On our recent mid-week stay in Budapest we enjoyed the sites offered by the Jewish community as well as the kosher eateries available nearby. Our first stop after arrival was at the bakery/tea shop called Froelich at 16 Dob Ut. offered fresh baked goods including apple and cherry strudel. One might sit there and enjoy the pastry with a cup of coffee but we were in a rush to make our guided tour, so we packed up some treats and were on our way to the Great Synagogue.
The architect of this building, a Christian, was clearly influenced by the churches in the area, and the synagogue is more reminiscent of a church than a shul. In its heyday there were 15000 families, and while it has been totally renovated and is in pristine shape, today there are no more than 200 families who count themselves as member of this synagogue. One of the interesting features of the synagogue is an organ that is played by a non- Jew, granddaughter of the original organ player of this synagogue.
Making our way up the block from the synagogue we found three kosher eateries, Carmel, Hanna, and Carimama, a kosher pizzeria/dairy place. All three eateries are located on Kazinczy Ut within about fifty meters of each other. While they all advertise that they are open until 10 PM, in December, when we visited the only one that was open late was Carmel. As a result we ate there twice, and are unable to report on Hanna.
Carmel is an upscale glatt kosher restaurant with two main rooms, very nicely appointed with excellent service. The large menu is illustrated with pictures of some of their choice dishes, which makes it a bit easier to choose. The restaurant prides itself on Hungarian dishes including goulash soup, Hungarian noodles, fried blintzes and much much more. We ate there on two occasions, and both times the food was excellent and beautifully served. The vegetable soup was filled with the flavor of winter root vegetables including parsnips and carrots, while the Hungarian goulash soup was brimming with meat, potatoes and paprika. Main courses of schnitzel and beef stew were hearty and filling, as were the vegetarian options of eggs and noodles, a typical Hungarian dish, and the potato blintz with mushroom sauce. We polished off the meal with a local specialty called Gandal pancake, a pancake filled with nut cream and covered with chocolate sauce. Delicious. All this came at a price. The restaurant was definitely not inexpensive. Our meal, each night cost around 15,000 forints (approximately 300 shekel, or $75.) without tip.
The pizzeria, Carimama, is a more reasonable option, and also provides a wide range of dishes beyond pizza. This includes salads, soups, pastas, and some traditional Hungarian dishes as well. We enjoyed a pizza for two (2500 forints – 50 shekel) and purchased a Hungarian cake (750 forint- 15 shekel) to take home and enjoy with tea. At the pizza shop one can also buy kosher bread and baked goods.
Farther along the street there is a small kosher grocery with items imported mostly from Israel and the UK. We looked high and low for something to buy that might be Hungarian, and all we could find was sweet tokay wine (pass on that) and paprika, which we bought.
Budapest, when all is said and done, is easy on the kosher traveler. If one enjoys the fruits and vegetables at the breakfast bar, and takes advantage of the kosher eateries, you can feel that you have taken advantage of Hungarian cuisine at its best.