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Vegan in Budapest, Hungary - sunlight platters, burritos, and chilli choccy loveliness

Recently, I went to Budapest, Hungary on holiday. I went round the castle, botanic gardens, wandered along the river and looked at some cool Communist statuary

But you don't want to hear about that - you want to know what I ate, right?

I didn't know much about what Hungarian cuisine entailed before I set foot in the country, but I thought it was quite meat and paprika-heavy. That's as may be, but fear not, friendly vegans - they cater for the likes of us too. 

The first place I went was Napfenyes Etterem, an all-vegan restaurant that does Hungarian food. We ended up going there twice in the end, mainly because it has the advantage of being open until 10pm - handy, given how Budapest's great bars can be a bit of a time-thief. Seriously, I blame the garden ruin bars for several lost hours.

The first meal we had was the sunlight platter for two. I think that may be a typo on their behalf - whichever were the two people they had in mind, they must be strapping seven-foot athletes or very, very hungry people indeed. 

The platter was enormous - there were fried pancakes, grilled seitan, fried seitan, fried (non-dairy) cheese, fried potatoes and onions, rice, and (equally non-dairy) yoghurt, all in gut-busting proportions.

I'm still a vegan cheese phobe, but other half (who eats the regular kind) happily wolfed it down. The pancakes - the wedge in the photo below - were great, and the grilled seitan was some of the nicest I can remember having. 

And the potatoes - the potatoes! Enough to make a grown vegan weep.

The sad thing about it was, despite our very best, very greediest efforts, was we couldn't finish the whole lot, nor fall upon the selection of cakes the restaurant has and do some serious damage.

The second visit was a bit less successful: Mr Flicking the Vs had a seitan in paprika-y sauce and spicy fries. The fries were cold. Not just a little on the chilly side, but Antarctic cold. Sadface. And I had more of that fabulous seitan with some decently fried veggies but everything had those little black dots that (I think) mean everything comes off a plancher grill.

That said, I'd happily eat there again. Note though this place doesn't serve booze, which may or may not trouble you. It did give me pause for thought, as I like a beer with dinner, but again, I liked their style enough not to be too shaken! It does serve ice cream though - the caramel was great - and the staff are lovely and friendly (they also have menus in English, which is handy).

The next place we tried was Macska. The name's Hungarian for cat, and the place has tiny cat ornaments on each table. 

It's a loveable place, more of a pub than a restaurant, with a neat mezzanine level for nosy drinking. 

It's veggie but not vegan, but it's definitely very vegan-friendly. They only have a handful of dishes on each day - when we visited, a couple were vegan and a couple more could be veganised. We asked the lovely lady behind the bar what she'd recommend for a vegan and she said this:

It was a fajita, stuffed with veggies and beans - the biggest kidney beans I'd ever seen, in fact. There were also a metric truckload of olives in it, which made the whole thing a bit salty, but being  a saline fiend, I didn't mind too much. The salsa was pretty good too.

We popped in for a drink and stayed for several - it was that kind of place.

Then it was back to another booze-free joint, Mannanatural

Mannanatural is a cafe-type place tucked down a street near the parliament. (Worth noting it closes at 8pm, not 9pm, as Happy Cow has it - which is why we ended up at Napfenyes Etterem the second time round!) There's no menu to speak of, you just pick what you want from a refridgerated cabinet and cart it off to your table to chow down.

The guy who owns Mannanatural (and whose lovely dog occasionally wanders in every now and again) speaks great English, and told us he'd make up a plate of a little of everything for us and bring a couple of smoothies over too.

Mr Flicking the Vs got grapefruit, apple and cherry, and I got a poppy seed drink which, while getting bonus points for being something I'd never tried before, promptly lost a load for tasting like Piz Buin.

Here's what our dinner looked like:

All sorts of goodies there - the smoked nut cheese (the disc on the bottom left) was phenomenal, as was the tatziki (bottom middle). But there was a great deal to love in there - so many different little tastes of fun. The was cabbagey goodness with black salt (top right) and cabbage rolls with a different nut cheese inside, and all manner of other bits and pieces.

It was almost all uniformly tasty and even Mr Flicking the Vs, a saladphobe, was completely won over.

This was the last time we went out for dinner and we were chuffed to have picked such a nice place. I was doubly chuffed that there were a selection of raw vegan cakes too!

By the time I went up to order one, the guy with the English had left, and the other man serving only spoke Hungarian and a bit of German. Luckily, through the international language of dessert, we were able to communicate, and I waltzed off with this slice of loveliness:

I'm not sure what was in it, but I caught the words "chilli choccy". I think the bottom was coconutty, and middle was banana and datey, and the top was nut and chocolatey (and chilli-y - is that a word?!). It was rich and dense and tasty, and didn't stay long in this world.

The only other thing we ate out during our stay was a falafel pitta thing from a place that looked like it had never been introduced to the concept of cleaning, but nonetheless did some kickass falafel.

Hungary totally won me over as a place, and Budapest's food did likewise. It was just Budaful!

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  1. Oh my! I've not been to Hungary (I have been to Austria and the Czech Republic - almost there!), so I would love to see your scenic pictures too!

    The Chilli Choccy looks divine. I think the potato dish wins all the way around! Arctic fries?! How horrible!

  2. What fun! I love hearing about your travels. So many places to visit, so many foods to try! I agree with Ingrid, I'd love to see more of your scenic pictures too.

  3. Hehe! I love this restaurant in Budapest. I think I featured that two years ago: http://veganmiam.com/europe/hungary/budapest-napfenyes-etterem and a lot of vegans read the post and went there afterward. Now you're making me miss Budapest more, I was there in 2011! Glad to know that Napfenyes Etterem is still there. I haven't tried the Macska and Mannanatural, but that fajita looked pretty great!

  4. I'm always impressed by how much you travel! And oh man, that is a glorious plate of fried food. :) The plate at Mannanatural is so colorful, who couldn't like that? Good to know you didn't starve in Budapest, and hope you guys had fun!

  5. It's great that you were able to find heaps of vegan food in Hungary. It all looks fantastic especially the plate of fried deliciousness. The cold fries would have peeved me - there is nothing worse than that!

  6. Well, you were certainly well-fed in Hungary! It all looks so yummy, which is often true of fried food. I wonder if I'd be able to get gluten-free vegan food in Hungary. I don't know why I read blogs before I've had dinner — now I'm so hungry.

  7. wow, those Ruin bars do look great - well worth loosing a few hours in! Great food post. My sister and I went to Budapest on the coach about 10 years ago. I wasn't vegan and we were pretty skint, hence the coach and I can't really remember eating more than pizza! We loved the statue park though and there was a church in a cave. Would love to go back sometime.

  8. that is so awesome that you found so many vegna options.. that chill-y slice of goodness looks amazing:)

  9. I had no idea. Used to date a Hungarian guy and always feared the inevitable trip to a vegan wasteland. Maybe I should look him up? nah; I can find parsley potatoes on my own ;-)

  10. Ahh, I also just went to Budapest! Making my own post about it tomorrow. I didn't get to Macska, will have to check it out. I think I'm officially going to marry the Hummus Bar. I ate so much hummus during my visit.


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