Written by Staff Writer at CNN
Budapest is rapidly shifting the expectations for fine dining from a sedate table-flipping experience to a mindful dining experience. Just look at the growth of modern Hungarian restaurants: from Blacora’s to Sushi and Wine to the new Lavanyi to Tito’s Gusti on Slazengerka.
“In the recent years, there has been a sharp rise in demand for international chefs who came to Budapest as festival participants and brought their work and reputation back to their countries,” says Petra Szczubanski of Budapest-based cultural organization Docomomo . “Budapest is attracting an increasing number of outstanding chefs from around the world as proof of our city’s passion for food, and that it has significantly grown. That, in turn, is a result of the success we have seen in recent years.”
Budapest’s trendiness has also helped the city develop a growing brand of ethical and sustainable food. Café nenu, for example, took over the Schonau hotel in 2011 with the goal of ensuring that a whole host of sustainable products are used in their daily operations. When the restaurant was awarded Cipriani’s People’s Choice Award in 2017, Hungary’s second Michelin-starred restaurant, there was a collective of ecstatic “Yay!” tweets.
Other notable restaurants, like Kolektivska, have also increased their sustainability efforts.
“In our eyes, Bibs is our Zagreb, it’s our Paris, and it’s our Berlin,” says Stephanie Szentytk, one of the founders of Kolektivska, referring to local foodie Mecca Budapest. “The risk-taking that we do in our approach to food is something that seems great from the outside but comes as second nature from the inside.”
All of these factors make a trip to Budapest a more desirable destination for aspiring chefs and foodies alike. Whether that means schlepping backpacking to take a taste of what Budapest has to offer from the concrete jungles of the Danube or, alternatively, staying put with such modern dining venues in an area with a rich culinary history, there’s no shortage of options. Here are just a few of the latest local openings.
Tanto’s Gusti, from Knifer Hotels. Courtesy Knifer Hotels
Lavanyi Cafe opened in July this year. A Michelin-starred, three-Michelin-starred restaurant operated by chef Pieter Kerttu in his “Hotel for two,” this new venue continues the tradition of red-sauce cooking, but has been strategically positioned to also serve up the local flavors of the city.
Using the power of LED lights on the side of a large cube to illuminate the interior, Holyor is a modern restaurant that matches the design of its moody restaurant space. From the electronic bento boxes to the Instagrammable Kampuchea dishes and snacks for the wine-drinking set, Holyor brings a bit of Hollywood onto the Hungarian food scene. $250
Forget the business side of food, this is all about the soul. The partners behind Intragoodos opened the restaurant in September, along with their unique Gypsy-themed dining room. A menu of Austrian dishes gives way to mostly Southeast Asian and East Asian fare and with street foods all around Budapest, why not have a bite of the real thing? $100
A 2016 Kotwodgoli open work art, chandelier-shaped cookie tray. Courtesy Koshvaz
The croissant sandwich is a sandwich that is staying. Koshvaz is the latest addition to Budapest’s rapidly expanding sandwich corridor, with owners David Vizzi and Nina Di Camerato using old railroad cookies and other regional snacks to create some truly memorable ingredients, like “zilpaks,” or hot cookie-like bread filled with a steamed bologna filling. Now that’s a spicy food that will satisfy your sweet tooth and satisfy your appetite. $62
The Chaz’s at Katacs’ in a splendid “couchette” home layout. Courtesy Kozmak
Hungary’s Heddy Bennet has taken the delicious down home into a modern modern form for her Kozmak. While the modern influences combine with her love of old-world traditions for an exciting and interesting dining experience, the meals are often topped with European-grown produce, too.