Early in my own European travels many years ago, I was given the following sage advice: “everyone says Paris is the most beautiful city, but Edinburgh, Budapest, and Prague are all just as beautiful.” I’ve been quite fortunate to visit three of those four cities – but not Budapest, a city with Anthony Bourdain raves about in his episode featuring the Hungarian capital.
Anthony Bourdain visited Hungary once, in season 5, episode 6 of Parts Unknown; it was his first and only on-screen visit to the capital of Budapest and the southern city of Szeged. While most of Tony’s visit focuses on Budapest, I felt it was better to create a guide to Hungary: you’ll find all of the places visited by Anthony Bourdain in Budapest and the one spot he ate in Szeged in this post.
If you’re planning a trip to Budapest alone, or exploring more of Hungary, let this guide you to the places where Tony ate and met with locals to learn more about the country’s culture, history, and artistic heritage. Use it to plan your own meals – whether you visit the exact same restaurants where Anthony Bourdain ate in Hungary or just to identify the dishes to look for on menus.
Okay, feeling hungry in Hungary? Let’s dive into this guide for the places Anthony Bourdain visited in Budapest and the rest of Hungary.
The featured photo in this post was taken by Anthony Bourdain himself; see the original on Instagram.
New York Café (Budapest)
Anthony Bourdain kicks off his visit to Budapest with a visit to New York Café. This might be an odd name for a popular cafe in Hungary, but it takes its name – and its historic focus – from the intellectual, artistic, and free speech-focused ethos of New York City in America.
Today, it’s less focused on these ideals and more on an upper-class dining experience. With Budapest local, poet, and performing artist Peter Zilahy, the two enjoy a nice lunch of goose liver terrine (foie gras), white lamb ragout soup, perch filet, and pork throttle stew. Unfortunately, I don’t see any of these dishes on their menu today, but the new options look nice too.
At the working class spot Pléhcsárda, Bourdain digs into more common Hungarian fare. In particular, he tries a pancake with chicken liver and bone marrow paprika sauce, followed by a small cup of warming venison stew – a great choice if you’re visiting Hungary in January as Bourdain did.
Tony also makes his best attempt to eat the monstrous pork schnitzel with potatoes that Pléhcsárda is known for; while you won’t get a free tee shirt or your name on the wall, it’s a very healthy portion if you’ve worked up an appetite exploring the rest of the city.
Belvarosi Disznotoros (Budapest)
Belvarosi Disznotoros is the final place visited by Anthony Bourdain in Budapest; it’s another casual dining spot with a special focus on meat – obviously the kind of place Tony enjoyed.
There he meets with writer and butchery expert Daniel Maté to learn about Hungarian butchery and try some of the freshest foods on offer. Bourdain gets lucky; that day, they make one of his favorite foods! The pair try blood sausage with pickles, braised red cabbage, and mustard, a truly classic Tony dish.
Öreg Kőrössy Halászcsárda (Szeged)
Much of the Budapest/Hungary episode focuses on the capital city, but also on the personal history of cinematographer Vilmos Zsigmond, with whom Tony meets, bathes, and dines. (The bathing bit occurs because public bath culture is popular in Budapest, as elsewhere in Central and Eastern Europe.)
For their first meal together, Bourdain and Zsigmond head to the city of Szeged, on the southern border. This is where Zsigmond was born and raised, and the two head to a river restaurant, Öreg Kőrössy Halászcsárda, for a familiar childhood dish. They try Halászlé, a fisherman’s soup of river pike simmered in fish stock with onions, and paprika, along with beer.
This scene reminded me much of Tony’s visit to his own childhood destination of Arcachon seeking out the fish soup he loved there, too.
Local Dining Experiences Bourdain Had in Budapest
In addition to these formal dining experiences, Tony had a few local meals as well. While you won’t be able to replicate these on your own trip to Budapest, you can seek out the dishes he tried at other restaurants for a more comprehensive sampling of Hungarian food.
- For his first local dining experience, Bourdain and his crew head to the home of Budapest Bár lead violinist Robert Farkas for a dinner prepared by famous gypsy singer Margit Bango; she prepares chicken paprikash, whole perch roasted in bacon, stuffed cabbage filled with goose meat, and goulash.
- Bourdain also joins Zsigmond at the home of his screenwriter friend Richie Ram Walter for another local meal. They enjoy a carroway, onion, and paprika soup with croutons; Marha Pörkölt (Hungarian beef stew with pork) with boiled dumplings; and cucumber salad.
Budapest Food Tours to Try
In addition to the places above visited by Anthony Bourdain in Budapest, I wanted to recommend a few food tours you might consider too. These give you a chance to try a number of Hungarian dishes in a short time, and interact with locals in a unique way. Here are some good options.
Have any other questions about the places visited by Anthony Bourdain in Budapest and the rest of Hungary? Let me know in the comments below.