Best Food Tour in Budapest: Taste Hungary Culinary Walk
Why do you travel? I travel for sights and food. Actually, I am not sure what makes me more excited when I am going to a new place: sights or food? Probably both in equal measure!
When I went to Budapest, I signed up for a Culinary Walk with Taste Hungary, a local company which has been guiding people like me in search of good food for more than 10 years. Taste Hungary offers several tours in Budapest, but they also have country-wide food and wine tours.
We met with our guide Sara at the Central Market to start exploring. The building itself is probably the prettiest market I have ever been to: it is grand and has lots of interesting features inside and outside.
We started off with a cottage cheese snack, which Hungarian children love. To my surprise, it tasted exactly the same as a Russian snack I used to have as a child. To wake us up, Sara offered us a herbal liquor Unicum, which was quite strong and apparently used by Hungarians in medicinal purposes.
Next dish was one of my favourites: langos! Essentialy, it is fried dough, generously sprinkled with either garlic or sour cream and cheese. When you are walking the streets of Budapest, you will spot many places which sell langos, and sometimes they top it up with Nutella and God knows what else, but Sara assured us that the proper way to eat langos is just plain or topped with garlic. Nutella/marshmallow varieties were invented to please tourist tastes.
While we walking in the market, Sara talked us through the different stalls and we also managed to squeeze a tasting of different sausages and pickles. If you like sausage, my advice would be to buy it at the market , where you can try different varieties. I left sausage shopping until the airport and although it tasted ok, the sausage did not replicate the flavour we tried at the market.
After all these little tastings, it was now time for lunch and Sara took us to a simple place, which was full, so we had to stand outside at the tables. I take it as a good sign when the place is full on a weekday! Basically, this place already had a variety of cooked meats/ vegetables and you just point to what you want to eat. We tried sausages, pork, roast duck, goulash and blood sausage. After this lunch, I was full but it was not the end of the tour yet! I was hoping I could walk a little bit to the next tasting stop and more food can somehow fit in my stomach.
Next stop was an artisan chocolate shop, which produces small batches of chocolates and chocolate bars with a wonderful variety of flavours. You can choose couple of chocolates to try and also shop to your heart content. The chocolate quality was fantastic, even though I thought, that prices were on a higher side, so you have to be either a chocolate expert or love chocolate beyond the monetary value.
After chocolate, it was time to discover what a traditional grand cafe in Budapest is like. Before going to Budapest, I have seen lots of “Best Cafes to visit in Budapest” lists and New York Cafe or Cafe Gerbeaud usually top these lists. While grand and certainly beautiful, they somehow lacked the atmosphere for me, as there were no locals in sight, too many tourists and rush, rush, rush to go through as many people as possible.
Central Cafe also made it to the Best Cafe List, but this was a real gem. It was not full to the brim, it was beautiful inside and a selection of desserts was mouth watering. I can certainly stay here for a day, with cake and coffee by my side, while appreciating the view from the massive windows. We tried a selection of cakes and Sara also told us the stories associated with each of the desserts.
Last stop was at Taste Hungary cosy store, just next to the National Hungarian Museum, where we had an opportunity to try Hungarian wines. I am raising my hand and confessing I am guilty of never trying a Hungarian wine before! Have you?
If you look at a menu in any Budapest restaurant, majority of the positions will be taken by Hungarian wines. There are 22 wine-producing regions in Hungary and after 4 days of sampling various wines with my meals, I can assure you that Hungarians do not really need to rely on any other wine regions in the world.
Wines were served with yet another round of cheeses, breads and olives. We were given a quick introduction to each of the wines and my favourite was of course the Tokaj wine. We were also invited to shop after the tour was finished as there was a great variety of wines on offer and plenty of helpful advice.
Overall, I thought the tour was a great introduction to the Hungarian food and drinks, with plenty of ideas of where to eat in the following days of my trip. Our guide Sara was knowledgeable and accommodating, she was constantly serving, making portions and making sure we got the best bits. You can book Culinary Walk on Taste Hungary website, which will guarantee you the place on the day and there are quite a few tours to choose from. Now, I need a second visit to go and eat more nice food in Budapest!
My ticket for Taste Hungary Food Tour was provided at media rate, but all opinions are my own.