When you visit a country where the national dish is a goulash that’s often thickened with flour and comes served in a thick, crusty bread roll bowl, what’s a gluten free gal to do? Turns out – thankfully – quite a lot, as I recently discovered on a long weekend break to Budapest.
As anyone with food allergies will understand, the prospect of eating out in new places where they don’t speak the same language as you can be daunting. But, with a bit of research and perseverance, it is far easier than you might think – so for those coeliacs (and ‘normals’) amongst you heading to Budapest or considering doing so, here are my recommendations for eating gluten free in this beautiful city.
An entirely gluten free restaurant, Drop is a foodie goldmine for coeliacs. They’re also incredibly hot on catering to other allergies as well, and are very knowledgeable on advising what to go for or avoid on their menu if further ones apply to you. The menu consists of a great range of starters, including an incredible cheese board, peri peri king prawns with salad and a host of soups, while their main offerings are equally extensive and the portions are HUGE.
The dessert menu is quite small in comparison, but by the time I’d made my way through my prawn starter and creamy salmon and pasta main, there wasn’t an inch of room left for one anyway. Prices are very reasonable, but consider booking – unsurprisingly, it’s very popular. droprestaurant.com/
Veggie Raw Vegan Bistro
If you’re near the Parliament building, this is definitely worth a stop-by. Fresh, entirely gluten free food that’s all vegan, too – and incredibly cheap. The menu is very simple: there are five salads on offer and you can either have a bit of all five for 1,900H or three for 1,500H – I had cauliflower rice with diced pepper and avocado, zoodles with cashew nut cream sauce and a Chinese cabbage number – and they were all delicious.
Every salad also comes with four little flaxseed-style crackers (I liked them but one of my friends really did not!), and there is also a good selection of great looking raw cakes and juices on offer, too. facebook.com/VeggieRawBistro/
Free! Gluten Free Bakery
I literally stumbled on this hidden gem within my first half hour of being in Budapest and couldn’t have been happier. They have a huge variety of bread to buy, plus filled rolls and pasties and an amazing array of cakes – all gluten free and that can be eaten in or taken away.
The salmon and vegetable pasty was warmed up and very tasty, while the cheese and salami salad roll was also a winner – the seeded bread was one of the best gf varieties I have had in a long while. Pick up one (or several) of the chocolate roll cakes too (cinnamon bun style but with a choc filling); it was melt-in-the-mouth flaky perfection. freepekseg.hu
I think the fact I ate here for breakfast three mornings in a row (and spotted another group doing exactly the same thing) is testament to just how good this place is. Gluten free options aren’t marked up on menu, but this place definitely caters for coeliacs, with gf bread on offering and many of their breakfast/brunch dishes easily adaptable to be tummy-friendly.
The Eggs Florentine on thick gf bread was a firm favourite, although ask for the hollandaise on the side as, although it’s beautifully light and fluffy, there is A LOT of it! There’s also an extensive daytime menu with plenty of gluten free dishes to choose from. cirkuszbp.hu/
KonyvBar & Restaurant
Who needs a run-of-the-mill menu when you can have a new one every fortnight with dishes based on different books? That’s exactly what, among other things, makes KonyvBar so special. When I visited, the book for the fortnight was The Great Gatsby (one of my favourites) – however, with only two dishes available for each course, it wasn’t looking so good on the gluten free front. Fortunately, they have a continuous standard a la carte menu that runs alongside their special one, and this contained some fab gluten free choices.
They’re not marked up but the staff are able to advise which are suitable. My starter of herby camembert with walnuts and endive was stunningly delicious, while I was obviously overjoyed to discover that all three desserts on offer were gluten free – and the rich chocolate cake didn’t disappoint. Add to this some chic decor and first class service, and you can see why this eatery gets such rave reviews. konyvbar.hu/
Go-Free Waffle Bar
I didn’t discover this until my last hour’s wandering before heading to the airport (gutted) but I am so glad I got to enjoy it at least once! Staff here take preparing and making gluten free waffles very seriously, and use clean gloves to get the gf batter mix from a separate tub before spooning it into a designated gluten free waffle maker and cleaning scoops etc before putting on toppings. A range of sweet and savoury toppings are on offer, for whatever takes your fancy (to have gf costs an extra 200H – a small price to pay!). gofreebar.hu/
Tuning Bar & Burger
The burgers in this joint can be coeliac-friendly thanks to gf buns, and there are two salad options if you fancy something a bit lighter. I went for the chicken yoghurt salad which was both tasty and gf, though the other salad had a Teriyaki glaze so if you were interested in that I’d double check that the sauce was gf before ordering. I also had the sweet potato chips on the side which were gf and AMAZING.
However, despite being told the other plain chips (the thinly sliced ones that come with the salads rather than the chunky wedges that come with the burgers) were also gf, I promptly bloated up to the size of a house after having a couple – so I’d suggest avoiding these and sticking to the sweet potato ones (or none) instead. tuningburger.hu/
New York Café
The most stunning restaurant I have ever been in, most people come here for just coffee and cake as it’s a tad on the (very) pricey side. Us coeliacs don’t have to miss out, though – a gluten free chocolate cake is very clearly marked on the menu (thanks to a full number-based allergen guide) and, if you decide you want to fork out (pun intended, obviously) for a bigger meal, there are a couple of gf main options, too. newyorkcafe.hu/
Near the zoo and main park, this little café has a few gluten free options – namely a couple of soups and varieties of omelette – and it’s ridiculously cheap. A decent-sized bowl of soup with grated cheese for topping set me back a mere £1.40, and the upstairs seating area is lovely, too. facebook.com/pilotcafe76
Supermarkets: head to a branch of Spar, Prima or Tesco and you should be able to find a range of gf snack products to buy. Spar and Prima had a great range of Schar items, as well as a few other brands. Tesco, meanwhile, had a selection of their own gf products that you can find in the UK, along with a few bits and pieces from other gf brands. And you’ll always find fresh fruit in any of these to help tide you over!
Dieta Lite Market:
an amazing health food store with a massive gluten free section, as well as a ton of paleo and veggie items. dietalife.hu
At Budapest airport
Airports can sometimes be a disaster for finding gluten free food, but you’ll find a couple of great options at Budapest’s. There’s a couple of different salad bars, an Upper Crust that serves hummus and crudités pots and gf Kettle Crisps, and a Costa for individually wrapped gf brownie bars should you need a sweet fix. As at all airports though, be prepared to pay more than normal!
Other places I spotted in the city but didn’t get a chance to eat at…
Gringos Amigos Mexican:
advertised gluten free options on their window and board outside. gringosamigos.hu
as well as a range of ‘normal’ cheesecakes, they also have several varieties of free from cheesecakes, too – gluten free, refined sugar free or lactose free. Plus they’re all kept in a separate cabinet to avoid cross contamination. Get there early if you want to get your hands on one though – they may be open til 9pm but I got there two days in a row at 6pm and they were long sold out! saycheese.hu/
a little, entirely gluten free café that sells paninis, pizza and cakes – but it only has four seats so perfect if you’re looking for takeaway! facebook.com/glutenofood
opposite St Stephens Basilica, they have a good variety of gluten free options clearly marked on their menu. ezazetterem.hu/
Happy eating – and I hope you enjoy this great city as much as I did!