Shortly after we arrived here in Hungary, I wrote a post about the cheap food we’d thus-far discovered in Budapest.
It takes a lot of food to feed a family of five, so our efforts to eat cheaply certainly haven’t waned in that time. So, seven months into our Hungarian journey, this seems like a great time for an update on eating cheaply in Budapest.
One thing I mentioned in that earlier post that still holds true is gyros. They are everywhere, they are cheap, and they are delicious. Depending on where you get it, a gyro will cost 650 to 750 forint, or about $2.25 to $2.60. As a cheap meal, it’s really hard to beat. I mean, you get toasted pita bread packed with lettuce, cabbage, onions, tomatoes, sültkrumpli (fried potatoes, a.k.a. french fries) and steaming-hot pork or chicken, with savory sauces that vary between Turkish kebab joints and Greek cafes. Opt for a gyros tál (gyro plate) instead, and you’ll get a full plate of gyro fixings with rice. That’ll usually cost 1000 to 1250 forint ($3.50 to $4.35).
You know what else is cheap and amazing? The bread and pastries. Budapest is famous for both of them, and for good reason. You can’t walk two blocks without coming across a pékség, or bakery, and they all make incredible food. It’s hard to find whole-wheat, grain-heavy bread like we’re used to, but I’d wager that the bread here in Budapest is less full of preservatives and other weird stuff than it was in the states. It actually molds here, if that tells you anything. When’s the last time you saw bread mold in the United States?
The bread is so cheap in Hungary that we try to eat it as much as possible. Our staple lunch has become salami-and-cheese sandwiches. We eat it pretty much every day, and we’re not (entirely) sick of it yet.
We also periodically do a special pastry breakfast. We have two bakeries within a block of us (not to mention the bakeries in the two nearby grocery stores, which could hold their own in a contest), and a couple of times a month I’ll take the boys out in the morning to pick out pastries. Brittany and I usually opt for the csokis csigák, or chocolate snails. They look like large cinnamon rolls but with chocolate filling instead of cinnamon. Elijah always asks for a lekváros bukta, or jam tart. Oliver tends to choose a different thing each time, but lately he’s been going for diós kalács, which is a delectable pastry with walnut-paste filling.
I also mentioned pizza in that first post, and it remains a great option. Last week we stopped by the Nyugati train station during rush hour and enjoyed some delicious 200-forint pizza slices and watched the crowds come and go. Little pizza stands like this are popular in Budapest, especially in and near the metro stations. It’s best to go during the busiest times, because that’s when you’re guaranteed to get fresh pizza. During off-peak hours, the pizza can sit for a while and get cold.
In no particular order, here are a few of the cheap places we enjoy visiting (links go to Google Maps):
What are some other good options? I’d love to hear about them.
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