The Food of Budapest, Hungary

It certainly shouldn’t be surprising that you can find just about any type of cuisine that you would like in a city the size of Budapest. Especially in the tourist areas, you can find restaurants featuring traditional Hungarian dishes, but you are just as likely to find Italian, Asian, Mediterranean, and even Mexican restaurants. It is also not surprising that you can find plenty of American fast food restaurants throughout the city. When it comes to Hungarian food, it is definitely meat and starch (potato/rice) forward and vegetables are almost an afterthought. One of the things that did surprise us were the number of restaurants specializing in burgers that we found everywhere. Not fast food restaurants, but just restaurants that offered many varieties of burgers on their menus.

Goulash Soup
Beef Tenderloin with Letcho and Fried Potatoes
Chicken Paprikash
Boar Cheeks with Napkin Dumplings

Goulash soup was probably the most common item that could be found on almost any Hungarian menu, but it is truly a soup and not what most of us think of when we hear the word goulash. You will also find meat stews listed and sometimes it will even be listed as goulash stew. Another common menu item is Chicken Paprikash, which is chicken and cottage cheese noodles covered in a paprika sour cream sauce. Cottage cheese noodles are pretty similar to sp√§tzle. You will find many menu items that feature “letcho”, which is a pepper and tomato stew that can be combined with different proteins or eaten on its own. Another common item that you find as an appetizer is duck liver pate with the local flatbread, very similar to naan.

Goulash Stew
Duck Liver Pate
Lamb Soup with Duck Liver Dumplings
Leg of Goose with Red Cabbage

Needless to say, there are plenty of other choices for Hungarian dishes including boar cheeks with dumplings and lamb soup with duck liver dumplings. There are also Hungarian deserts such as an almond cake, but one of the most famous is probably the chimney cake. We got our chimney cake from a food truck where it was cooked over burning embers. It is then coated with your choice of flavors and we decided on a simple cinnamon sugar. Since burgers were so prevalent, we did decide to get a burger one day and since we like spicy food, we ordered a spicy burger. It turned out to be so spicy that we were barely able to eat it.

Spicy Burger
Chimney Cake
Traditional Almond Cake
Grilled Calamari

With six days in Budapest, we didn’t limit ourselves to just Hungarian food, but also ate some seafood and Italian food as well. In the main tourist areas, you will sometimes find that the restaurants offer a “tourist menu”, which is usually a three course meal focusing on Hungarian dishes. It is probably focused on those tourists that come from the cruise ships that stop in Budapest where the people only have a single day in the city. We found some of the best restaurants tended to be in the Jewish Quarter and we even ate an excellent meal at an Israeli fusion restaurant called Mazel Tov that was recommended to us by several people.

Spaghetti Arrabbiata
Fried Calamari
Cooking Chimney Cakes
Mussels in White Wine Sauce

When visiting Budapest, you will certainly have plenty of options of restaurants to choose from. We definitely enjoyed the different meals that we ate and it would be difficult to choose a favorite, but you should certainly try some of the paprika based dishes. All of the restaurants usually had English as well as Hungarian descriptions as well as German sometimes. Many of the tourist restaurants also include picture menus, but we didn’t find those to be necessary. Fortunately we did a lot of walking during our time in Budapest, otherwise all of the heavy meals might have taken their toll on our wastes.

Pastrami Sandwich at the Israeli Fusion Restaurant
Buffet on the Dinner Cruise Ship
Fresh Olives
Spoon Restaurant on the Danube River


Southwestern Corn Chowder

When we were in Sante Fe, New Mexico, we had a very tasty grilled corn and chipotle soup. We asked the restaurant for the recipe and they were nice enough to print it out and give it to us. Since corn is in season right now, we decided to recreate this recipe, but we changed it up to suit our tastes. We really liked the way that our version turned out, it had just the right amount of spice. One of the nice things about a recipe like this is that you can control the amount of heat that you add so that it can be more or less spicy depending upon your taste. Also, the combination of the fresh corn and frozen corn makes for a mix of crunchy and soft that makes the texture of the soup very pleasurable. We served ours with a nice toasted baguette bread, but a fried tortilla like the restaurant used would also be good. We also garnished ours with a couple of slices of jalapeno that had been deseeded, but clearly it isn’t necessary. This recipe serves two, but it could easily be adjusted to serve more. We hope that you enjoy it!

Cooking the Corn and Red Onion


  • 5 Ears of Fresh Corn
  • 8 oz of Frozen Corn
  • 1/3 can of Chipotle Peppers with Sauce – finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup Red Onion – chopped
  • 3 cups Heavy Cream
  • 1/2 tsp White Pepper
  • 1/4 tsp Cumin
  • 1/4 tsp Garlic Powder
  • 2 tbsp Vegetable Oil
  • 1 tsp Butter
  • Salt to Taste – generous amount
  • Black Pepper to Taste
Stirring in the Chipotle Peppers
Grilled Corn and Chipotle Soup


Remove the corn kernels from the husks of fresh corn and sauté them in a cast-iron skillet heated over medium-high heat with the oil and butter. If you prefer, you could grill the corn whole on a grill and then remove the kernels, but we chose to cook them in the skillet. Salt and pepper the corn and cook for about 5 to 7 minutes, stirring frequently, and then add the red onion to the corn. Cook for another 5 minutes and then remove from heat. In a medium sauce pan, add the cream, corn and onions, frozen corn, white pepper, cumin, garlic, and salt. Add about a third of the chipotle peppers with sauce and start heating the soup over medium heat. You want to just bring the soup to a slight simmer and avoid bringing to a full boil. Taste the soup and continue to slowly add chipotle peppers with sauce until it is as spicy as you would like.

Corn in the Cast-Iron Skillet
Building the Soup
Our Finished Soup


Unconventional Food in Chicago

We have been to Chicago several times and have eaten traditional foods such as deep dish pizza, Chicago-style hot dogs, and Italian beef hoagies. During our most recent trip, the temperatures averaged below 10 degrees Fahrenheit (-12 degrees Celsius) with wind chill temperatures that were between -15 and -25 degrees Fahrenheit (-26 and -32 degrees Celsius). With temperatures that cold, it was hard not to just have soup to keep us warm, which we did a few times. We had a variety of food from Italian, American, and even Irish. We did have a pizza, but we not big fans of deep dish pizzas, so we chose a thin crust pizza.

Frozen River from the Michigan Street Bridge
Thin Crust Pizza
Curry Deviled Eggs with Pickled Radish and Caviar
Seafood Pasta

Of the things that we ate, some of our favorites were a seafood pasta with black linguini as well as homemade ravioli. One of our favorite restaurants to visit when we go to Chicago is Ditka’s, which is a traditional steakhouse, but we tend to eat lighter meals when we go there. We actually visited twice and did have a steak, but we also had oyster shooters and then later had a crab bisque, filet mignon sliders, as well as a delicious raspberry cheesecake.

Oyster Shooters
Filet Sliders
Raspberry Cheesecake

We always try to find an Irish Pub during our travels and Chicago is certainly a great place to find one. We ended up going to the Emerald Loop, also a couple of times, and had a wonderful Irish breakfast, corned beef sandwich, and a seafood curry, which they considered to be an Irish dish. You may wonder why we went to the same places more than once during our visit and the answer is quite simple, it was too cold to walk around and go exploring and the Emerald Loop was less than a five minute walk away and we went to Ditka’s for dinner and then later for afternoon snacks.

Irish Breakfast
Seafood Curry
Corned Beef Sandwich
Cold and Snowy

Overall, our visit to Chicago was wonderful as always, despite the frigid temperatures. We look forward to our next visit to Chicago, although it will likely be during a warmer season. Chicago has such a wonderful variety of food and it is definitely a place where you can find things to eat that will suit any palate.

Soup and a Sandwich
Crab Bisque