What makes a restaurant or street food joint great? We don’t know exactly either. For some reason it’s good to go there, stay for a while, ask for one more of whatever you’re having. After 2014 and 2015, we teamed up with MOL Nagyon Balaton again to put together a top 100 list of our favorite bars, restaurants, museums, and water sports clubs that we love spending time at or heard good reviews about. Once again, our list is subjective, and contains veteran establishments as well as noteworthy newbies.
From Siófok to Balatonföldvár
Palánta Zöld Ételbár – Hardcore vegetarians coming to Balaton have plenty of options to choose from other than cheese fried in breadcrumbs or dishes of animal origin. Vegetarian, vegan, no-bake. Siófok, Fő tér 10/B.
Villa Gréta – Zsuzsanna Szilágyi used to bake delicious cakes in her kitchen in Nagykőrös, and now she does the same on Petőfi Promenade. The owner of Kistücsök Restaurant says this is the best confectionery on the south shore. Siófok, Petőfi sétány 38.
Mala Garden – Fusion cuisine combining flavors from the Far East, Mexico, and Hungary. It’s quite something. Siófok, Petőfi sétány 15.
Sió Halsütő – A classic fish grill, but here the bream is fried by a master chef. Siófok, Vitorlás út 1–3.
Mauro Ristorante – The legendary “Italian” with loud waiters. You either love it or hate it. Zamárdi, Kiss Ernő utca 1.
Zamárdi Kertmozi – A beautifully restored memento of the golden era of outdoor cinemas. Zamárdi, Kossuth Lajos u. 14.
Völgyhíd Kávézó – A new café under the viaduct: first-rate cakes, homemade syrups, and a magnificent view. Kőröshegy, M7 121 km exit.
Pub-lik – Balatonföldvár+party time= Pub-lik: yachtsmen from Budapest, cool faces from the local crowd, together, until dawn. Lunch during the day on the comfy terrace. Balatonföldvár, Széchenyi utca 10.
Viharsarok Vitorlás Központ – Surfing is not a sport, it is a lifestyle. You will find that out here. Balatonföldvár, Somogyi Béla utca, Keleti Beach.
Kultkikötő – When open-air theater means something that won’t bore you to death. Balatonföldvár, Bajor Gizi sétány 1.
Marina Gyros & Hamburger – A cult-status food stand by the boat stop, the secret hub of Balatonföldvár. Sailors, surfers, rosé fröccs, and a lovely staff. Balatonföldvár, Somogyi Béla u., boat stop.
Csigaház Kisvendéglő – Csigaház represents the classic checked tablecloth-gulyás tradition in an expanding sea of hip marina street food joints. Balatonföldvár, Somogyi Béla u., boat stop.
From Szárszó to Máriafürdő
József Attila Emlékház– No dusty furniture, only an interactive and emotional journey into the world of noted Hungarian poet Attila József. Balatonszárszó, József Attila utca 7.
Kistücsök Étterem – The king of Balaton restaurants. And with good reason. Balatonszemes, Bajcsy-Zsilinszky utca 25.
Bujdosó Pince – No need to duck when a member of the winemaking-sailing Bujdosó family throws you a bottle of their wine Horgony (meaning anchor in Hungarian). Balatonszemes, Gárdonyi Géza utca 2.
Kastélypince – A bistro restaurant bordering on fine dining. The cellar of Festetics Palace is now the territory of the former Bistro Classico team. Keszthely, Festetics Palace.
Paletta Keszthely – Dani Bezerics has moved his famous burgers from the promenade of Keszthely to the secluded Phoenix Marina. The joint is closed in summer, but its spirit lives on at Télikert in the colder months. Keszthely, Phoenix Marina.
Öreg Harang Borozó – Picked as the tavern of 2014 by Gault&Millau. Hévíz-Egregy, 2830 hrsz.
Karám Büfé – The lángos here is very good indeed. Gyenesi Lidóstrand – Gyenesdiás, Oppel Imre sétány.
Vonyarcvashegyi vízisí és wakeboardpálya – Waterskiing behind a motorboat is generally forbidden on the lake, but everything is allowed on one of the most popular wake courses of Balaton. Vonyarcvashegy, Fürdő utca 1./beach.
Bock Bisztró Balaton – The exquisite cuisine of master chef Lajos Bíró exported to Lake Balaton. Vonyarcvashegy, Helikon u. 22.
Badacsony and the Káli Basin
Oszi bácsi Keszegsütödéje – Oszi bácsi’s must be the most popular fish grill stand around Lake Balaton. And that is not even his real name. Szigliget, Soponya utca/beach.
Várkávézó Szigliget – You’re on your way up to the castle, but you have to stop here because they have the fruitiest ice cream ever. The pistachio comes from Piemont, while the peach is supplied by local farmers. Szigliget, Kisfaludy u. 26.
Laposa Birtok – A terrace from where all yacht races look like the competition of tiny paper boats. Badacsony, Bogyai Lajos utca 1.
Kishableány – Last year’s shining star: the first Badacsony eatery serving top-quality burgers. Basaltburger! Badacsony, Park utca 1.
Patent Hostel – You’ve had a bit to drink in Badacsony, but you don’t feel like a “zimmer feri”? The pallet couch under the string lights is just the place for you. Badacsonytomaj, Füge köz 12.
Gyulakeszi Autóspihenő - This joint doesn’t have a proper name or address, but the marrow on toast they serve is to die for. Gyulakeszi, the end of Kossuth utca.
Istvándy Pincészet – The popularity of the Istvándy wines is only surpassed by the popularity of the family’s picture-perfect countryside estate. Káptalantóti, Hegymög dűlő.
Liliomkert piac – The biggest cult classic Balaton market. Despite the sword of Damocles hanging over it due to the constant threat of closure, it is full of visitors from the Káli Basin every Sunday. Káptalantóti, on the edge of the village toward Zánka.
Hullám Hostel – The universally successful hostel recipe applied to Lake Balaton, with all the obligatory accessories from weary globetrotters to friendly bartenders. Révfülöp, Füredi út 6.
Káli-kapocs – The bars (and regulars) of Budapest’s Madách tér mixed with a typical village pub. Big crowds at a secret Punnany gig. Mindszentkálla, Petőfi utca 11.
Pegazus – A young couple from Budapest transforms a dilapidated hotel into a culture center. Szentbékkálla, Kossuth utca 39.
Miakő – Káli-medencei Borok Háza – The most recent creation of sculptor-winemaker Tamás Trombitás is not a sculpture, but a spectacularly successful restaurant-wine bar. Köveskál, Fő utca 25.
Kővirág Panzió és Étterem – Trendy Budapest residents staying in the area can find their way here by car with their eyes closed. Köveskál, Fő utca 9/A.
Káli Art Inn – People sometimes embark on a mission to make the frilly-romantic-rustic dreams of others come true. This is how Káli Art Inn was born. Köveskál, Fő utca 8.
Káli Kövek Borászat – It’s worth leaving the parties of Budapest and the management of a sports equipment manufacturing company behind – that’s the message of winemaker Gyula Szabó’s Rieslings. Köveskál, Fő utca 11.
Pálffy Pince – Nothing's easier than experiencing the Hungarian version of Tuscany here: grab a glass of wine, and settle down on the hillside next to the wine cellar. Köveskál, Fő út 40.
KerékBár – A rest stop for bikers with elderflower cordial and bread and dripping. One of the most popular bike rest stops. Köveskál, Kővágóörsi út 10.
Pajta Galéria és Étterem – The quintessence of the Káli Basin, a guesthouse and gallery with photos and grill food. Salföld, Petőfi utca 9.
Hazai Provence – It’s often said that the Balaton Uplands are a carbon copy of Tuscany or Provence. A style blogger has proved that this is absolutely true. Kapolcs, Kossuth utca 84.
From Zánka to Tihany
Neked Főztem – A beach buffet with no lángos, only delectable cuisine that even puts restaurants to shame. Zánka, Horgász utca 2.
Royal Balaton Golf &Yacht Club – The only thing more exclusive than golfing is golfing on a course with black pine groves and a stunning Balaton panorama. Balatonudvari, Vászolyi út 33.
Fövenyes Kertmozi – The Los Angeles-Fövenyes-axis: Hollywood releases a new film, and it immediately makes it onto the screen of a hidden outdoor cinema at Balaton. No joke! Balatonudvari-Fövenyes, Gesztenye sor 5.
Kalóz – The team that created “Harcsa és Krumpli”, the Balaton-appropriate version of fish & chipset. The winner of last year’s beach food contest. Fövenyes Strand and Badacsonytomaj Strand.
Nagyi kertje Teaház és Fogadó – The tea house has moved from the forest of Sajkod to the lakeshore in Aszófő, but the idyll, the grandma, and the cakes are the same. Aszófő, Remete utca 2.
Tihanyi PIAC placc – Artisan cheeses and sausages, antique pieces, a bistro and a bit of contemporary art in the grove by the ferry. Tihany, ferry.
Karolina Fűszerkertje – Famous Grandma Karolina from Füred now has a restaurant, up on the terrace of Tihany-based Echo Residence Hotel. Tihany, Felsőkopaszhegyi út 35.
SUP Center – Hop on a surfboard, grab a paddle, and explore the romantic side of the Tihany Peninsula. Tihany, Club Tihany, Rév u. 3.
Ferenc Pince Csárda – The best restaurant in Tihany, a little bit further away from the hustle and bustle of the village and the ferry. Tihany, Cser-hegy 9.
KOGART Tihany – High culture amid colorful bazaar stalls. Tihany, Kossuth Lajos utca 10.
Tündérsziget – If you can pick only one place to have breakfast in Tihany, choose this one. Tihany, Kossuth u. 29.
From Balatonfüred to Balatonakarattya
Hajógyári kikötő és Étterem – The old shipyard is filled with life again, and the restaurant has set the bar high from the beginning. Our sailor friends swear by the chocolate mousse. Balatonfüred, Tihanyi műút 1.
Malackrumpli étterem – An artisan-organic restaurant in the best sense. The realm of organic farmer Tamás “Black Sheep” Járosi. Balatonfüred, Széchenyi utca 28.
Figula borbár – An urban adventure for wine enthusiasts who don't feel like a trip through vineyards. Balatonfüred, Zákonyi Ferenc u. 4./Silver Yard
Karolina Kávéház – It is no exaggeration to call this the most popular café around Lake Balaton. Balatonfüred, Zákonyi Ferenc u. 4./Silver Yard
Bergmann cukrászdák – Real coffee house traditions, exquisite “krémes” instead of the smell of naphthalene, at two locations. Balatonfüred, Zsigmond utca 1., Petőfi Sándor u. 64.
Baricska csárda – How to turn a closed csárda into a top restaurant? Like this. Balatonfüred, Baricska dűlő
Matróz – Sea fish, tapas, wine, beach food: one of the reliable new-wave spots in Füred. Balatonfüred, Écsi László u. 5.
Kredenc borbisztró – We feel like the only way to run a place with wine, music, and snacks is the way András Dobai does it. A definite favorite for us. Balatonfüred, Blaha Lujza utca 7.
Vaszary Villa – Contemporary painters and a cozy garden café only a minute away on foot from everything. Balatonfüred, Honvéd u. 2-4.
Bistro Sparhelt – It opened, people loved it, it closed. And now Sparhelt is open again in "upper" Füreden. Balatonfüred, Szent István tér 7.
Vígmolnár csárda – A persistent representative of traditional csárdas. The wheel of the water mill spins as the times do, all year. Csopak, Kőkorsó utca 1.
Code Zero – Code zero is a kind of sail. And Code Zero is a great container bar offering grill food on the pier of the Csopak marina. Csopak, Örkény István sétány 8-16.
Guruljon az élet – A bike rest stop between Füred and Csopak. Hippie-style and cool with hammocks everywhere. Fresh food, bike repair tools, you can stay overnight. Csopak, 0219/4 hrsz.
Jásdi borterasz – Looking for some Riesling on the north shore? Go to Jásdi and drink a glass or two on the wine terrace overlooking Balaton. Csopak, Arany János u. 2.
Tamás pince – Wine, syrups, jams and lavender cider – this is not a regular wine cellar. Csopak, Arany János utca 1.
Márga bisztró - Szent Donát Pince és Borház – A successful winery with a new-wave, up-and-coming restaurant. Csopak, Szitahegyi utca 28.
Homola Pincészet – Homola and co. wish to convey the 100% Balaton feeling with their wines and the Jazz Picnic organized in August. You can find the 100% Balaton wines on their wine terrace on the Paloznak hillside. Paloznak, Vincellér utca
Sáfránkert Vendéglő – Also a Homola establishment, serving grilled food cooked over an open fire in the peace of Paloznak. A terrace with an astonishing view. Paloznak, Fő utca 1.
Carpaccio Étterem – The chef here is not Italian, nor is he a chef by profession, but this is still one of the best Italians around Lake Balaton, far away from the pizza-spaghetti axis. Alsóörs, Szent István u. 40.
Kerekes Pince – Two globetrotters from the catering industry returned home to open a winery tucked away on the hillside that offers the best international cuisine in the region. Balatonalmádi, Vödörvölgyi út 20.
Villa Millennium – A hundred-year-old Balaton villa was turned into a beautiful guesthouse that would not look out of place even on the most prestigious interior design magazine covers. Balatonalmádi, Mikszáth utca 5.
Szabó Pékség – Almádi’s star bakery. They produce artisan goods without being aware that they are doing it. Balatonalmádi, Baross Gábor út 43.