Chicken Paprikash: One of the most traditional and ubiquitous dishes in Budapest. It’s basically paprika-coated chicken served with spätzle (a pasta-ish dumpling). It’s orange-colored and melt-in-your-mouth delicious.
Butcher’s meat: Check out any butcher’s shop and help yourself to a cheap meat dish served with potatoes and dressed with condiments such as mustard.
Fried cheese burger: A hunk of cheese is breaded and fried and slipped between buns. There is no meat involved. It reminds me of the fried camembert I had in Prague except that this one goes the extra-caloric mile with its bun and onions. It’s delicious – but maybe split it or plan to do nothing but walk for the next two days (your heart will thank you).
Lángos: Deep-fried flatbread native to Hungarians (who also brought it to Serbia). You can eat it alone (but why would you?) or you can toss dozens of different ingredients on them that range from hot to cold, sandwich-like to stew-like.
Tokaji: A sweet, dessert wine that needs to be tasted. It’s a lot fruity and a little honey-flavored.
Marzipan: A sugary, honeyed, almondy confection that you can get at both street stands and in confectionary shops. It has a museum dedicated to it in Budapest. If that’s not enough reason to give it a taste then I don’t know what is.
Dobos torte: A shortbread, chocolate, caramel encased cake with chocolate sprinkles on its end. Get this at any number of traditional cafés throughout the city. It’s a little rich for my taste as I’d rather have a hundred chimney cakes than one of these (though, in all fairness I’d take a hundred chimney cakes over many many many desserts or meals or – you know, if you’re offering up a trade of any sort I am all ears).
Kürtőskalács: The infamous chimney cake. Buttery, light, sugar-coated deliciousness that you can carry around to eat. You can get it topped with chopped almonds, coconut flakes, cocoa powder, or cinnamon as well as a simple sugar-syrup that calls itself vanilla.
Gulyás: This is the dish we all recognize in word but in form looks wildly different from country to country. In Budapest, gulyás (or goulash outside of Hungary) is a slow-cooked beef served still in its juices (so a soup or stew depending on who’s making it) and covered in paprika.
Potato Pancakes: Like everywhere else we’ve been in Eastern Europe – only plate-size. They’re amazing and sometimes even take the place of a plate for stews or chicken dishes.
– M. Ray Hall