Budapest is another Eastern European country that on the surface isn’t Vegan or Vegetarian friendly. Traditional Hungarian cuisine consists of a starter of Goulash, a main of Goulash and a side of Goulash! To our delight however, middle eastern cuisine was on mass, on every street you could find not one, not two, but 3 or more Falafel & Kebab shops open till the early hours of the morning 7 days a week. After doing a little research via The Happy Cow, we set our sights on highly recommended Vegetarian restaurants catering for Vegans also.
Our first pursuit however was for Bab Leves aka Bean Soup, a traditional Hungarian dish that we assumed was vegetarian friendly. We traipsed around Raday Utca, a street renowned for its variety of restaurants offering Hungarian, British, Italian cuisine and more. After 30 minutes of searching for bean soup (thankfully as its main ingredient is Ham stock!) we admitted defeat and settled for Soul Cafe, a low-lit intimate restaurant that served a coconut milk & Pumpkin Soup. The soup was beautifully presented with toasted pumpkin seeds sprinkled on top and balsamic vinegar drizzled throughout. Although almost sickly sweet, the soup was flavoursome and warming, and priced at 1,190 (£2.95) a return trip would certainly be made.
Located two doors down from our hostel, one lazy evening had us venture into a Vietnamese restaurant called Miss Saigon’s Kitchen. This eerily quiet place offered take away, buffet and eat in options ranging from spring rolls to rice and meat to mixed vegetables. We selected from the vegetarian section of the menu which offered both noodle and rice dishes served with fried or cooked vegetables. I chose the mixed vegetables with rice, a generous helping indeed, costing around 1,500 HUF (£3.50). The dish was good value for money but lacked the vibrant flavourings Vietnamese cuisine usually offers. However, if you’re brave enough to give your food an extra kick then venture into the yellow pepper pot on your table and experience the lethal chilli and garlic concoction. Not advised for the faint hearted!
After a long morning of exploring the Buda side of the river upon Castle Hill, not far from the Fisherman’s Bastion lay Cafe Miro. Inspired by the Spanish artist Joan Miro, the decor was vibrant and painterly and furniture unique in style and design. As the menu lacked in Vegetarian options, I opted for raw veggie crudites with an aubergine dip and a shared bowl of chips. The dip, a far cry from baba ganoush, was a little too garlicky for my taste but nonetheless edible. This restaurant happened to be one of the quirkier we had visited in Budapest and not the kindest on our pockets, although the buzzing atmosphere and crazy decor kept us entertained indeed.
Thanks to a little bit of research, we ventured from the Pest side of the river into Buda to the more commercial area of Margit Krt. The area itself was a far cry from Budapest’s Baroque architecture and picturesque scenery as shopping malls, busy highways and large amounts of traffic surrounding you at every turn. However, our vegan & vegetarian restaurant of choice Atma Buda lay in the basement of a the Atma Buda Yoga Center offering a pizzeria and buffet style cuisine. We chose to pick from the options in front of us, a pick’n’mix of sides, spontaneously choosing what our server offered us. Portion size clearly was not an issue as my meal was big enough for two. I chose a flavoursome tofu, shredded carrot and mixed vegetable dish with a helping of rice and a rocket salad. This was washed down with homemade ginger lemonade, an extremely strong yet refreshing kick of ginger that kept our immune systems functioning. Costing a little over 1,500 HUF (£3.50), we would definitely return to try their selection of pizzas or order from their set menu of an afternoon.
Tucked away down Kiraly Strt lay the Hummus Bar. Now, for two avid lovers of hummus and falafel, we were ecstatic to tuck into a homemade falafel wrap. The menu offers anything from soup to salads, hummus bowls to plain falafel balls and wraps or sandwiches. We opted for a lentil soup to start, warming us through to the bone as the Budapest chill can bury itself deep. The soup was flavoursome and filling promoting middle eastern flavours throughout. Followed by a falafel and hummus wrap, this homemade pitta pocket contained gherkin, tomatoes, cucumber, fresh herbs, hummus and warm falafel balls. It was delicious! And, at just over 1,000 HUF for a starter and a main, we were so glad that we had found a cheaper and better version of the Hummus Brothers in London. Upon leaving we left our mark by signing the wall and taking a take-away menu flyer in case we wanted to return the following night. The hummus bar had to be our number one place to eat in Budapest and surpassed all of the rest!