Budapest, a city of two halves. On one side you have Buda and the other Pest, split by the Danube river. Pest could probably be described as the slightly livelier, party side and Buda the quieter residential side. Neither is to be missed, with their beautiful architecture and fantastic restaurants.
Traditionally, you might find Budapest to be serving lots of meat. Goulash and other typical meals like paprika chicken can be found widely throughout the city. But, if you know where to look, you are in for a treat. Budapest is full of cafes, bakeries, and restaurants catering to vegans. You can try out some veganised local delicacies or branch out. Whatever you pick, you’ll find something super tasty.
An intro to Hungarian cuisine
Before we dive into the best vegan spots to try, it’s nice to know what kind of food to look out for and understand some local delicacies.
One thing you are sure to come across is paprika. Paprika features heavily in many classic Hungarian dishes such as paprika chicken and lesco (a veggie stew).
Brought to Hungary in the 16th century, it wasn’t used in meals until about the 19th century. It’s not only found in many meals but also in snacks such as paprika crisps! Purchase some to take home from the Great Market Hall, Budapest’s oldest market hall, or from the beautiful Szimpla Sunday Market found in a ruin bar (abandoned building that has been transformed into functioning waterholes).
Did you know: There are 8 types of Hungarian paprika each with its own unique rich flavour, ranging from spicy and hot to very sweet.
Goulash (in Hungarian, Gulyas)
Perhaps the most well-known Hungarian dish, goulash can be traced all the way to the 9th century and is a firm classic for a reason. A hearty stew of meat (usually beef), carrots, onions, and of course paprika.
A veggie stew made with peppers, onions, and tomatoes, spiced with paprika. It can be served as a main dish but is usually served as a side to a meat dish. You can get a vegan version of this but you should ask (using these phrases) as traditionally it is cooked in pork fat.
Chimney Cake (Kürtőskalács)
The name makes sense once you see them. A sweet dough rolled up in a chimney-like shape, coated in butter, sugar, and cinnamon. They can usually be found on roadsides and at markets, cooked over coals, giving them a crunchy crust while still being soft on the inside. Keep an eye out – some of the stalls in the city say they offer a vegan version of this!
While this will not be to everyone’s taste (it does have a bit of a weird texture and strange flavour), a must try if you want to eat like a local is a Túró Rudi. This is a childhood staple in Hungary made with turo cheese and coated in chocolate. Quite a few supermarkets now stock a veganised version of this sweet treat, made with tofu instead of cheese.
Vegan-friendly restaurants in Budapest
Despite the meat-heavy cuisine that is traditional in Hungary, Budapest has embraced veganism with open arms. So without further ado, your guide to vegan food in Budapest, starting with the best restaurants.
This guide would not be complete without mentioning Koszsomz. A small fully vegan bistro with a mix of traditional Hungarian food and other cuisines, this is not one to be missed. Tucked away on a side street near the House of Terror, you might miss it as you walk past. A small doorway takes you down a small flight of steps to an underground restaurant. A surprisingly large restaurant given the entryway, the service is always impeccable, prices very reasonable and most importantly the food is very tasty.
Must Try: the vegan goulash – spiced very well, an excellent choice on a cold rainy day, pair it with the sweet potato fries. Finish off your meal with the Napoleon custard pastry.
Las Vegan’s are dotted throughout the city serving a fully vegan menu of burgers, nuggets, and chips. Serving sizes are huge and there are loads of different burgers to suit everyone’s palate, even your non-vegan friends will want a taste!
The Las Vegan’s in the Street Food Karavan is the perfect spot to line your stomach before a night of partying at the famous ruin bar, Szimpla Kert, which is right around the corner.
Must Try: the pulled pork burger with a side of potato wedges.
This restaurant is always buzzing and a great place to sit and enjoy a warming bowl of noodles after a long walk along the Danube.
Fun fact: the Danube runs through 4 capital cities, including Belgrade, more than any other river in the world!
While not fully vegan, this restaurant has quite a few options for vegans. Offering two sizes of soups, even the smaller portion is huge and will keep you full. As a plus, the price is super reasonable considering the amount of food you get. Take a group of friends and share a few beers for a perfect afternoon!
Must Try: Bun Cha Vega
This is a beautiful restaurant/cafe on the Buda side of Budapest, right by the Gellert baths. On a busy street, sitting outside is a great way to spend a few hours, watching locals and tourists alike going about their day. Service here is great and the food is even better. There are not many vegan options, but what is on offer is delicious and would make a good restaurant to take your non-vegan friends to.
Must Try: start with the olive tapenade to share and enjoy a superfood salad with tofu as your main. Finish your meal with a strong coffee to fuel your afternoon exploring Buda.
A small restaurant specialising in hummus and falafel. Probably the best falafel in Budapest, you can choose to have a pita or a bowl with either rice, couscous, or quinoa. If you eat here you are right in the mix to have a drink after or hit up the nearby arcade to play a few games with a beer in hand.
Must Try: the sweet potato falafel bowl
Cafes offering vegan options in Budapest
Most Budapest cafes offer at least one type of plant milk, usually two! Even if they don’t serve any other vegan drinks or meals, you will at least be able to get your daily dose of caffeine.
Flow is a fully vegan cafe although you wouldn’t know it at first look. Flow is set in a beautiful, high-ceiling building. With a very minimalist vibe, a good wifi connection, and a rotating vegan menu, this has attracted a clientele made up of locals, students, and digital nomads.
Flow offers a different meal seven days a week – whatever is on the menu that day is what you get. Using local flavours and a modern palette the food is delicious. If you don’t want a cooked meal they also have an array of sandwiches at the counter making this an excellent lunch spot.
Must try: the menu is constantly changing, but the sandwiches are always a hit. If you want a dessert, the chocolate cake is a top choice
While not fully vegan, this cute little cafe is only a 25-minute walk away from the popular Szechenyi baths and serves an unmissable tofu scramble. It is always very busy on a Sunday so make sure to go early to grab yourself a spot.
Must Try: vegan ‘scrambled egg’ made with tofu – very oniony and spiced with paprika, the scramble is served with a warm chunk of bread. A perfect start to your day.
A hip cafe with a large outdoor seating area. You can choose to work from the cafe, eat a delicious lunch, or spend the evening drinking cocktails and listening to live music. This is not a fully vegan spot but offers some excellent sandwiches and soups with a menu that changes seasonally and uses local flavours as inspiration.
Must Try: check out the daily soup – always vegetarian, ask to see if that day is vegan. They use seasonal veg and serve it with flat bread to soak it up.
Bakeries and more
Right around the corner from the central market hall, this is a fully vegan patisserie specialising in gluten and soy-free desserts. The cakes on offer tend to change but there is always something tasty to be had.
On a hot day, nothing is better than an ice lolly and Anjuna does the best in town. A fully plant-based ice pop shop, you choose your flavour and can opt to have it dipped in white, milk, or dark chocolate (yes, all of these are vegan) and coated with chopped-up nuts. Anjuna can be found on both sides of the river, but the best spot is right by the ferris wheel in Elizabeth square. After your ice pop, take a spin on the ferris wheel to get uninterrupted views of the city.
If you’ve not yet had your fill of vegan meals in Budapest, other recommendations worth checking out include:
A vegetarian lunch spot with many vegan options, only a short walk from the river makes it a great place to sit and have lunch
A small pizza bar, making only pizza and calzones
A cafe and restaurant serving all vegan Italian food. The best Madal can be found right outside the parliament buildings. If you can nab a seat outside, you can watch the sunset with a warm drink and slice of vegan cake
A cafeteria style restaurant
A co-working, event, and cafe space, not offering many vegan options. It gets an honourable mention for its delicious oat milk flat whites and vegan cheesecake. A perfect spot for working from if you are looking for excellent wifi
A beautiful restaurant that is more like sitting in a conservatory than a restaurant. Filled to the brim with plants and flowers, candlelit tables set the perfect background for a romantic evening. While not a vegan restaurant, they do offer multiple vegan starters and sharing mezze platters.
Vegan options in supermarkets
If you want to cook at home, you’ll be pleased to hear that even the smaller supermarkets cater to the vegan community. The most common supermarkets include Lidl, Tesco, Aldi, Spar, and Prima.
If you are looking for some specific plant-based health foods, DM might be able to help you out. It carries mostly beauty products but has a range of health foods, including vegan chocolates, protein bars, and other snacks.
You’ll easily be able to find plant-based milk, tofu, vegan yogurt, and more. Make sure to brush up on your Hungarian when shopping so you know what ingredients to look out for (or just use Google translate like I did).
Hungarian vegan phrases
Some handy phrases and words you might need include:
Vegan – Vegan
Vegan food – Vegan etel
Veggie – Vega
Meat – Hus
Milk – Tej
Soy milk – Szójatej
Plant milk – Novenyi tea
Butter – Vaj
Egg – Tojas
Cheese – Sajt
Check out the Vegan Sisters’ vegan travel phrases to learn how to ask for vegan food in multiple languages!
Enjoy exploring Budapest
Budapest is a beautiful city and made all the better by the variety of amazing vegan food on offer. If you are hitting up Budapest let us know about any vegan restaurants you find!