An impromptu study abroad spring break trip to Budapest was one of the best impulse decisions I’ve ever made. It opened me up to a country full of warming comfort food to battle the cold Hungarian weather. In Hungary, the art is folky, the folks are friendly and the eats are hearty. These dishes hit the spot more than your massage at the thermal spring bath house. Grab your forints, because you’re about to be a total baller in this Eastern European foodie paradise. Hope you’re Hungary….
Hungarian for “red pepper,” paprika is the staple of any and every traditional Hungarian dish. It’s ground into a powder or made into a paste, and added to everything for an extra kick.
2. Gulyás (goulash)
Hungary has got more soup than Campbell’s, and this is its most famous one. Goulash is a traditional Hungarian stew bubbling to the brim with potatoes, vegetables, beef and paprika, and is the ultimate comfort food.
3. Töltött Káposzta (stuffed cabbage)
We can dub this one “the Hungarian burrito.” Pieces of cabbage are stuffed with a mix of ground beef, onions, rice and of course, paprika, and are topped with a huge dollop of sour cream. Serve with a side of shredded and pickled cabbage, because you really can’t enough of this paprika-spiked member of the lettuce family.
4. Hungarian Matzo Ball Soup
Hungary has a large Jewish population, and Budapest is even home to the largest synagogue in all of Europe. This twist on matzo ball soup is actually made with a goose and beef based broth, and is totally out of this world. Sorry, Bubbe.
5. Lángos (fried dough)
Funnel cakes are basic in comparison to Langos. This street food dessert is a puffy fried dough pancake that can be topped with anything from Nutella, strawberries, coconut, cinnamon, lemon and powdered sugar, or even sour cream and cheese.
6. Halászlé (fisherman’s soup)
Really wasn’t kidding on the soup thing. This one is make with fresh fish from the Danube River, and is traditionally cooked in a big pot over an outdoor fire.
7. Meggyleves (sour cherry soup)
More soup… but this one is chilled and served as a dessert, or even as a meal on its own. It’s made from sour cherries, sour cream and sugar. Fans of SweeTARTS will be all about this one.
8. Kürtőskalács (Roasted Spit Cake)
These spiral cakes are popular in all parts of Eastern Europe, but got their start in good ol’ Hungary. Sweet dough is wrapped around a rod, and spun over an open flame. Kürtőskalács are then covered in sugar, nuts or even sprinkles to satisfy your sweet tooth.
This last one is not actually a dish, but a famous restaurant in Budapest. GUNDEL sets the standard for “modern Hungarian gastronomy and hospitality.” Best thing about this Hungarian fine dining spot is that the exchange rate is in your favor, so you are free to dine like a total P-I-M-P without a crazy expensive bill at the end. The famous Szechenyi Baths are a stone’s throw away, so it’s acceptable to show up with wet hair (maybe?… I at least got away with it).