Hungarian goulash (gulyas) is a thick beef soup cooked with onions and potatoes and usually eaten as a main course. What we think of as goulash is actually ‘porkolt’, meat stewed with onions and paprika, the addition of sour cream makes the dish, whatever it may be, paprikas. Pork is the most common meat dish.
Cabbage is an important vegetable in Hungary, either stuffed (toltott kaposzta) or made into a thick cabbage soup (kaposzta leves). Other delicacies include goose liver (libamaj) prepared in a variety of ways and roast goose leg (sult libacomb). Chicken paprika (csirke paprikas served with tiny dumplings (galuska) is always a crowd-pleaser.
Fisherman’s soup (halaszle) is a rich mixture of several kinds of poached fish, tomatoes, green peppers and paprika.
It’s a meal in itself. Lake Balaton pike-perch (fogas) is generally served breaded and fried or grilled.
Noodle dishes with cheese like sztrapacska go well with fish dishes. Strudel (retes) is a layered pastry filled with apple, cherry, poppyseed, curd or cheese. Look out for langos, fried dough eaten with garlic, salt, cheese and sour cream. It’s a very popular snack.
Some dishes for vegetarians to request are rantott sajt (fried cheese), gombafejek rantva (fried mushroom caps), gombaleves (mushroom soup), gyumolcsleves (fruit soup), sajtoskenyer (sliced bread with soft cheese) and turoscsussza (Hungarian pasta with cheese).
Bableves (bean soup) sometimes contains meat. Pancakes/crepes (palacsinta) may be made with cheese (sajt), mushrooms (gomba), nuts (dio) or poppy seeds (mak).
A special and unique place of hospitality is the café. Glittering cafés as hubs of intellectual, artistic and social life became fashionable after the 1850s. From the second half of the 19th c. to the 1940s, Budapest used to be called the "city of cafés". What is (was) a café? To call it a café restaurant is simplification. They were open throughout the day and night. Literary groups, politicians and artists had their regular cafés. One could buy all the daily papers, including the foreign ones. The idea, the hope of civil liberty and equality, free press and bourgeois Hungary was born in the Pilvax Café. A café was the editorial office of the first Central European cinema weekly, which started off Sir Alexander Korda, a prominent figure of the English film industry towards world fame.
One of the most important, the New York Café (VII., Erzsébet krt. 9-11 ), opened in 1894, was considered the world’s most beautiful and largest café. Cinema owners, advertising agents, actors and journalists stayed from early morning to noon, a posh audience spent the evening here, and finally gamblers, female acrobats and musicians turned up during the small hours. It was certainly a varied clientele but not without interest. The bustling café life began to wither after 1945: the miracle has faded by today. Still, when you enter the New York, you might imagine what it was like back in the glorious days.
The atmosphere of old cafés can still be felt in Hotel Astoria’s Café (V., Kossuth Lajos u. 19.), the Gerbeaud, the Múzeum Café (VIII., Múzeum krt. 12.)and the tiny M?vész Café (VI., Andrássy út 29.).
Hungary has a tasty national cuisine all its own. Many dishes are seasoned with paprika (a spice made from certain varieties of red pepper), which appears on restaurant tables as a condiment beside the salt and pepper. Although paprika originated in Central America, the peasants of Szeged have been growing it since the early 18th century and it’s now as important to Hungarian cuisine as the tomato is to Italian cooking.
Now, some useful tips. In many restaurants with live Gypsy music, mainly frequented by foreign tourists, musicians go up to the tables and play a song on request. They expect a gratuity in return. If you do not like this kind of entertainment, try to sit further away from the band or go to a "music-free" restaurant. There are plenty of both types.
You are not advised to accept the waiter’s offer about the speciality of the house, particularly if you do not know the price. You should study the menu whether the main course includes the price of garnishes. Always ask for an itemised bill. Beverage prices are usually rather high in good restaurants, so first consult the wine list. Waiters usually receive a tip in restaurants, which is about 10-15 percent of the bill. Service is included in the price at some places, where no tip is expected.
There are places that you mustn’t miss: the Százéves Restaurant (V., Pesti Barnabás u. 2.), the world-famous Matthias Cellar (V., Március 15. tér) and the luxurious Gundel Restaurant (XIV., Állatkerti út 2.). To see the "other face" of Hungarian cuisine, you must go to small restaurants where tables are covered with gingham tablecloths. One thing is certain: the excellent dishes of Pest and Buda are worth trying in an attempt to explore the city which can boast with the highest number of Oscar-winning cooks.
Budapest has over 1,000 restaurants, offering Hungarian and international cuisine. In the past ten years the choice has been growing fast: French, Chinese, Russian, Italian, Serbian, Indian, American, Greek, British, Czech, Danish, even vegetarian or kosher eateries have been opened. We are doing well in fast-food operations too with all the major chains having outlets in Budapest. You will not have any difficulty in finding a place to eat which fits your budget.
The simplest way to learn a nation is said to be through its cuisine. This city has a number of flavours: different in Óbuda, Buda and Pest. What is Hungarian cuisine like? Many think that Hungarians eat heavy, fatty dishes, a key ingredient of which is the throat-burning hot red paprika. We have to disappoint you if you are one of the many. Lard has long been replaced with vegetable oils, and red paprika is only used to enhance the flavour of the dishes.
The first thing that people recall about Hungarian cuisine is goulash, which is, contrary to popular belief , not a stew but an artistically prepared thick soup. Sour cream is often used to soften flavour. You must try fish soup, chicken paprika, good home-made pörkölt (stew) and the excellent fresh-water fishes: grilled pike-perch, trout with almond. Also compulsory is goose liver. Whether fried or grilled, cold or hot, it is simply unforgettable.
Only the larger restaurants have their menus printed in foreign languages. To help you select your dish, some useful ‘restaurant’ words are included in our glossary. Desserts would deserve a separate chapter. The most delicious ones are strudels, Gundel pancakes, somlói dumplings and gesztenyepüré (cooked chestnuts mashed, topped with whipped cream). Specialities include salty and sweet pastas, of which túrós csusza (pasta with curd and sour cream) is warmly recommended.
The castle was first built in wood for the Millenary Celebration in 1894, but was such a popular success that it was later constructed in the durable stone and bricks.
The whole complex, made up of authentic copies of historic monuments in Hungary, has become a symbol of the City Park.
Today the building houses the Agricultural Museum and the Botanical Collection of the Museum of Natural Science.
Franz Liszt Music Academy, situated in the ononymous street, is considered one of the best in the Central Europe. The front facade of the building, built in neo-classical style, is beautifuly decorated and with a huge statue to the composer right above the main entrance.
The Museum of Fine Arts, which stands on the left-hand side of Hosok tere, was opened in 1906. It was designed in neo-Classical style as a copy of the Parthenon of Athens.
The current display contains a permanent show of Egyptian, Greek and Roman art, as well as Italian, French and Flemish paintings.
On the right-hand side of Hosok tere stands this alaborately decorated plain brick building. The Exibition Hall shows domestic and fpreign work in every season. This is the largest venue in the capital for temporary exibitions.
Besides the Millenary Monument there are other attractions in the City Park, such as; the Zoo and Botanical Garden, the Amusement Park, the Transport Museum and the famous Szechenyi Medicinal Baths.
A whole network of shady paths interweave the Southern section of the Park. This part may also be considered an arboretum, because of its valuable collection of trees and plants.
The semicircular colonnades contains the statues of 7 sovereigns on each side with bronze reliefs below them, showing scenes from their lives.
To make access to the Park easier, a 3,6km underground line between the Inner City (starting from Vorosmarty ter) and the City Park was opened on May 2, 1896. It was the first underground railway on continental Europe.
At the pedestal of the column, the equestrian group of the seven chiefs of the Hungarian tribes who conquered the country with Prince Arpad place in the middle, is the work of Gyorgy Zala.
The Millenary Monument is an enormous parade ground called Hosok tere (Heroe's Square). In its center stads an 85 m semicircular open colonade divided into two parts. This was built for the thousandth anniversary of Hungary's existence.
At its center is a 36 m column with a winged Archangel Gabriel on the top, holding the Cross of Lorraine in one hand and the crown of Hungary in the other.
The Vigado of Pest (Concert Hall) was built between 1859 and 1864 on the site of the old concert hall, and the architect was Frigyes Feszl. Richly proportioned and symmetric, its facade overlooks the Dunakorzo (the Danube promenade) and is an excellent example of the Hungarian Romantic style.
The Hungarian Academy of Sciences on the large oval Roosevelt square. It was built in 1862-1865 to M. Ybl's neo-Renaissance plans, then the fashionable style.
In front of the building and in the square park there are numerous statuetes of famous Hungarians.
The Budapest Opera House, situated in Andrassy utca 22, designed by Miklos Ybl was opened in 1884. The hydraulic stage machinery was installated here for the first time in the world, as a measure of fire control.
The interior space of this eclectic building is imaginatively arranged. The three tiers of boxes, with two decked roxal box in the center, are arranged in a horseshoe.