Here is the Best Place in Budapest to Get Traditional Hungarian Food! | Budapest Local

Here is the Best Place in Budapest to Get Traditional Hungarian Food!

With its many restaurants, bistros, bars and cafés, Budapest is a mecca for exciting gourmet experiences. Over the last couple of years, the city has also gone through a culinary revolution, and today, you can practically get any kind of food in Budapest, including Russian, Georgian, Asian, Jewish-style or street food, just to mention a few.

However, despite the growing number of places with international or fusion-style cuisine, Hungarian food still has a strong position in the culinary scene of Budapest as traditional Hungarian dishes are still very popular among both locals and tourists. But while locals usually know where they can get authentic Hungarian food, tourists have a more difficult time finding those places. Luckily, the apartment restaurant called Eat & Meet offers a great solution for those visitors who are looking for a local and authentic culinary experience in Budapest.

Watch our video on the Eat & Meet outdoor dinner experience!

Download our Free Foodies’ Guide to Budapest to learn about the best restaurants, markets, foods to try and more.

Eat & Meet has been hugely successful since it started in January, 2015. In fact, it’s so successful that, while in the beginning it was rated between 900 and 1000 on Tripadvisor, today it’s among the top 10 restaurants in the city. We all learned through the story of Zeller, that getting to the top of the Tripadvisor list is not that difficult due to the smart algorithm that allows newbies to rate higher, in this way, giving them the chance to get more customers in the beginning. However, staying on the top of the list is a whole different story.

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The table has been set for 11 people. Photo:Zoltán Perényi / Budapest Local

We had already been to apartment restaurants, so we knew what to expect when we decided to check out Eat & Meet, a family project run by Zsuzska and her parents, Zsuzsa and Ferenc. Only this experience was actually different. Eat & Meet is pretty much the only apartment restaurant in Budapest that targets tourists and yet offers a real local experience.

One of the best things about apartment restaurants is that you have the chance to enjoy great food in a homey setting and with a small group of people. So unlike at restaurants, where the focus is more on the food, at apartment restaurants the focus is also on the whole dining experience. In addition, at apartment restaurants you can easily interact with the chef, which is something that doesn’t happen very often at a normal restaurant.

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Zsuzska and her mom, Zsuzsa. Photo: Zoltán Perényi / Budapest Local

We went to Eat & Meet on a Wednesday evening and as being the first ones to arrive, we still had time to chat with Zsuzska a little bit about how it all started. We settled on the balcony with a beautiful view over the Danube and the Hajógyári Island. As it turned out, Zsuzska came up with the idea back in Italy where she was studying gastronomic sciences.

The main inspiration was the Finnish Ravintolapäivä, or restaurant day, a special happening in Finland through which anyone can open a restaurant for a day. Zsuzska’s “Hungarian restaurant” was so successful that she realized there might be more into this idea than a one-time university project. So when she returned to Budapest, she decided to organize dinners on a regular basis.

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Chatting on the terrace before dinner. Photo: Zoltán Perényi / Budapest Local

Dinners at Eat & Meet are based on three main ideas: to offer traditional Hungarian dishes, to use local Hungarian ingredients and to also use seasonal ingredients. Zsuzska’s mom, Zsuzsa who’s doing all the cooking, often makes dishes with cottage cheese and poppy seeds as these are very frequently used ingredients in Hungary, and she also uses a lot of homemade products, such as jams and pickles. At each dinner, there is also options for vegetarians and for those who have any kind of food intolerance. Since these dinners are also about offering a cultural experience, Zsuzska always talks about the dishes and the customs before each course, as well as about the wines that are also included in the price.

Download our Free Foodies’ Guide to Budapest to learn about the best restaurants, markets, foods to try and more.

By the time everybody arrived, we had a nice group of international people with a couple and their son from New Jersey, a solo traveler from Australia and five guys from the Netherlands. After we all met each other, Zsuzska offered us some very strong homemade pálinka, the Hungarian fruit brandy.

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Pálinka, the Hungarian fruit brandy. Photo: Zoltán Perényi / Budapest Local

We then started the dinner with some delicious cold cuts, sausages, kőrözött (a typical Hungarian spread with cottage cheese and paprika) and vegetables, including butter reddish, a special sweeter reddish type, also typical in Hungary. While we were waiting for the main course, Zsuzska presented two wines, a Rosé and a Cabernet Sauvignon and she also told us all about Chicken Paprikash, which was our main course.

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Appetizers and wine. Photo: Zoltán Perényi / Budapest Local

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Peppers stuffed with kőrözött. Photo: Zoltán Perényi / Budapest Local

When we’re having dinner at a restaurant, we don’t take much notice of the logistics and we expect our dishes to be beautifully presented and on time. However, at an apartment restaurant, getting the food off of the table, changing the dishes and plating the courses in a nice way is a real challenge.

Also, Zsuzska’s place has an American-style kitchen, which makes the logistics even more complicated. However, at Eat & Meet, everything was perfectly smooth and well-organized, so by the time Zsuzska finished her short intro about our main course, all the yummy food had already been placed on the table.

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Zsuzska told us all about Chicken Paprikash. Photo: Zoltán Perényi / Budapest Local

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The seating at the table was random, so we all had the chance to meet each other. Photo: Zoltán Perényi / Budapest Local

Besides the delicious food, what we also loved about Eat & Meet was the homey ambiance. The Chicken Paprikash with the noodles, the tarhonya (typical Hungarian egg-based pasta) and the pickles were all put on the table for us to help ourselves. Zsuzska even told us to put some sauce over the chicken and the noodles, which is indeed, the very Hungarian way of eating Chicken Paprikash.

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Delicious chicken paprikash. Photo: Zoltán Perényi / Budapest Local

The food was absolutely delicious and although we could have had another serving, we still had to leave some room for dessert. After the main course, Zsuzska presented two more wines, a Tokaji Furmint and the more well-known Tokaji Aszú, a sweet desert wine. For most people, the idea of a sweet dessert wine is the strangest thing, but nevertheless, it is a great match for desserts, and so if you’re offered some Tokaji Aszú in Hungary, then make sure you try it.

Our dessert was a home-made (what else?) apricot cake, with actually one of the best apricot jams I had ever had. The desert also came with vanilla ice cream and roasted almond and it was all beautifully plated.

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The homemade apricot cakes are almost ready to be served. Photo: Zoltán Perényi / Budapest Local

After dinner, there was only one more thing to do: to write a nice note in the guestbook and to thank Zsuzska and her parents for the delicious food and the wonderful evening. Our dinner felt like dinner with friends, which is actually not that surprising if you think about it: after all, those who are interested in this kind of culinary and cultural experience are usually like-minded people who are looking for less traditional ways to explore the city, and who believe that meeting other people is one of best things about traveling.

Download our Free Foodies’ Guide to Budapest to learn about the best restaurants, markets, foods to try and more.

Our dinner was provided by Eat & Meet, but all opinions and observations are our own. Featured image by Zoltán Perényi. Scroll down for some practical information.

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Everybody was happy after our delicious dinner. Photo: Zoltán Perényi / Budapest Local

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Signing the guest book. Photo: Zoltán Perényi / Budapest Local

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