When I was preparing for a trip to Hungary, I assumed that there were few places in the world that could possibly be worse for vegan food. I was wrong. Being a vegan in Budapest wasn't the worst thing ever, and in fact, I'd love to have regular access to several of the vegan dishes we found in the city.
Of course, in regular restaurants we had trouble finding things to eat amongst all the duck and goose liver. There were often one or two vegetarian options, but it was typically something like cheese stuffed peppers or mushroom goulash with cheese. Not appetizing to me. We did find that in the nicer restaurants, they were happy to make a plate of vegetables cooked in oil rather than butter, but the rest of their accompaniments were harder to veganize.
To start with, there are an abundance of hummus and falafel options all around Budapest. My favorite chain was Hummus Bar, which had about 10 locations throughout the city and served up tasty and cheap hummus dishes with fresh falafel and falafel sandwiches with tons of veggies. They also serve you a mint tea when you walk in, and service is really quick.
There is one amazing fully vegan restaurant in Budapest called Napfenyes Etterem. We went the first day, and because it was so good, we ended up taking a big group a few days later and capping our trip with one last stop by ourselves. Everything was really delicious, served in huge portions, and very inexpensive. They offer daily specials that are an even better deal than the regular items on their menus.
What I loved most about Napfenyes was that they had several Hungarian selections. Sometimes being a vegan in a unique food culture can feel like you're sacrificing on really getting to know the food, and therefore the culture, of the place. I loved being able to try a vegetable goulash, a [savory] Hungarian pancake, stuffed cabbage, and a slew of Hungarian pastries.
The Hungarian pancakes were layered with vegetables and fried, and then served atop potatoes.
Vegan Hungarian stuffed pickled cabbage was sour and tart like sauerkraut, and slightly salty. All of the entrees at Napfenyes Etterem are huge and we always had to take food "home" with us.
They also serve a Sunlight Platter for two people that gives you a sampling of different falafel, the Hungarian pancakes, hummus, and potatoes.
We tried several different vegan soups, and each was really delicious. This is a picture of their vegetable soup, but our favorite was probably the Hungarian goulash, which had tiny dumplings in it.
In addition to the Hungarian specialties, we also tried several of their more Western types of foods, like their salads and pastas. My husband loved their spaghetti bolognese, which was absolutely covered in Cheezly cheese, which is a really convincing vegan cheese that unfortunately can be hard to buy in the United States.
Their spinach fusilli was light and fresh, again topped with tons of Cheezly, which once mixed in made the whole dish creamy and delicious.
Napfenyes also serves a variety of vegan pastries and cakes, and we had enough time to try several of them. I can't give you names for either of these because we always just pointed at the ones we wanted to try. The disk covered in white and decorated with carob had thin layers of cake with raspberry filling. The one on the right was coffee flavored, though they use grain coffee and it's not made from real coffee beans.
We also loved this cake- a carob and coconut layered cake. Carob and coconut was a really popular combination at the different healthy Budapest vegan restaurants we visited.
Napfenyes has a bakery where you can buy just their pastries, but it's on the Buda side and a pretty good hike from the downtown area, so we never got to visit.
They also have a great selection of fresh beverages (although no alcohol), such as their ginger lemonade, fresh juices, and huge collection of teas.
You'd probably be really surprised to hear that there's a fully raw vegan restaurant in Budapest called Mannatural Raw Vegan Restaurant.
It's located a block away from the Parliament building so it makes for a perfect pit stop when site-seeing. Though the restaurant name is English, none of the menu items are English, so we had to ask what everything was before selecting our three favorites.
I can't tell you how each serving was flavored, but I can tell you they all tasted different and we loved everything. Mannatural grates most of their vegetables, and then each is marinated in a sauce, and some are covered in sauces.
They also make spicy flax crackers, juices, smoothies, all of which are perfect accompaniments to the entrees.
Again we had a nice carob and coconut raw dessert that was light and fluffy and perfectly refreshing.
We went out for a group dinner at the best Greek restaurant in town, Taverna Dionysos. I loved the decorations on the inside and the food was pretty good, but because we ordered mostly side dishes, everything came out with our friends' appetizers and by the time their entrees came an hour or so later, our food was long cold.
From left to right and top to bottom, we had simple grilled vegetables, Greek gigante beans, a fresh Greek salad with no feta, and stuffed grape leaves. With a hummus appetizer we were actually quite full and had trouble finishing everything.
The waiter was accommodating to our dietary needs and even made sure to explain all the ingredients in the on-the-house dessert he brought for our table. Plus, our wine was delicious. It's a great place for a mixed group of eaters.
One of the most popular street food options is these Hungarian Kurtoskalacs. They're made with just water, flour, and oil, rolled and wrapped around a spit, dunked in sugar, and then turned over a fire. You can eat them plain like that or have the cooked bread rolled in toppings like almonds, walnuts, cinnamon, coconut, and a variety of other non-vegan options. We loved the almond version.
We went to Le-Bar for lunch one day. It's on Muzeum Korut and only open for lunch, but the food is insanely cheap and you get a lot of it. Again, it was served cafeteria style and we weren't really sure what we picked. I thought everything was a bit salty and it all seemed to be spiced with paprika, but it could have been just what we chose.
I stopped in ecocafe for a snack one afternoon. It's such a pretty little cafe, and located right near Andrassy so very convenient to most hotels in the area. I had a carob and coconut (surprise!) dessert and sat people watching. They have a tiny health food store attached, and you can take food to go.
We also popped in one of the Govindas for a few snack foods. Again, it could have been what we selected, but everything was heavily battered and fried and wasn't exactly my favorite international Govindas visit.
Overall, there were plenty of Budapest vegan options for a week-long vacation there, especially if you're okay with going to the same place a few times, if you like Mediterranean vegan food, and if you enjoy venturing off the beaten path a bit.