Budapest really is one of the most beautiful cities I have visited. From the spectacular views from Gellert Hill to the fairytale architecture, everything about this city is wonderful. One of may favourite things about Budapest is how cheap it is! Coming from the UK, our pound (at least in 2018), goes a long way! There is nothing I love more than a bargain getaway. Like most people, tasting local food and immersing myself in another country’s cuisine is high on my travel agenda! I am a big foodie, and love trying out new foods. Whilst it is a great experience visiting high end restaurants, I often find the best food is the most inexpensive! Like any other big European city, food can be bland and expensive in tourist heavy areas.
But there are plenty of cheap places to eat in Budapest, you just need to know where to find them!
Cheap restaurants in Budapest
If you want the luxury of having food cooked for you without the price tag, then read on! The golden rule in Budapest like most cities, is get away from the tourist traps! You wont find cheap eats in Budapest at the top of Gellert Hill or in the main square. You need to steer yourself away from those areas to get some better priced options in general! I reached out to some brilliant fellow travel bloggers to find out about their favourite cheap restaurants in Budapest!
Rose, the writer behind the Where Goes Rose blog, recommends this great little find in the Jewish Quarter:
One of the best cheap places to eat in Budapest is Drum Cafe, a modest restaurant in the Jewish Quarter. This isn’t a spot for fine dining but it is a great places to try all kinds of Hungarian delicacies! Try hortobágyi palacsinta (chicken pancakes), hearty goulash chicken paprikash with nokedli dumplings, and nuggets of camembert served with cranberry dip. During a winter trip to Budapest, stopping to warm up at this cosy cafe is a must for your Budapest itinerary. In the summer months, they put chairs and tables out on the street so you can sample the Hungarian cuisine and watch as locals and tourists go about their day. With some very affordable wines and beers, it’s also a lively evening option.
Emily from Wander-Lush blog tells us all about a Budapest firm favourite:
Frici Papa Kifőzdéje might just be the Holy Grail of cheap eats in Budapest. A firm local favourite, this humble restaurant dishes up mammoth portions of home-style Hungarian fare at very reasonable prices. A heaving plate of goulash de seta, red wine goulash or chicken paprikash will set you back just 800 Ft (€2.25), while vegetable sides (potatoes, beans or tomato with cabbage) cost just 200 Ft (€0.55). You can easily feed two people for under €6 – and the food is so hearty, you probably won’t need to eat again for the rest of the day. If it’s refined dining you’re after, keep walking. Frici Papa is bare-bones (think plastic tablecloths and simple service), but wait times are short and the food is mighty tasty. The Király street location on the edge of the Jewish District is convenient if you’re sightseeing or staying in the heart of the city.
Frici Papa is open from 11am until 10pm daily except on Sundays. It’s advisable to arrive early, because there’s usually a line out the door by midday. But that is to be expected at one of the cheapest places to eat in Budapest!
Sarah from LiveDreamDscover lets us in on a budget friendly secret:
Keksz is a casual and funky restaurant, and a more unusual place in Budapest. This bar is in the heart of the city but without the high prices. The location at Madách Tér, just steps from popular Gozsdu Court, is ideal for people-watching on the large deck under the arch. Keksz is open for breakfast, lunch, dinner and late night drinks and serves traditional Hungarian meals as well as other European options. Breakfast is available all day including a “Full English” and there’s a changing daily lunch menu offering decent portions at really reasonable prices. The drink and beer menu is large and also very reasonably priced. Service is friendly and efficient and the place is always busy with locals which is usually a good indication of good food and good value.
Wendy from TheNomadicVegan shares a brilliant meat free option in Budapest:
This popular food truck now has five different locations in Budapest, so you can be sure that one is never far away. They specialize in veggie burgers, including the well-known Beyond Meat Burger, as well as patties made from mushrooms, seitan and other plant-based ingredients. As you can probably guess from the name, their food is completely free of animal products, making it perfect for vegan visitors to Budapest. Although meat-eaters love the burgers here too! Prices of the burgers range from 1,690 Hungarian forint for the Dr. Carrot to 2,790 for the Beyond Meat Burger. In addition to burgers, Las Vegan’s also offers nuggets, burritos and other Mexican-themed dishes. And for an extra dose of vitamins to go with all that comfort food, order one of their delicious smoothies!
Nick from SpiritualTravels shares a super saver sandwich option:
In a super convenient location only steps away from Elizabeth Square and St. Stephen’s Basilica in Pest, Duran Szendvics is a small eatery specializing in small open-faced sandwiches. The display of row upon row of beautifully garnished sandwiches in the front window will surely catch your attention as you enter. There are around 30 choices to tempt you, including vegetarian, egg salad, various meats, smoked salmon, and even caviar; just point at what looks tasty! At only around 1€ apiece, a meal here offers extraordinary value, not to mention being super tasty. The shop also serves pizza slices, coffee, and other drinks, and they are open from breakfast through to the early evening. If you happen to be visiting Budapest with kids, Duran Szendvics is perfect for a cheap meal the kids will love.
Michael from TheWorldWasHereFirst recommends a Budapest cafe with several locations in the city:
One of the best places to eat on the cheap in Budapest is Hummus Bar. Perfect for vegetarians and vegans — which can sometimes be challenging to find on a trip in Central Europe — though with some options for the carnivores among us, as well, Hummus Bar has a number of locations around the Hungarian Capital including several close to major tourist attractions. They offer a range of pitas, hummus plates, shakshukas, salads and a variety of drinks with the average price of meal costing around €4-6. One of the best dishes to eat here is the complete hummus plate which contains a range of dishes, falafel served over hummus with warm pita on the side.
My favourite food in Budapest
A search on Google Images for Chimney Cakes, and you will see why a girl like me with an insatiable sweet tooth was on a mission to find the best chimney cake in Budapest. Thick cake batter is wrapped into a cone shape and cooked over hot coals right in front of you. It is rolled in all manner of sweet delights such as nuts, coconut and sugars. Finally, it is filled with ice cream, and drizzled with chocolate sauce. I was on a mission to find a good Chimney Cake, and so I was getting pretty stressed when I couldn’t find one for less than 6 euros, and that was without ice cream! Take the time to walk away from tourist areas for a Chimney Cake. You’ll be rewarded with a super sweet treat for half the price and they wont leave out your ice cream!
Within stumbling distance of the infamous ruin bar Szimpla Kert, Karavan is a cute little courtyard of food trucks, complete with fairy lights and a bar. With so many different street food trucks, this is a great place to find cheap food in Budapest. Shout out to Las Vegan’s (see Wendy’s recommendation above!) where I had the worlds best burger, the Forest Burger, made of wild mushrooms and topped with a vegan garlic mayonnaise that was out of this world. For the meat eaters, there’s Mexican, Italian and of course, traditional Hungarian goulash served in a big bowl made of bread. Open day and night, it’s the perfect place for solo travellers to grab a bite, join a table and make some conversation.
It’s certainly not for the calorie conscious, but this famous Hungarian deep fried bread is cheap! It is also available all over the city, and of course delicious. You’ll see little hole in the wall type cafes selling the famous Langos with all kinds of toppings. My personal favourite is soured cream and cheese. Perfect for when you are on the go and need something quick and easy to stroll down the river with!
Other ways to eat on the cheap in Budapest
If you really are on a shoe string budget, then consider cooking for yourself! We had a great little airBnB with a kitchen. Round the corner was a huge Lidl, so cooking food was super easy and super cheap! If you are staying in a hostel, then book one with a communal kitchen. If you are super savvy (like me!) then you should always carry a little lunch box around with you!
Have you been to Budapest? Where would you recommend to find cheap eats? Or have you tried any of the places recommended above? Let me know in the comments!