Taste and Run

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Words by Dalene Heck / Photography by Pete Heck

tasting budapest

It should have been no surprise that we started our culinary tour with a shot of liquor. Considering that during our visit to Romania, Hungary’s neighbor to the east, we were introduced to Palinka during breakfast, we should have known that it would carry over. If there is one thing we have learned about food during our travels, it is that borders have changed often enough that they now blur when it comes to traditions. Unicom, the liquor we downed at the beginning of our 10am tour is, however, uniquely Hungarian and is considered one of the national drinks. Produced from a secret recipe designed by the Zwack family that includes 40 herbs, it carries with it a diverse history that saw it travel the world. During Communism, the family lived in exile in the US and trusted a friend in Italy to produce the beloved drink. The Communist government tried to reproduce it, but failed miserably, and with the fall of the iron curtain, the Zwack family returned to Hungary to take up production of this national treasure. As an aperitif, it did it’s job to stimulate our appetite for the onslaught of food to come. (It also helped that we didn’t eat breakfast that morning, which decision comes highly recommended.)


Most of our morning with the culinary experts from Taste Hungary was spent in the Central Market Hall. Built in 1896, it is as popular with locals as it is with tourists, with low prices and stalls with delicious hot food prepared onsite.

Days could be spent inside, testing all that there is to offer. What impressed us most is that there was an entire section dedicated to pickled produce – everything from peppers to watermelons. The sausages alone required a lengthy discussion and tasting of a variety of animals, including that with which we became obsessed: the Mangalica, which is literally a pig in sheep’s clothing (and a tasty one at that).


But none of our taste testing could compare to Hungary’s other national treasure: Langos. Fried dough topped with garlic, sour cream, and mounds of cheese. It is pretty much the most perfect food ever invented.


As we strolled out of the Market Hall to explore the neighborhood around us, our stomachs were already screaming even though we had just begun. Add artisan ice cream, traditional Jewish cakes, a lunch spread of delicious foods good enough to make us cry, plus a sampling of Hungarian wines, and we had cause to request a wheel barrow to take us home.

Hungarian Food

So then how did we go about placating our food guilt? The next tour…

running budapest

In a new city, one of the first things Pete researches is where he can go for a daily run. Enter Running Tours Budapest – a company that offers tours we had never seen before – seeing the best sights along with a knowledgeable running partner.

He took part in two different tours they offered (I, on the other hand, believe that excessive exercise is dangerous, but enjoyed the fact that Pete’s running tours also provided us with great walking routes for our coming days). The first was the “Must See” tour: from St. Stephan’s, the Hungarian Parliament building on the Pest side then over to the Buda side to explore the Fisherman’s Bastion and the Royal Palace – it was a solid 10km run. And mind-blowing, as in a very short time he was introduced to how truly picturesque Budapest is.


A big juicy photo post is to come, it’s not the easiest thing to run and take photos at the same time.

He was so impressed, he signed up for another, and the “Shady Tour” brought him through Budpaest’s sector eight. The area is rich in history being formerly occupied by Jewish community and now with the Romani’s. Not the typical tourist route (which is what we both like!), and an extremely interesting insight into more of Budapest’s rich history.

how to do it

Taste Hungary offers a variety of food and wine tours focusing on different aspects of local cuisine. We partook in the Culinary Walk and will highly recommend it, despite the food coma we found ourselves in after.

Running Tours Budapest is a new company that offers tailored tours but also lets you design your own. It is great for beginners and advanced runners, and can absolutely be set at your own pace.

Many thanks to both Taste Hungary and Running Tours Budapest for hosting us on these tours. And they can thank us later for introducing this potentially lucrative cross-marketing idea, hey? 

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    1. Each time I glance at that photo I salivate as well. It’s so good with the garlic sauce. The cheese I could do without (never thought I would ever say that in my life 🙂

    1. haha, it seems to be somewhat of a consensus (food yay, running nay). Not sure it would work if they somehow managed to combine the two. Although I was told of a half marathon in Hungary where the refreshment stands are stocked with wine from the vineyards. I’m looking into going to that one 🙂

    1. It was a lot of fun and actually quite enjoyable. Slow pace, and I got to see much more than on a walking tour.

      I think there should be more intense fitness based tours. This would help me balance all the food I eat traveling. I’m now off to search for some although I’m guessing in Italy there won’t be much…

  1. Roman Gypsies or Roma? I’m guessing the latter, as the “Roma” people are what we call Gypsies.

    Although, I guess, there may have been Roma in Rome back when Rome was an empire that moved to Hungary and became Roman Roma. 🙂

    I like the idea of a running tour. And a food tour. I tried to find a food tour in Antalya for my upcoming trip, but sadly there are only such in Istanbul.

    1. Thanks for the catch Rob, autocorrect 😉 It actually was supposed to be Romani.

      Too bad no food tours offered in Antalya, sounds like an opportunity and we do love some Turkish food…

      Safe travels.

  2. I’m so glad you enjoyed the Taste Hungary tour! Andy and I really liked it too. Such a great way to see a city and learn about the culture. We even went back to the place they took us for lunch because we enjoyed it so much.

    I would not have enjoyed Pete’s running tour, but it sounds perfect for him!

  3. Ok, so maybe I’m the only commenter on here who likes running (and food I hasten to add!). However ‘tours’ for me are all about soaking up the sights and taking way too many photographs, which wouldn’t really be possible whilst running!

  4. I like that 😀 A taste tour and then a a running tour! I lived in Prague for one year and LOVED jogging through and around the city. Until I tripped on those dang cobblestones and rolled down the main hill up to the castle, that is! I was okay, but it was pretty embarrassing.

  5. Oh man this all looks amazing! Love Budapest and want to return more than ever now. Must try this on my around the world tour next year!

    Thanks for sharing!


  6. Perfect timing! I’m finalizing the plans for our upcoming trip which includes 5 nights in Budapest. I just added this tour to my ‘must do’ list!

    1. OK – it just leapt from my ‘must do’ list to my completed reservations pile!!!

      Woo Hoo – we’re going to be having fun on October 24th in Budapest. We’ll be easy to spot. We’ll be the ones staggering back to our apartment with full bellies and grins on our faces at about 2:00 in the afternoon.

      Wondering if we’ll be too full to enjoy a good soak at one of the spas later that day. Hmm. Nope! I think we can manage that too.

  7. Hey Dalene/Pete,
    I’ve seen a few posts on the Taste Hungary tour and honestly, at $90 USD/pp (that’s about 250 CAD between 2 of us) we thought the price was crazy for a 4 hour tour. So we did our research, found all the stops on the tour, and did our own Taste Hungary inspired tour. And saved a lot of money.
    I’m with Pete though. I’d totally do the running tour.
    Frank (bbqboy)

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