Veg food in Budapest: where to find it and where to eat the best
I’ve already said that and here I go again: after travelling for almost 20 years and being a vegetarian for 15 years now, Budapest has definitely been the only place where I’ve eaten better and more.
It’s not just a matter of care for vegetarians (also, but not only).
It’s not just a matter of veg food being part of the local tradition (also, but not only).
It’s the attitude towards food, the way it is served and, above all, seasoned, that made it particularly tasty to me.
One more thing: you’ll read or hear about Budapest not being veg friendly as a Hungarian city. I suggest you question this assumption.
The fact that the Hungarian cooking comes from a Magyar tradition doesn’t mean that it has no variety. There are actually some tasty and simpler vegetable alternatives as well as centuries-old contaminations. And, last but not least, please remember that Budapest is a (wonderful) capital.
Budapest offers veg alternatives as well as local dishes for vegetarians and vegans almost everywhere. I’ve never had to fill my stomach with fries as usual in case of emergency, not even once.
Let me tell you about the places where I’ve eaten and what I suggest you try in your next trip to Budapest even if you are a vegetarian like me.
What to look for and taste
As I’ve already mentioned, soups are among the things I like the most about Hungarian food and you generally have them as first course, before anything else.
They are usually cream soups of hot and light “stuff”, with not that much onion as in many eastern European countries, but with oil and boiled, blended raw ingredients, mainly seasoned with pepper and paprika.
Here are some examples.
Broccoli cream soup
called BROKKOLI KRÉMLEVES and pronounced broccoli crémlevesci
This is also a treat I will soon cook at home and include in an Instragram story (follow me on Instagram and don’t miss these goodies).
It’s basically a broccoli and potatoes cream soup with a tolerable amount of onion mixed with sour cream (a spoonful) and nutmeg. Sometimes they serve it with almonds and roasted nuts on top.
Pumpkin cream soup
called SÜTŐTÖK KRÉMLEVES and pronounced sciutotoc crémlevesci
I know you vegan friends love pumpkin and feel extremely excited when you hear the word “ginger”. Well, now think of a mix of these two ingredients with the addition of a hint of cognac. Lastly, the nutmeg is usually added to the final mix (the omnivorous alternative has smoked bacon on top, which makes no sense to me not just for ethical reasons but for its taste. Anyway, there’s no accounting for taste…)
called GOMBALEVES and pronounced gombalevesci.
Lo avevo già detto, e lo ribadisco: in quasi 20 anni di viaggi, di cui 15 da vegetariana, Budapest è stato il posto in cui ho mangiato meglio e di più. Non è solo una questione di attenzione ai vegetariani (anche, ma non solo). Non è solo questione di cibo veg presente nella tradizione locale (anche, ma non solo). Si tratta anche un un’attitudine al cibo, al modo in cui viene servito e, soprattutto, condito, che me lo ha reso particolarmente gradevole. Quest’ultima caratteristica non si applica solo al cibo veg ma anche, ad esempio, al #gulasch, che in #Ungheria è più leggero e gradevole e digeribile che in #Polonia (così mi Han detto gli onnivori). Altra cosa: sentirete dire o leggerete qui e là che Budapest, in quanto città ungherese, non è #vegfriendly. Vi invito a mettere in discussione questo assunto. Adesso ti dico dove ho mangiato e che cosa ti suggerisco di assaggiare nel tuo prossimo viaggio a Budapest se anche tu sei vegetariana, like me. Allora su, scopri che cosa puoi mangiare di buono e dove a #Budapest. (#linkinbio👉💻 )
Some prepare it with cultivated button mushrooms but several restaurants serve it with wild mushrooms such as porcini mushrooms, field mushrooms, oyster mushrooms and chanterelles. This dish is not only about mushrooms but also vegetables with a delicate taste, potatoes and the ever-present sweet paprika, pepper and nutmeg. I’ve tried it also with thickened milk and cheese crust at the Vakvarjù ètterem Pest, in the Jewish quarter, and it was delicious!
Combined with tapas, eggplants appetizers cooked in different ways and hot bread, your lunch will make you feel good, full but also able to go for a walk once over (and even to sleep well at night).
Mushrooms and paprika are a quite common eating habit for veg people in Budapest. For instance, porcini mushrooms breaded with breadcrumbs, flour and sweet paprika (an essential ingredient for the Hungarian GDP, as far as I understood) are the celebrities of local cruelty free cooking.
Or you can try the Gombapörkölt, mushrooms cooked with paprika cream and served with boiled potatoes.
You’ll find a good one at the Frici Papa, in the Jewish quarter, a very popular place even among locals.
Goat and/or Trappista cheese (on a bed of things)
Another thing for vegetarians yet off-limits for vegans is goat cheese.
It’s used to prepare bread rolls along with dips and vegetables or served in a plate on a bed of either cooked or raw vegetables, or eggplant pâté.
I’ve tasted it both with an olive oil sweet bread roll with fresh vegetables (like those used for hamburgers) at the Szimpla (the most famous among the Ruin Pubs of the Jewish quarter, that I’m going to talk about very soon in a dedicated post) and at the First, an American pub in the same neighbourhood.
I’ve also tried it served in a plate with fresh vegetables at one of the most beautiful rooftop bars I’ve ever been to, the rooftop bar of the Fisherman’s Bastion.
Here you’ll find a beautiful view both in the morning and in the evening, with the Danube river, red roofs and the Parliament building.
Then there’s the breaded and fried Trappista cheese, served with potatoes, vegetables or rice, based on the availability or individual taste.
Street food and let’s get nasty with fried food
All the food above can be served with the typical Hungarian dumpling, làngos, which is basically a pancake of fried dough.
Oftentimes, the pubs and restaurants serve it with no addition, just fried dough. The most local version is sold down the street though, stuffed with onion cream and/or cheese and/or sour cream. The best and most famous one can be tasted at the Retro Lángos/ Arany János Metró állomás
It is also a cornerstone of local street food, along with the tökipompos, which looks like flat bread or America pizza, deep dish and stuffed with anything. There can be anything on top, from meat to vegetables, onion and shoe sole, covered and hidden by molten cheese. You’d better ask for the ingredients and if the zsír is included in the dough, that is lard, used in many regional versions.
The best place to try local street food is Vörösmarty square.
Do you know any other vegetarian food to try in Budapest? Let me know so that I can look for it during my next trip; it can be really useful to the readers of this post who are about to leave to Hungary.