The day we arrived into Hungary we knew we were in a very foreign country. Being foodies, we love to learn about different food cultures (not the yoghurt kind) and experience the different flavours that each country holds dear.
Hungary was no exception.
In fact it was from my cousin in NZ that I learnt Hungary was best known for paprika. How did I not know that? I guess that’s what travelling is all about – learning!
What I found out about paprika is that it was introduced to Hungary from the Turks in the 16-17th Century. Ah, that makes sense, I love Turkish food.
This blog is about the different foods we tasted and what we recommend you try when you get to Hungary.
I’ve categorised these into grocery items, street food, main meals and eating out venues.
Hungarian Foods to Try
An unusual vegetable that greeted us in the Penny Market supermarket might have well been from Mars for all the relativeness we had to them.
It’s called patiszon ledig and is like a courgette. We tried these grilled at a friends place later on in our travels and they reminded me of a marrow. They are quite tasty.
Although duck isn’t traditionally Hungarian, we were thrilled to find this delicacy for a mere €2.86/kg. Needless to say we enjoyed duck several times. For a couple of yummy duck recipes click here. Also to note is that pork is a regular favourite of this region and is well priced for those people looking for a bargain.
Yummy Thai Red Duck Curry
We were sitting in our motorhome outside Lidl in Eger, minding our own business. A knock on the door yielded a conversation (thanks to Google Translate) with Balog Csaba, a beekeeper. He gave us a jar of his own, mixed flowers, honey (Vegyes Virag). If you are in the region he makes home deliveries so give him a call on 06-30/2329-111.
At Lake Balaton we were accosted with the sights of food we’d never seen before at a street food vendor in Keszthely.
At Keszthely Park we were given this hot to brush a mixture of oil and garlic over the top. Then they took it back to spread sour cream over it and grated cheese on top. Oh my goodness, these are great. They look like a heavy bread treat but in fact they are light, airy and are so full of flavour. You must try them.
Chimney Cake (Kurtoskalacs) were to become items of immense intrigue. They are like a cinnamon sugar donut. Crunchy on the outside and warm and fluffy inside. They are best eaten hot straight from the coals over which they are typically cooked.
Keszthely, Csik Ferenc setany 5., Hungary
The next thing we found was Kolbice in Pecs. This a bread casing with onion, bacon, duck sausage and red cabbage. Unfortunately it wasn’t as good as the picture suggested.
What The Picture Looked Like
How It Looked In Reality
Hungarian Ice Cream
Although you can get this next food in lots of countries, I must admit that Hungary has delivered some of the yummiest ice creams we’ve had. In fact, we even went back the next day for another round, which is most unusual for us!
Capri Cukraszda, Citrom u. 7, 7633, Pecs, Hungary
We wanted to try Toltott Kaposzta, which as the name suggests (not!) is Hungarian Stuffed Cabbage Rolls. They were stuffed with rice and had a sour flavour. Sometimes you may find them stuffed with meat as an alternative.
“You must go to the First Strudel House of Pest” I read in a blog, so off we went, blindly. The blog sung the praises of the attentive staff, the delicious food and the atmosphere. The writer went back there a second time. So we expected to find the same. It didn’t happen!
What we experienced instead was uninterested waiting staff who saw us as a bother, extremely slow service and very ordinary food. Drat, it’s such a pity that consistency is difficult to achieve with restaurants at times.
The strudel we had was cherry with curd and apricot with curd. There was more curd than fruit and the light and crunchy multi-layered filo pastry I was expecting was soft like it had been heated in a microwave and the pastry just one layer. At least the ice cream was nice.
There was interesting memorabilia inside the shop (we sat outside) and the hand-basin in the ladies toilet was interesting.
Sadly I can’t recommend this place based on my experience so there’s no sharing of their address. However there are other places in this city that sell strudel so I urge you to hunt down a good one yourself.
One place that was on our list that we didn’t get to was Gelarto Rosa. We were too full from the Cat Café to visit and the line was out the door and onto the street. However, we saw plenty of people walking around with happy smiles on their faces while devouring these unique looking ice creams. So if you’re in the area, pop this place on your list. And you are likely to be in the area because it’s right near St. Stephens Basilica that you won’t want to miss.
Szent István tér 3, 1051, Budapest, Hungary
Meson Plus Preparation
Cooked Goulash With Dumplings
Wild Boar Stew & Hungarian Pork Schnitzel
While in Eger we had dinner one night out at the Valley Of The Beautiful Woman. It’s primarily a wine tasting area filled with adorable little boutique shops carved into the stone walls behind them.
While at dinner Alan tried slow cooked wild boar stew with noodles and it was a Hungarian pork schnitzel for me. Both were delicious.
Eger, Almási Pál u. 38, 3300, Eger, Hungary
Wild Boar Stew
Another traditional Hungarian dish is Chicken Paprikash shown here from a lovely restaurant called Ramazuri Bistronomy located near Matthias’ Church, (which you will want to visit). It was served with noodles, which are similar to pasta, with a sour cream sauce. At the Central Market Hall the dish of the same name looked slightly different. Their dish had the chicken inside wraps.
The Same Dish At The Market Hall
Alan enjoyed the Beef Goulash Soup from the same restaurant. I always thought of goulash as a stew, however it was originally a thin soup.
This is one of the national dishes of Hungary and a symbol of the country. Its origin traces back to the 9th century to stews eaten by Hungarian shepherds. These are hearty dishes and have modern variations. We’ve made this on several occasions in our motorhome using two different styles. One incorporated pork and Hungarian sausage, the other just plain beef. Both are delicious, however the beef is a little healthier.
Ramazuri Bistronomy, Úri u. 30, 1014 Budapest
Eating Out Venues
Market Food Hall
While in Budapest we visited the well-known Central Market Hall. This place is a foodie’s dream and the place to go to try the Hungarian gastronomic dishes. On the top floor is the food stands selling all manner of interesting and enticing looking goodies. Just a word of warning, it gets crowded so try to avoid it in the weekends and don’t take a pram. You will want to bring an empty stomach with you and try a little bit of everything.
We had to try Langos again, just to make sure they still were delicious. However, the first one we had in Lake Balaton took the prize for the most delicious (and it was cheaper).
We wandered around the markets taking in all the different foods, sights, and smells. Here’s a photo gallery of the things that piqued our interest.
Vámház krt. 1-3, 1093, Budapest
Click on the image gallery below to see more (20) photos of the Central Market Hall and the different foods available.
The Cat Café Budapest
If you’re a cat lover you’ve going to enjoy this next place. It was called The Cat Café Budapest. There were 14 cats, usually just sleeping or walking around who were nonchalant about us being there. We got to have pats with a few (they are not to be picked up) and enjoyed being around cats again.
We treated ourselves to cakes (unusual for us) and had I known these types of cakes were so delicious I would have eaten more in my life. My waistline thanks me for not doing so. Mine was a light and airy white chocolate mouse sitting on bed of a crunchy chocolate biscuit base. I was in heaven with every mouthful. Alan scoffed a strawberry and white chocolate layered cake which was equally as delightful.
Révay u. 3, 1065, Budapest, Hungary
Click on the gallery of (14) photos below to see more…
Szimpla Kert Ruin Bar
The next day we ventured out to lunch at the famous Szimpla Kert Ruin Bar. Here we enjoyed the most interesting atmosphere in Budapest and some delicious BBQ buffalo wings and two glasses of wine for just €11.30.
Next door to the Ruin Bar is the Street Food Karavan, they have different morsels from around the world. It’s a fun vibrant place, but is not cheap. I imagine it’s here to cater for those who’ve come out of the Ruin bar at night looking for something else to eat.
Kazinczy u. 14, 1075, Budapest, Hungary
You can read more about this area in our post on Budapest (coming soon). Click on the photos to enlarge them.
Szimpla Kert Ruin Bar
Food At The Ruin Bar
New York Café
One place I recommend you definitely put on your list is the New York Café. The architecture is divine, unlike anything I’ve seen before. It’s opulent with a capital oh!!! We popped in here just to soak up the atmosphere and ordered a plate of small cakes (again!). We avoided the coffee and tea at €7.50 per person and headed straight for a small dish we could share and at €16 we ate slowly.
Erzsébet krt. 9-11, 1073, Budapest, Hungary
Click below on the gallery to see more photos (12)
A couple of days later we enjoyed lunch at Kertem a relaxed, casual beer garden café in the park. They had cosy seating where people were just sitting under the sun soaking up its rays, or catching up with friends for the afternoon. This is in the park near the Zoo and Botanical Gardens, and not far from Szechenyi Thermal Baths. It’s also a stone’s throw from the Hero’s Square that you will want to visit.
The food was tasty enough but not traditional Hungarian, hence I won’t bore you with the details, other than to give you a couple of photos.
Olof Palme stny. 2, 1146, Budapest, Hungary
While in Budapest try the Hungarikum Bisztro for traditional Hungarian food. We ordered the shared plate of pork knuckle, which was accompanied by potato wedges and sauerkraut. Even without ordering an entree, this was a large meal and we needed a doggie bag for the significant leftovers.
Friends who visited here a couple of times had recommended this place and it lived up to its reputation. The staff were attentive, friendly, smiling and just couldn’t do enough to please us. Their mantra is “to create a place, a good place where a guest can truly feel like a guest would feel in our home, where the meals are prepared in a traditional, authentic way”. They delivered in spades and I recommend you visit them if hungry while in Hungary!
They kindly gave us a booklet which included a recipe for Hungarian Goulash Soup. Check it out here. However, we didn’t think it was the best (as it was very thin), so I’ve also included our favourite goulash stew recipe for a tasty alternative, Easy Hungarian Goulash.
Hungarikum Bisztro, 1051 Budapest, Steindl Imre u. 13. +36 30 661 6244. www.hungarikumbisztro.hu.
Pork Knuckle accompanied by Potato Wedges and Sauerkraut
Valley Of The Beautiful Woman
Here’s a sneak preview of what the wine bars and their caves are like in the Valley Of The Beautiful Woman in Eger. There are umpteen eating establishments here and of course plenty of places to sample the local wines.
Inside The Wine Bar
Check Out The Date On These Bottles!
Old Vintages Under Lock & Key
Well that’s it from us. With bulging waistlines and clothes that seemingly shrink in the Budapest air, we’re off for another culinary adventure in Slovakia. Who knows what we might find there…
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