Piroska Restaurant (officially known as Piroska Vendeglo) is much recommended for those tourists who want to try Hungarian cuisine off the beaten path, and try something really local, traditional Hungarian fare, in a retro environment, at cheap / reasonable prices. Piroska Restaurant (say Piroshka) does not have either the Hungarian folk – Gypsy style atmosphere, or the beautiful historical cafes in Budapest like Cafe Central.

Piroska Restaurant Budapest Traditional Hungarian Foods

Piroska Restaurant Budapest

Piroska is tucked away in side street, within 10 minutes walk to Heroes’ Square. Many tourists rush to Paprika Restaurant on Dozsa Gyorgy Way in the neighbourhood, but we could not get in to test the local celebrity restaurant of Hungarian Restaurants in Budapest.

We wanted to give you our own TopBudapestOrg review of the popular Paprika Vendeglo, and ended up in Piroska Vendeglo where we had a phenomenal late lunch.

We were hungry, and kept walking towards the Grand Boulevard from Piroska. Then suddenly my husband recalled his past visits to Piroska Vendeglo, a traditional Hungarian restaurant with red and white checked tablecloths, soups in little red pots, reasonable prices and, for us, a lovely retro atmosphere of the 1970’s and 1980s of Hungary.

Piroska Vendeglo Budapest Hungarian Restaurants

Piroska Vendeglo Budapest

I was eating a really nice and filling bean goulash soup (as seen in the phot), and we also had an onion soup in a bun, and some meat soup.

These were our starters, and we loved our main courses too (Trout, Brassoi meat and fries, etc.). Do we like Piroska Restaurant? Yes, we do. If you do not shy away from more simple places to eat.

Opening Hours of Piroska Restaurant

Piroska restaurant is open from Mon to Fri from 11 am to 11 pm.

Address of Piroska Restaurant

40 Damjanich Street Budapest 1066 (District VI)

Design of Piroska Vendeglo Budapest


Piroska Restaurant Budapest Retro

Piroska Restaurant Budapest Retro

The interior design of Piroska Vendeglo restaurant was a mixture of retro elements, although not a tasteful mix, but definitely a pleasant one, where you do not have to worry about dresses, mysterious cutlery, etc.

The red walls inside are adorned with old posters, and advertising decor, the windows are filled with various soda bottles, the red and white checkered tablecloths bear a Tiffany lamp. Old radios, and even an old motorbike comes complete with the wooden bar furniture from the 1970s. It is a special place, with an especially good kitchen if you want to eat something nice and Hungarian.

There is a small side street terrace with a few tables outside for those who want to sit / smoke outside. The street was quiet on the weekend, and we had a great lunch, including our 2. 5 year old daughter, who ate up a mighty big meat soup with fresh carrots and nice beef.

Miguel Rocha Vieira, the Portuguese chef of the Michelin star Costes Restaurant in Budapest shares where he gets his inspiration from. Any guess?

To quote from the diary of Costes Etterem Budapest:

Miguel Rocha Vieira

Miguel Rocha Vieira (photo

When talking about my profession, one of the questions people always seem to do is where do I get my inspiration from. Let me try to give you the answer to that one. There isn’t a simple formula or method. Inspiration comes from everywhere, everyone and everything. Sometimes when less expected “bum” a brilliant idea comes to mind just out of the box. To me, inspiration comes from travelling and other cultures, from local markets, from the seasons of the year and their ingredients, from the nature, from books and music, from fellow Chefs, in the middle of a busy service, when trying to sleep at night, from an infinity of things… As you can see, sometimes things are easier than they look. Hope I could help, even if only a little, to answer to that question that everybody seems to do.

Budapest Hard Rock Cafe (HRC Budapest for short), is in downtown Budapest, on the historical Vorosmarty Square. The iconic American style cafe opened in Dec 2011 in Budapest with great success.

Budapest Hard Rock Cafe

Budapest Hard Rock Cafe

Besides the 30 HD TV screens, or the playlist featuring Slash, the Rolling Stones or Motorhead, you can expect the classic quality and prices of Hard Rock Cafes in the world: genuine American cuisine, music memorabilia of the world famous icons, and a healthy mix of locals and foreigners. The four-level Hard Rock Cafe is huge, with 1097 square metres (11 808.0097 sq feet): the Rock Shop is on the ground floor, while the first floor is the cafe, restaurant and the main stage.

Out of the 220 seats, the 60 seats on the top floor has good views over the atmospheric Vorosmarty Square and the Vaci street. On the walls of Hard Rock Cafe, you can see precious items of super stars in the world of rock music: the purse of Janis Joplin, the stilettos of Tina Turner, the handwritten mail of Madonna, the suit of John Lennon and Mick Jagger, the guitars of Lenny Kravitz and George Michael, etc.

What to taste at HRC Budapest?

You could start your American gastro tour with sampling the Legendary Experience foods, like the Legendary Burger (ten ounce), or the Hickory Bar-B-Que Rib and Chicken. If you like spicy things, try the classic hot chicken wings. Portions are huge, good for splitting. Don’t forget to drink something in a souvenir HRC cup to take home something Hard Rock with you. The alcohol free Alternative Rock is nice, or you can try any of the Margharitas.

Budapest Hard Rock Cafe glasses

Budapest Hard Rock Cafe glasses

Where is the Hard Rock Cafe in Budapest?

The cafe itself is located in a beautiful 19th century building, now the Vaci shopping and entertainment center (named after the Vaci utca shopping street, which ends at Vorosmarty Square).
Address: 3-5 Deák Ferenc street, Distrcit V, Budapest, zip code 1051

How to get to Budapest Hard Rock Cafe?

The most convenient way to get to HRC is to take the public transport or walk, as the cafe is pretty much in the center, right near the corner of a pedestrian only shopping street (Vaci street). Take the M1 yellow metro line to Vorosmarty Square (Vörösmarty tér) metro station, which is the terminal of the M1 metro line, aka the historical and fun Millennial Underground.
M2, M3 – as all metro lines cross on Deak Square, the heart of the city, and Deak is only 3-5 min on foot from Vorosmarty Square, you can also take a nice short walk to Hard Rock Cafe Budapest.

Budapest HRC Guitar

Budapest HRC Guitar

If you wish to get to the center by car you just have to follow the Centrum sign and look for parking place, then walk for 5-15 minutes to get to Hard Rock Cafe Budapest.

Many local buses have stops around the center within walking distance to Vörösmarty Square. Just to mention some of them: number 7 , 7E , 9, 16, 16A , 173 , 173E .

Liszt Ferenc International airport is located approximately 24 kms from Vörösmarty Square. Taxi fare from the airport is approximately HUF 5,000-7,000.

Parking Information: There are a few parking centers around Vörösmarty and Deák Square. Price is approximately HUF 400 / hour. You can try to park on the streets, but parking spaces on the streets are very limited.

Opening Hours of Budapest Hard Rock Cafe

Hours: Restaurant
Sunday–Thursday, 12:00PM – 1:00AM (the kitchen will close at midnight)
Friday– Saturday 12:00PM – 2:00AM (the kitchen will close at 1:00am)

Contact Hard Rock Cafe, Budapest

Telephone: +36 30 572 4011

Prices at Hard Rock Cafe

The prices are more or less the same as elsewhere in the world’s hundreds of other Hard Rock Cafes. Burgers are about HUF 3,900, cocktails start from approx. HUF 1,600. But if you drop in the cafe on the official birthday of the HRC chain (June 14) you can expect generous savings and extra servings. Portions are quite sizeable!

Here is a tourist made sneak peek video inside the Budapest Hard Rock Cafe (shaky hands, but gives some idea about the HRC Budapest interior and arrangement):

Menu HRC

Please note: this is a global HRC chain menu, so some of the items below may not be on the Budapest menu at HRC.


Rock ‘n’ roll opens strong. So does the rock �?n’ roll restaurant – with mouth-watering appetizers crafted by hand and made from scratch. Try the jumbo combo for a sampling of our greatest hits.
Jumbo Combo
A delectable array of our most popular starters that’s big enough to share. Includes Santa Fe Spring Rolls, Hickory-Smoked Chicken Wings, Onion Rings, Potato Skins and Tupelo Chicken Tenders. Served with four different sauces for mixing and matching.
Hard Rock Nachos
Fresh corn tortilla chips piled high with Jack and Cheddar cheeses and seasoned pinto beans. Served with sour cream, chopped green onions, pico de gallo, jalapeños and a side of fresh Hard Rock Grilled Salsa. Big enough to share.

Budapest HRC Terrace

Budapest HRC Terrace

Add Grilled Chicken, Bar-B-Que Pulled Pork or Grilled Fajita Beef for an additional charge.
Hickory Smoked Chicken Wings
Colossal wings, hickory-smoked in our hardwood smoker. Have them Buffalo style or fire-grilled with your choice of Classic Rock, Heavy Metal, or Tangy Bar-B-Que sauces. Served with celery sticks and blue cheese dressing.
Potato Skins
Large potato shells, fried golden brown, filled with Jack and Cheddar cheeses, crisp seasoned bacon and green onions. Served with a side of sour cream for dipping.
Tupelo Chicken Tenders

Budapest HRC Guitar with Parliament

Budapest HRC Guitar with Parliament

Boneless, seasoned and breaded chicken tenders, served with honey-mustard and Hickory Bar-B-Que sauces on the side or tossed in our Classic Rock, Heavy Metal, or Tangy Bar-B-Que sauces. Served with celery sticks and blue cheese dressing.
Balsamic Tomato Bruschetta
Fresh diced Roma tomatoes marinated with chopped garlic, fresh basil, and aged Balsamic vinegar on olive oil toasted, sliced Ciabatta bread. Topped with parsley, grated Romano, and shaved Parmesan cheese.
Santa Fe Spring Rolls
Stuffed with spinach, black beans, cilantro, corn, jalapenos, diced red peppers and Jack cheese. Served with freshly made Hard Rock Salsa, Guacamole and Chipotle Ranch dressing.

Fresh, fine, earth-friendly ingredients are a given here – our chefs care deeply what goes into our recipes and onto your plate. So that steak is nothing less than sirloin, and that salmon filet is from sustainable sources.
Famous Fajitas
Your choice of grilled chicken or beef served with pico de gallo, shredded Monterey Jack and Cheddar cheeses, fresh guacamole, sour cream, shredded lettuce and hot flour tortillas.

Grilled Chicken
Grilled Beef
Grilled Shrimp
Duo Combo
Trio Combo
New York Strip Steak
A 12 oz. New York strip steak grilled to your liking and topped with Merlot-garlic butter. Served with fresh vegetables and garlic herb smashed potatoes with gravy.

Add a Shrimp Skewer for an additional charge
Grilled Sirloin Steak
An 8 oz. sirloin steak grilled to your liking and topped with Merlot-garlic butter. Served with fresh vegetables and garlic herb smashed potatoes with gravy.
Twisted Mac, Chicken & Cheese
A grilled chicken breast tops off twisted cavatappi pasta tossed in a lightly spiced 3-cheese sauce, with garlic, roasted red peppers and romano parsley bread crumbs. Served with a side of garlic toast.
Grilled Chicken Marsala
A tender marinated boneless chicken breast fire grilled and served on a bed of thin spaghetti pasta with a hint of garlic, Romano cheese, mushrooms and fresh spinach leaves. Topped with mushrooms and a rich Marsala wine sauce, served with fresh vegetables.
Grilled Salmon
An 8 oz. filet grilled and topped with a Merlot-garlic butter and served with confetti rice and fresh vegetables.
Beer Battered Fish & Chips
Beer battered fish fried golden brown, served with fries and a citrus spiked tartar sauce and homemade cole slaw.

Legendary Burgers
All our delectable beef Legends come with seasoned fries. Or, for a little extra, freshly hand-breaded onion rings. Layer on caramelized onions or braised mushrooms for an additional charge.
Legendary 10 oz. Burger
Famous the world over: topped with seasoned bacon, two slices of Cheddar cheese, a crisp fried onion ring, lettuce, tomato, and pickles.
S.O.B. Burger
Basted with spicy Chipotle Pepper puree and topped with Montery Jack cheese. Served on a buttered-toasted bun with Hard Rock Guacamole & grilled onions.
Hickory BBQ Bacon Cheeseburger
Basted with our special Hickory Bar-B-Que sauce and smothered with caramelized onions. Topped with crisp seasoned bacon and melted Cheddar cheese.
The Big Cheese
Topped with three thick slices of your choice of cheeses. Choose from American, Monterey Jack, Cheddar or Swiss.
Red, White & Blue Burger
Laced and grilled with our spicy Buffalo sauce and Cajun Seasoning, then topped with crumbled blue cheese and a crisp
fried onion ring.
Mushroom & Swiss Burger
Smothered with sautéed mushrooms and topped with two slices of Swiss cheese.
California Burger
A toasted bun brushed with Ranch dressing, fresh cucumber slices, lettuce, tomato, freshmade Hard Rock Guacamole and topped with Monterey Jack cheese.
Veggie Leggie
Our grilled Veggie Leggie patty is topped with a grilled Portabello mushroom, zucchini, yellow squash and roasted red pepper. Served on a toasted bun with lemon mayo, leaf lettuce, sliced tomato and grilled sweet onions. Served with a salad with your choice of dressing.
Turkey Burger
Grilled turkey patty served on a toasted bun with jerk mayo, leaf lettuce, tomato slice and red onion rings. Topped with pepper jack cheese and fresh avocado slices. Served with a salad with your choice of dressing.
Local Legendary
The Official Food of Rock is also the Official Food of the World. So take the opportunity to savor your Legendary Burger with some authentically mouth-watering local flavor – whether it’s
an Asian spin in Tokyo, a South American zing in Buenos Aires or a European twist in Paris. Just ask your server about the Local Legendary burger served here.
Classic 6 oz. Burger
The same great Hard Rock Legendary experience, just in a smaller size. A fresh Certified Angus Beef hamburger, lightly seasoned and cooked to order. Garnished with lettuce, tomato, red onion and pickles. Served with seasoned fries.

Add American, Jack, Cheddar or Swiss cheese and crisp seasoned bacon for an additional charge.
Legendary Chicken
If you prefer to substitute your 10oz. Legend with a perfectly grilled 1/2 lb. chicken breast on a toasted bun, who are we to say anything but “cool” and “no extra cost.”

Just like in Tennessee, the smokers are here in our kitchen, where they should be. Your chef can make sure it brings out just the right, rustic, wonderful, wood-smoke flavor.
Hickory-Smoked Bar-B-Que Combo
Can’t decide? Get the best of our Smokehouse! Your Choice of Bar-B-Que Ribs, Bar-B-Que Chicken or Smoked Pulled Pork. Served with seasoned fries, ranch beans and fresh cole slaw.

Duo Combo
Trio Combo
Hickory-Smoked Bar-B-Que Chicken
Our famous Southern-style half-chicken, rubbed, grilled, and basted with our authentic Hickory Bar-B-Que sauce. Served with seasoned fries, ranch beans and fresh coleslaw.
Hickory-Smoked Bar-B-Que Ribs
A full rack of West Tennessee-style ribs rubbed then basted with our authentic Hickory Bar-B-Que sauce and cooked to perfection – so the meat falls right off the bone. Served with seasoned fries, ranch beans and fresh coleslaw.

All sandwiches served with seasoned fries or substitute onion rings for additional charge. Add a side Caesar or House salad for additional charge. Add a side Caesar or House salad for an additional fee.
Blackened Fish Of The Day Sandwich
Ask your server about today’s catch that is blackened over a fire grill and served on a toasted bun with dill mayo, fresh cucumber planks, shredded iceberg lettuce, leaf lettuce, sliced tomato and sweet red onion rings. Served with a salad with your choice of dressing.
California Chicken Club Sandwich
Grilled chicken, crisp seasoned bacon, fresh avocado slices, tomato, lemon mayo and lettuce on toasted bread. Served with seasoned fries.
Goat Cheese Chicken Salad Sandwich
Poached chicken tossed with celery, green onions, in a light citrus mayo dressing with Dijon mustard and dill; on a toasted hoagie roll with spring mix topped with dried cranberries and goat cheese crumbles. Served with a side salad or fresh seasonal fruit.

Smokehouse Sandwiches
If you’re looking for pulled pork, you’ve come to the right place. We’re the smokehouse masters. Sandwiches served with seasoned fries, ranch beans & fresh cole slaw. Any sandwich can be made with smoked pulled chicken as an alternative.
Hickory-Smoked Pulled-Pork Sandwich
Hickory-smoked pork, hand pulled, so it’s tender and juicy. Served with your choice of our authentic vinegar-based or Hickory Bar-B-Que sauces and topped with marinated slaw.
BBQ Pulled Chicken Sandwich
Our in-house smoked chickens that are hand-pulled, so the meat is tender and juicy. Served on a toasted Ciabatta bun topped with our Hickory Bar-B-Que sauce. Topped with our creamy cole slaw.
Shang Hi
Asian 5 spice Bar-B-Que sauce with homemade Asian style pickled cucumbers with sriracha mayonnaise drizzle.
South Carolina
Tangy homemade South Carolina style mustard Bar-B Que sauce with crispy slaw and crispy cayenne onions.
The Texan
Chipotle and Hickory Bar-B-Que sauce, cheddar cheese, crispy jalapenos and crispy onions… everything is bigger in Texas!
Go big & make it a 10oz. Bar-B-Que sandwich for an additional charge.

We match the extraordinary & fresh produce with an extraordinary selection of hand-made dressings: ranch, honey mustard, honey citrus, caesar, blue cheese, balsamic vinaigrette, lite Italian and oil & vinegar.
Honey-Citrus Grilled Chicken Salad
Fresh cut greens tossed with sweet red onions, grilled Cajun chicken and tossed with our Honey-Citrus dressing. Topped with fresh orange segments, spiced pecans, red pepper strips, sweetened dried cranberries and blue cheese crumbles.
Haystack Chicken Salad
This Hard Rock special combines fresh mixed greens, carrots, corn, diced tomatoes, pico de gallo and shredded cheese. Topped with Tupelo fried chicken or a grilled chicken breast. Tossed with ranch dressing and topped with spiced pecans and crisp tortilla straws.
Caesar Salad
Crisp Romaine lettuce tossed with our scratch-made Caesar dressing, fresh baked croutons, grated Romano cheese and crispy seasoned bacon bits. Garnished with shaved Parmesan cheese and whole black olives.

For an extra charge:
Add Grilled Chicken
Add Grilled Shrimp
Add Grilled Salmon
Cajun Shrimp & Poached Pear Salad
Spring mix tossed with goat cheese crumbles, chopped seasoned bacon and a sweet Dijon pear dressing. Topped with poached pear segments, spicy pecans and grilled sweet Cajun shrimp.
Smokehouse Chop Salad
Freshly chop mixed field greens tossed with diced smoked chicken, spicy bacon & pecans, cheddar cheese, pico de gallo with a smoky citrus vinaigrette and topped with fresh sliced avocado.

Twisted Mac & Cheese
Seasonal Veggie
French Fries
Grilled Shrimp Skewer
Garlic Herb Smashed Potatoes
Seasonal Fruit
Garlic Toast
Side House Salad
Side Caesar Salad
Hand-Breaded Onion Rings
Confetti Rice
Romano Parsley Pasta

Nothing says rock ‘n’ roll heaven like a sweet lick of homemade dessert.
Definition – A bite, a nibble, a taste. Just enough to satisfy one or order a round to share. Everyone has room for a bite.

Each available in a souvenir glass for an additional fee.
Chocolate Mousse Bite
Simple and light: rich whipped chocolate mousse served with a light chocolate sauce.
Strawberry Cheesecake Bite
A rich New York-style cheesecake filling with a light graham cracker crust and rich strawberry sauce.
Crème Brûlée Bite
A rich French Pastry cream topped with a sugar brûlée crust.
Chocolate Peanut Butter Pie Bite
Made with peanut butter, cream and semi-sweet chocolate. Topped with roasted chopped peanuts.

Ice Cream
Our Hard Rock signature ice cream offerings are chocolate or vanilla.

Fresh Apple Cobbler
A country favorite, served warm with Ben & Jerry’s vanilla ice cream, topped with walnuts and caramel sauce.
Hot Fudge Brownie
Vanilla ice cream and hot fudge on a fresh brownie, topped with chopped walnuts, chocolate sprinkles, fresh whipped cream and a cherry.
Mojito Yogurt With Seasonal Fresh Fruit
Creamy, thick Greek yogurt with fresh lime and mint served over fresh seasonal fruit served Island style in a margarita glass.
Ages 21 & older can add raspberry rum for an additional fee.
Sinful Hot Fudge Sundae
Three large scoops of vanilla ice cream, topped with our famous hot fudge sauce, chopped walnuts, fresh whipped cream, chocolate sprinkles and a cherry.
Thick Shakes
Your choice of vanilla or chocolate ice cream. Another Hard Rock Cafe legend.
Put it in a souvenir 23 oz. Hurricane glass or 20 oz. Pilsner and keep the glass (additional fee).

Kids Menu
For ages 10 and under. Set price includes Kids Drink.
C.A.B. Cheeseburger
A lil’ version of our famous Certified Angus Beef Hard Rock Cafe burger on a toasted bun. Choice of American, Cheddar or Swiss cheese. Served with french fries.
Cheesy Mac
Every Lil’ Rocker’s favorite – twisted macaroni & a creamy cheese sauce. Served with garlic toast.
Pasta with Red Sauce
Twisted macaroni with red sauce. Served with garlic toast.
Chicken Tenders
Crisp fried chicken served with honey mustard sauce. Served with french fries.
Hot Dog
An all-beef hot dog on a toasted bun. Served with french fries.
BBQ Drum Sticks
Crispy chicken drum sticks tossed in our sweet Hickory BBQ Sauce. Served with french fries.
Oven Roasted Chicken Salad
Fresh greens, toasted croutons, oven roasted chicken breast, seasoned bacon bits. Cheddar and Jack cheese. Served with your choice of dressing.

The philanthropy mission of the HRC has also been brought to Budapest of course.

Now, one of the most spectacular pastries a Hungarian kid can see at home is the strudel (rétes, say ‘ray-tesh’ in Hungarian). Not because it looks spectacular as a traditional Hungarian pastry, but the way it is made, the way the dough is stretched and stretched, until it is so flimsy that one fears it will just tear, but if you are clever with your hands, it won’t.
Here is a video recipe of a Hungarian strudel with cherry filling (but there are about 20-30 fillings you can make, from sweet apples or carrots to savoury grated cabbage, or even quark with sultana):

If you have ever tried Hungarian pastries, you will know how delicious they can be – provided you have picked a cake, which suits your tastes (e.g. the famous Dobos cake, a Hungarian classic is sometimes found too dry, so if you like moist pastries, go for strudels, or Flodni (Rachel’s Flodni at Cafe Noe s something to die for).

Now, this video is more of a demonstration for tourists rather than a proper video recipe. The onlookers of the strudel show are most likely gastro tourists, or foodies, or just want to see something special in Budapest. At any rate, it is fun to see how the dough of strudel is stretched on a big table, until it is flimsy. Our grannies did the same way. 🙂

If you are on a shoestring budget in Budapest, either because of your limited financial means, or because you are a student or a backpacker or an exchange worker or just a nice volunteer in Budapest Hungary, you can still find affordable, really really good budget restaurants in Budapest – with Hungarian cuisine or with some kind of cosmopolitan food (Chinese, Indian, Mexican, etc.). Here is our Map of Budapest Cheap Restaurants: nice restaurants with cheap menus, eateries, vegetarian food bars, butchers with great sausages by the counter, self service restaurants.

Budapest Leves - Soup Bar

Budapest Leves – Soup Bar

Your best bet is to have a good lunch in Hungary. Lunch is the main meal of the day, which is sometime between 12pm and 2pm. Consequently, lunch menus abundant in the city of Budapest, as they attract all the employees flocking out of the workplaces to get some decent lunch and socialize – but priced favourably in view of low Hungarian salaries.

Lunch meals in Budapest are quite good deals. The 3-6 Euro lunch deals usually include some kind of soup and the main course of your choice,  however, there are no drinks, no salads, no desserts included in this truly shoestring budget price (if you have something even cheaper in mind, you will have to go to the grocery for some bakery products and other cheap foods)

Soups of Hungarian Lunch Deals

Hungarians love soups and many eat a big bowl of soup to start with. The most typical Hungarian soups are: Hungarian chicken soup, tomato soup, potato soup, pea soup, green bean soup, sour cherry soup, bean soup, goulash soup (yes, it is a soup in Hungary, not a stew), but there are all kinds of soups from cheese soup through broccoli cream soup to onion soup. Lighter soups – mostly soups with vegetables and fruits – are typically paired with more substantial main courses, while heavier, meat based soups like bean soup with smoked ham or goulash soup with beef cubes, or tarragon chicken soup are paired with lighter main courses like veggie casseroles or pasta dishes.

Frici Papa Kifozdeje - cheap eatery in Budapest

Frici Papa Kifozdeje – cheap eatery in Budapest

Main Courses of Hungarian Lunch Deals

Main courses at cheap restaurants may seem to be mostly meat based, and they are indeed. But there are lots of vegetarian meals available too (especially soups and the wide range of stewed vegetable dishes called ‘fozelek’, say fur-zel-lake). Main courses are quite cosmopolitan, with frequent Hungarian – Italian – Eastern European options to choose from.

Types of Cheap Places to Eat in Budapest

Let’s assume, that you would not want to spend more than 4-8 Euros per meals (for lunch and dinner) in Budapest. Your best options arecheap Hungarian restaurants (étterem is restaurant) or other types of dining places called:

  • eatery: étkezde (ate-kez-deh), or kifőzde (ki-furs-deh): usually open all day, crowded at lunch hours, but at dinner time eateries are not busy
  • self-service restaurants: onkiszolgalo (önkiszolgáló, say earn-ki-sol-gah-low) – mostly focusing on cheap lunches
  • buffet: bufe (büfé, say bur-fay) – sandwiches, frankfurters, sausages, grilled meat, salads, Hungarian style burgers, pickles, etc. e.g. Burek Kiraly (in Hegedus Gyula street, close to Nyugati Train Station) or Csirkefogo close to Deak Square in Bajcsy Zsilinszky street)

Budapest Budget Restaurants

Eateries and Restaurants in Budapest: budget but good places to eat, with good foods and modest prices, approx. 4-8€. The budget prices usually mean that you can expect a not so good service (American tourists please note that the European style catering is far less dynamic and proactive than the American style “the waiter checks upon the guests every 5 min” to refill, to ask, to offer, to make sure, etc.. The traditional Hungarian style catering, and in general European style, is more like ” please hail down the waiter / waitress if you need anything, otherwise we don’t want to bother you in your privacy”).

Fruccola Bar Budapest

Fruccola Bar Budapest

So let’s see the list of cheap places to eat in Budapest: these are the best budget restaurants in Budapest at the time of writing.
Menza Restaurant on the unavoidable Liszt Ferenc Square by Andrassy Avenue (close to Oktogon). Liszt Square has a dozen restaurants of various styles, Menza is one of the most visited for its cheap prices, and lovely retro atmosphere. Is it perfect? No it is not, yet it is still one of the most visited dining places in Budapest by locals and tourists alike. It has a great location if you are walking along Andrassy, taking a tour in the nearby Opera House, or heading to / from the House of Terror and the Heroes Square. 4-5 Euros for a soup-main course lunch menu:
Ruben Restaurant in District V is one of the best budget restaurants in Budapest with its highly popular cheap daily lunch menu for 3-4 Euros. Ruben is at 12 Magyar Street, close to Astoria M2 metro station (just a few minutes from this cheap Hungarian restaurant, there is a nice little park, Karolyi kert, where you can sit down to have some quiet and peace in the bustling city): Ruben Restaurant
Frici Papa Kifozdeje is a genuine cheap eatery / budget restaurant in Budapest. Do not expect anything fancy, just something like a nice cosy canteen with lots of happily dining very satisfied locals who are on a budget (as are Hungarian wages). Official website of Frici Papa Budapest.
Hunyadi Kisvendeglo close to the House of Terror at 10 Hunyadi Square Budapest is indeed a cosy traditional Hungarian restaurant with cheap prices and good foods. Official website of Hunyadi Kisvendeglo
Fruccola is a light eatery with healthy salads, sandwiches and lots of fresh veegetables and fruits for the health conscious tourists in Budapest (locals love Fruccola’s places) More info on 

Montenegroi Gurman Budapest

Montenegroi Gurman Budapest

Leves is a trendy Hungarian eatery specializing in soups. It is in face a good soup bar for take away soups, fresh baguettes, cookies, etc. Leves (or more precisely Leves! with an exclamation mark – I have mentioned that Hungarians looove soups!) is very very popular among students. No wonder: the soups are substantial, very nice and fresh, perfect for a dirt cheap budget main course. The budget eatery is close to the Central market hall (Vamhaz korut street 14). Official Facebook page of Leves here.
Cafe Zappa The daily cheap lunch menu deal includes two courses plus 3 dl lemonade for about 5-6 euros. Isn’t it budget Budapest? More details about Cafe Zappa Budapest here.
Cafe Alibi a cosy and cheap student hangout by the Hungarian National Museum on Egyetem Square should be on your Budapest cheap restaurant list in downtown Budapest (hot tip: nearby Chocoroom is a great place for a cuppa hot chocolate) See the image video of Cafe Alibi at the bottom. Official facebook page of Budapest Cafe Alibi.

Cafe Bocadillo in the city centre of Budapest, on Astoria Square is an ideal cheap place to eat a quick lunch, snack or a nice budget breakfast if you happen to be in the neighbourhood (close to the Jewish Quarter, the Great Synagogue, the National Museum, Urania Film Theatre, etc.). The terrace is definitely an advantage. More info here
Cafe Bali (officially known as Bali Caffe) is a small cafe with 13 tables by Astoria Square, in central Budapest. Their cheap lunch deals are great value for money (for about 4 Euros soup and main course) if you are close by Astoria Square M2 metro station. Official website of the cafeis here.

Ruben Restaurant Budapest

Ruben Restaurant Budapest

Atrium Restaurant is very close to the Heroes Square in Budapest, opposite the nearby 1956 Memorial on Dozsa Gyorgy Way, in the modern glass building of the ING. The modern self-service / canteen / cafe is a pleasant and cheap place to have a decent lunch on weekdays. Not to be confused with Atrium Cafe on Vorosmarty Square.

Belvarosi Disznotoros is not even an eatery, still a warmly recommended cheap place to eat in Budapest – for meat lovers exclusively, who are happy to grab some lovely sausages, grilled chiken, duck thighs, blood pudding (the latter of which could be the closest translation to the Hungairan liver and blood sausages), etc. If you like meat and don’t mind eating while standing at a counter amongst fresh butcher products, it could be your potential best budget ‘meatery’ in Budapest. Belvarosi Disznotoros (‘Downtown pork platter’) is super centrally located and open all day long on weekdays (until 8pm). It is a short walk from the Elisabeth Bridge, from Astoria (M2 station) or from Kalvin Square (M3 Station) and the National Museum in Budapest. Official Facebook page

Makos Guba Restaurant Budapest

Makos Guba Restaurant Budapest

Makos Guba is a budget restaurant on the Buda side, close to the Tunnel under the Castle Hill on Krisztina korut street, District I in Budapest. The place is packed with locals at lunch time, with an average waiting time of 10-15 min, but is a lot more relaxed outside peak lunch hours. Right across the street from Makos Guba you will see a CBA grocery store – well this corner shop has a pretty good and very cheap eatery section – with a very limited number of tables (5-6?), but many are happy to take their lunch boxes away for a cheap meal (maybe eat it at the nearby little park). Official website of Makos Guba Restaurant here.

Popular canteens: there are some really popular canteens in Budapest, which are usually not attractive by sight, so you need to lower your expectations before entering the canteens. Some of them have been around for many decades, and have a definite retro feeling, like Pajtas Etterem (self service canteen) in Gyorskocsi Street, close to Batthyany Square M2 metro station. Pajtas (poy-tah-sh) attracts anyone of any ages trying to get a decent lunch on a budget (weekday lunch place only).

Most universities also has cheap canteens, you can ask any of the students to give your directions. For instance, if you are staying by Petofi Bridge, you can try the canteen of the Technical University for a cheap lunch.

Miscellaneous budget places to eat

Cosmopolitan cuisine in Budapest with reasonable / budget prices

Arriba Taqueria Mexican foods on Terez korut street, not far from Liszt Ferenc square and Menza (which is usually full)
Hummus Bar for great vegitarian dishes in Alkotmany street, close to the Parliament and Szabadsag square
Szeraj Restaurant Turkish eatery close to the Margaret Bridge (13 Szt Istvan korut street)
Momotaro Ramen Chinese restaurant close to the Chain Bridge and the Parliament and the Basilica in Szechenyi street
Montenegroi Gurman in Rakoczi way (54 Rákóczi út)
California Coffee for sandwiches on Kalvin Square (American urban trendy sort of place)

Budapest Budget Restaurants

Budapest Budget Restaurants

Regarding Hungarian cuisine, of which you have already must have heard that the meals are heavy, I would recommend trying anything ‘typical Hungarian’ for lunch so that you have time to digest it. We ourselves eat our heavy national deals mostly for lunch time, maybe for this very reason, but maybe also as midday lunch is the main meal of the day for Hungarians, while dinners are lighter, faster, less fancy on average. Midday lunch is sometime between noon and 2 pm, but some places open earlier at about half to 12 as early arrivals will be happy to get before the long queues building up by 12pm.

Taking a critical look at our own Hungarian cuisine (and mind you, we are not relying on statistics here as simply there are no stats only assumptions and observations), we could say that Hungarian savoury cuisine can be summed up in 3 words: stews, pickles and sour cream. However, the desserts in Hungary, eaten at a good place can be won-der-ful! Delicious, yummy, mouthwatering. Let’s add that the best place to eat is always a good Hungarian home with a nice housewife, possibly in her mature years. But most tourists are not that lucky to get invited for a real home made meal in Hungary. Never mind, some places will let you have a feel for what you could have.

If you eat goulash, be prepared that in Hungary, where it is from, goulash is a soup with more liquid and lots of veggies, maybe dumplings, beef cubes and paprika. Most foreigners expect to get stew when they order goulash, but in Hungarian stew is pörkölt, goulash is gulyás (soup).


Last updated: 11 August, 2012

Are you planning to have your meal while enjoying panoramic views in Budapest? Would you like more than having a picnic basket on the Citadel or climbing the Fisherman’s Bastion lookout tower to get stunning views? Here are some of the top viewpoint restaurants in Budapest, the ‘Paris of East’ divided by the river Danube into Buda and Pest – both magical at night.

Stunning Views over the city from Citadella Panorama Restaurant Budapest

Stunning Views over the city from Citadella Panorama Restaurant Budapest

Having a great meal in Budapest is not so difficult in one of the best Budapest restaurants. That said, having a great meal in a good restaurant possibly with river views might not be so easy, which sounds strange and with all that water flowing through between Buda and Pest it is downright contra-intuitive. Still, having a good dinner while enjoying the attractions by the river Danube is a sort of rarity in Budapest.

The river views and the Danube promenade in general – with the historical bridges – in Budapest are worth a visit for themselves. After all even the UNESCO found the glittering beauty of the most beautiful river views and its attractions along the river Danube worth adding to the World Heritage Site list: the Hungarian Parliament, the Buda Castle, the Chain Bridge, the Gresham Palace (Four Seasons Hotel Budapest), the Gellert Hill, etc. are all fantastic and provide the most romantic and beautiful background for a nice dinner in Budapest – when the sights get illuminated at dusk, the riverside becomes one of the best  scenic and romantic places in Europe.

Needless to say, you will have to pay a bit more to enjoy the views alongside your meals, but we think it would be worth the splurge. The snag is that, strictly speaking, there is currently no top notch restaurant with really top notch views over the river Danube and the best attractions along the river in Budapest.

There are either great restaurants with some good river views or good restaurants with good / great river views. In addition, there are Budapest dinner cruises where the boat tour is enhanced by buffet dinner options, which are usually decent but not outstanding five star dinners.

Great restaurants in Budapest with good river views

Trattoria and Taverna are only a few minutes walk from each other by the river Danube (not right near the river, but about 45 steps from it). Booking is needed, especially in high season (July and August) when most tourists seek out the best Budapest restaurants (both are often reviewed on Budapest travel forums with very satisfied ratings)

Trattoria Toscana Restaurant – Budapest restaurant with terrace and river views

Trattoria Toscana Restaurant Terrace with Budapest Panorama

Trattoria Toscana Restaurant Terrace with Budapest Panorama

Trattoria Toscana: the terrace of this restaurant has some astonishing river views, and you will definitely get one of the best Italian dishes in this lovely and highly popular restaurant. The atmosphere of Trattoria Toscana is very Italian, cosy and warm, very casual and truly Mediterranean ambience. Tourists are usually surprised how good Italian foods you can get in Budapest. But Budapest is a very cosmopolitan city with all sorts of restaurants (from French, Italian, through Russian or German or Indian to Argentine and Mexican). Please note that reservation is a must. And be prepared for extra waiting time on busy days.

Taverna Dionysos Restaurant – Budapest restaurant with terrace and river views

Taverna Dionysos: this restaurant has been amongst the best restaurants in Budapest for several years.

Taverna Dionysos Budapest panorama views

Taverna Dionysos Budapest panorama views

The cuisine, as the name suggests is Greek not Hungarian. Its outdoor seating makes the restaurant a great place for a bit of splurge (e.g. for a romantic dinner in Budapest, to celebrate an anniversary or your spouse’s / friend’s birthday). The terrace of the Greek Taverna Dionysos provides good views of the Buda sideand some of its sights like the Citadel and the Statue of Liberty atop Gellert Hill and the Buda waterfront with churches and 19th century residential buildings. While indoor the restaurant is typical white-blue Greek, the outdoor is undeniably more of Budapest due to the attractive sights and the city atmosphere. Service on busy days may get quite slow with lots of waiting time (for a seat, for the food, for the bill).

Good restaurants in Budapest with good / great river views

Citadella Panorama Restaurant, Budapest

Some of the tables at the restaurant by the Citadel on top of Gellert Hill called Citadella Panorama restaurant have beautiful night views over the river Danube. As this is the top of the Gellert Hill is THE most panoramic viewpoint in Budapest, you can easily get great views of both the Buda and the Pest side and their attractions (the Chain Bridge, the Parliament, the Gresham Palace, the dome of the St Stephen’s Basilica, the Buda Castle, etc.). The restaurant got good (but not excellent) reviews. The prices are expensive. The opening hours of the panorama restaurant are somewhat limited: Monday – Friday 5pm – 11pm, and at weekends open from noon to 11pm.

A38 Restaurant with panoramic views in Budapest

A38 Restaurant with panoramic river views in Budapest

A38 Restaurant with panoramic river views in Budapest

A38 is a ship permanently anchored by Petofi Bridge on the river Danube: while A38 is widely known as a cool and vibrant music club, its upper deck is in fact a trendy modern restaurant. The prices range from mid range to expensive and the restaurant is not superb but it is very good. You can have views over the river, the southern attractions of Budapest by Rakoczi Bridge (the Palace of Arts and the Hungarian National Theatre). A good choice if you want to see one of theconcerts on A38, or join the night party after dinner (one of the stars of Budapest nightlife).

Columbus Pub – standing ship with great views of Budapest

Columbus Pub might be a perfect choice for having a drink if you want to have a really wide panoramic view.

Columbus Pub and Restaurant Budapest panoramic views

Columbus Pub and Restaurant Budapest panoramic views

For dinners the restaurant seems to be a good but hit and miss choice. The reviews of the dishes and service on Columbus Restaurant on avarage are good or very good. An often recurring remark is overpriced(but this could be said of most panorama restaurants in Budapest). Columbus is oftentimes picked as the wedding party scene of foreigners in Budapest.

Spoon Restaurant – Budapest river views

Cafe Spoon Budapest

Cafe Spoon Budapest

Spoon Restaurant is a two floor standing ship turned into a stylish cafe / modern restaurant. Spoon is docked by the Chain Bridge on the river Danube in central Budapest. Its location and its amazing river views and views over the Buda side attractions, make the place quite popular amongst tourists and expats. The quality of the foods is average or good, and the prices are quite high in light of Hungarian standards, similar to western prices (like in London). You may feel a bit hurried when dining so if you want to take your time, and sit back, it may not be the best place.

Budapest Dinner Cruises and Lunch Cruises

There is no doubt about it, having a great dinner on a fantastic ship in Budapest could be the most memorable thing to do in this romantic city. Currently we cannot recommend you five star river cruises in Budapest, but if you are OK with a 3-4 star dinner experience and a 5 star sightseeing opportunity, taking a nice boat tour on the Danube  is a viable option – with or without dinner (or lunch, or cocktail, or beer, or party, what have you): see Budapest dinner cruises here.

For some tourists, especially tourists who are on a Budapest whistle tour or have a 2 day Budapest visit as part of a European tour, enjoying a dinner cruise in Budapest also saves time. It is indeed and interesting way to see the city of Budapest, learn about Hungary, the attractions, marvelling at the sights by the river and listening to live music (including Gypsy music).

However, if you are a foodie, or a picky eater, or someone who is only happy about five star dining experience, you may wish to take a drink only river cruise, and enjoy the dinner at one of the best restaurants in Budapest (see the Michelin starred Budapest restaurants here)

The most typical soups in Hungary (meaning how popular they are, how frequently we eat them) are based on the most typical, easily gathered and all year round vegetables and meats, as follows:

Chicken soup: Csirkehusleves (cheer-keh-hoosh-le-vesh) or Tyukhusleves (tiook-hoosh-le-vesh). Hungarian chicken soup is what a Hungarian child would grow up on, like we did – being raised a chicken soup addict in Hungary seems to be quite natural. The chicken soup is very much part of the Sunday family meals, with lots of vegetables and chicken pieces (including less usual parts of chickens, hens and roosters, like chicken gizzard or rooster testicles). It is especially popular in the cooler and colder seasons (from October to April), and is indeed considered to be one of the most effective home made medicine if you have a cold.

Hungarian Meat Soup with Beef

Hungarian Meat Soup with Beef – photo by Daniel Roy

Tomato soup: eaten both savoury and sweet: tomato puree is mixed with celery and vegetables (onion or bouillon seasoning) and black pepper, or it is made sweet with sugar. Tomato soup is served with pasta.

Potato soup: the most typical vegetable deserves its own soup. It is cooked with or without sausages, but again with lots of vegetables. Oftentimes topped with sour cream. A soup for all seasons.

Pea soup: the lovely gentle spring peas are huge favourite of housewives in Hungary, but pea soup is made with frozen peas all year round. Bouillon and vegetables give the base of the pea soup. Some make it sweeter some make it more savoury, some use roux, others sour cream, there are endless varieties. Pea soup with mint is not widespread in Hungary, it is recently cropping up on the Hungarian food landscape.

Green bean soup: the green bean soup has lots of varieties in Hungary. The seasonal fresh green beans are very popular. As for the colour variety, the most popular version is actually yellow, not green. Many housewives are hunting for the sweet, yellow and smooth ‘butter green beans on the markets.

Sour cherry soup: there are lots of nice sour cherries in Hungary, and this summer fruit is quite popular as a starter. The cherries are washed and cooked with cinnamon, sugar, etc. The soup is thickened with sour cream and flour.

Bean soup: made with sausage or smoked ham, in plain style or ‘Jokai style’ – a really substantial soup, typically eaten for lunch time as it is quite stuffing

Goulash soup (yes, it is a soup in Hungary, not a stew) – the Hungarian term for goulash is gulyás (say: goo-yaash). It is indeed like a stew mixed with a thick vegetable soup and little pasta balls called csipetke.

There are all kinds of soups in Hungary, as Hungarian cuisine is very soup focussed: you can get anything from cheese soup through broccoli cream soup to onion soup or mushroom soup.

Lighter soups – mostly soups with vegetables and fruits – are typically paired with more substantial main courses, while heavier, meat based soups like bean soup with smoked ham or goulash soup with beef cubes, or tarragon chicken soup are paired with lighter main courses like veggie casseroles or pasta dishes.

Many people in Hungary like to eat their soups with hot paprika, or the mixtures based on hot paprika, like Eros Pista paprika cream (ground hot paprika in a thick creamy sauce) or Piros arany paprika cream.

Here is our homemade Hungarian chicken soup recipe, the way I learnt it from my grandmother who learnt it from her mother, who learnt it from her mother, so for us it is the ‘perfect Hungarian chicken soup’. This recipe is our family heritage recipe. My great grandmother is 105 years old (at the time of writing in 2012), and we would always gobble up the best Hungarian chicken soups made by her. But her chickens were really free range, in the old fashioned sense of the word: running freely, eating worms, etc. but also being fed – in Egyek, a small rural village in Hungary (in the county of Hajdu Bihar).

Hungarian Chicken Soup

Hungarian Chicken Soup  – cooked by Eva Gregor

Hope you will like the photos of the soup recipe – illustrating the chicken soup varieties made by Hungarian housewives of various regions in Hungary! You can also see which is my favourite Hungarian recipe website: no question, No Salty! (

As you can see I am a huge fan of chicken soup, the smell and the look of Eastern European chicken soup with lots of beautiful vegetables, makes me feel instantly at home. There is nothing more welcoming than a great bowl of chicken soup on a cold day with shiny golden rings on the surface, clear rich soup with a colourful array of vegetables.

Many families in Eastern Europe tend to use the less attractive parts of the chickenfor a good chicken soup. You do not have to if you cannot even bear the thought of cooking the gizzard or the heart of the chicken or the neck or the testicles of the rooster…

Hungarian Rooster Soup with Leg and Gizzard

Hungarian Rooster Soup with Leg and Gizzard – cooked by Heni Csoti

My grandma would occasionally mix chicken pieces (chicken legs, breast, the back of the chicken, gizzard, wings, even the lower part of the legs and the neck of the chicken) with pork or beef pieces and cook them with the bones too to make them stronger in winter time when we need more minerals and other tasty pieces for a better health condition.

Ingredients of the Hungarian Chicken Soup

For our family style home made Hungarian chicken soup recipe you will need the following ingredients (if you cannot find all, do not worry, you can still cook an excellent chicken soup in Eastern European style!)

The chicken soup is made with almost all available vegetables, most typically 1 pot of Eastern European chicken soup(consequently Hungarian chicken soup) goes with

1 whole chicken (OK, I admit it, my granny would cook the head of the chicken too… as I don’t get these parts at the supermarkets or even at butchers nowadays, I only cook thighs, the back and the wings, but the cheap chicken back makes the soup really good, believe me). Besides the chicken (cheer-keh) or hen (tiook), you will need:

Golden Hungarian Chicken Soup

Golden Hungarian Chicken Soup

  • 1 onion
  • 1 tomato
  • 1-2 cloves of garlic
  • 1-2 peppers (the Hungarian ball peppers are half size of the big supermarket green / red / orange peppers and are pale yellow with thinner skin, but with a very nice characteristic taste). Warning: when the chick soup is ready, take out the peppers carefully as the seeds can make the soup bitter. If you are not an experienced cook, use the peppers with the seeds cut out in advance, rather than a whole pepper.
  • 4 carrots (in our family, everyone wants to have more carrots in the soup. You can try to cook it with more, but it will make the soup too sweet)
  • 3 parsnips,
  • 5 stalks of flat parsley (with the leaves),
  • 1 celeriac (the root part of the celery stalk) – if you cannot get celeriac in your shop, just use 4-5 stalks and remove it when the chicken soup has been cooked
  • 1 kohlrabi (optional)
  • 2-3 mushrooms (optional).
  • potato: some housewives also put a potato into the pot, it is optional
  • cauliflower (optional)
  • a little piece of savoy cabbage (1-2 leaves  – optional)
  • seasoning: the seasoning is usually salt and pepper, and many Hungarians use bouillon or soup stock cubes to add more flavour (especially if there is not enough fresh vegetables available). Some Hungarians use a bit of paprika as a colouring (optional: but if you do use paprika, please note that using Hungarian paprika is a must if you are making Hungarian dishes, as any other paprika tastes something else than Hungarian paprika). Bay leaves (2-3 leaves) – optional. Ground (!) caraway seeds – optional.
  • if you want to make a meat soup rather than a chicken soup, you can use 3-4 types of meats, like 1 turkey thigh, 2 chicken backs, a handful of beef (possibly with the bone) and a half pound pork (with bones). Otherwise, chicken is perfectly enough.

Hungarian Homemade Chicken Soup

Hungarian Homemade Chicken Soup – cooked by Krisztina Toth

How to Cook Hungarian Chicken Soup?

If you have the fresh chicken and the fresh vegetables all in your kitchen, we can start cooking. You will need a big pot of about 4-5 litres (0.9 – 1 gallons). That is huge, you might say, but you can always freeze the soup if it is too much for you: and you will have your ever best bouillon readily waiting for you in the freezer!

Prepare the vegetables for cooking: let’s go through all the ingredients of the Hungarian chicken soup one by one:

  • 1 onion: peel and wash
  • 1 tomato: just wash (but you can peel it too)
  • 1-3 cloves of garlic: peel and wash
  • 1-2 peppers: if you are an advanced cook, just wash the peppers and make sure they stay in one throughout the cooking. If you are not an experienced cook, use the peppers with the seeds cut out in advance, rather than a whole pepper. When the chicken soup is done, lift out the pepper carefully and throw it in your compost waste.
  • 4 carrots: peel and wash, we usually do not slice as the cooking time is quite long and the slices would be a mash
  • 3 parsnips: peel and wash, we usually do not slice as the cooking time is quite long and the slices would be a mash
  • 5 stalks of flat parsley (with the leaves), washed
  • 1 celeriac (the root part of the celery stalk) – peel and wash, cut in half. If you cannot get the ball shaped root celeriac in your grocery store, just use 4-5 celery stalks and remove them when the chicken soup has been cooked
  • 1 kohlrabi (optional) peel and wash, cut in half
  • 2-3 mushrooms (optional). peel and wash

Prepare the chicken

The best bet is to buy a whole chicken, unless you feel nausea by the thought of touching anything but the pre-packed chicken thighs or wings. If you are OK to deal with a whole chicken, you can just wash it without taking it apart (assuming you have a pre-cleaned chicken, no intestines, etc.). If you are on a diet, or you do not like greasy meals, you can skin the chicken, but it will take away those nice rich golden rings from the top.

Cooking the chicken

Place the chicken or chicken (and meat) pieces in the 4-5 litre pot and fill it up with cold water. Add the salt and pepper (and the bouillon and bay leaves if you are using them). As for the water: do not fill the pot to the brim, instead, leave about 5-8 cm (2-3 inches) free at the top as the vegetables will need some room too.

Place the cleaned vegetables in the pot too after a few minutes. Bring it to the boil then let it gently simmer for about 2-3 hours on a low heat (1-2 on my cooker where the max is 6-7). As we say in Hungarian, the liquid of the chicken soup should be ‘pearling’ forming little ‘pearls’ of bubbles, but not heavily boiling. This is a slow cooking soup with lots of benefits. It is gorgeous and all you have to do is cleaning a couple of vegetables then letting the whole soup cook. See more tips below how to make Hungarian chicken soup in a homemade fashion.

Cooking the Pasta for the Hungarian Chicken Soup

Hungarian Gooseneck or Snail Shell Pasta

Hungarian Gooseneck or Snail Shell Pasta – photo

Try to pick some pasta that is of elegant small pieces. I would warmly recommend using Hungarian pasta but obviously it is not exported to many countries, so you cannot enjoy this delicious soup pasta specialty easily. The closest I have found in the UK (not in the US though) is a Polish soup pasta in the shape of a string (tiny thin strings, with only a few minutes cooking time).

The pasta that we prefer to use in our family is called gooseneck pasta (ludgege) or snailshell (csiga) pasta. Our best pasta came from my great-grandmother, Nano, until she could make it into her 90s (now being over a 100 years old she cannot see well enough to make these miniature beauties). In the photo you can see the tiny simple tools for making Hungarian gooseneck pasta. You can buy this kind of classic soup pasta in Hungarian grocery shops (not in all). You can read some of the pasta history on 

Another soup pasta Hungarians like is the simple string (like the Polish) or the one called ‘mulberry tree leaf’ (eperlevel).

How long do you cook the chicken soup?

Check your soup after half an hour / an hour: did it lose a lot of liquid? Then add some more. Is everything cooked? If you have not sliced up your vegetables (according to the instructions above), and you are cooking bigger chunks of meat, you will surely need another hour or so to have your soup cooked. However, if you are only cooking small chicken parts and your vegetables are in smaller pieces, you Hungarian chicken soup may be ready in 1.5 hours.

Check your soup after 2 hours: is everything OK? Is there enough liquid? Are the vegetables nicely formed (not falling apart)?

After about 2.5-3 hours if all the vegetables are soft, your soup is done – supposing that you are cooking a whole chicken and whole vegetables.

You can serve it as it is, or, as many Hungarian housewives do, you can gently (really gently) lift the meats and vegetables out and place them on a separate plate. Then pour the soup through a sieve to get a more consistent, clearer liquid (it is great for freezing too). Some people throw away the ‘unnecessary vegetables’:

  • cooked pepper is usually inedible, and the seedy part is quite bitter – remove it as it is, as a whole pepper, otherwise the seedy part will fall apart and ruin your fantastic, amazing and awesome Hungarian chicken soup
  • cooked onion: thrown away by some, while others like it and eat it (like my husband) (I don’t)
  • cooked tomato: thrown away by some, while others like it and eat it (like me) (my husband doesn’t)
  • cooked celeriac: thrown away by some, while others like it and eat it (like me) (my husband doesn’t)
  • etc. It is totally up to you and your guest, so it is really good to serve them nicely arranged on a plate. Most would happily have a combo of the soup, the carrots, the meat and the soup pasta. I like mine with the cooked parsley and tomato. You can serve the soup with a bit of tomato puree too (just the tip of the spoon, not much!)

Miscellaneous tips for the best Hungarian Chicken Soup Recipe:

  • make sure the chicken you buy is fresh, possibly organic, free range chicken – the higher the quality of the chicken meat the higher the quality of your chicken soup too
  • make sure that the fat gland / oil gland of the chicken’s tail has been removed by the butcher – if not, cut it out yourself: it is a soft oily cushion at the lower end of the chicken’s back.
  • do not cook old hens, their meat is chewy and will make the soup bad. If you are not sure, just buy organic chicken (a whole chicken)
  • do expect to get some / much froth forming on top of the chicken soup pot. It is not a lovely sight, but do not start to clear it away: it is ugly, I admit it, but it will naturally go away as the Hungarian chicken soup keeps cooking (the froth will subside)
  • do not cook the soup on a big heat, just at a moderate heat (usually I cook it at a setting of 1 or 2 out of 6-7)
  • many magyar housewives filter the soup at the end. You don’t have to but it definitely has its advantages (one thing is a must though: removing the pepper as a whole carefully!)
  • some Hungarians cook the soup pasta in the soup. I do not, because I usually put a box of the soup into the freezer. I prefer to cook the soup pasta separately for this very reason. It is also easier to filter the soup if the pasta is cooked in a separate bowl. (light tiny pasta pieces, if you cannot get Hungarian soup pasta in your shop, try to buy some Polish pasta)
  • you can serve the soup with some flat leaf parsley pieces as a decor
  • we do not use fancy spices like thyme, marjoram, oregano, etc. in the soup. Neither do we use vegetables like broccoli, leek in the classic Hungarian chicken soup recipe, but I am sure it wouldn’t hurt.