It is incredibly hard to be a vegan in Budapest. My research on vegan places to eat in Budapest, as well as many articles out there, state the contrary but after a weekend spent recently in Hungary’s capital, I can tell you the reality.
As you probably noticed already, we travel to Budapest a lot. And by that, I mean at least once a year (we’ve been three times this year, though). Until the latest trip we took recently (Nov 2017), I’ve mostly stuck to a vegetarian diet, which wasn’t hard at all. However, after a summer of eating way too much cheese, my intolerance acted up and I’ve made slow and steady steps towards veganism.
That’s why, before we left home, I’ve installed the well-known Happy Cow App on my smartphone in the hope that it would prove to be useful.
Our train was at a dreadful 6 a.m. on a Saturday morning. I was awake enough to drink coffee at home and pack some vegan sandwiches for me (and vegetarian for my better half). Add in some vegan snacks and I was ok for the duration of the train ride (5 hours).
Finding a place to eat brunch
Once we checked in, we decided to go out and eat something. The breakfast at the hotel was a joke so we decided not to even pay for it. I could hear the reception guy rolling his eyes when I told him I was vegan.
So I opened Happy Cow which showed quite a few options near our accommodation (close to Rakoczi ter Metro stop). I read the description and decided on a place which showed up on the map steps from where we were. So we walked towards there. And….there it wasn’t. The place that is. We kept walking hoping we missed it. Nope.
Hangry and frustrated, I spotted the sign that pointed to Subway (this one). Yes! I knew they had at least one vegan salad option. That was my brunch. Sad.
We walked quite a bit in town and came back to the hotel during the late afternoon. Since we didn’t eat all the snacks we bought with us during the train ride, it was time to munch on them.
Then we went out to attend a Tango Practice.
Two hours of dancing after walking the entire day and being awake since 4:30 a.m. meant our stomachs were really hungry and ready to give us headaches (literally).
So, we completely ignored Happy Cow this time and walked on Erzsébet krt towards our hotel, in the hope that we’ll find someplace where I could eat something.
We did. It was an Italian place called Ciao Italia (this one). I knew that the Italian cuisine has options for me. Plus, I was craving pizza.
So I ordered a vegetarian pizza without cheese and a lemonade (with sugar). Perfect!
Good morning to no breakfast
Come next morning, we knew we had to check out by 11 a.m. Hungry (duh!) we checked out a bit earlier and hoped that maybe, we missed that place that Happy Cow showed, and since it showed opened at that time, we should try again. We did.
This time we had the patience to see that there was a store in that same place. Bitching, we marched on and I saw a coffee shop. I figured at least I could have coffee.
And that’s exactly what I had. When dearest hubby asked her, in Hungarian, if they had anything vegan, the server answered: “mozzarella and tomato panini”. I was fuming and hangry so I explained that cheese is not vegan. That’s vegetarian. Ah, the place is a coffee shop in the complex on Jozsef Krt (this one)
Brunch maybe then
I didn’t want Subway (again!) so I figured I’d grab a pretzel in town. Eventually, I did just that, some good hours later when I swear I didn’t even care it was vegan or not (I was assured, at least, that it was vegetarian). Also, very pricey because it was in a tourist spot.
Back in the heart of the tourist activity – meaning just off Vaci utca and on the Danube Embankment – I spotted another place which had the menu outside. Yes! Glanced at it, decided it was priced decent enough but I spotted several vegan options and I was sold. The place is I Quattro Artisti (this one ).
I decided to get grilled vegetables and I loved them.
Coffee before the train home
Our train back was at 7pm and we were facing another 5 hours on it. But with lunch hitting the spot and keeping us full we ended up with a coffee and lemonade at a super place : Leroy Café inside Arena Plaza (this one)
Snacks for the road
The usual place where we grab the snacks for the train is right near Keleti train station called Lipóti Pékség és Kávézó (this one ). Dearest husband asked for vegan croissant and bagels and we grabbed some.
Being a vegan traveler in Budapest is a recipe to stay hungry for hours. Or get even hangrier when servers offer cheese as a vegan option.
I am sure that articles like this one are somewhat useful. That’s if you plan your day around your meals. If you find yourself hungry in a certain location, you are left with either pulling up Google maps and searching for restaurants, then going down the list until you find something; trying Happy Cow and pray the place you want to go still exists; or just walking around until you spot something.
Yes, it was my first trip as a vegan when I didn’t cave in from the second meal (this happened to me in Oradea, Romania, in the summer of 2017). It was a struggle to find something to eat and I was close to just say “the hell with it” but then I realized I didn’t want to feel sick an entire day, I’d rather go hungry a few hours.
Better luck next time, Cris!