It is worth knowing a few basics. Étterem is the generic Hungarian term for a restaurant, Vendéglõ is typically a small restaurant with a more traditional feel and Sörözõ is a beer hall or pub, which usually has just as wide a selection of food as any restaurant. These rarely have food in them, generally just booze halls The small buffet restaurants are a good bet for traditional food on the run, although you may need to take a risk or two when ordering from the Hungarian-only menus. However, as the food is usually on display, you should be able to get what you want with basic international sign language and any Hungarian you may pick up. Also, as restaurants are required to display their prices outside their doors, you always know what to expect to pay before you take the plunge.
For that main stag weekend meal with all your mates try the hugely popular (and for very good reason) Liszt ferenc ter – a square loaded with restaurants, bars and cafes. The leader is Menza, followed by Café Vian. Menza, in Liszt Ferenc Square, with its retro décor and large terrace, is one of the hottest spots for drinking and dining in Budapest. Anyone from business lunches to in-vogue celebs can be seen dining here, which also makes this a place to book ahead. The menu is filled with modern takes on traditional Hungarian dishes and most are surprisingly affordable considering Menza’s popularity. Also in Liszt Ferenc Square is Fresco, again great food with a great terrace, and Café Vian, with a guaranteed view of beautiful girls all summer long.
Baraka is the place to go for international cuisine. It is a quieter, more refined place to dine and you’ll need to book early to avoid disappointment. Another excellent bet is Tom George, one of the top restaurants in town, offering fantastic food in a sophisticated yet relaxing environment.
A few more recommended eateries are Ocean, which serves fantastic seafood in elegant surroundings, Portside – Cactus Juice’s more sophisticated brother. Cactus juice is good for big meat plates served with ice cold pints. Perfect for a stag weekend. If you are missing your Balti, try the Taj Mahal, a celebrated Indian restaurant with a modern décor and good music, or if it’s Italian you have come to Hungry for, wander down to Toscana on the river bank. For a bit of fun, Sir Lancelot offers up massive portions with a medieval theme, or Beckett’s, Budapest’s legendary Irish bar, serves decent pub grub and has a great sporty atmosphere – a natural home base for many a stag party, particularly during a big match. Carnivore? Head for Fat Mo’s Beer Hall and you’ll be served good-sized sizzling steaks by hot waitresses.
Of course, booking a table might be the least of your worries if you also need accommodation, transfers to the airport and don’t know the lingo. The best option is to use an established company who will sort out the whole stag weekend in Budapest with you – look for a company that will not only find you the best restaurants but will also find you a competitively priced hotel and help you arrange those all important pre- and post-meal activities. Bon Appétit or, as they say in Hungarian, Jó étvágyat!