Taste Budapest: A Guide to Food Shopping in the Hungarian Capital

August 15, 2017

Shopping in a new country can be heaps of fun but also frustrating at times, especially if you’re yearning for a taste of home. Here are some tips from CEU’s Alumni Scholarship Recipients to make sure that you’re prepared when the cravings hit.

You’ll probably find all the staple foodstuffs you need without difficulty in Budapest’s many grocery stores and market halls. “Almost everything can be bought here if you have enough money”, says Ukrainian student Nataliia. “There’s no need to bring loads of food, only if you have very special dietary preferences (bringing some good loose leaf black tea is a good idea though),” agrees Iliana from Russia, with Zuleyha adding Turkish tea, coffee and dried fruits (kuruyemiş) to the list. It should also be mentioned that tap water is safe to drink so there will be no need to carry heavy bottles of mineral water home from the supermarket.

Supermarkets are generally open every day of the week, with the exception of Hungarian bank holidays. In the city center, you’ll be spoilt for choice as there’s a shop on almost every corner, some of them open 24/7. There’s no need to worry if you’re staying in the Residence Center either, you’ll have two big supermarkets (Spar and Aldi) within easy walking distance.

As for international food offerings, Budapest has come a long way, with more and more delicatessen shops opening and the choice of products in supermarkets’ international food aisles widening steadily. You can find Chinese, Vietnamese, Thai, Japanese, Pakistani and Indian goodies as well as Russian, Italian, British or Mexican favorites but be prepared that you might have to pay a bit more for them than what you’re used to.

If you’d like to cook dishes from home, it’s a good idea to pack some of your favorite spices and cooking sauces to avoid disappointment. Sanjay from Nepal recommends bringing some Nepalese ingredients that can’t be bought in Indian and Pakistani food stores here, while Otto says that Georgian students should throw traditional spices and some Georgian wine into their suitcase. Jose had a hard time finding Peruvian and South American ingredients and spices, adding that “on the other hand, local wines and cured meats (Hungarian traditional salami and sausages) are top-notch and affordable”.