Little Melbourne Cafe – This small coffee shop just near Kiraly Utca is staffed by incredibly sweet gals who make a damn good coffee.
The space is chill with a lot of students/young professionals/hip Apple-carrying types punching away on their laptops or chatting with friends. It’s fairly small though and does get busy so the Brew Bar next door might be a nice option if you’re looking for some cold brew or “schmancyyyy cawfee”. If you’re looking to eat something for lunch then this probably isn’t the best place, instead head here for coffee and a small piece of cake (since little sweet treats and small sandwiches are all they have in terms of food).
Tip: check out the various books on the Australian landscape! My favourite was ‘The Soul of Melbourne’
Hummus Bar – Look no further if you want mouth-watering fresh Middle-Eastern food on a budget.
The first night I was in Budapest I decided to head to Hummus Bar for a quick bite. The reviews on Trip Advisor were very positive with many saying it was delicious, cheap and filled to the brim with locals (not just tourists which tells you something about how good it must be!). I ordered the ‘Shawarma’ which consisted of a large platter filled with chicken shawarma, hummus and fries (though you can opt for salad, rice or cous cous instead). It also came with laffa (the soft fluffy bread picture below which was so good!) and some special sauces (a greeny one and a red one – no idea what was in them but my gosh they were amazing). The dish was 1590Ft (€5.3 at current conversion), which is amazing value and considering the quality of the food I would more than go back, which is exactly what I did… the next day…
Round two at Hummus Bar consisted of a ‘Falafel Laffa’ – fresh laffa with crispy falafels, hummus, tahini sauce and fresh vegetables, which was 790Ft (€3 at current conversion), I also ordered a drink and so the bill came to almost 1000Ft. When I paid the bill I left to use the bathroom and explained to the waitress that they could keep the remaining change as payment for the service charge (usually 10%). As I was leaving the restaurant the waitress said “excuse me” and the cashier (a burly but kind-faced middle-aged guy) said “you paid with a ten thousand forint bill”, he then showed me the different between the two and warned me to be extra considerate when paying as “some people may not tell you the mistake you’ve made”. I mention this because it goes to show the level of transparency and commitment to service the restaurant has to its patrons, something which is fairly rare to find!
Castro Bisztro – Eat traditional Hungarian food with the locals in a down to earth eatery.
We were recommended to head to Castro Bisztro by our hostel for the traditional Hungarian goulash. It wasn’t far (just a stones throw from the Little Melbourne cafe and about 3 minutes from Wombats on Kiraly) so we headed there in the early afternoon for some grub. When you walk in you get the vibe that Castro’s is the type of place that local writers, business types and artists come to both eat, work and chill. There was a table just next to us with five or so people discussing an upcoming project, on the other side we had a couple and further down the back the space was filled with business men and women.
The waiters were very good in terms of service as they attended to us quickly and gave us enough time to peruse the menu, they weren’t in a hurry to get us out of there either – I guess because this is the kind of establishment that you can feel comfortable lounging around in for hours without being given looks to hurry up. The goulash was yummy, though I was expecting a thicker sauce – instead we got a soupy more liquid consistency but it still tasted delicious. The bread that the soup is served with is HUGE, it will definitely fill you up so remember to dip it in the soup as you go along!
Alexandra Book Cafe – Beautiful cake and coffee shop in the former grand old French department store ‘Alexandra’ – the perfect spot for a little luxury during your stay in Budapest.
Yes, the cake and coffee were good but I was here to see one thing – the incredible chandeliers and the frescos painted by Károly Lotz (this article covers the history of the Alexandra bookstore in some detail so definitely check it out). I ordered a chocolate cake with a cappuccino whilst I was transported to another time in the grandiose space. It really is beautiful and if you have some time in your itinerary then I would recommend a visit. The service was pretty good but I would say that the menu is a little more on the expensive side with the total bill coming to €8. If you just want to take some photos then perhaps order just a coffee or tea and soak up the vibes.
Pad Thai Wok2Go – Cheap, tasty and quick noodles!
Now I don’t know whether I’m embarrassed or proud to admit that I went to Pad Thai Wok2Go three nights in a row… I mean, let me explain! It was so good, so quick, so tasty that I just couldn’t go again, and again… and again! I would highly recommend the egg noodles with chicken, Indonesian peanut sauce and extra peanuts on top! I also tried the Green Curry sauce, which was spicy but delicious. This is most certainly on par with dishes I’ve had in South East Asia and also in Melbourne (we have a huge love for Asian food in Melbourne!). The best thing though… wait for it… is that it costs around €4-5 for dinner – now I can eat a lot and for me it was a decent size, I finished the whole box and was very satisfied. So value x volume = fantastic!
It’s also the perfect place to feast prior to heading to the pubs and bars dotted along the laneway that it’s on, which is directly across from the Wombats hostel on Kiraly (ha can I add value x volume x location to the equation?!). On a side note I have to say Wombats Budapest is probably one of the best hostels I have ever stayed in, hope to a do a review soon! Final words – go to Pad Thai Wok2Go
Espresso Embassy – Undeniably my favourite coffee thus far in Europe!
Now Espresso Embassy make an unbelievably good coffee and I have to be honest and say I’m more than happy to give them the title of ‘Best Coffee in Europe… as tasted by mel!’. The consistency of the milk and the type of bean they use reminds me of Melbourne coffee! So good! If you’re a coffee lover and have been struggling to find some decent brew then definitely head here because you won’t be disappointed. They even have loyalty cards so if you’re there for a week or more it might be worth picking up one and collecting those stamps. The cafe is also in a pretty sweet location just near St. Stephen’s Basilica so you could stop off here before heading to Buda or the banks of the Danube.
Easter Markets – The perfect place for traditional Hungarian food such as Langos and Goulash!
Believe it or not I did eat local Hungarian dishes! The easter markets, which are currently dotted all along the city are the perfect spot to taste Hungary on a plate. Langos (deep fried bread topped with sour cream and cheese) are a big winner as is Goulash (beef and vegetable soup served inside a huge loaf of bread). I tried a flat bread (see below as I have no idea what the name is!) stuffed with cheese and leeks, which was so good! Just be mindful that some stalls can get very busy and people like to push in (sometimes unwittingly) so just gently remind them that the back of the line is thatta way <<<<
I’d also recommend going to the markets on a Sunday as it’s usually family day and the vibes are wonderful. The space really comes alive!
Koleves – Jewish food with a twist!
Auguszt Cukrászda – A 150 year-old sweet shop with incredible Krémes .
Leves. – Frequented by local students this tiny shop front is serving 5-6 different soups daily topped with either mozzarella, croutons, sour cream or taco chips.
Budapest is TRULY a foodie paradise with a diverse range of cuisines suited to all budgets. I had such an incredible time in this city and would highly recommend a visit to anyone (especially those on a budget!).