Once you established where to stay in Budapest, you need to start thinking about the most important thing in Hungary: food. When it comes to finding the best langos in Budapest, you want to avoid the tourist traps and go straight for the best places which are guaranteed to sell traditional, well made, well shaped and perfectly fried langos.
We met up with one of our Hungarian friends who showed us the secret places where we could go and finally enjoy the best langos in Budapest. As langos is becoming an international sensation, the traditional practices are being replaced by innovation and new techniques, unusual toppings. We were, however, hunting for the original, Hungarian langos, packed with sour cream and cheese.
For Hungarians, langos is what scones are for the Brits. There is only one traditional, authentic way to making and eating it - and as the Brits, the Hungarians also have difficulties agreeing on which one is the correct one.
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What is Langos?
Langos (Lángos - Hungarian pronunciation: [ˈlaːŋɡoʃ]) is a Hungarian food speciality, a deep-fried dough, made into a round, flat shape. The name comes from láng, the Hungarian word for flame/fire. The modern langos, despite its name, is deep fried and not done in open flame.
Traditionally langos was baked in a brick oven close to the flames (láng). Nowadays, as people no longer have brick ovens and do not bake bread at home, langos is always fried in oil.
The mighty langos is also made in Serbia, where it was introduced by local Hungarians. You can purchase langos in various places in Romania, especially in Transylvania. Lalanga is the Turkish name for langos and was present both in the Byzantine and Ottoman cuisines. Lalanga continues to be part of the Turkish cuisine, as well as the Greek Cuisine where langos is called Lalagia.
Traditional toppings on a langos
The dough for langos is made of water or milk and flour, yeast, sugar and salt. Most of the time, you will find that langos in Budapest is made with water. Some people also add mashed potatoes to the dough but that's called potato langos (krumplis lángos).
Traditional langos has sour cream and grated cheese on top. The dough is made with water and the fried langos is not too thick - maybe about 1-1.5 cm - thicker around the edges, thin - sometimes paper thin in the middle. The edges are soft, fluffy, the middle is a bit harder so it can hold the topping.
The langos should be eaten fresh, as soon as you get it from the vendor. Don't be shy to ask for a fresh one if you see the langos has been standing there for a while. Nothing is worth than a cold langos.
In recent years, langos in Budapest become more of a pizza base, with all sort of great ingredients being added to it: ham, sausages, mushrooms, eggplant, eggs etc. Because it's so versatile, langos can also become a sweet dessert as the fried bread resembles the taste of a doughnut. Just add sugar and jam on top.
Best Langos in Budapest
Langos is popular all year long. It's an affordable Hungarian street food and very simple to make. A simple langos with no extra toppings costs around £1.80, €2.00 (650 HUF). It's a popular food celebrated in Central and Eastern Europe.
Here is the address for the Budapest langos we recommend:
1. Retró Lángos (Our Recommendation)
For the best langos in Budapest, we recommend that you head over to Retró Lángos. It started a small stall just across the road, but they have now expanded and are much bigger. They have seats, a toilet for customers and they even have their own bar. Besides, they now introduced gluten-free langos as well as plant-based langos which is awesome. It shows that the owner is forward-thinking. Honestly, it remains the best langos in Budapest. It's popular amongst locals and recently tourists, so expect a queue. There is an English menu. If you don't have dietary requirements, we recommend you try traditional langos: topped with sour cream and grated cheese.
Retró Lángos is open all year round.
Prices: from 900 HUF, £2.00, €2.30 and go up to around 1500 HUF £3.50, €4
Address: Budapest, Bajcsy-Zsilinszky út 25 (Opens in Google Maps)
2. Street Food Karavan
Head over to the Street Food Karavan Budapest in District VII where you can buy langos with paprika on top for example, as well as other interesting Hungarian street food options. Another fascinating invention is the "Langos Burger" which as far as we know can only be purchased here. The "Langos Burger" is basically burger meat, salad, cheese between two langos.
This is one of the most popular tourist spots in Budapest, so expect crowds especially on sunny days.
Please note, that the Street Food Karavan is closed during the winter, reopening in March.
Prices: from 1100 HUF, £3.00, €3.50
Address: Budapest, Kazinczy u. 18, 1075 (Opens in Google Maps)
Right next door to the Nyugati Train Station in a laid back beer garden, Zsiraf offers many variations to the traditional langos. The langos here is more square shaped than round and there is an overwhelming array of toppings including meat, vegetables and vegan.
Please note, that Zsiraf is closed during the winter, reopening in March.
Prices: from 750 HUF, £2.00, €2.30
Address: Budapest, Teréz krt. 53, 1062 (Opens in Google Maps)
Vegan langos in Budapest
Don't worry, vegan friends, we've got you covered. We love langos and ever since we became plant-based, we were convinced it's going to be impossible to eat this amazing Hungarian speciality. I mean, fried bread with amazing toppings? Yes, please. When our friend took us to the Retró Lángos Büfé, we were convinced we are only going to order a simple langos with no toppings, but to our surprise, the shop had so many topping options for vegans, including mushrooms, jalapeno pepper, olives, peppers and more. In fact, they even had a filled vegan langos with all plant goodies in it. Pretty amazing, right? Although we are quite vehement about healthy eating, we now know we can have a cheeky vegan langos any time. And the good news? With all the toppings, the langos is no more than £2.50. That's lunch sorted, on a lovely sunny day.
Your turn now. Tell me about your Budapest langos experience and where did you find the best langos in the city? Leave a comment below to tell us your story.