want to eat local dishes, especially duck and game specialties,
what is a realistic budget for meals in recommended restaurants?
I've got my order in to RS for the brand-new edition of the Budapest guidebook
but that must mean it was current a year ago! Drumming my fingers while I wait for the book to arrive...

Posted by
10673 posts

BPEST has Michelin Star restaurants and great local dives and everything in between. Generally I guess on average it's about 10% cheaper than Dallas if you avoid the heart of the tourist district. Here is one of my favorites with middle of the road prices and excellent Hungarian food: http://maceszbistro.hu/en/ check the prices on the menu.

Posted by
10673 posts

Worldinbetween is correct. These are tough questions. I always leave knowing it’s cheaper than staying home; and I live in one of the most inexpensive states in the union. So, if you are from NYC, Budapest is dirt cheap, from Louisiana maybe not as much. Then again it depends on what you eat. Good American cuts of beef may actually cost more than KC because they are imported.

The link I gave you use to have an English language menu on it (maybe it still does and I missed it) so I did a google translation and some rough conversions. Like Worldinbetween says, it will be a lot about where and in what part of town. The place I gave you the link for is sort of on the edge of the tourist district so it is cheaper, but not as cheap as if you traveled a few kilometers further out. Generally this is somewhat representative of what you can find within a reasonable distance of the sights of Budapest. The food is also very traditional drawing from German, Jewish and Hungarian influences and seemed to respond to your questions. BUT, there are great places like this all over town.

STARTERS
Egg Jewish 1 290 (about $3: google it, it’s interesting)
Foie gras orange caramel cream 1 790 (about $6)
Pickled herring fillets, pickled radish, boiled eggs 1 690.- (about $6)
Stew with potatoes stuffed goose neck 1 590. (about $6)
Broth, maceszgombóc * 1 390.- (about $5)
Lamb Goulash 1 190 (about $4)
Rocket salad with goat cheese, fresh blueberries 1 890 (about $7)
Mixed salad with balsamic vinaigrette 1 290 (about $3 to which you add $2 to $3 dollars for the meats below)
Salads request toppings like goat cheese, salmon, chicken breast, duck breast 790.-, 790.-, 490.-, 790.-

Main course
Oyster mushrooms and sour cream pasta dough 2 390 (about $8)
Perch fillet with spinach potatoes 3 390 (about $12)
SUPREME chicken Yafo latkesz 2 990 (about $11)
Duck breast with rosehip cream, croquet 3 290 (about $12)
Sole leg of goose eggs 2 990 (about $11)
Goose leg with fried polenta zöldborsópüré 3 490 (about $12)
Foie gras goose sausage and sauerkraut, beetroot potatoes 3 490 (about $12)
Wiener schnitzel with potato salad 3 790 (about $14)
Veal Székely cabbage 3 490 (about $13)
Ribeye steak with roasted vegetables and potatoes 6 490 (about $24)
Deer wildlife maceszgombóc * 4 390 (about $16)

Posted by
1106 posts

Thanks for following up with the translation, James. It makes the duck and deer dishes sound even better, and the pickled fish sound even worse :-)

There were a lot of 'dairy restaurants' where I grew up, with plenty of jarred fish and pickles with sour cream all over the place, and honestly it put me off eastern Euro cuisine for most of my adult life, but now I've calmed down enough to realize that there are other options that do appeal to me.

Posted by
557 posts

avirosemail, I HIGHLY recommend you check out the prix fixe lunch at ZONA. It's right across the Chain Bridge on the Buda side. It's about $20 or less for three courses.

Posted by
10673 posts

Gabriel, you are on vacation so to make sure things go smoothly i would make a reservation.

There is more good food in Budapest than one can imagine so i bet you get a lot of excellent recommendations.

Posted by
11152 posts

avirosemail: Luckily, the food in Hungary does not resemble the Jewish food we grew up with. It also does not resemble the food of places like Poland or the Czech Republic. Rick explains that the different climate of Hungary means that they can grow tomatoes and peppers, and they certainly use these liberally (particularly the latter, in the famous paprika).

Hungarians understand flavor, and even simple dishes at uncelebrated restaurants taste good. For instance, in Vac (a town I highly recommend visiting) I blindly went into a place near the main square, and had cream of garlic soup followed by ham and smoked cheese pizza - and both were far more delicious than that simple description makes them sound, and pretty cheap to boot. I had lots of other great meals at cheap places. I didn't care for langos (lots of people love them, and they're worth trying at least once), but the real gulyás (a soup, not a stew) and pörkölt (the stew that resembles what we in the US call "goulash") were great everywhere. All the restaurants I went to had English menus, too, so don't worry about that.

Posted by
10673 posts

A lot of Hungarian cooking was influenced by Jewish cooking and it is one of the factors that makes some Hungarian food a little more unique. Hungarian cooking was also heavily influenced by German cooking. At one time anyone of any importance spoke German and not Hungarian and German "culture" was the norm among the privileged. The history of this country is contorted and as a result very interesting.

I never thought I would say this but my favorite dish is Töltött Káposzta (stuffed cabbage) and maybe not the best in town, but very respectable can be found at Lugas behind the basilica and across the street. I couldn't stand the stuff my mother made, but in Hungary it is wonderful. I even took a cooking class in Budapest one year so I could make it myself. still tastes better if I buy it though. Hint: Go see the pickled everything in the basement of the Great Market.

You also might look for Mangalitsa. It is a breed of pig unique to Hungary and only recently being breed back to sustainability. Very well respected and at times you will see it on the menu for a premium price.

With so much goose and duck on the menus ............ well there has to be a lot of duck and goose liver .......... so pâté de foie gras is cheap and almost always available. Yum! (sorry California).

Then there are some pretty excellent local wines. Find a good wine bar. Two that come to mind are Dobolo owned by the same that own Macesz Bistro http://www.budapestwine.com/ and my favorite neighborhood place Kadarka's (probably a little less expensive and more casual) http://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g274887-d2293155-Reviews-Kadarka_wine_bar-Budapest_Central_Hungary.html Kadarka is about halfway between Macesz Bistro and the Opera House and between Deák Ferenc tér and Liszt Ferenc tér so its convenient. One of the nice things about Kadarka (and I think Doblo) is that you can actually try the wine before you purchase a glass. Not common.

Be sure to try Palinka and Tokaji Aszú 5 or 6 puttony and any red from the Villány region. The experts in either of these wine bars can point you in the right direction.

When we first started traveling to Bpest I would go to kadarka's and try a few wines till I hit on something I really enjoyed. Then I would buy a bottle and borrow a glass and cork screw for the night and walk back to the apartment. Good folks.

Posted by
1106 posts

California undid the foie gras ban this year -- I just had a taste on a charcuterie plate a couple of weeks ago -- but it is crazily expensive here, and still has too health-conscious a vibe as it sits there.

I see that dining at wine bars isn't just for Spain!

Posted by
10673 posts

I'm on a low carb diet. I can eat all the pate i want but i have to limit myself to one carb source ...... wine. Not a bad way to live; booze and protein.

Glad to hear about CA, they had turned all the Hollywood elites into criminals. The stuff is relatively inexpensive in Bpest. A couple thousand forints at Kadarka's gets you a serving the size of your fist with all the trimmings.

Posted by
557 posts

I was about to mention the un-ban myself haha. James, when I was browsing the canned foie gras at the Great Market Hall I couldn't help but notice that they were all preserved with some benzoate derivative (hence, I didn't buy any). Are there food brands there that sell foie without preservative? I'm not a big fan of those as you can see.

Posted by
10673 posts

I purchased a can once. It was most unpleasant. There is so much of it in the tourist markets and it doesnt sell well so I doubts about its age and quality. Sort of like all of the caviar in the market. What I have gotten in the restaurants has been of pretty good quality. Better some places than other places......

Posted by
35 posts

food is really cheap in budapest and not to mention super good. you can get a more than decent meal in a nice restaurant for around 2000huf(less than 10 euros). and this was when i was there last year summer. so i would say a generous budget would be between 10000-20000huf

Posted by
10673 posts

We buy them in Budapest and have pickled some of our own with varying results. My mother use to make stuffed cabbage when I was a kid. Couldn't stand the stuff. I like Agnes' cooking style: stir a little, then a little palinka, then stir a while, then a little palinka. Heck it all tasted good by the time we were finished. And what a sweet and patient woman. This is the sort of thing you do on day four in Budapest. Its one of those things that while simple stays with you a long time as a tourist. That's why I try and convince people to do four days, five if you want to go to Eger or Pecs or Vac or ............ We just got back. Had an excellent time. Return again in September for the horse races at Hero's Square.