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Most visitors to Budapest don't ever make it to Újlipótváros, because it doesn't have an obvious tourist landmark. This tranquil, middle-class residential neighborhood, however, has many things going for it: a unique housing stock, several buzzing restaurants and cafés, and a lively commercial street. It's a small area located in the inner parts of District 13, just ten minutes away from the Parliament by foot.
Built in the 1930s and '40s, Újlipótváros is relatively new. It sprung up on what had been a largely bare land to accommodate Budapest's swelling population. This explains why the rows of modernist houses here are architecturally so different from the rest of the city’s late-19th-century revival buildings. Many of the apartments also offer panoramic views onto the Danube, and, accordingly, command steep price tags.
The local residents, many of them Jewish, comprise intellectuals, middle-class families, and many young adults with children, who bring a spirit of liveliness to the streets. The center of activity takes place along Pozsonyi Road, especially the section from Jászai Mari Square to Szent István Park, lined with cafés, restaurants, bookstores, and art galleries.
If you enjoy spending time in bookstores, start your trip at Láng-Téka Könyvesbolt. They specialize in books written by Jewish authors from around the world, and their selections include a few English publications, too. I will let you decide whether it's an appropriate time for a drink, but if the answer is "yes," drop by Piccolo Söröző, located almost next door to the bookstore. Piccolo is an iconic neighborhood watering hole known for its left-wing regulars, and a low-priced shot of Unicum will help you immerse yourself in the local crowd.
There are myriad specialty coffee shops on Pozsonyi Road, and you can't really go wrong with either of them. When in doubt, try My Green Cup. Then pop in to Három Tarka Macska, a hip bakery serving still-steaming pastries and sourdough breads. The place is so popular that a line often stretches out the door. Leave some stomach space for a sit-down breakfast at the snug Sarki Fűszeres, which is most enjoyable during the warmer months on the outdoor terrace under a canopy of greenery.
After your meal, stroll through Szent István Park, the epicenter of Újlipótváros, featuring landscaped lawns and handsome flower beds. The houses surrounding it are considered to be the crown jewels of modernist Hungarian architecture (particularly #38 Pozsonyi Road; for the full experience, try to sneak in to its marble-clad lobby when a resident comes or goes). Inside the park stands a statue of Raoul Wallenberg, the Swedish diplomat who saved the lives of thousands of Budapest Jews during the Holocaust by designating many buildings in Újlipótváros as protectorates of Sweden, thereby granting its residents diplomatic immunity (despite this, Nazi raids were prevalent).
Although not yet a gastronomic paradise, Újlipótváros has a handful of decent food options. Oriental Soup House and KHAN are both chic, open-kitchen Vietnamese restaurants, drawing trendy crowds from near and far. For low-priced, no-frills traditional Hungarian fare, head to Pozsonyi Kisvendéglő. Babka is a fashionable neighborhood restaurant, but go for the ambiance, rather than the mediocre Middle Eastern dishes. If an old-school butcher shop that serves wonderful roast meats is more your speed, then be sure not to miss Húsimádó.
And finally, if you're a jazz fan, check out the concert schedule of the Budapest Jazz Club—one of the main outlets for jazz music in the city—you might find something of interest.
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