Among the European capitals Budapest is a real latecomer in terms of meat-free food. While in Berlin, London and elsewhere tofu schnitzel and seitan sausages have been served for quite a while now on almost every corner, many Hungarians have still stuck to the old credo: “A meal without meat is not a real meal!” However, a change is taking place and nowadays vegetarian and vegan restaurants are not such a rarity. Here we present five.
Napfényes – vegan interpretations of international classics
Napfényes has been a meeting point for years for people seeking delicious, attractively arranged dishes prepared from purely plant ingredients. The menu contains vegan interpretations of Hungarian and international classics such as Caesar salad, minestrone soup, vegetarian goulash soup, herb wrap and even pasta with soy-bolognese.
The restaurant attracts not only sworn vegetarians and vegans but even numerous carnivores. The only disadvantage is that, since Napfényes occupies the basement level of a residential building, it has not really been true to its name, which translates as “bathing in sunlight”, and can be rather musty.
However, fans of the vegan restaurant are now catered for by a second Napfényes branch, at Ferenciek tér. This place not only has more room and a vegan desserts counter, but also a modern and elegant interior that really makes it shine. All the culinary successes that made mouths water at the earlier establishment are available at the new address too.
District VII, 39 Rózsa utca. Open daily from 12.00 to 22.30. Reservations at (+36) 20 313-5555.
District V, 2 Ferenciek tér. Open daily from 12.00 to 22.30. Reservations at (+36) 20 311-0313.
Édeni Végan – veggie kitchen with canteen flair
Opened in 2006, Édeni Végan was the only vegan restaurant in Buda for a long time. It quickly became a success thanks to its broad selection of always changing purely plant-based dishes and its quick service.
Since Édeni Végan operates similarly to a canteen, diners are able to take a look at the freshness and quality of the offered vegan lasagne, grilled dishes, tofu sausages, salads and other dishes. Especially people who are new to vegetarian and vegan cuisine will be saving themselves a lot of bad surprises this way.
The service personnel are famous for their helpfulness and will happily inform you about their offer. The fresh smoothies and the wide vegan dessert selection, which is lovingly arranged to please the eye as well, are especially recommendable here.
You can find Édeni Végan in a picturesque historic building near Batthyány tér at the foot of the Castle Hill. In summer they open a street terrace and in wintertime you can make yourself comfortable in the colourful interior, which gives a Mediterranean feeling with its mosaic tiles.
District I, 31 Iskola utca. Open daily from 08.00 to 20.00. Reservations at firstname.lastname@example.org. See www.edenivegan.hu
Vegan Love – vegan streetfood kitchen
The snack bar Vegan Love opened at the beginning of last year and they proved that streetfood and meat-free, healthy food can be one and the same. The attractively decorated small restaurant offers meat-free burgers and hot dogs in many variations that make your mouth water.
The creations, which are prepared 100% from plant-based ingredients from the bun to the filling to the lightly melting cheese and the dab of sour cream on it, perfectly imitate their meat-containing predecessors in appearance and consistence.
The BBQ tofu-steak burger is especially recommended, containing a filling marinated in BBQ sauce for hours and even smoked afterwards, rested on a bed of baby spinach, tomatoes, vegan cheese and a manly portion of roasted onions.
District XI, 9 Bartók Béla út. Open Mondays to Saturdays 11.00 to 20.00, Sundays 12.00 to 20.00, Reservations at (+36) 30 597-5949. See www.veganlove.hu
Govinda – Budapest’s vegan Indian
No other kitchen offers such a versatility of traditional vegetarian recipes as the Indian one. Thanks to such aromatic spices as curcuma and cardamom, the dishes are a real taste experience even without using animal fat or meat ingredients. So it’s not a surprise that the friends of meatless kitchen really like to frequent the lacto-vegetarian Indian restaurant Govinda and its small brother, Govinda Vega Sarok.
The menu offers different vegetable curries, vegan dahls (a sort of thick one-pot dish made from legumes), filled pastry pockets and spinach dishes. Traditional Indian naan bread and delicious chutney complement the main dishes. Of course, you should not miss enjoying a refreshing mango lassie on the side either.
The Govinda was awarded for its excellent selection in 2012 by the evaluation platform TripAdvisor with the title of best vegetarian restaurant in Budapest.
District V, 4 Vigyázó Ferenc utca. Open Monday to Friday 11.00 to 21.00, Saturdays 12.00 to 21.00. Reservations at (+36-1) 473-1310. See www.govinda.hu/
Great Bistro – vegan kitchen with glamour factor
There is one thing for which you can accuse most vegetarian and vegan restaurants: in terms of design and interior they rely more on pragmatic than on aesthetic factors. They miss a certain something called glamour.
Great Bistro, opened last year by cooking show celebrity Gréta Stőhr, is just the opposite: the interior of the small restaurant with its colourful walls and lovingly arranged little details could be an advertisement for a creative do-it-yourself home decoration project.
This bistro has much to offer in culinary terms as well: diners can choose between two freshly prepared soups, four main dishes and three to four desserts each day. Everything is here, ranging from sharp Thai carrot soup to the Indian-looking lentil dish to the plant-based grilled dishes in delicate sauces based on soy.
District V, 6 Bank utca. Open Monday to Friday 07.00 to 18.00. Reservations at (+36) 70 214-9072. See www.greatbistro.hu