Traditional Hungarian food seems to always contain meat – the most famous national dish is goulash, a beef and vegetable stew. But these days I find that cosmopolitan Budapest has plenty of places which cater for vegetarians and vegans – you just need to do some research to find them. When my vegan daughter and I (a vegetarian) spent a few days in the Hungarian capital we tried out a variety of different vegan restaurants, cafes, takeaways and street food venues.
Where to find vegan food in Budapest
Here are our recommendations for vegans and vegetarians in Budapest – all but one of these places are on the Pest side of the Danube, as we didn’t find many options on the Buda side:
My daughter discovered this restaurant on a previous trip and was keen to go back there. Mazel Tov serves excellent Israeli food in an atmospheric old building with a covered courtyard at the back. People were queueing into the street for a table when we arrived to eat there. We’d turned up at 6.00 to book – they only accept bookings in person – and were given a slot at 7.15. Our table was in the covered courtyard, next to a big old tree. A singer was performing beautifully laid back cover versions of artists such as Norah Jones and Amy Winehouse.
The food was simply delicious. We shared starters of Za’tar fried pitta sticks and grilled cauliflower with tahini, almonds and pomegranate, followed by sweet potato, red cheddar, falafel, salad and pesto for me and grilled pitta stuffed with hummus, salad and falafel for my daughter. We drank cucumber water, which was very refreshing. The meal for two of us cost HUF 12160 (about £34.00).
Mazel Tov, Akácfa Utca 47, Budapest.
Iñez Bagel Shop
When we went for a picnic on Margaret Island (a leafy park in the middle of the Danube, accessed via a bridge from the city centre) we stopped off at Iñez Bagel Shop first. White and wholemeal bagels are made here and you can either buy them plain or ask for them to be made up with various filings. My daughter chose an Asian bagel, which was filled with peanut butter, coriander, lime, soy sauce, cucumber, grilled tofu and salad. I opted for pesto, mozzarella and tomato in mine. We picnicked on the grass in the shade by the island’s famous musical fountain. Our two filled bagels cost HUF 2140 (around £6.00) in total.
Iñez Bagel Shop, Bajcsy-Zsilinszky út 40, Budapest.
This Italian restaurant next to the Danube was recommended by my Italian husband, who used to work in Budapest. We had dinner here with a Hungarian friend, and all three of us chose pizza, although there’s also pasta and other Italian dishes on the menu. My daughter and I both had a vegetarianus pizza with tomato, mozzarella and oven baked vegetables, my daughter’s without cheese. Our friend chose a parmai pizza with tomato, mozzarella, aubergine and parmesan. The restaurant has a wood-fired pizza oven and the thin and crispy bases were excellent, but I wasn’t so keen on the slices of carrot which appeared next to the more expected vegetables on my pizza. Carrot aside, the pizza was very good, as was the bread which we enjoyed with Italian olive oil and balsamic vinegar when we first arrived. With mineral water, home made lemonade for my daughter and a glass of wine each for our friend and me, the meal for three of us cost HUF 17260 (around £48.00).
Trattoria Toscana, Belgrád rakpart 13-15, Budapest.
This is the only vegan place that we found on the Buda side of the Danube. It’s quite close to the Gellért Hotel, where we stayed. We went there for a late lunch/early dinner after a day of sightseeing. The interior is quite basic, but it was clean. We sat on high stools and had tasty sweet potato burgers and French fries. There are nicer places to eat (in terms of atmosphere) on the other side of the river, but if you’re in the area and you need to eat, the food is good. It cost 4720 HUF (about £13.00) for the two of us.
Vegan Love, Bartók Béla út 9, Budapest.
This is an outdoor vegan street food venue with six different food trucks. It describes itself as ‘the world’s first plant-based food yard’ and it offers burgers, Mexican food, kebabs, pizzas, ice cream, cake and a bar. It’s open during the day and in the evening, and we had lunch there after visiting the House of Terror museum. We both chose burgers from Las Vegans – my Magic Mushroom burger was yummy (and it wasn’t made with actual magic mushrooms, obviously) and my daughter said that her Hot Cheesy burger was good too. She also had chips. We ate at a shaded table in the courtyard, while artists worked on colourful murals on the walls above us. The cost of this meal for the two of us was HUF 4670 (around £13.00).
Vegan Garden, Dob utica 40, Budapest.
We had mojitos sitting at a wooden table at Karaván while we waited for our table at Mazel Tov (see above) in the city’s vibrant Jewish quarter. Karaván is a colourful outdoor space between two buildings with a couple of bars and some street food stalls, including some vegan options, such as Las Vegans. Be prepared to squash up and share tables with strangers at this convivial venue.
Karaván, Kazinczy utca 18, Budapest.
We spotted various hummusbar branches as we explored the city. As the name suggests, the speciality here is hummus, but they also serve falafels, soups, desserts and more, and everything’s freshly prepared and made by hand.
hummusbar, various locations, Budapest.
Central Market Hall
I love this place. It’s a giant and atmospheric neogothic market building on Fovam Ter, close to Liberty Bridge. The ground floor is a vast food market, upstairs there are craft and souvenir stalls and some street food sellers, while in the basement there’s an Aldi supermarket. We went here to stock up on fruit snacks and soft drinks for when we were out and about exploring the city. If you’re in self-catering accommodation, this is a good place to go for supplies.
Central Market Hall, Vámház krt. 1-3, Budapest.
Over to you
Do you have any vegan recommendations to add for Budapest? How have you found travelling in Hungary as a vegetarian or vegan?
Disclosure: I have nothing to disclose for this trip – we paid for every part of it ourselves. All words, opinions and images are my own, as ever.