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There’s life beyond the roast platters – 30 unique eateries around Balaton

Wine & Gastronomy - Articles

Tuesday, July 12, 2016 — László Tucsni

We imagined what it would be like to eat at a different restaurant every day for a month, and we were delighted to realize that while a couple of years ago such a challenge would have inevitable involved lángos, hake, and deep frozen cordon bleu, the selection has changed quite a bit since then. Our personal picks are all located directly by the lake, ranging from a cool restaurant in the Káli Basin, a top-notch burger joint, and a fine bistro to a new-wave csárda and a laid-back pub.

Baricska Csárda - Balatonfüred

Photo: Tamás Kőrösi - We Love Balaton

Baricska Csárda

8230 Balatonfüred, Baricska dűlő
Baricska Csárda on facebook
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The operators of nationally acclaimed Chianti took over the management of legendary Baricska in 2013, and turned it into an important player on the Balaton gastro scene in about a year. They haven’t changed the profile too drastically, but they’ve made certain cool tweaks to the menu: the red cabbage comes in cream form (as well), and the cold cucumber soup is served with zsendice cheese.

What do you need to try?
New-wave Hungarian cuisine from A to Z.

How much is it?
A main dish costs about 2,000-3,000 forints.

Bistro Sparhelt - Balatonfüred

Photo: Blanka Sebestyén - We Love Balaton

Bistro Sparhelt

8230 Balatonfüred, Szent István tér 7.
Bistro Sparhelt on facebook
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Behind the façade of the pretty interior, there’s high-quality cuisine served by a very talented chef: Balázs Elek used to work at Hotel Kempinski in Budapest and Veritas Wine Bistro in Budakeszi, and now he’s determined to purchase as many ingredients locally as possible. The eatery’s been recently named the best on the north shore.

What do you need to try?
Anything you can ask your grandma to make you at home, which is basically everything on the monthly updated menu.

How much is it?
This place is perfect for a bigger occasion: the main dishes are priced between 3,000 forints and 6,000 forints.

Bock Bistro Balaton - Vonyarcvashegy

Photo: Blanka Sebestyén - We Love Balaton

Bock Bistro Balaton

8314 Vonyarcvashegy, Helikon utca 22.
Bock Bistro Balaton on facebook
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Renowned chef Lajos Bíró transported the successful concept of his highly popular Budapest establishment to Lake Balaton. We’ve heard several people say that the quality of the food is not constant enough when you look at the eatery’s price range, but we’ve definitely had more good experiences here than bad.

What do you need to try?
Knowing what Lajos Bíró can do, we’d say you should go for lecsó and some kind of substantial meat like pork or mutton.

How much is it?
The Bock quality and the panorama of the terrace hike up the prices to 2,000-3,000 forints in the case of appetizers and to around 4,000 forints for the mains.

Carpaccio Restaurant - Alsóörs

Photo: Csongor Kiripolszky - We Love Balaton

Carpaccio Restaurant

8226 Alsóörs, Szent István utca 40.
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It’s important to remember that Alsóörs has a reliable Italian where no-frills Mediterranean grub is offered every summer. It’s especially impressive that the owner used to be a long distance runner, and had nothing to do with gastronomy.

What do you need to try?
Start with the pizza topped with homemade mozzarella, and then check the blackboard for fresh options.

How much is it?
The pizzas are around 2,000 forints; the other main dishes cost 2,000-3,000 forints.

Chateau Visz - Visz-Berencsepuszta

Photo: Tamás Kőrösi - We Love Balaton

Chateau Visz Gourmet Restaurant

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If you’ve run out of fancy relatives to visit, it’s time to check out Visz and Berencsepuszta where you can even stay the night if you so wish. Chateau Visz takes you back in time, and also transports you to a new dimension, but if you have the means, you should go for it because their cuisine is absolutely exceptional.

What do you need to try?
Try the degustation menu.

How much is it?
You can pick as many courses as you want; the menu features a minimum of three (16,500 forints) and a maximum of seven (28,500 forints) dishes. A visit here will set you back quite a bit, but you’re going to get the culinary experience of a lifetime in return.

Chianti Restaurant - Veszprém

Photo: Tamás Kőrösi - We Love Balaton

Chianti Restaurant

8200 Veszprém, Csermák Antal utca 13.
Chianti Restaurant on facebook
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Regarded as a major representative of Italian cuisine in Hungary, Chainti in Veszprém started out as a pizzeria, and by now has become one of the best in town and the entire region, and not only because of its Italian creations. The varied selection includes everything from pork tenderloin with Bakonyi-style dumplings cooked in egg to salmon fillet with mussels and "bouillabaisse" spinach. The incredible presentation and the divine flavors earned the restaurant 13 chef’s hats from Gault Millau last year.

What do you need to try?
Don’t shy away from the items with the craziest names. We recommend the pullet breast fillet with goose liver, buttery pak choy, and carrots with sesame seed.

How much is it?
The main dishes are priced in the 3,000-4,000-forint range. The degustation menu costs 14,000 forints, and comes with a selection of excellent wines.

Code Zero - Csopak

Photo: Blanka Sebestyén - We Love Balaton

CODE ZERO

8229 Csopak, Örkény István sétány 8-16.
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This lakeside grill joint by the beach of Csopak is as enticing for meat lovers as Badacsony for the worshipers of wine. All of their portions are sizeable, regardless of whether you ask them to chuck barbecued ribs, pike-perch fillet, or homemade goat’s cheese on the ceramic grill.

What do you need to try?
It’s pretty easy: pick a type of meat, a side dish, and a salad. We especially loved the barbecued ribs.

How much is it?
The above “menu” costs 2,500-3,000 forints depending on the meat; you can get their burger for 1,590 forints.

Fricska - Veszprém

Photo: Tamás Kőrösi - We Love Balaton

Fricska

8200 Veszprém, Miklós utca 10.
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Disguised as ruin pub, Veszprém’s Fricska actually offers a fine assortment of bistro dishes. The setting is pretty unique, too: the eatery can be found on the bank of the brook Séd, in Veszprémvölgy, which exudes the peace and quiet of the Austrian or Swiss countryside. In fact, one of the tables is set up in the water.

What do you need to try?
We loved both the burger and the “pork belly” sandwich, but they said they’d offer grilled dishes throughout the summer season.

How much is it?
You can get a filling meal for under 2,000 forints.

Hegyi Csárda - Balatonlelle, Kishegy

Photo: Blanka Sebestyén - We Love Balaton

Hegyi Csárda Balatonlelle-Kishegy

8638 Balatonlelle-Kishegy, 0107/31 hrsz.
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There’s no Balaton without csárdas, and one great example of the genre adapted to the 21st century can be found on Kishegy. They have a brick oven, they grow their own herbs, and the view is as unrealistically beautiful as a Windows desktop picture.

What do you need to try?
The oven-cooked meat dishes are all worth trying, but the cream of strawberry soup with curd cheese dumplings is an equally fine choice.

How much is it?
The main dishes are in the 2,000-3,000-forint range.

Hubertus-Hof Restaurant - Balatonfenyves

Photo: Blanka Sebestyén - We Love Balaton

Hubertus-Hof Hotel & Restaurant

8646 Balatonfenyves, Nimród utca 1.
Hubertus-Hof Hotel & Restaurant on facebook
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At first sight, Hubertus-Hof looks like the residence of a world champion hunter: maybe it’s a bit of an exaggeration, but they might actually have more antlers on the wall than a natural history museum, which is no coincidence, as game dishes, including deer, wild boar, and duck, are an integral part of the menu here. The restaurant is owned by a German family, who started raising Angus cattle in the 1990s; in the past few years, they’ve supplied some of the best Balaton-based restaurants with meat for their steaks.

What do you need to try?
If we were you, we wouldn’t pass up the chance to try a steak that’s been made from local meat.

How much is it?
The main dishes are between 2,000 forints and 4,000 forints.

Il Mercato Restaurant - Balatonakarattya

Spoon il Mercato Restaurant

8172 Balatonakarattya, Rákóczi út 44.
Spoon il Mercato Restaurant on facebook
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If you exit the M7 at Balatonakarattya, and drive down main road 71 toward the north shore, you’ll no doubt spot Il Mercato. Don’t worry: the old Ford on the roof in the back garden is not a sign of last night’s party.

What do you need to try?
The pizzas made in the wood-fired oven are superb.

How much is it?
A margherita is priced around 1,900 forints, but if you order something more elaborate, you’ll have to shell out more than 2,000 forints.

Káli Art Inn - Köveskál

Photo: Alexandra Heim - We Love Balaton

Káli Art Inn****

8274 Köveskál, Fő utca 6-8.
Káli Art Inn**** on facebook
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We simply had to include the far-famed gastro spots of the Káli Basin on our list. Káli Art Inn with its fairy tale interior and magical garden is such a tranquil place that we’re convinced it’s used as a secret retreat by Buddhist monks. The restaurant is intended mainly for the guests, but if you call them in advance, they’ll be able to tell you whether they’ll have vacant tables on any given day. Booking a table at any of the cool eateries of Köveskál is highly recommended.

What do you need to try?
There’s no fixed menu, the four-course selection is always made from fresh ingredients by the chef.

How much is it?
It all depends on the price of the ingredients and the dishes.

Káli-Kapocs - Mindszentkálla

Photo: Tamás Kőrösi - We Love Balaton

Káli-Kapocs

8282 Mindszentkálla, Petőfi utca 11.
Káli-Kapocs on facebook
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The ruin pub of Mindszentkálla is the perfect place to just sit down and slow down to the pace of the Káli Basin; and then you suddenly realize you’ve been here for a couple of days. Should you get hungry or thirsty, you’ll have no problem finding something to your liking. You won’t see flatfish with carrot cream on the menu, but it’s the atmosphere that sets Káli-Kapocs apart.

What do you need to try?
It’s not a big invention, but we loved the chicken breast wrapped in rösti, served with salad.

How much is it?
The soups are priced around 1,000 forints; the rösti costs more than 2,000 forints.

Kalóz Beach Bistro - Fövenyes, Badacsonytomaj

Photo: Tamás Kőrösi - We Love Balaton

Kalóz

8242 Balatonudvari-Fövenyes, Strand utca 1.
Kalóz on facebook
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Kalóz is positioned somewhere between a new-wave bistro and an innovative beach food stand, but they take hospitality so seriously that we couldn’t omit them from the list. They took part in last year’s gastro revolution by producing the beach food of the year called “harcsa és krumpli” (meaning catfish and potatoes), and as of this year you can find them at not one, but two locations around the lake: in addition to Fövenyes, they also opened a beach bistro in the town of Badacsonytomaj. There’s no soda, only local syrups, and the bun for the burgers is also locally sourced. Their latest trick is sous vide preparation.

What do you need to try?
Until they launch their new menu, go for the classics (harcsa és krumpli, bitang burger).

How much is it?
The main dishes, which are insanely filling, cost 1,000-2,000 forints.

Kistücsök Restaurant - Balatonszemes

Photo: Kistücsök

Kistücsök Restaurant

8636 Balatonszemes, Bajcsy Zsilinszky út 25.
Kistücsök Restaurant on facebook
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The alpha and omega of Balaton gastronomy, the flagship of the south shore, the cornerstone of Balaton’s San Sebastián concept. We could go on and on, but what makes Kistücsök so important is that pretty much everyone running a new-wave establishment considers the restaurant of Balázs Csapody an absolute example. Like many of the world’s best eateries, Kistücsök is trying to make use of local ingredients and the properties of the region.

What do you need to try?
Try the “flavors of the region” menu with mutton roast and cream of pea soup with goat’s cheese, or pick something from the current options on the blackboard.

How much is it?
The main dishes are around the 3,000-4,000-forint mark, but you’ll probably order several courses here.

Kishableány Terrace - Badacsony

Photo: Blanka Sebestyén - We Love Balaton

Kishableány Terrace

8261 Badacsonytomaj, Park utca 1.
Kishableány Terrace on facebook
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The co-production of Laposa and Bezerics began last year in Badacsony, and it raised a lot of attention from the start because it brought together tasty wines and Balaton beach food. The hype persists, and every time we dropped in to test their cuisine, we were served food that’s way above the Balaton average.

What do you need to try?
Pick the burger or the water dog.

How much is it?
The latter costs 1,600 forints, while the basalt burger menu is 2,100 forints.

Kővirág - Étel, Ital, Ágy - Köveskál

Photo: Blanka Sebestyén - We Love Balaton

Kővirág Pension and Restaurant

8274 Köveskál, Fő út 9/a
Kővirág Pension and Restaurant on facebook
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The second member of the gastro realm in Köveskál was created by Kata Zakar and György Mészáros. The duo also runs a stylish guesthouse with a fairly fixed clientele, so it’s hardly surprising that you almost have to queue to get a table at their restaurant in the summer season.

What do you need to eat?
There’s no conventional menu, and there’s no need for it either. The assortment of dishes changes every day, so it’s always displayed on a set of blackboards. If you find some kind of flower in your food, don’t worry: it’s definitely edible.

How much is it?
The main dishes are priced in the 2,000-3,000-forint range. Make sure to order the curd cheese dumplings if they are available.

Kredenc Wine Bistro - Balatonfüred

Photo: Tamás Kőrösi - We Love Balaton

Kredenc Wine Bistro

8230 Balatonfüred, Blaha Lujza utca 7.
Kredenc Wine Bistro on facebook
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We’ve recommended Kredenc to our readers on several occasions, and with good reason. We wouldn’t have included it on our list just because of its impressive selection of local wines, but recently we’ve spotted some promising dishes on the menu as well. Owner András Dobai launched his newest business called Hello Tourist! right next door.

What do you need to try?
Go for the pulled pork sandwich with tender, thoroughly cooked meat. Malackrumpli below is the undisputed champion of the genre, but Kredenc’s version is pretty outstanding, too.

How much is it?
A sandwich (comes with a salad) is substantial enough for a main meal, costing 1,900 forints.

Kristinus Gastro Workshop - Kéthely

Photo: Tamás Kőrösi - We Love Balaton

Kristinus Gastro Workshop

8713 Kéthely, Hunyadi utca 99.
Kristinus Gastro Workshop on facebook
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The Kéthely-based complex went through a big transformation this year, and emerged with a new name and image as well as new facilities like the wine cinema, the wine hotel, and the bistro restaurant. The eatery employs a chef who used to work at Olympia Restaurant in Budapest, and a confectioner who previously worked for iconic establishments such as Ruszwurm and the Four Seasons. The aim is to integrate all parts of the business: the menu, for example, gives tips on which wine to pair with which dishes.

What do you need to try?
We would eat everything they serve if we could from the Angus beef burger to the shoulder of mutton confit, but it’s worth knowing that their desserts are a must.

How much is it?
The burger is currently the cheapest main dish option with 2,290 forints; everything else is above 3,000 forints. The dreamy desserts are in the 1,000-forint region.

Mala Garden - Siófok

Photo: Blanka Sebestyén - We Love Balaton

Mala Garden****

8600 Siófok, Petőfi sétány 15/a
Mala Garden**** on facebook
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When they hear the name Siófok, nine out of ten people will immediately think of the crowds of tourists strolling down Petőfi Promenade, the sandy beach, and the seaside feel combined with strange, Balkans-inspired elements; you either love or hate that combination. However, Siófok has a lot more hues. At the end of the promenade, you’ll find a great confectionery as well as a hotel and restaurant that is a local incarnation of Bali with authentic Balinese stones and Buddha statues, not to mention that the entire place exudes the purest form of feng shui.

What do you need to try?
The menu is extremely long, but since Far Eastern cuisine is hard to find anywhere else on the Balaton shore, we suggest you try a dish from that category because that’s what makes this restaurant special.

How much is it?
The main dishes of the Far East are all above the 2,000-forint mark.

Malackrumpli Bistro - Balatonfüred

Photo: Blanka Sebestyén - We Love Balaton

Malackrumpli Bisztró

8237 Tihany, Kossuth Lajos utca 14.
Malackrumpli Bisztró on facebook
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We think Tamás Járosi is the most stubborn business owner at Balaton when it comes to ingredients. He has his own organic farm in Balatonhenye, which produces most of what Malackrumpli serves. When he wants to cook with something he can’t find in his garden, he tracks down those select few who operate based on the same strict principles as he does; that’s how he procures fish or Angus beef from organic farms in other parts of the country. Seasonal, high-quality ingredients are not a marketing slogan here.

What do you need to try?
Anything that has mangalica raised at the Járosi farm in it. The pulled pork sandwich is so good you won’t believe it, and last year we also tried their pork stew. Our favorite is their take on a pizza, which has a very thin crust.

How much is it?
For a two-course meal you’ll be charged about 3,000-4,000 forints.

Márga Bistro - Csopak

Photo: Csongor Kiripolszky - We Love Balaton

MÁRGA Bistro

8229 Csopak, Szitahegyi utca 28.
MÁRGA Bistro on facebook
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Márga in Csopak has one of the most consciously created teams in the north Balaton region in terms of image, communication, gastronomy, and management. They put an emphasis on seasonality: some of their ingredients come from Élő Bolygó Farm on the Balaton Uplands, other bits and pieces are purchased from local producers. The team is eager to provide the highest possible quality to the guests, but the location itself is so spot on that it would attract patrons even if the food was only okay.

What do you need to try?
Something seasonal and local; the waiting staff will no doubt be able to help you with the choice. You also need to try some wine, made by none other than Szent Donát Winery; one of their vintages is served at a three Michelin star restaurant.

How much is it?
If you order a several-course meal, the total for one person will be around 5,000 forints.

Mi a kő - The House of Káli-medence’s Wines - Köveskál

Photo: Tamás Kőrösi - We Love Balaton

Mi a kő - The House of Káli-medence's Wines

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The third establishment found in Köveskál’s Kazinczy Street is the restaurant of artist-winemaker Tamás Trombitás and his wife. The classic furniture and the pictures on the wall make you feel like you’re in the house of an art-loving grandma. Don’t forget to make an appointment in advance.

What do you need to try?
The menu has everything from paprika catfish and fried pumpkin to steak. For dessert, try the pancakes with homemade jam made just the way grandma does it.

How much is it?
Most of the mains are priced upwards 2,000 forints, and some are even above the 3,000-forint line.

Neked Főztem Gastropub - Zánka

Photo: Tamás Kőrösi - We Love Balaton

Neked Főztem Gastropub

8251 Zánka, Fő utca 7.
Neked Főztem Gastropub on facebook
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In addition to the beach food joint launched last year in Zánka, Neked Főztem now has a gastropub by the local Reformed church and Herb Valley. At first we were hesitant to include an eatery that opened this year, but Orsi and her husband Csongor, who used to be the chef of Kővirág, started a venture that is as promising as it’s new. They definitely deserve a chance this summer.

What do you need to try?
Whatever’s on the blackboard. Just like at their food stand, the selection here changes based on the ingredients they can buy on any given day.

How much is it?
It’s a bit pricier than the food stand; the main dishes are around 3,000 forints, which is similar to most of the restaurants on our list.

Paletta Bistro - Balatonboglár, Keszthely

Photo: Tamás Kőrösi - We Love Balaton

Paletta Bistro

8360 Keszthely, Phoenix utca 1.
Paletta Bistro on facebook
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Owner of Balatonboglár’s Paletta Dani Bezerics opened a new joint at Phoenix Marina with an identical concept. He’s dedicated to building his business on local producers: that’s why the Angus beef comes from Balatonfenyves, the cheeses from Nemesbük, and the cakes from the kitchen of a gastro blogger based at Balaton.

What do you need to try?
The burger is perhaps too obvious, so try the Balaton fish soup (bouillabaisse), the mangalica chops from Gergő Istvándy, or cheese from Nemesbük fried in breadcrumbs.

How much is it?
You can get a filling meal for 2,000 forints; if you’re into gourmet cuisine, you can order something special for 3,000-4,000 forints.

Pura Vida Dine - Tapolca

Photo: Blanka Sebestyén - We Love Balaton

Pura Vida Dine

8300 Tapolca, Fő tér 6-8.
Pura Vida Dine on facebook
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You only have to go to the main square of Tapolca if you get hungry after boating on the underground cave lake. The interior of the family restaurant would deserve its own post on a style blog, and the food has recently earned 13 Gault Millau chef’s hats. It’s not the cheapest of places, but it’s definitely memorable.

What do you need to try?
Mediterranean dishes, it’s that simple. The family used to live in Spain, that's why they know how to prepare mussels, prawns, or Andalusian garlic soup, all of which are worth giving a try.

How much is it?
The main dishes featured on the spring-summer menu cost 3,000-5,000 forints.

Sáfránkert Restaurant - Paloznak

Photo: Tamás Kőrösi - We Love Balaton

Sáfránkert Restaurant

8229 Paloznak, Fő utca 1.
Sáfránkert Restaurant on facebook
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You’re sitting at Sáfránkert, and there’s nothing missing. You’re on a splendid terrace that’s very hard to leave with a glass of fine wine made by Homola and food cooked over an open fire. You’re simply enjoying the peace of Paloznak, and you’d be surprised how quickly you can get used to not seeing Balaton from the terrace.

What to eat?
Get some kind of grilled meat or cheese with a side dish; the combinations are almost endless.

How much?
Depending on whether you order meat of cheese, the price of a main dish can be anywhere between 2,000 forints and 4,000 forints.

Söptei Winery and Restaurant - Csopak 

Photo: László Balkányi - We Love Balaton

Söptei Winery and Restaurant

8229 Csopak, Istenfia utca 5.
Söptei Winery and Restaurant on facebook
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It’s a surreal experience when you’re at a totally average-looking cellar amid a typical vineyard, and the food you’re served is like something you’d get at a big city restaurant looking to earn a Michelin star. The Söptei family was born to be involved in the hospitality business: you can’t not try one of their world-famous Rieslings or a dish listed on the blackboard.

What do you need to try?
Last year we raved about the burger, but you’d probably love the mutton stew with curd cheese pasta just as much.

How much is it?
The prices, just like the standards, are above average. The main dishes are between 2,000 forints and 4,000 forints.

Villa Medici - Veszprém

Photo: Tamás Kőrösi - We Love Balaton

Villa Medici Hotel & Restaurant****

8200 Veszprém, Kittenberger Kálmán utca 11.
Villa Medici Hotel & Restaurant**** on facebook
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Operating since 1991, Villa Medici is one of the most well known restaurants of Veszprém. Over the years, it has gone through several facelifts and a hotel and another restaurant are also part of the facility now. It’s also one of the best eateries in town, which is enhanced by the setting of the valley of the brook Séd and the viaduct. They are always a step ahead of current trends, and patrons always get what chef Csaba Amrein promises on the menu.

What do you need to try?
The cream of porcini soup á la Villa Medici is very tasty, and you’ll love it even if you hate mushrooms. Even the simplest dish, the Wiener Schnitzel is a crowd favorite; it’s best served with potato salad with pumpkin seed oil. The Dover sole and the duck breast fillet with duck liver are also divine.

How much is it?
Villa Medici is definitely not cheap, but the prices are warranted by the high quality of the cuisine. The prices of the soups and appetizers start at 1,600 forints, while the main dishes begin at 4,000 forints. The degustation menu is another great option.

Zománc Bisztrócska - Vászoly

Photo: Tamás Kőrösi - We Love Balaton

Zománc Bisztrócska Restaurant

8245 Vászoly, Vazul utca 8.
Zománc Bisztrócska Restaurant on facebook
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Of all the fresh launches, Zománc Bisztrócska in Vászoly seems particularly promising. What makes them special is their no-frills approach to gastronomy. The owners renovated the building of an old pub and refurbished it in a kind of traditional Hungarian style that’s not too over the top.

What do you need to try?
The dishes are all staples of Hungarian gastronomy, such as lung stew and sautéed liver strips, and they are all served in grandma’s red enamel pots. You don’t need anything else for complete happiness.

How much is it?
You don’t have to spend more than 2,000-3,000 forints if you want to feel pleasantly full.

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