Walking food tours are one of my favorite things to do in a new location. They’re pretty much the only type of organized group tour I join. As we were preparing to return to Budapest, Food Tour Budapest contacted me and invited me to be their guest on their culinary walking tour.
You know a tour is going to be good when your first stop is at a bar to sample palinka and Unicum. In case you aren’t familiar with Unicum, it’s a Hungarian herbal liqueur. It’s made from a secret recipe containing more than 40 herbs and is aged in oak casks. It’s used as a digestif or aperitif and is considered to have health benefits.
Next up is a stop at the famous Central Market, probably the most visited market in Europe. It was built in the late 1890s. It was heavily damaged during World War II but has been renovated to its former splendor and is a popular spot for both locals and tourists. Many restaurants do their shopping here.
After eating a delicious variety of sausages, we headed to a place selling Transylvanian cheeses and other products. Transylvania stretches from Hungary through Romania and was part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Some of our favorite foods in Romania were from this region. We sampled a nice selection of regional cheeses as well as the very popular Túró Rudi.
No food tour in Budapest would be complete without visiting a kávéház or coffee house. These establishments were a vital part of daily life in Budapest in the early to mid 1900s. There were over 500 in the city which meant there was literally one on every corner. Some were quite popular with writers and poets. Often they were actually an attraction, so many of the coffee houses had special sections for them to sit where they could have free ink and paper, chat, and have specially discounted meals. They would often stay there all day, and people often visited that specific coffee house to get a glimpse or a chance to interact with some of these famous artists.
The coffee house we visited has preserved their “writers’ galley” and some of the decorations pay homage to the more famous of their regular patrons.
These places aren’t just for coffee, though. Many serve a full menu, and they usually have a confectionary offering delicious cakes and pastries. Some of the coffee houses are small, intimate affairs, while others are quite glamorous.
The tour continues to a restaurant across from the beautiful academy of music building. I had some amazing Mangalica pork gulyás (aka goulash) and the best langos I’ve eaten. They also have some really good hot sauce. It’s the first time in Europe I’ve had a hot sauce that actually had a kick to it. It was accompanied by a delicious pasta dish with a cream sauce and smoked bacon.
Then it’s time for some cookies at a lovely tea house. The cookies are small and packed with flavor. They use only natural ingredients and also have sugar-, milk-, and gluten-free options for those requiring those varieties. It’s a really cute place to just sit and relax over a nice tea, lemonade, coffee, and some wonderful baked goods.
The tour finishes with a visit to a local coffee chain that has become so popular they have opened franchises internationally. Their coffee menu is so big it was hard to choose which one to try!
Nora is a very good tour guide and has lots of wonderful information. She has a passion for food and it shows. I think one of the best parts of her tours is that she tends to focus only on places that would be frequented by locals, and most of them are small shops rather than large businesses. As a small business owner myself, I greatly appreciate that, and as a visitor who likes to stick to local products as much as possible this is a fantastic focus.
So if you’re coming to Budapest and are interested in a food tour, definitely check them out. They have various types of tours, and I think you’ll really enjoy doing their tour(s).
Do you enjoy doing food tours? What has been your favorite?