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Most visitors to Budapest don't usually make it to Újlipótváros because it's absent of any obvious landmarks. But this higher-end residential neighborhood has many things going for it: a unique housing stock, hip restaurants and cafés, and a lively commercial street.
Újlipótváros is a small area located within District 13, just a ten-minute walk from the Hungarian Parliament building. It sprung up following a sweeping real estate development in the 1930s to accommodate Budapest's swelling population. Thanks to the strict zoning law that regulated the new buildings' appearance, today the highest concentration of modernist – Bauhaus-style – apartment complexes in Budapest are here.
The neighborhood's artery is Pozsonyi Road, lined with cafés, restaurants, bookstores, and art galleries. The local residents, many of them Jewish, comprise intellectuals, middle-class families, and young adults with children who bring a spirit of liveliness to the streets.
If you enjoy books or bookstores, start your trip at Láng-Téka Könyvesbolt specializing in Jewish authors from around the world. A few English titles are available, too. I'll let you decide whether it's an appropriate time for a drink, but if the answer is yes, drop by Piccolo Söröző next door. It's an iconic neighborhood watering hole known for its left-wing regulars. A low-priced shot of Unicum will help you immerse yourself in the local crowd.
Many specialty coffee shops operate on Pozsonyi and you can't really go wrong with any, for example My Green Cup. The aromas of still-steaming pastries and sourdough breads waft from Három Tarka Macska bakery and I usually find it a challenge not to be lured in. For a sit-down breakfast, head to Sarki Fűszeres or NOAH.
Szent István Park is the epicenter of Újlipótváros, featuring landscaped lawns and handsome flower beds. The houses flanking it are considered to be the crown jewels of modernist Hungarian architecture and their Danube views command steep price tags.
Especially impressive is the building at 38 Pozsonyi Road: the limestone-clad facade hides a dramatically exclusive lobby with a spiral staircase. Wait for a chance to sneak in for a glance. The historic Dunapark Café is located on the ground floor.
Inside the park stands a memorial to Raoul Wallenberg, the Swedish diplomat who saved the lives of thousands of Budapest Jews during the Holocaust by placing many Újlipótváros buildings under the protection of the Swedish government and thereby granting its residents diplomatic immunity (despite this, Nazi raids were prevalent).
Although not yet a gastronomic paradise, Újlipótváros has several good options for food. Oriental Soup House and KHAN are both chic, open-kitchen Vietnamese restaurants with a trendy crowd. Babka is a fashionable neighborhood joint specializing in Middle Eastern-leaning dishes. Pozsonyi Kisvendéglő serves low-priced traditional Hungarian fare.
If a standing-only butcher shop with roast sausages sounds more enticing, make your way to Húsimádó. Finally, heads-up jazz fans: Újlipótváros is home to the Budapest Jazz Club, one of the main outlets for jazz music in the city. Check out their concert schedule, you might find something of interest.
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