Budapest is too beautiful to be a real city. The entire centre of town is made up of one gorgeous old building after another, as though the place were designed with photographs and postcards in mind. It remains this way despite the many attacks and invasions it has suffered since the majority of the stunning buildings were built around the time of it’s millennium celebrations in 1896.
The old exists alongside the new, or rather the new exists within and around the old. So in the ruins of old buildings, new hip pubs have emerged. And while I did not see much graffiti, there was some street art on the walls.
Hungarian food would not generally be thought of as vegan-friendly, but luckily Budapest has a growing movement of health-conscious eating, so there are plenty of vegan options. One invaluable resource in finding those options is the budaveg website, which lists vegan-friendly restaurants and shops, as well as some helpful Hungarian vocabulary and other tourist information. Thanks to budaveg, and a little internet research, there was plenty of vegan food to be had.
One all-vegan restaurant (except for honey used in some pastries) is Napfényes Étterem. The food was delicious, the portions enormous, and the atmosphere very pleasant. I tried out the seitan ragout, a vegan twist on a more traditional Hungarian dish. I also got a taste of the millet burgers, salad and goulash.
The most exciting part was the big pastry case with loads of vegan desserts. I tried a vanilla and strawberry cake, and a cappuccino cake. Since the restaurant belongs to a movement that doesn’t use any caffeine, the cappuccino cake didn’t have any actual coffee in it. I think the vanilla and strawberry one was better.
Budapest also has a raw cafe, called Mannatural Ételmanufaktúra, located near the Parliament. It’s not quite as glamourous as Napfényes, but I was very excited to try out raw food Hungarian-style. They had a very reasonably priced 3-course lunch menu, that included a drink, 2 portions of mains with a little raw cracker/burger type thing, and a dessert. From this selection:
I chose a coconut smoothie, Hungarian salad, Mexican salad and a piece of poppy seed cake (a Hungarian specialty). They used a fair amount of psyllium husks in the cake to make it fluffy and cake-like. It was pretty impressive. The other food was alright, but not as exciting as I’d hoped (lots of cabbage).
Aside from the vegan places, I also had some decent salads at other restaurants. A little juice place called Fruccola had fresh fruit and vegetable juices as well as soy milk for my cappuccino.
I also went to the Hummus Bar (more than once, I confess) for delicious falafel, foul medames, and other middle eastern salads.
I also stopped by an amazing health food shop called Bio ABC (on Muzeum krt) that had a huge selection of natural products– if I’d been staying somewhere with a kitchen, I would have stocked up on goodies there.
If you are planning a trip to this beautiful city on the Danube (and I highly recommend it), check out budaveg before you go, and then prepare to enjoy yourself.