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Babel Budapest

Bábel is one of a small number of true fine dining restaurants in Budapest. Chefs István Veres and Gábor Langer emphasize the Austro-Hungarian, especially the Transylvanian gastronomic heritage to give the dishes a local flavor, particularly in their use of herbs and vegetables.One of their best creations is the reimagined “tojásos nokedli” (egg noodle, or spätzle). Normally the simplest of countryside fare, at Bábel the dumplings are smothered with a beautifully creamy, truffle-filled egg spread and topped with sprinkles of egg yolk that have been dried and grated. Another highlight is the impossibly tender farm chicken, which includes a side of corn cream bedding, concealing a poached egg inside.The interior of Bábel checks all the boxes of an exclusive venue (white tablecloth, dimly-lit dining room with only a dozen tables, waiters making themselves available upon the slightest glance in their direction), and it does so without feeling overly formal or contrived.
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Bambi Eszpresszó

If you're looking to immerse yourself in an old school, lively, communist-era neighborhood bar in Buda, Bambi Eszpresszó should be high on the list (Ibolya Espresszó in Pest is comparable). What makes Bambi the real deal? While it doesn't follow contemporary trends, it isn’t showing off an artificial, unremembered past either – it’s a genuine throwback. The waiters are only nice to those patrons they find likeable, and they wear outfits that haven't been in fashion for at least 30 years. The red faux leather upholstery and Thonet look-alike chairs have been in place since the opening in 1961.
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Borkonyha

High-end bistro serving stellar Hungarian dishes along with a broad selection of Hungarian wines. Whatever you do, don’t miss the mangalica ("the Kobe beef of pork") dishes and also check the specials on the chalkboard. The chéf, Ákos Sárközi, prepares classic Hungarian dishes with contemporary, inventive techniques. His take on the potato soup, normally the dullest of soups, is a smooth, creamy, almost magical concoction that comes with coconut milk and shrimp balls.
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Café inside the Szabó Ervin Library

The café itself, which used to be the stable of this pre-war mansion, is nothing to write home about, but the interior of the library is a must-see. Some of the floors preserve the aristocratic grandeur of the 19th century Baroque Revival architecture with wood paneling, sumptuous ornaments, and floor to ceiling mirrors. The wealthy Wenckheim family, landowners in south-eastern Hungary, commissioned the construction of the building as temporary residence while in Budapest. Later, the city purchased the building, which operates as a public library since 1931.
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Café Kör

With a quaint atmosphere that evokes the bourgeois pre-war restaurant scenery of Budapest, Café Kör serves classic Hungarian dishes that bring out the best of traditional Hungarian cuisine. Look out for the daily specials written on the large piece of cardboard paper. The gigantic and beautifully juicy veal schnitzel alone is worth the visit, but the beef tenderloin "goulash style", and the Rossini beef tenderloin topped with foie gras will also make you want to return here every week. Do enjoy the courteous waitstaff - unfortunately it isn't something you will see much of in Budapest.
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Csiga Café

Csiga is a buzzing bistro at the entrance of the newly trendy part of Pest, in the outer part of District 8, a bit outside the tourist zones. The neighborhood is rapidly acquiring cool status as people are increasingly fed up with the Kazinczy Street madness in the Jewish Quarter (District 7). The place is best for lazy weekend brunches, although the core clientele of bohemian regulars appear in greater numbers on weekday evenings. The scene during weekday lunches is also worth a visit: the reasonably priced prix fixe offering draws in an eclectic crowd where stylish Millennials mix with aging locals from the neighborhood..
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DOBRUMBA

Do you want to impress your friends that Budapest has trendy restaurants, as hip as those in the East Village? You’ll most likely get a kick out of DOBRUMBA if you’re in for the chic atmosphere, nonchalantly cool design, international food, and trendy foreigners surrounding you. The (largely vegetarian) menu, however, is a bit hit-or-miss. In the shakshuka, the vegetables don’t quite come together to form a distinctive flavor as they should. And the hummus with paprika lacks taste, character, and a creamy texture.
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Kelet Café

Some pockets of Buda are similarly lively as Pest, but they are few and far between. The area around Bartók Béla Way is one such revitalized neighborhood, featuring a concentration of art galleries, cafés, and bars. Kelet Café, an all-purpose café, is one of the reasons that new life is breathing into the street. The Middle Eastern-infused food selections alone may not be worth the trip from the other side of the Danube, but Kelet’s claim to fame is their coffee, which comes from Colombia, Kenya, and Ethiopia, and is served in espresso-based, filter, and Turkish coffee forms.
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Kisüzem

Those looking to passionately debate Hungarian political history will find themselves at home in this bar, set along what used to be a quiet street on the park. Kisüzem, with its above-average bar food, range of exotic tea options, and Sunday night live music is a popular place to congregate for the Budapest intelligentsia and artist communities. The industrial space with high ceilings harmoniously lends itself to the exposed brick interior and use of concrete for table tops and other interior fittings. The continuously changing contemporary art pieces on the walls provide the backdrop.
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Pomo D'oro

Pomo D'oro is a golden apple that’s popular for the right reasons. One of the forerunners of higher-end Italian restaurants in Budapest, which, surprisingly, has managed to sustain high quality food and a friendly yet professional service over the years (it opened in 2002). Despite being an upscale restaurant, it retains an intimate, friendly atmosphere and isn't prohibitively expensive for its calibre (main dishes generally range between €10 and €20). Dishes not to miss include the wonderfully uncomplicated strozzapreti (priest choker) hand-rolled pasta, and the seabass fillet filled with bacon and black mussels ragout.
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Ristorante Krizia

One of the upscale Italian restaurants that's been around since 1997. Ristorante Krizia is a popular lunch destination for Italians living in Budapest, and an Italian restaurant hardly needs a better reference than that. The underground premise with a reserved atmosphere has less than a dozen tables, all elegantly covered in white linen and occupied by well-to-do families. Their magnificent weekday three-course prix fixe lunch for the equivalent of €5 (HUF1,500) is probably the best value for money you'll find in the city.
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Rosenstein Restaurant

Rosenstein is the most prominent restaurant in Budapest that features the Central European Jewish cultural traditions. Opened in 1996, this family-run restaurant has many endearing qualities. One of them is the way they prepare cholent, the signature Sabbath lunch dish with characteristic, rich flavors thanks to hours of slow-cooking. The baked beans are topped with three types of beef here: sausage, brisket, and tongue.
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Róma Ételbár

Róma Ételbár is one of the few remaining communist-era “osteria”: cheap, no-frills, lunch-only eateries once common in Hungary. The dishes at Róma still exclusively revolve around Hungarian classics, as if the kitchen has been vigilantly guarding against lurking intruders of contemporary gastronomy. The Hungarian signature dishes are passable (goulash, beef stew, etc.), but you’re usually better off opting for the daily specials, like the roast goose leg with parsley potato, which often have more character. Prices are higher at Róma than at other similar eateries, likely due to the crowds that line up during lunchtime (some aspect of capitalism did slip through the cracks).
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STIKA Budapest

In New York or London, this hip breakfast joint/wine bar would be just another fashionable, industrial-chic café: the type of place where tattooed servers run around a sleek, wood-lined interior in bow ties, vintage light bulbs hang from exposed galvanized steel pipes, and semi-alternative R&B tunes set the musical background. In Budapest, many places have tried to emulate this concept. But STIKA, this pocket-sized space in District 7, is the first to get it exactly right. Little inside will remind you that you’re in Budapest, but that’s not the point here.
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Szimpla Kert

If you've spent at least 5 minutes researching Budapest nightlife then you will already have come across Szimpla Kert, the iconic ruin bar of Budapest. Likely you are also familiar with the ruin bar (romkocsma) concept, but for those who remain unaware, a quick refresher: ruin bars are makeshift bars located inside dilapidated pre-war buildings, furnished with quirky furniture assembled from clearance sales, and all in all exuding a inexplicably cool atmosphere.Today Budapest is flooded with ruin bars, but Szimpla Kert was a pioneer of the movement, opening in 2004, and is by far the best known internationally. A common challenge for emblematic cultural hotspots (regardless of city or culture) is that as they are subsumed into the mainstream, they gradually lose their original ethos, become tourist destinations, and no longer resemble their original form. Szimpla was originally frequented by local college students looking for a cheap drink.
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Taiwan Étterem

The farther from downtown, the better - this is the rule of thumb to follow in Budapest when you look for the top Chinese restaurants. Taiwan, one of the first Chinese restaurants in Budapest, has remained among the best in the city since its opening in 1991. Don't be discouraged by the odd location, this "destination restaurant" is worth leaving the city center for, and it's very easy to get to by subway (get off the M3 train at Nagyvárad tér). .
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Espresso Embassy

If Kontakt resembles a Brooklyn café, then Espresso Embassy embodies the fantasy of new Williamsburg itself: specialty filter (V60) coffee, fancy brewing equipment, cakes made of things you've never heard of, exposed brick interior, attractive Millennials typing away on their Macs, and fixies parked outside. The vaulted ceiling of this neoclassical building (marked by the landmark protection plaque on the facade) combined with a well-invested minimalist interior is a thoughtful blend of old and new. The core clientele consists of bankers from the nearby financial district and grad students from Central European University, just a few steps away..
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Fricska Gastropub

In 2014, two young chefs, after apprenticing at well-known Budapest restaurants, decided to venture out on their own. They opened a laid-back bistro in a remote part of District 7 focused on re-imagined (Hungarian) classics. Think roasted duck liver with figs or goulash soup. But what goulash it is.
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HILDA

HILDA is one of the new restaurants that has emerged downtown on the increasingly fashionable Nádor Street. The area has come to life as a growing number of tourists and international students from the nearby Central European University pass through. .
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Kék Ló

Kék Ló (Blue Horse) is a hidden gem of a bar located outside of Budapest's main tourist zones within the outer part of District 8. Despite looking similar to many of its eclectically (over)designed peers, Kék Ló beats out other run-of-the-mill ruin bars. Highlights include a friendly service, a selection of local and international craft beers, cheap food including vegan and vegetarian options, regular live music (experimental, jazz, and folk varieties featuring local artists), which cohesively provide a welcome addition to the standard ruin bar repertoire. Kék Ló combines their bar with a pop-up boutique on the upper deck, selling upcycled clothing by owner & fashion designer Virág Tóth.
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Kívánság Étkezde

For a truly local lunch experience, it’s hard to think of a better place than Kívánság Étkezde. The continued existence of this eatery, which opened in 1985, is evidence that there’s still lingering love in Budapest for communist-style small, family-run restaurants. After all, they’re quick and cheap. Their bad rep is primarily because people associate them with stale and greasy food, but this doesn’t have to be so at a time when fresh ingredients are abundantly available.
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Kőleves Restaurant

Kőleves is a kosher-style, Hungarian-Jewish restaurant in the very center of Budapest’s old Jewish Quarter, and today’s party district. The building, constructed in 1851, was long home to a kosher meat processing facility and butcher shop, until as recently as 2002. So it’s fitting that the current restaurant, which opened in 2012, honors the building’s past with popular Hungarian-Jewish dishes and adorns the space with leftover paraphernalia from previous owners. For example, a well-worn, leather-bound ledger book and a Talmud is displayed for watchful guests to detect.
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Műterem Kávézó

Flaky almond croissants, fresh orange juice, and specialty coffee (both pour overs and espresso-based coffee) are just three of the reasons to visit this café in the “Harlem of Budapest”, a bit outside the city center in District 8. Kudos to the owner for walking the less trodden path and creating something good in this slice of the city. Wander the streets nearby to get a glimpse of the lives of the less privileged in Budapest (the neighborhood is very safe during the day). Local attractions include the country's best high school, the tiny brewery where Műterem Kávézó roasts its coffee beans, as well as the eclectic building with the peculiarly shaped facade (and a non-matching top floor that was added during communism) around the corner..
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Olimpia Restaurant

You need to trek out to the outer part of District 7’s working class neighborhood to experience the surprisingly delicious, unique, elaborate meals prepared by 26-year-old executive chef Ádám Garai at Olimpia Étterem. The restaurant does not have a fixed menu, instead using the blackboard on the wall to present the daily-changing dishes, which vary based on seasonal ingredients. The result? Absolutely superb. .
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Onyx

In Budapest, Onyx comes closest to meeting the standards of international fine dining. Playful textures, beautiful visuals, and elaborate plating go hand-in-hand with delicious food at this Michelin-starred downtown restaurant. You can decide for yourself how you feel about the opulent, over-the-top interior (two enormous chandeliers hang in the dining room), but the food should be your focus here anyway. .
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Padron

A family-run tapas bar on a charming side street in the up-and-coming part of District 8. One can't fail to pick up on the clues that a family business is busy at work here: mother taking orders, son serving food, and father behind the bar of course. The best tapas include the staple, pimientos de Padrón (fried peppers), the shrimp marinated in garlic chili olive oil, and the basque sausage, which is close to being as good as it gets. In case you were wondering, they've a selection of Spanish wines and beers to wash down the treats.
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Spicy Fish Budapest

It’s always a good sign when a Chinese restaurant is buried deep within the city’s Chinatown, and Budapest is no exception. You’ll need to trek out to the far-flung neighborhood of Kőbánya to find Spicy Fish, one of the best ambassadors of Chinese cuisine in Budapest, with a culinary focus divided between Sichuan and Zhejiang provinces. (The seemingly random gastronomic combination of two distant provinces is because much of the Budapest Chinese community hails from Zhejiang, and Sichuan food is generally popular)..
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St. Andrea Wine & SkyBar

Finally, Budapest has discovered that the city looks even more stunning from above. One recent addition to a growing lineup of rooftop bars (many open year-round) is St. Andrea Wine & SkyBar. St.
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Wichmann

Wichmann is must-see. This dimly-lit, grungy bar has been around since way before Kazinczy Street, the epicenter of nighttime activity, and District 7 became popular. Upon entering, the place feels like a time travel back to communist times, because apparently not much has been done by way of refurbishments since the opening in 1987. Cheap drinks and delicious schnitzel sandwiches (all night) attract an eclectic Hungarian crowd, particulalry after midnight, and more than make up for the watered down beer.
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Belvárosi Disznótoros

One of those rare places that sustain their quality even after becoming popular with tourists. Let’s see how long it'll last, but as of this writing this bustling self-service type eatery (standing only at the counters along the wall) offers a dizzying array of fully-prepared and to-be-prepared selection of traditional meat-heavy dishes. Wild boar stew, blood sausage, grilled pork chops, and chicken cutlet with a range of side options from french fries to marinated vegetables, just to name a few. "A field of dreams, a landscape of braised, and fried, and cured delights", as Anthony Bourdain described the meat on display when he visited Belvárosi Disznótoros in 2015.
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Costes Downtown

This 2015 offshoot of Costes, the first Michelin-starred restaurant in Budapest, is a more relaxed version of its older sister (and also a tad cheaper). The main difference is the interior: instead of a formal setting with white tablecloths, here a sleek, rustic look featuring wood finishes and greenery, with an open kitchen, dominate the atmosphere. The food is outstanding (the restaurant has had its own Michelin star since 2016), and mainly international. The goose liver, one of the best items on the menu, is perhaps the only obvious gesture to Hungarian culinary traditions.
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Dzzs Bár

Dzzs Bár, similar to Kisüzem down the block, attracts an eccentric and bohemian crowd although the core clientele of 20-somethings is slightly younger. Stopping by here on a late night feels like being at the house party of your rowdiest friend. The interior is a mishmash of worn out furniture where nothing matches but everything belongs. You can meet local film directors, painters, and musicians in this cozy space, where walls are crowded with an eclectic selection of provocative local artwork.
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Déryné Bistro

Curious where the top 1% of Buda residents hang out? Wonder no more. The owners of Déryné were ahead of the curve in 2007 when they opened this high-end bistro (think Balthazar ambiance). At the time, Budapest's options for fine(r) dining were largely limited to tacky downtown restaurants with communist-era kitchen practices and a deeply ingrained rip-off culture. And how have they managed to sustain the bistro's popularity for so many years, as other places have sprouted up in Pest with comparable offerings at lower prices? It's a combination of Déryné's reputation, a limited supply of similar restaurants in Buda, and a professionally-run organization: from their website to the basement wine cellar, everything is carefully designed and curated.
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Fausto’s Ristorante and Osteria

Hands down, the finest and most expensive Italian food in Hungary. They rightfully claim that their courses are “sprinkled with the latest arts of contemporary cuisine” - don’t expect pizza and spaghetti Bolognese. But do expect a menu with depth over breadth and such delicacies as the green tagliatelle with duck ragout and goose liver or the tender lamb loin with fried polenta and black beans. The elaborate dishes pay homage to and are reimaginations of the rich northern Italian gastronomic traditions.
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Fekete

Escape the noisy downtown street and enter through the graceful yellow ceramic tiles to the tranquil courtyard of this 19th century building. The stately pre-war marble well in the middle of the courtyard is one of those turn-of-the-century Budapest surprises behind many sooty facades, and the place for a morning coffee in good weather months. Inside you'll find a friendly service staff, designer products, an amalgamation of rustic/minimalist/industrial interior, and specialty coffee (espresso-based and hand pour overs). Additional good news is that Fekete serves outstanding breakfasts (the croque-monsieur/madame is unlikely to disappoint), and they are open on Sundays too..
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Fülemüle Restaurant

Located on a serene side street surrounded by grand residential homes in Budapest’s Palace Quarter, Fülemüle feels a world away from the boisterous party town that its neighbor, District 7, has become. There are things to like about Fülemüle, most of all the snug place and offbeat location of this family-run restaurant founded in 2000 and specialized in Hungarian-Jewish cuisine. The cholent, this knockout of a Shabbat dish is advertized as the specialty of the house. If it wasn't for the stuffed goose neck (helzel) perching atop the slow-cooked beans and pearl barley, it wouldn't leave much of an impression.
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Hehe Chinese Restaurant

If you’re craving good Chinese food at affordable prices, make your way to Hehe. This type of no-frills, pan-Chinese fare is hard to come by in Budapest, because the handful of higher-end Chinese restaurants are pricey by local standards, and the take-outs you’re better off avoiding altogether. Located in Monori Center, Budapest's Chinatown, Hehe is a 20 minute tram ride from the city center (a quick trip that provides a unique glimpse into the lives of everyday working class Hungarians in the city’s outer boroughs). .
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Ibolya Espresso

Opened in 1968, this iconic café/bar is a relic from the socialist era with a corresponding interior, which in this case means sticky faux leather chair upholstery and orange plexiglass lighting fixtures. Prices used to be too good to be true but are less so now due to the increasing popularity among tourists. Nonetheless, it’s still a popular stopover among locals for watching weekday-night soccer and wolfing down a toasted ham and cheese sandwich smothered by ketchup before they hit the sack. The tables upstairs are often monopolized by teenage lovebirds from the neighboring schools.
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Jedermann

The owner (Hans van Vliet) is a mastermind of the Budapest gastro scene, and it seems that anything he touches turns to gold. Gold in this case comes in the form of a jazz-infused bohemian bistro with live music on most Monday and Saturday evenings (book a table!). You can check the concert schedule in advance. Far from the throngs clogging District 7, Jedermann is a locals' favorite where the dimly lit interior with jazz-themed décor is full of character and style.
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Kontakt

The location itself is worth the visit to this café, nestled inside the charming cobble-stoned inner courtyard of a huge pre-war building. All this in the heart of downtown. The interior of Kontakt could easily be mistaken for a Brooklyn café, with new-wave specialty coffee, heavily bearded staff, and people busy typing away on their smartphones. Putting their money where their mouth is, Kontakt's policy is not to add any sugar to the coffee (and no milk to drip coffee) so that the rich coffee flavors can properly manifest themselves.
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Kádár Étkezde

If you wonder what everyday dining was like during communism, search no longer. This Jewish-infused traditional Hungarian diner in District 7 has been around since 1957, and both the food and the atmosphere still transmit an aura of a different epoch. The stuffed cabbage or the beef stew with egg barley is unlikely to blow your mind, but that's not even the point - you should visit Kádár for the ambiance, rather than the food. The servers wear outfits that could rival the wardrobe collection from Soviet movies in the 1950s.
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Zeller Bistro

For many years Zeller was located in a most impossible basement venue in the outer part of Budapest. Yet they developed such a cult following that getting a table was one of the biggest challenges facing Budapest tourists. Since their humble beginnings in 2013 they have moved into a bigger, trendier, posher venue in downtown, but seem to have remained loyal to their founding principles: serving locally produced, updated Hungarian dishes with a cheerful service staff. Rather than the over-promoted goulash, Zeller's creative Hungarian cuisines include the delicate rose duck served with celery and baby carrots, and the tender pork cheek that comes in a paprika sauce.
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Al Dente

Italian chatter is filtering through the open kitchen, a rare but highly welcome phenomenon for an Italian restaurant. This osteria-type eatery is one of those under-the-radar neighborhood restaurants you hope others won't find out about so as to keep it all for yourself. Despite the relatively exhaustive offerings, these Italian staples taste exactly the way they should. The penne speck with mascarpone and truffle oil alone is worth the visit, but the ever-changing daily meat/seafood/vegetarian pastas are also cooked simply and well.
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Blue Bird Cafe/Roastery

Never mind the uncanny resemblance to Blue Bottle Coffee (a pioneering California-based specialty coffee company), Blue Bird is one of Hungary’s top coffee roasters. They sell 11 types of premium Arabica sourced from nine countries, in both ready-to-drink and packaged form, out of an impossibly cool storefront in the heart of the Jewish Quarter. The tiny, multipurpose space serves as their roasting, storage, and coffee making facility, all in one. Blue Bird’s filter coffee (includes everything from V60 to Chemex, Aeropress, Frenchpress, Siphon, and cold brew options) is on par with the best specialty coffees in New York or San Francisco.
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Carmel Restaurant

Managed by the Hungarian Chabad-Lubavitch Hasidic community, Carmel is one of Budapest’s two glatt kosher restaurants. Similar to Hanna Orthodox Restaurant, the other such establishment just around the block, the best time to visit Carmel is during Shabbath, that is, for a Friday dinner and/or a Saturday lunch (here too, guests must prepay their meals by Friday afternoon). At those times, groups of orthodox Jews from around the world can be seen celebrating Shabbath over kosher wine served in Kiddush cups and wonderfully soft challah breads. To ensure that Jewish dietary laws (kashrut) are abided by, an official supervising rabbi (mashgiach) is on premise at all times at Carmel.
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Costes Restaurant

Costes was the first restaurant in Hungary to receive a Michelin star (in 2010). And even though Budapest now has four Michelin-starred restaurants, Costes remains in a league of its own. The same is true when it comes to prices, making the restaurant prohibitively expensive for locals; on many nights, there isn’t a single Hungarian patron in sight (the five-course tasting menu with wine pairing comes out to over €150 per person). The food? Dinner at Costes feels like a promotional campaign for Hungary’s most popular dishes and drinks.
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Csirke csibész

The ultimate melting pot of (Buda)Pest. Construction workers and white collar employees alike line up for the unexpectedly flavorful chicken sandwiches at lunchtime at this tiny eatery. The ladies behind the counter will somehow manage to squeeze the toppings and side dishes, to be chosen from a plethora of options, inside the bread rolls. Hungry, but low-carb conscious dieters can indulge themselves with a whole roast chicken just out of the oven.
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Esetleg bisztro

Location is the strongest argument for visiting this partially outdoor bar/bistro near the Great Market Hall. The outdoor section, right along the bank of the river, has stunning views of the Danube, Liberty Bridge, and Gellért Hill. The lively venue is best for winding down with an afternoon drink in the summer months. The highlight of their inconsistent food offering is normally the goulash soup and the cottage cheese balls covered with a creamy sour cream vanilla sauce.
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Gettó Gulyás

In retrospect, it's strange that it took so long for someone to finally open a classic Hungarian restaurant in the party district (Jewish Quarter). After all, most tourists are after local dishes before they hit the neighborhood bars. The name of the restaurant (Gettó Gulyás) makes its culinary priorities clear - the short menu features the heart of Magyar cuisine with staples like goulash, chicken paprikash, and beef stew. These Hungarian classics are updated with a small twist, like the baked curd cheese noodles rolled in bacon, that accompany the veal stew.
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La Perle Noire

You’ll need to escape the heart of the city to unearth this restaurant, which serves refined modern Hungarian cuisine infused with French flavors. La Perle Noire is located on a peaceful section of the grand Andrássy Avenue peppered with residential villas and embassies. Take a look at the quirky modernist building from 1937 (now a hotel), amid the eclectic, predominantly 19th century street view. The kitchen is run by a heavyweight, which is obvious as soon as the dishes arrive.
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Lumen Kávézó

If you prefer to avoid the heavily touristed streets of the Jewish Quarter in District 7 but still get a cup of specialty coffee in a hip neighborhood, Lumen is your spot. With a surprisingly delicious food offering that includes breakfast, and a thoughtful interior design with eye-catching concrete and wood combinations, it stands out from the typical neighborhood café/bar landscape. But it's the patrons, artists and neighborhood bohemians, who make Lumen so unique and give soul to the space. They serve drinks all day and have almost daily live music performances.
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M. Restaurant

Above-average food, laid-back vibes, a chic crowd, tiny tables squeezed into a small space, and waitresses speaking fluent English - are we in Brooklyn or Budapest? Budapest, because service isn't rushed, and you're welcome to hang around even after settling the check. Try to sit at the charming nooks upstairs, and for food, the duck cracklings with red onions and the foie gras starters are certainly worth the wait (double-check with your server if you don't see them on the menu). Location is another plus, being on a quiet side street on the section of District 7 (Jewish Quarter) that retained an element of gritty charm, yet easily within walking distance from the centers of nighttime activity. For curious minds, the name "M" pays homage to the memory of György Petri, an iconic Hungarian samizdat poet and childhood friend of the restaurant's owner.
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Milky Way Kínai Étterem (Chinese Seafood Restaurant)

Wenzhou-born owner of Milky Way restaurant knows seafood. Not just because any self-respecting man from this seaside city in China is expected to be able to make a decent plate of fish soup, it’s also that he ran a fish market for 15 years in Budapest’s Chinatown. Accordingly, Milky Way specializes in what he knows best: whole steamed lobsters, crabs, tiger prawns, shrimps, carps, and more. They cook live animals and use little seasoning so that the ingredients can speak for themselves (Sichuan spices haven’t crept up here).
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Stand25 Bistro

When Szabina Szulló and Tamás Széll (a European Bocuse d'Or winner and celebrity-chef in Hungary) announced that they were leaving the Michelin-starred Onyx restaurant to venture out on their own last year, one didn’t need a business degree to predict success. Since this attractive luncheonette opened in the popular Hold Street market-hall-turned-food-court, people have flocked to its crammed tables from near and far.From the start, the idea was to make their dishes accessible to a broader audience. The duo’s reinvented traditional Hungarian staples, while not ground-breaking, are very good. Their reddish-brown colored goulash is exactly as it should be; the extra touch is the dash of chopped celery and salty Moroccan lemon seasoning, which adds a lighter, refreshing feel to this normally heavy soup (the other signature dish is the layered potato with sausage, egg, and sour cream).
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Szimply

The instagram-friendly location is one of the highlights of this closet-sized, breakfast-all-day joint in the cobble-stoned inner courtyard of a pre-war downtown building. Partially thanks to the inclusion of Szimply in a New York Times feature on Budapest (#50), it's next to impossible to find an open table at this breakfast nook. The food offering checks the boxes of trendy contemporary breakfast staples, such as the generously packed avocado toast topped with arugula, figs and goat cheese, or the four types of (vegan) vegetable and fruit juices. Their best dish, however, is the moderately named "Bun 2.0", where on top of the bread, in a red onion chutney bedding, sits a heap of fatty, crispy bacon.
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Villányi Borozó

For a bit of time travel you don’t even have to leave downtown. The “villányi” in the name is tongue-in-cheek, since the wine they serve in this socialist-era grungy neighborhood bar is hardly the premium stuff from the Villány region, but that isn’t the point. Places like this will soon be extinct, so take your chances before it’s too late. Expect a juke box that looks like it’s rented from a museum, a price board with uneven and unmatching number stickers, horrendous plastic wall paneling, ridiculously low prices, and an amiable, non-pretentious crowd with a fondness for alcohol..
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Városház Snack

No ads, no proper Facebook page, let alone an English menu, which in and of itself should spark your interest. This type of diner style self-service/take-out lunch venue was popular during communist times, but by now they are nearing extinction, usually for good reason. However, this one is still standing (since 1985), and so are plenty of people in line at lunchtime for cheap and tasty traditional Hungarian dishes in an amiable and familial environment (all this in the heart of downtown). Note that they're only open for weekday lunch..
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Buja Disznó(k)

Same owner/chef and same location as the Séf Utcája, on the upper deck of the newly refurbished pre-war market hall dotted with self-service type eateries. Make sure you come hungry otherwise the odds of you finishing these oversized pork schnitzels with a side of cold potato salad are not in your favor. The meat, about the size of an adult's forearm, is crispy on the outside and beautifully juicy on the inside. For the fullest experience, make sure to sit at the long communal table at the entrance, next to local office workers who constitute the core clientele (and who somehow think these feasts are appropriate for a workday lunch).
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Caffee GianMario

As soon as you enter this place, it will conjure the images of your stereotypical family-owned Italian restaurant. A charming man in his 60s, wearing a finely cut wool jacket and a smile on his face that hints of a life well lived, is usually in charge of greeting and seating guests. The service staff, most of whom are also Italians, peripatetically hurry and shout half-uttered words to one another over the cramped tables. Despite the seeming chaos, food arrives quickly, and servers manage to spare a kind word to every guest.
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Chablon Bistro

If you manage to find this place, buried in the basement of an abandoned inner courtyard, you'll be generously rewarded for your perseverance. The chef learned the tricks of the trade at some of the finest restaurants in the city (including MÁK bistro), and you'll be able to treat your taste buds at very reasonable prices with the ever-changing daily prix fixe written on the chalkboard (the three-course meal costs HUF1790, or about €6). The uniqueness of Chablon Bistro partially lies in the sharp contrast between the less-than-inviting underground premises and the unexpectedly superb, aesthetically pleasing dishes that come out of the tiny kitchen. A truly pleasant surprise.
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Grinzingi Borozó

The formula for success at this unpretentious wine bar is simple: serve cheap drinks in the center of a city otherwise crowded with tourist traps. But what gives this place soul is its longevity, the variety of its patrons, and the “interior design”. When Grinzingi opened in 1983, it was difficult to find decent wine in the city, so word spread that this wine bar served up cheap, drinkable stuff. Fast forward 30 years, some of those early patrons still pay repeated visits, as do plenty of college students from nearby universities.
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Jónás Craft Beer House

Due to car traffic along the Danube, only a few Budapest bars and restaurants have direct access to river. Jónás Craft Beer House, a partially outdoor craft beer bar, is an exception. This means that while sipping your beer, you can marvel at the panoramic vista of the Danube, the Gellért Hill, and the stately building of the Budapest University of Technology on the opposite bank. If you come from the center of the city, take tram #2 for a scenic ride along the Danube and get off at Zsil utca, which drops you almost right outside.
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Macesz Bistro

One would be hard-press to believe that in the first half of the 20th century the streets of District 7, today the party central of Budapest, were swarming with Jewish people. Macesz Bistro, a Jewish-Hungarian fusion restaurant, pays homage to the neighborhood’s history (the edifice across the street is still home to the Hungarian Orthodox Jewish Community). The menu at Macesz Bistro includes most Hungarian-Ashkenazi Jewish staples alongside classic Hungarian food offerings (in Hungarian macesz means matzo). The culinary highlight and the most economical choice in this slightly overpriced bistro is the “Jewish Traditional” tasting menu for HUF7,990 or €27 (€40 with wine pairing).
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Mazel Tov

Mazel Tov is for people who like the ruin bar concept in theory, but prefer things more upscale. According to the textbook definition, a ruin bar is a courtyard of a highly dilapidated pre-war building that was turned into a bar without much by way of refurbishment, using second-hand furniture, and offering correspondingly low prices. In Mazel Tov’s case, the dilapidated façade and outdoor courtyard hold true, but cheap drinks were upgraded to cocktails, ham & cheese sandwiches to elaborate Middle Eastern dishes, self-service to hostesses/waiters, and cheap furniture to a thoughtfully designed interior with sleek wooden paneling. On most nights live music is playing in the background.
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Momotaro Ramen

In the likely event that you've never frequented a Chinese restaurant designed as a hunting lodge, here is your chance to do so. The former occupant of the space infused it with the atmosphere of Hungarian countryside estates with taxidermy and animal antlers adorning the walls. Surprisingly, the current owners seem to find it a comfortable theme to accent their Asian cuisine as well..
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My Little Melbourne

Opened in 2012, My Little Melbourne was one of the first cafés to bring A+ quality specialty coffee to Budapest, resulting in a cult following that still continues to surround them. Leveraging the rightful success, they recently opened a brew bar next door focusing on filter coffee (V60, Aeropress, French press, cold brew), while the original premise continues to serve espresso based drinks (cappuccino, latte, Americano, etc.). My Little Melbourne is located in the heart of District 7 (Jewish Quarter), and given the location and the café's seemingly unstoppable popularity, the somewhat inflated prices make sense. For most foreigners they will still feel like a bargain.
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Műhely Egyetem Café

Műhely is an eccentric little café swarming with college students inside the basement of the venerable Eötvös Loránd University. Besides specialty coffee, flaky croissants, and fruit cups, the highlight is the economical two-course lunch menu. True to the building's mission of free intellectual inquiry, Műhely has a broad range of Hungarian magazine subscriptions, including publications both from the far left, and far right. For the best experience and most students, go during the academic year (September - May), as during the summer they just operate out of a food cart at the main entrance of the university.
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Nappali Kávéház

The bars of Budapest generally fall into two categories. On the one hand, myriad of ruin bars offer an informal atmosphere with no-frills-but-dirt-cheap drinks. On the other are the fancy, higher-end cocktail joints where bartenders with chiseled jawline mix stiff cocktails of ingredients you've never heard of. The in-between territory is noticeably thin.
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St. Andrea Wine & Gourmet Bar

Location is unfortunately a challenge for St. Andrea Wine & Gourmet Bar, a fine dining Budapest restaurant. It occupies the ground floor of a luxury office building, just off the reception area. As a result, high-power executives from the offices upstairs make up the core of the patrons, which leads to an overly formal atmosphere, particularly at lunchtime..
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Tera Magyar Konyhája

Újlipótváros, the neighborhood of Tera Magyar Konyhája, is the best kept secret in Budapest. A city within the city. The cultural upper crust and young families with baby strollers form a strong local community here and make for a lively area. Many of the local residents can be found in Tera, this self-service diner with a broad selection of traditional Hungarian dishes.
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A Séf utcája

A leading Hungarian chef, Lajos Bíró, has ventured out on his own and diners should all celebrate that decision. At "Chef's Street" one will find traditional Hungarian dishes prepared with a twist, which in this case means better-than-average ingredients and an attention to the visual aesthetics. The flavors of these reconfigured Hungarian staples play in a different league than grandmas' cooking. .
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Fekete Kutya

Despite its location alarmingly near the chaos of Kazinczy Street (often with drunk stag party tourists scattered on the sidewalks), this dimly lit bar has preserved an authentic atmosphere and a predominantly local clientele. On weekend nights the crowd tends to overflow to the outdoor vaulted courtyard where heavy wrought-iron lamps hang. For the best experience, try to grab a seat out there and immerse yourself in the mainly post-30-intellectual-bohemian crowd. Indoors you will find friendly service behind the bar, craft beers on draft, better-than-average bar food (the chorizo tapas is a must), and artwork on the walls.
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Hanna Orthodox Restaurant

Hanna is a glatt kosher restaurant operated by the Autonomous Orthodox Jewish Community of Hungary in District 7. Since it's buried within the fortress-like edifice of the congregation, most locals have never encountered Hanna, even though the surrounding area is the center of the current Budapest party scene with countless cafés, bars, and restaurants. Orthodox Jews visiting Budapest, however, are often better informed and they fill the restaurant most nights. The food selection consists of traditional Jewish dishes like matzo ball soup alongside Hungarian staples like chicken paprikash.
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Kino Cafe Mozi

Budapest is under-supplied when it comes to relaxed, unpretentious breakfast/brunch spots, mostly because it’s customary to eat breakfast at home. This breakfast-all-day café along the Nagykörút (Grand Boulevard) is situated in the ticketing area of a movie theater, they won’t mess up your sunny side ups, and will be fine with you spending a lazy Sunday morning here facebooking for hours on end. The ever-changing selection of cakes on display taste as good as they look. In case you took note of it, the impressive-looking baroque revival style building next door is one of the leading theaters of Budapest..
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Kiosk

This trendy bistro in the heart of the city has two things going for it: a stunning view of the Elisabeth bridge, and the stately building whose shockingly spacious ground floor it occupies. Loud music, dim lighting, and a distinctively industrial interior awaits you inside. The tree planted in the center of the bar, and the black and white classics they project on the rear wall are worthy attempts to spice up the otherwise not unusual exposed brick interior (with patches of intentionally disintegrating plaster). Food-wise they want to please all tastes (burger, salad, soup, pasta, steak, fish, Hungarian classics, etc.), at price levels that certainly include the surcharge for the panoramic vista (the three-course lunch prix fixe for HUF1,950 or c.
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Krúdy Söröző

The Grand Boulevard is not only a dividing line between inner and outer Pest, but also between the pristine and the gritty, the predictable and the mysterious. As a result, bars along here draw eclectic crowds from all facets of Budapest life. Krúdy Söröző, an unpretentious, no-frills communist-era bar, is one of these. Despite the wifi and flat screen TVs, the space feels distinctively 1980s, as do the prices.
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Madal Espresso & Brew

Even if you're very particular about your coffee, this place is unlikely to disappoint. Besides the specialty coffee (espresso-based, V60, AeroPress, cold brew) there're other things too to like about Madal, including a friendly staff, a sleek wood-paneled interior, outdoor seating, neatly designed serving trays, free wifi, and the location, which is easily accessible from almost everywhere in the city center. If you get there early enough, a selection of flaky (whole wheat) croissants can accompany your morning coffee. The company operates 2 other locations in Budapest, including a significantly larger space near the Parliament building.
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Pótkulcs

Trust me, the address is accurate - persist in your search and you will be handsomely rewarded. It’s worth walking around a bit anyway in this mostly working class, underdeveloped neighborhood. The unkempt condition of the otherwise grand housing stock illustrates the level of decay most buildings in Budapest reached at the end of the communist period. Pótkulcs, a hidden bar inside a former light engineering workshop sits on a quiet side street and features a huge outdoor patio and a no-frills indoor bar area.
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Salon Restaurant

Salon is one of Budapest’s few true fine dining restaurants. It occupies a corner inside the historic New York Café, a top tourist attraction in Budapest. Chef András Wolf oversees Salon’s kitchen, which is totally separate from that of the New York, and has a simple culinary mission: to reengineer traditional Hungarian dishes in a contemporary way. The seven-course dinner features the usual suspects of Hungarian fine dining, like foie gras pate, carp, and venison saddle (it costs HUF24,000 or €80, without alcohol; four-course and a la carte options are also available).
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TG Italiano

TG Italiano is one of those places you pick when you don't feel like leaving the highly touristed downtown areas but want to eat something good. Good, and somewhere other than the dime a dozen “traditional Hungarian” goulash-oriented tourist traps. Instead of goulash, you'll find a broad range of Italian staples here, some of which are prepared on the open grill by (Italian) chef Sergio Viti. TG Italiano isn’t cheap, but the food is consistent, the interior designed, and the service attentive and professional.
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Yanjiang South Restaurant (Fecskék Étterem)

A landlocked country isn’t kind to chefs with seafood ambitions. Particularly one where the fish and seafood consumption is the lowest in the EU. But against the odds, a Chinese couple from Wenzhou, the port city along the East China Sea coast, decided to open a restaurant in Budapest specialized in saltwater fish. Their goal is to bring the flavors of their native land to Budapest’s sizeable Wenzhounese community and the occasional Hungarian patrons, who are few and far between.
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À la Maison Grand

This French-style café has become one of the most popular breakfast destinations in Budapest for the fashionable crowd. The all-day breakfast offering at À la Maison Grand is prepared reliably and well, and includes a range of classics (think croque madame), and more exotic variations such as the goose liver benedict. These dishes are often accompanied by strawberry mimosas from the full service bar. The trendy crowd consists of a mix of tourists and locals, who can be observed multi-tasking between their breakfast plates and their iphones, assessing the most instragam-worthy angles.
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Öcsi étkezde

Italians have their osterias, the French their brasseries. In Hungary, no-frills eateries whose main purpose is to fill your stomach with familiar flavors at affordable prices are called "étkezde". They belong to a bygone communist era, and many trendy people avoid them like the plague. Nevertheless, a few of the best étkezde have managed to survive amid a stampede of new restaurant openings.Öcsi étkezde, a lunch-only eatery in District 8, has flourished since 1981, in part due to the familial environment created by married owners Erzsi and Feri.
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DiVino

If you're in for the classy experience, you can sip a glass of fine Hungarian red in this wine bar while overlooking the picture-postcard view of the Basilica from a terrific vantage point. It's a particularly fun thing to do in warm-weather months by the outdoor tables. Touristy it may be, still, it’s a sight to behold. Aside from a selection of over 140 types of Hungarian wines, DiVino has cheese, olive, and charcuterie platters to go with the fermented grape juice..
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Frici Papa Kifőzdéje

Never mind the fact that Frici Papa opened long after the fall of the iron curtain, this diner has become a darling for visitors looking to experience the dining scenery of communist times. Tablecloths covered with transparent plastic, cheap wood paneling on the walls, waiters dressed as if having been parachuted here from the '80s - those in search of a lost epoch won't be disappointed. The menu includes all the traditional Hungarian staples from goulash to túrós csusza, served in enormous portions. Don't expect a Michelin star kitchen here, but most of the dishes are prepared simply and well, not to mention the almost ludicrously cheap prices.
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Gólya

A spirit of healthy anarchy radiates from this bar-slash-community center located a bit outside the city center in a gritty part of District 8. It's nonetheless worth trekking out there. They hold weekly panel discussions on a range of relevant topics (e.g. industrial interest vs.
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La nube

The breakfast offering at the increasingly hip Újbuda neighborhood has received a boost in 2015 with the opening of La Nube. The main appeal of this family-run café is the cozy space and its diverse crowd. On a typical day, patrons might comprise parents with young children (there's a kids' corner), hipsters, typing away on their Macs, and aging locals, sipping glasses of San Miguel from the draft. .
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Menza Étterem és Kávézó

At some point in the early 2000s, Liszt Ferenc Square was a buzzing hangout for locals. Then, as often happens, the excitement tapered off. Today, you will find signs prominently advertising "Hungarian cuisine" and "tourist menus", and it’s also here that Hungary's lone Hooters operated. You don't need me to tell you: proceed with caution.However, against the odds, you can find one of the best-run restaurants in the city here: Menza.
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Petrus Restaurant

The sleepy and still somewhat gritty outer part of District 9 is the least likely of places to boast a fine-dining restaurant. This is why opening Petrus, a little gem of a top-notch French bistro, out there is a telling sign that the owner-chef doesn't shy away from original ideas. The food occupies the territory between high-end bistro fare and fine dining: the seven-course tasting menu approaches the latter, the a la carte offering the former. In both cases, dishes are centered on French cuisine.
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Sarki fűszeres

This tiny health-conscious café located in a quiet corner of Újlipótváros is one of the best kept secrets in Budapest. Situated along the upscale Pozsonyi Road on the ground floor of a nicely renovated modernist building from the 1940s, Sarki fűszeres is best for coffee or breakfast during the warm weather months by the outdoor tables canopied over with greenery. Their breakfast offering includes ham & eggs, English breakfast, croissants, meat and cheese platters, and plenty other other locally sourced organic stuff that would check all boxes at Whole Foods. Take a walk around the neighborhood, which has a bunch of hidden gems, like the buildings across the streetwith the lavish marble staircases..
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TÁBLA

TÁBLA, a closet-sized, space at the edge of the Jewish quarter, occupies the territory between fine dining and a casual restaurant. They target gastronomically-inclined local office workers who don’t mind shelling out twice what the dime a dozen places nearby charge for a no-frills lunch prix fixe. Tourists also happily munch away for a fraction of what these elaborate dishes would cost at home. The daily-changing baseline food offering is Hungarian, with a slight twist accompanying all the dishes.
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Tóth Kocsma

Visiting Tóth Kocsma is the ultimate immersion into everyday Hungarian life, where you can be quite certain to be the only non-Hungarian. It's not fancy, not trendy, not hipster, just a good honest no-frills basement bar. They don’t make ‘em this way anymore. The fact that the unpretentious Tóth Kocsma is located in the middle of the expensive gallery district along Falk Miksa Street just adds an element of irony and a notch to its appeal.
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Wang Mester Kínai Konyhája

If you get the impression that Budapest is full of alarmingly cheap, Chinese take-out places with crappy food, your premonitions are correct. This is why Wang Mester Kínai Konyhája, one of the best Chinese restaurants in Budapest, is such a nice surprise. The owner, Wang Qiang, was a pioneer in the early 1990s to introduce real Chinese food to a local audience in Budapest that so far had been accustomed to cheap, unrecognizably toned-down dishes at the dime a dozen neighborhood take-out joints. This, along with a penchant for self-promotion, has rendered Mr.
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Akácfa Étkezde

Neighborhood Roma and office workers alike line up for delicious home-made Hungarian flavors from this bizarrely decorated diner. The interior includes a hodgepodge of items, from countryside wall themes to faux-Biedermeier living room furniture. The checkered tablecloths covered with transparent plastic evoke nostalgia of the 1980s' Hungarian dining scene. Here you can indulge in classic Hungarian dishes including goulash, chicken paprikash, stuffed cabbage, schnitzel, and főzelék (a popular type of vegetable stew).
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Babka Budapest

Babka occupies a prominent corner along the upscale Pozsonyi Road in Újlipótváros. The restaurant is named after an Ashkenazi Jewish bready cake from Eastern Europe, and is perhaps a tip of the hat to the neighborhood as well, home to much of Budapest’s middle-class Jewish community. The snug space, featuring hardwood floors and dim lighting, feels pleasant and cozy despite its unoriginal vintage decor (old radio and TV equipment are scattered throughout). .
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Barako Káveház

It’s not easy to find specialty coffee places on the Buda side, so when Barako, a closet-sized café, opened in 2014, it filled a void in Buda’s barely-existent craft coffee scene. The Filipino owner, Ryan Andres, intentionally eschewed the tourist-centric commercial areas of downtown Pest and set up shop here instead. He imports the Barako coffee beans (a variation of the Liberica species) from land he cultivates in the Philippines. One of Barako’s specialties is siphon coffee, which involves an elaborate preparation process reminiscent of a high school chemistry class experiment.
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Börze

Börze is a 2017 offshoot of Menza’s owners. (Menza is a well-oiled restaurant machine in Budapest, whose no-frills, classic Hungarian dishes attract large crowds every night to Liszt Ferenc Square.) Börze’s name pays homage to the enormous 1907 building across the street that used to be the Budapest Stock and Commodity Exchange. The sleek, bistro-designed café/restaurant serves uncomplicated Hungarian classics from early morning until midnight, seven days a week. Favorites include the Debrecener pork sausage for breakfast (that's right), the cordon bleu (pork schnitzel with a melted cheese filling), and the confit pork neck topped with a whisper-thin slice of bacon and slow-cooked garlic spread with baked potatoes and a hearty brown sauce.
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Csalogány 26

If a gastronomic revolution hadn't taken place in Budapest over the last 10 years, Csalogány 26 would still be ruling the city's "high-end bistro" scene. But times have changed. And while Csalogány's kitchen is still churning out visually pleasing, delicious Hungarian classics with a twist, so do many other restaurants in Budapest. And as competition increases, factors like customer service, atmosphere, and interior design, all somewhat lacking at Csalogány 26, can tip the balance.
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Farger Kávézó

The places around Szabadság tér (Liberty Square) and the Parliament tend to be overrun by tourists, which usually brings the worst out of the local service industry. This café/restaurant, however, managed to maintain an authentic profile and isn't in the rip-off business either. Farger is located in the ground floor of a grand, although somewhat faded building with a sooty facade. Interestingly, the building was commissioned by the Adriatic Hungarian Royal Maritime Company (!) during the glorious days of the Austro Hungarian Empire.
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KHAN

In 2015, three young Vietnamese-Hungarian with a passion for cooking and a background in fashion and design, opened a Vietnamese fusion restaurant (Sao) in the tourist-packed part of Budapest’s District 7. The venture has turned out to be wildly successful. Encouraged, the owners launched another food project, Khan, but this time in the peaceful and residential Újlipótváros. Not that location would much matter: people flock to KHAN from near and far.
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Macska

This is the type of neighborhood bar we all want to have outside our doors, alas, they are few and far between. Let's see what differentiates Macska from the rest of the bunch: a friendly bar service, an extensive selection of draft and bottled beers, and a limited but surprisingly healthy food offering that includes vegan and gluten-free options. The bonus is the upstairs section with cute hideaway corners, generally occupied by lovebirds. Macska is located just beyond the Nagykörút (Grand Boulevard), somewhat outside the city center in the gritty and cool District 8.
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Monori Center Hong Kong Büfé

If you ever wondered what Chinese breakfast was like, here is your chance to find out. For less than HUF1,500 (€5) one gets to taste an array of classic Chinese breakfast staples from jianbing to congee and youtiao. The congee, this hot bowl of rice soup similar to rice porridge is often used to treat a cold or a hangover in China, but one doesn’t need to be suffering from either to experience the soothing and warming effect of this comfort soup, which comes with minced pork, mushrooms, and a scallion-punch at Hong Kong Büfé. The breakfast crowds here usually pair it with freshly fried breadsticks (youtiao), as is customary in China, and it pays off to follow them.
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Mélypont Presszó

Highly amortized pieces of socialist interior design will await you at this cavernous underground bar on what’s one of the most charming streets in Budapest. Mélypont Presszó is usually filled with college students from the neighboring law and political science colleges. Despite the occasionally rowdy college crowd (expect some waiting for the foosball table) the setting overall is pretty intimate, with cute hideaway corners that work well for date nights too. While drinks are cheap overall, whiskey fans can indulge in a broad selection from the top shelf..
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Zoska Reggeliző Kávézó

For the longest time Pest didn't used to have places specialized for breakfast food, even though we all know what a difference a plate of well-prepared scrambled eggs can make to start the day on the right foot. This gaping void was filled in 2014 with the opening of Zoska, a shabby-chic breakfast place nestled in a quite downtown street. Zoska's offering includes international breakfast staples anywhere from cold plates to ham & eggs, and also bundás kenyér, Hungarians' take on the French toast. The staff behind the counter isn't always as courteous as they should be, but this shouldn't surprise anyone in Budapest.
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Balla-Hús

One of the few remaining independent butcher shops downtown, in operation since 1951. Besides the raw meat on display, they serve delicious sausage omelettes for breakfast for €2 (occasionally prepared by the owner himself, resulting in overly generous portions) and various meat-heavy dishes for lunch, including blood sausage and friend chicken liver with a selection of side dishes. Use the opportunity to fuel up here before a full day of sightseeing. The (art) pieces on the walls (Dionysian feast, wild boar taxidermy, etc.) add to the eccentricity of the space.
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ESCA studio restaurant

ESCA is a tiny, 16-seat restaurant offering a dinner-only tasting menu in District 7, also known as Budapest’s party district. The intimate space, which features sleek, dark wood finishes and plain walls, couldn’t be more different from the kitsch ruin bars nearby. This open-kitchen studio restaurant is run by young chef/owner Gábor Fehér, who gained experience in Copenhagen and at leading Budapest restaurants before setting up shop here. He is a skillful cook.
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Fruccola

This salad bar started the granola/salad/fresh juice wave in Budapest, and benefited accordingly: diehard followers with little price sensitivity. Fruccola is also one of the few places in Budapest that serves outstanding breakfast omelets, which come with salmon or spinach & goat cheese. On weekdays, they have an ever-changing two-course prix fixe lunch, which is heavier on vegetables and other healthy ingredients than most Budapest restaurants. Credit to the owners, who cater to a broad range of interests with their magazine subscriptions (Wallpaper, The New Yorker, A10, Monocle, National Geographic, etc.).
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Hunnia Bisztró

It's not easy to find this underground jewel but well worth the effort. The owner has managed to recruit A (and B)-level Hungarian musicians who play live here most Friday and Saturday nights in a cozy atmosphere. Expect, as the night progresses, increasingly more dancing and a raucous bohemian atmosphere. Hunnia has a good sampling of draft beers to wash down the slightly less savory pizza.
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Kilenc Sárkány Étterem

Kilenc Sárkány Étterem (“Nine Dragons Restaurant”) is a long-established Chinese restaurant in Budapest, opened over two decades ago. They carry two sets of menus, so make sure the waitstaff hands you the one for the Chinese patrons, otherwise you’re in for watered-down dishes adjusted to “European tastes”. Most items on the long menu originate from China’s Zhejiang province, more specifically Wenzhou, the home to many Chinese immigrants in Hungary. .
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Két Szerecsen

The first look of Két Szerecsen is promising: a buzzing bistro with crammed tables, chic design, and plenty of natural light thanks to oversized windows. Between the stately Andrássy Avenue on one side, and the Jewish Quarter’s main artery (Király Street) on the other, it occupies a precious piece of no man’s land. The food offering is exhaustive. As if they tried to please all tastes, “Moroccan” lamb shoulder with couscous, “Thai” green curry with prawn, and “Hungarian” chicken paprikash compete with one another on the long menu.
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Mangalica Mennyország

The recently renovated market hall at Klauzál Square is a far cry from the gastro-paradise of its sister location in Hold Street. Amid closed storefronts and bland grocery store chains, however, you'll find an eatery/butcher shop that makes it worth popping in here.Mangalica Mennyország (Mangalica Heaven) sells various cuts of the premium breed of Hungarian domestic mangalica pig, known for its long, curly coat and beautifully juicy fat. The Kobe beef of pork, as some call it. Naturally, the lunch prix-fixe, which should be the purpose of your trip, is composed of dishes with mangalica.
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MÁK bistro

The good news is that the food here is on par with the Michelin star restaurants in the city, even though MÁK bistro hasn’t yet joined the club. More specifically: "while respecting the culinary traditions of Hungary and local ingredients, MÁK’s style of creation and presentation as well as simplicity can be originated from the best practices of Scandinavian Cuisine". The not so good news is that the service staff appears at times to be too focused on “upselling” rather than the customer experience. When dining at MÁK bistro, one gets the impression that a bit of background music and less intense lighting could extract more charm from the otherwise artfully prepared rustic interior and vaulted ceiling.
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Printa

Printa was one of the first stores in Budapest that figured out that selling high-quality coffee alongside Hungarian designer products can be a winning combination. Think limited edition prints, clothes, bags, and purses designed by the cream of the crop in Budapest - no tchotchkes here. Being good at what they do, and being located in the center of it all, it's inevitable that they now mainly cater to tourists with somewhat inflated price tags. Nevertheless, there's plenty of cool stuff and great coffee of course.
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Bock Bisztró

In 2004, Bock Bisztró was among the first to show that Hungarian staples can be so much better than what they had been for decades. That pork schnitzel can be tender on the inside and crispy on the outside. (The schnitzel is very similar to those served at Buja disznó(k), a self-service eatery at the Hold Street market hall also operated by executive chef Lajos Bíró). And paprikash, when made with veal neck, breaded tenderloin, and a creamy paprika sauce, can be a real delicacy.
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Frőhlich Kosher Pastry Shop

Budapest’s only kosher pastry shop is right in the heart of the former Jewish Quarter. Normally flódni is the way to go, which is a classic Hungarian Jewish cake with layers of earthly goods packed onto one other, like walnut and poppy seed spread, apple, and plum jam filling. To please all tastes, Frőhlich, which set up shop in 1953, also makes popular Hungarian cakes like Esterházy, Dobos, krémes, and various strudels. The best time to visit Frőhlich is during the Jewish holidays, particularly Purim, which usually falls on March, when an array of exotic, filled pastries emerge behind the glass counter such as hamantash.
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Hange Chinese Restaurant

Many theories exist as to why it was Sichuan Province of all places within China that adopted chili peppers in its local cuisine in the 16th century. Whatever the reason may be, some of the finest dishes have come out of this unlikely alliance of flavors between Old and New World..
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Hintaló Iszoda

The name means rocking horse, of which you'll see plenty inside this retro-designed bar located in the outer part of District 8. This tiny bar on two floors with cramped tables usually gets packed and lively. The neighborhood is the opposite of trendy and quite different from the more touristy areas of the city, but that shouldn’t stop you from discovering where many of the ethnic minorities in Budapest reside. Beer-drinkers will be pleased to see the craft beer selections on tab.
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Liberté

Liberté is a worthy attempt at recreating the atmosphere of a high-end American diner infused with a trendy French bistro. Located near the Parliament in the elite section of District 5 peppered with banks, it mainly caters to a well-off clientele. The food is an interesting combination of trendy international staples and Hungarian-influenced culinary essentials. So you might find both avocado toast with poached egg and steak with goose liver and lecsó on the menu.
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Oriental Soup House

Oriental Soup House is a stylish Vietnamese restaurant in a hip, under-the-radar neighborhood a bit outside the city center (Újlipótváros). The food, centered around 11 types of Asian soup varieties like pho, is as good as any Vietnamese in the city (go with the simple beef noodle soup: Pho Bo). Also good, and welcomingly generous is the spring roll (Nem Saigon) and the Bun cha, another Vietnamese signature dish consisting of grilled pork belly over a plate of rice vermicelli paired with fresh cucumbers, coriander and bean sprouts. The interior is a contemporary, carefully designed industrial look with a combination of sleek wooden stools, concrete flooring, and an open kitchen.
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Retro Büfé- lángos, palacsintázó

It’s not your standard, impeccably refurbished space advertised as “retro” - this is real socialist style. Lángos, a popular Hungarian specialty is the area of expertise at this tiny kiosk located on a puzzlingly neglected square near St. Stephen's Basilica. Lángos is a deep fried flat bread covered by sour cream and cheese, and depending on how adventurous you are, plenty of other toppings like paprika, onions, and bacon - “parasztlángos” is the one to opt for if you want to go all out.
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Szimpla Háztáji

Don't be confused by Szimpla Háztáji's name: this is not Szimpla Kert, the world-famous ruin bar (that one is a few doors down and across the street, run by the same owners). Háztáji is a café specializing in breakfast food (served all day), fruit juices, and home-made syrups. The mantra is fresh-fresh-fresh: all ingredients come from local farmers whose produce can also be found in Szimpla Kert's farmer's market on Sunday mornings. Accordingly, the decor is (perhaps too) intensively hammering home the shabby-chic, rustic feel.
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The Goat Herder - Espresso Bar

What's this stylish café full of foreign students doing in the sleepy outer part of District 7 inhabited mostly by working class locals? This question will occupy your mind as soon as you step into The Goat Herder. The answer literally lies across the street in the form of the 19th century stately buildings of The University of Veterinary Medicine, where most students come from Western Europe. The owner of this espresso bar not only presciently recognized this gaping market opportunity but also ensured that foreign students would be served premium (espresso-based) coffee. Besides coffee and free wifi, they have pastries, snacks, salads, and fresh fruit juices all day (but no egg-based or other cooked breakfast food).
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Építészpince

The building, rather than the food, is the key attraction of this restaurant, located inside a pre-WWI mansion in the Castle Area of District 8. Take some time to absorb the view from the inner courtyard: ivy-covered facades, cube stone patterns, symmetrically curved staircases. As for food, the prix fixe lunches will neither disappoint, nor take your breath away. The crowd is an interesting mix of librarians, architects (today the building is home to the Chamber of Budapest Architects), and local residents.
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Beszálló

A noticeable buzz surrounded the opening of Beszálló, a tiny, open-kitchen, Asian fusion gastropub located under the stately arched entrance to District 7. The attention was mainly due to executive-chef Krisztián Huszár, who has established himself as a leading force behind Budapest's nascent gastronomic revolution at well-known places like MÁK Bistro and ZONA. With lower prices at Beszálló, Huszár is looking to reach a broader audience keen to taste his inventive dishes. .
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Fáma Budapest

Fáma is the 2017 venture of celebrity-chef Krisztián Huszár. It was a bold move to open a fine dining restaurant in a residential Buda neighborhood, away from the well-trodden tourist paths of downtown Pest and the Castle District. The owners spared no expense to create a tasteful interior, featuring an understated, dimly-lit dining room with a dozen or so tables, and grey-painted walls accented by industrial pipes overhead. The dinner tasting menu is a four-, five-, or six-course option selected from twelve pre-set dishes (the “chef’s choice” includes all twelve items).
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Tel Aviv Café

Operated by the Hungarian Chabad-Lubavitch Hasidic community, Tel Aviv Café is Budapest’s one and only kosher dairy restaurant. Being a dairy restaurant, don’t go searching for meat here. And, unfortunately, you won’t find any of the traditional Ashkenazi non-meat staples either, like matzo brei, blintz, or latke. This is somewhat surprising, because Tel Aviv Café is located in the heart of Budapest's old Jewish Quarter, right across the orthodox synagogue, so an homage to Central European Jewish food traditions would have been fitting.
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Wang Fu (Mimóza) Chinese Restaurant

Those looking for an interactive, communal dining experience should consider Wang Fu (Mimóza), a longstanding Chinese hot pot restaurant in Budapest, around since 2006. Upon entry, fridges packed with countless varieties of meat, fish, vegetables, and noodles are tastefully displayed for visitors, who need to pick out the raw ingredients they will shortly be cooking in the boiling broths awaiting at their tables..
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Úri Muri

If you want to hang out with the next generation of Hungarian actors and actresses and all the while sip cheap drinks, look no further. All this in the middle of the boisterous District 7. .
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Chinatown Restaurant (Kínai Negyed Étterem)

Of the top Chinese restaurants in Budapest, Chinatown Restaurant is one of the closest to the city center. It’s still some ways away, and it’s located on the not-exactly-inviting Népszínház Street, but at least you don’t need to trek out to one of the two Chinatowns of Budapest, an additional 20 minutes by tram, for a proper plate of laziji (spicy chicken). .
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Spíler

Spíler is one of those trendy, hyped-up bistros that’s always crowded, with loud music, a stylish décor, and good-looking waiters. It's inside the pulsating evening hangout spot, Gozsdu Udvar, dotted with restaurants and clubs in the heart of the Jewish Quarter in District 7. The food at Spíler is better than one would assume based on the tourist-heavy location. They serve a mix Hungarian staples and bistro-type dishes (think BBQ sandwich with french fries), along with a full breakfast offering.
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Vintage Garden

Shabby chic interior with a stylish waitstaff in the most popular neighborhood of the city - these are valid reasons why this trendy bistro is crowded most days. On the other hand, one gets the impression that they focused just a bit too much on recreating a charmingly rustic atmosphere of the French countryside (there's an antique car parked inside), and could've put more emphasis on the food instead, which is decent, but at their price level should be even better. The menu is an amalgamation of French (rose duck breast), international (pasta, burgers, etc.), and Hungarian staples (goulash, and lángos variations). Reservation is a must..
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Daohuaxiang (Aranytál Étterem)

Chongqing-inspired Daohuaxiang restaurant fuses two widely popular contemporary Chinese gastronomic trends: spicy food and hotpotting. The inside of the plain, oversized dining room is devoid of design elements, as if to ascertain that all attention is paid to the fridge, where rows of plates with raw ingredients await their ultimate fate inside the simmering broths on the tables. .
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Kollázs Brasserie & Bar (Four Seasons Hotel)

This exclusive bistro with a panoramic vista is located inside one of the most imposing buildings in Pest. A grand art nouveau construction with a glass-roofed arcade, it was the headquarters of the London-based Gresham Life Assurance Company at its opening in 1906. Even if you're on a tight budget, try to stop by for coffee to experience the grandeur of the building and the stunning view of the Castle Hill across the river. Make sure to walk through the main entrance (not via Zrínyi Street) to see the royal-looking lobby with multicolored Zsolnay tiles and ask for a window seat overlooking the Chain Bridge.
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Vicky Barcelona

A healthy dose of skepticism is in order when you go to Gozsdu Udvar passage, aka tourist central of the Jewish Quarter. This was my first thought when I saw the lively crowd inside this tapas bar. Then I had the very decent revuelto (scrambled eggs that comes with sausage, goat cheese, and apple) and the carrillera de cerdo Ibérico (Iberian pork cheek) for starters, and my doubts began to dissipate. The elaborate design is another plus: a dim-lit, narrow path in the center is flanked by tables with velvet curtains on one side, and a curvilinear bar counter with mosaic patterns on the other.
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Nobu Restaurant

Thanks to a well-connected Hungarian businessman, Budapest is home to the one and only Nobu restaurant in Central Europe (the closest one is in Milan). The upscale restaurant is located inside the downtown, five-star Kempinski hotel. Visitors familiar with Nobu restaurants elsewhere in the world should rest assured that, in Budapest too, they will find all of Mr. Matsuhisa’s signature dishes.
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Prime Steak & Wine

This chic downtown steakhouse is on par with the top steakhouses anywhere in the world, not only in terms of quality, but unfortunately prices too. Go for the szürkemarha (Hungarian Grey cattle) filet mignon if you want to try a breed indigenous to Hungary and with a depth of flavor one rarely experiences, and select a fine bottle of Hungarian red from the extensive wine list to wash it down. The setting is formal and the interior a bit overdesigned, but the dim lighting helps to create a more relaxed, intimate environment that's best enjoyed during the evening. You can build up a buzz at the cocktail bar, the centerpiece of the space, while waiting for your table..
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4BRO Downtown / Aether

Wait in line to get into one of the hottest clubs/bars in the city. The location at the crossroads of the bustling Király Street and Gozsdu Udvar couldn't be more central than this. The inside is a chic industrial space with loud music, a spacious cocktail bar, and a sit-down area on the ground floor. For those who find the tunes here too mellow should make their way to the club downstairs where ear-splitting electronic music is the dominant genre.
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Altair Teaház

It’s easy to miss this charming underground tea house along a sleepy street behind the National Museum. Defying space limitations, they've managed to squeeze three floors of tiny nooks separated from each other by curtains and pillows, and sitting on inserted wooden platforms. The dimly lit, cozy, labyrinthine indoor makes for an ideal date spot or for a bit of seclusion from the hustle and bustle of city center, just minutes away. Besides the endless tea options, other treats offered at Altair includes a selection of (hot) wines, beers, spirits, as well as hookahs (water pipes).
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Auróra

During the day, Auróra is a socially conscious community center with an ambitious agenda. Come nighttime, it's the venue of raucous parties lasting until the wee hours. The building, strategically located in the outer part of District 8 in a gritty neighborhood filled with minorities, combines co-working spaces, a bar, and a concert venue on three floors. While the discussions generally take place in Hungarian, most people attending their workshops and parties will speak English.
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BAOTIFUL

The venue of this Asian fusion restaurant-slash-food truck is tough to beat. It's located on the stunningly beautiful Liberty Square (Szabadság tér), inside the stately 19th century building of the former stock exchange. Once you enter BAOTIFUL through the massive floor to ceiling front door, an amalgamation of interior styles await you with concrete flooring, rustic oak tables, plastered walls, an ornate Chinese door, and the food truck itself. As for food, the far-reaching menu tries to pay homage to all corners of Asia, with mixed results.
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Baraka Restaurant & Lounge

Delicious fine dining in the center of the city with Far Eastern and European cuisines, infused with Hungarian culinary essentials (try the Hungarian deer loin with braised red cabbage, fig, and chestnut). During lunch it can feel overly corporate, but by dinner time the atmosphere of constrained formality tends to dissolve into a relaxed but elaborate fine dining experience. With thoughtful food design, professional waiting stuff, and a highly invested interior Baraka offers quite a gastro treat, but they still need to bring it all together for the A+ experience. The cocktail bar in a separate room at the entrance serves a broad range of the finest Japanese single malts.
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Beat on the Brat

Enter through a garage ramp to get to this tiny underground club with a subversive spirit in the heart of the party district. The atmosphere could be too much for some, but there's a soul to the space that's worth experiencing. The moment of truth here comes way after midnight, but you can build a buzz at the nearby Dzzs Bár or Kisüzem. Walls are covered by funky posters, but you'll likely be too preoccupied to notice as you thrust your way through the throng to get to the bar upstairs.
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Bisztrónyúl

Coffee, contemporary Hungarian artwork, and a very friendly owner will draw you in to this adorable designer store nestled in a street behind the National Museum. The space is tiny and inviting. What gives its charm is the impression one gets upon entering that this store isn't purely run by business considerations and the owner seems to eschew the overly trendy vibes of typical designer stores. Bisztrónyúl is at least as much a hangout place for locals as a commercial enterprise.
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Biwako Ramen House

Budapest is short of Japanese restaurants, and the handful of existing places serve a constrained range of Japanese fare (like the sushi- or ramen-only spots). Biwako is a welcome exception. It’s advertized as a ramen house, but they make all sorts of everyday Japanese dishes like donburi, okonomiyaki, and takoyaki. The restaurant is located across the street from The Japan Foundation) in a bare-bones, underground space.
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Bob Bár

At the foot of the Chain Bridge and overlooking the Buda hills, Bob occupies a prestigious piece of real estate in Budapest. The inside is a correspondingly posh bar-slash-lounge, with increasingly more dancing and champagne popping as the night progresses. The crowd is upscale: well-off, well-dressed, and attractive..
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Boutiq Bar

If you're serious about your drink, visit this award-winning cocktail bar (in 2012 it was listed as one of the world’s 50 best bars by Drinks International) nestled within a surprisingly peaceful downtown side street. The low, maroon vaulted ceiling, and dim lighting lends a speakeasy feel to the otherwise well-invested interior of Boutiq Bar. As tends to be the case in such specialized cocktail bars, a bit of theatric will accompany the serving of your libations, of which their Old Fashioned variations and Zwack & Soda (a Hungarian concoction) are two of the favorites. Book a table in case you go after dinner and plan on properly testing yourself against the top drinks in the “industry”..
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Brody Studios

A members-only private club, frequented mainly by well-to-do expats living in Budapest and chic Hungarians. The meticulously designed interior will knock you off your feet - it’s rare to see contemporary design mix so well with the fading grandeur of a pre-war building. Inside you will find studios for artists, dining rooms, a full service bar, and a lively dance floor Friday and Saturday nights. During the week they host events ranging from stand up comedies to workshops held by artists (check their fb for details).
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Café Gerbeaud

Known to every Budapest resident, Gerbeaud is an iconic café/pastry shop. It was the creative genius of Swiss patissier, Emil Gerbeaud, who took over the business in 1884, that established Gerbeaud as the leading confectionery of the city. His inventions included the konyakmeggy, a brandied sour cherry inside a chocolate shell, and the “macskanyelv”, a milk chocolate in the shape of a cat’s tongue (both of them are still manufactured). Café Gerbeaud also sells a dizzying array of classic Hungarian (or Austro-Hungarian) pastries, such as Dobos and Esterházy torte, krémes, and the namesake Gerbeaud cake.
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Café Zsivágó

The ambiance of this romantic café, nestled within a serene side street just off Andrássy Avenue, evokes the atmosphere of a 19th century bourgeois café infused with a bit of bohemian decadence. The interior is a hodgepodge of styles but the floral pattern wallpaper goes well with the dense carpeting. The small roundtables are well-attended by chic people of all ages, creating a lively ambiance. The first floor (second, for Americans) has a charming nook which is put to best use during date nights.
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Castro Bistro

The key attractions at this laid back, artistic bistro at the entrance of the party district (District 7) are the atmosphere and flavorful goulash, which comes with gigantic pieces of sliced bread. Beware though, that the food can occasionally be disappointing. On recent visits, the tastes of both the goulash and the Serbian pljekavica, previously signature plates of the house, fell short by a wide margin. Both sections of the space feature unique posters and other interesting work done by local Hungarian artists.
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Cintányéros

The part of District 8 around Corvin Plaza is currently undergoing large-scale real estate development/gentrification, so who knows what the future holds for this gritty and authentic neighborhood. Nevertheless, setting up shop in this still shabby area was a gutsy decision for the owners of this wine bar. Part "bistro" and part something more, the interior has small tables flanked by bentwood Thonet chairs, a high ceiling, a bar with shiny white tiles, and literary journals lying on top of an upright piano. The bar serves a good selection of Hungarian wines and four types of craft beer.
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Corvin Club

Hate it or love it, Corvin is an iconic club in the Budapest alternative scene. It’s located at the side of a run-down socialist-era department store with a nondescript entrance. If the menacing bouncers let you through, walk up to the 5th floor to get to the giant dance floor. The inside is dark, a bit grungy and dirty, but this hasn’t stopped anyone from dancing their hearts out until the wee hours.
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Csendes Létterem

The eclectic ruin bar décor feels odd inside this formerly grand café from the glory days of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. It’s nevertheless a lively bar that tends to get jam-packed by the evening hours with an interesting mix of local students from the university across the street, expats living in Budapest, and tourists who stumble into here. The bizarre décor is on the verge of creepy (dolls hanging upside down on the walls), but the cute, round tables squeezed together with multi-colored, unmatching chairs lend a cozier feel to the space. Try to get a table near the floor-to-ceiling windows and go for a walk afterwards in the park (Károlyi-kert) just around the corner..
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Curry House

Despite the cheeky name, what comes out of the kitchen isn't the dumbed-down "Indian" food unrecognizably adjusted to local tastes - the Indian cooks at Curry House make excellent and real Indian dishes. The biryani with raita is probably the best to be found in Budapest, and the creamy butter chicken is lighter and smoother than in most places. For appetizers, the papad with mango chutney and the chicken kati rolls will not disappoint. .
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Fahéj Kávézó

Located in the very heart of downtown, yet on a quiet side street, this quaint café-slash-bar eschews the overly trendy vibe of many places in the neighborhood. The combination of filled bookshelves, archived newspaper cutouts on the walls, wood flooring, and the Thonet chairs with small round tables lend Fahéj an intellectually bohemian atmosphere. It's an ideal place for group meetups but also works well for a romantic date night or for a heart-to-heart over a bottle of wine in the quiter room in the back. Go for hot wine or rum & tea during the winter, and draft beer by the outdoor tables in the more sensibly seasoned months.
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Fecske Presszó

Significant overlap exists between the crowds of this no-frills, laid-back, partly underground, partly outdoor restaurant, and the neighboring Szabó Ervin Library (which you should certainly try to visit). Students of all ages like to take a study break at Fecske Presszó of varying lengths and with varying amounts of beer. Weather permitting, it's best if you can find an open table by the cozy outdoor terrace, canopied by the overhanging tree. Both the service and the prices tend to be friendly - go for the cheap prix fixe lunches if you happen to be there around midday..
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Fogasház

Fogasház is an enormous ruin bar in District 7, whose owners were creative enough to realize that adding a much-coveted dance floor to the premises will further increase its appeal. This highly strategic move brought them the popularity they deserve, to the point that you're likely to have to earn your entry by waiting out the line outside. If the tunes are too mellow for your taste, check out Lärm, the dark techno club upstairs. .
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Gerlóczy Cafe

This café/bistro is tucked away in an unexpectedly serene and charming corner in the middle of downtown. The tiny square outside Gerlóczy Cafe, with quaint side streets and elegant pre-war buildings, provides quite a backdrop and conjures an image of Paris. Perhaps due to this resemblance, the interior is decorated in a French bistro-theme. Gerlóczy is best for dinner, particularly when sitting outside under the massive elm tree on a warm summer evening (whenever the local municipality isn't using this precious space as a construction site), or for early morning breakfast, before the city wakes up.
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Gyros Kerkyra

Avoid the dime a dozen fake gyro joints all over Budapest and try this one instead. The gyros taste as if you were in Corfu itself. Visit this tiny eatery outside of peak lunch or dinner hours so that you don’t have to wait in the line, which can stretch halfway around the block. The gyro platter is a must, where the sliced chicken fresh off the rotisserie comes with tzatziki, spicy feta cream sauce, a creamy carrot salad, and original Greek pita.
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Indigo

The go-to place for Indians living in Budapest - an Indian restaurant shall need no further endorsement than that. Towards the finer end of the not so broad range of Indian eateries in Budapest, although the field has gotten considerably stronger since their opening in 2005. Of the meat dishes, the Madras curry chicken, and the murgh makhani (butter chicken - a tandoori chicken cooked in a rich buttery tomato sauce), are two of the favorites. Courteous waitstaff is the cherry on top.
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Kadarka Bar

If you enjoy discussing tannins, acidity, fruitiness, and lingering finishes, this wine bar offers a broad selection of Hungarian inputs (over 160 types of wine) to satisfy your desires. Kadarka, named after a grape variety indigenous to Hungary, is a lively wine bar along the famous Király Street in the Jewish Quarter. It's located just far enough from the (over)crowded Gozsdu Udvar, a passage teeming with tourists, that you can get a sense for this historical neighborhood and appreciate the mainly local crowd of Kadarka. Good news is that you won’t have to drink on empty stomach thanks to their tasty selections of food platters.
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Keksz

This restaurant/bar is located at the entry point of the party zone in District 7 under a stately arch, just across from Castro Bistro. The crowd is slightly younger and trendier than in Castro, although many people migrate between the two places in search of open tables. The interior is a somewhat bland combination of industrial and rustic features. Although primarily a restaurant, some locals use Keksz as the first stop to fuel up here before a night of debauchery in the more pricey Gozsdu Udvar just blocks away.
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Keret Klub

Since this is officially a social club, you will need to sign up and become a member, a 30 second exercise, to gain admission to this tiny, dimly lit bar. The reason for the legal maneuvering is to allow for smoking inside, which is fully exploited. Located on a deserted street in District 8, the smoke-filled ambiance resembles a prohibition-era bar, where the common cause enhances the atmosphere. But tobacco isn't the only allure - you can indulge in cold beers, toasted sandwiches, and board games with friendly regulars.
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Kiadó Kocsma

Due to its proximity to the upscale Andrássy Avenue, this bistro/bar naturally draws in some wandering tourists, nonetheless, it has preserved a primarily local clientele with regulars from nearby. The atmosphere is best described as cozy with a bit of a bohemian flair. Matters of the heart are best addressed in the selectively lighted cute upstairs corners, led up to by stairs lined with an ornate wooden balustrade. Come for the atmosphere (or drinks) rather than the food..
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Klassz

Klassz is the type of safe-bet restaurant recommendation you would give to acquaintances visiting your city, being certain that it won't disappoint. Both the service and the quality of the food tend to be consistently high, there's a balanced mix of Hungarian and non-Hungarian dishes/wine, and it’s located on the most prominent avenue (Andrássy) of the city with outdoor seating for the good weather months. Try the tender breaded veal chop that comes with parsley potato and cucumber salad, or the wonderfully simple linguine with thinly sliced beef rump. You can fill up your inventory of Hungarian wines in the back of the restaurant, where they operate a wine store.
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Komachi Bistro

For most people in Hungary, sushi is synonymous with Japanese food. Komachi, a no-frills Japanese restaurant in the outer part of the Jewish Quarter, is committed to proving otherwise. For an Eastern Europe based restaurant, it serves a refreshingly broad range of everyday Japanese staples. Everything from miso- and soy-based ramen to curry, tonkatsu, and karaage.
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Kuplung

A bar with a large concert venue right on the buzzing Király Street in District 7 (Jewish Quarter) is a strong combination. Kuplung has been around the block for a while and experienced several rounds of “facelifts” over the years. It’s still a ruin bar (a giant whale is hanging from the ceiling), but the décor is not so extreme today in this former car repair shop. The front section is a standard bar area, but the back is where all the action is, inside the sprawling concert venue.
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Központ

Központ is the bar to congregate for the early-30s liberal establishment of the city, consisting of journalists, and people from the non-profit, alternative music, and fashion industries. With their respective entourages they tend to fill up the place to full capacity on Friday nights - it's not unusual that the overflow of people take possession of the sidewalks until the wee hours. Meaningful overlap exists between the crowds of Központ and Telep, the bar just across the street, with groups of people noticeably moving back and forth between the two. While it's mainly a bar, DJs are usually in charge of the tunes Friday and Saturday nights..
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Lámpás

Simple enough: live jazz/blues/rock every night between Tuesdays and Saturdays in a dimly-lit, cavernous basement bar. Despite its location being right outside Gozsdu Udvar, the passage teeming with popular bars and restaurants, Lámpás feels a world away from the tourist herds - a truly little gem in the midst of it all. Expect increasingly more dancing, a boisterous crowd, and a cramped space as the night progresses. Note that they usually shot down/scale back the operations for the summer months.
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Lärm

Unabashed electronic music fans start lining up outside Lärm as the clock hits midnight. This is the place to go when you’ve reached the point of the night that all you need is a pitch-black dance hall with ear-splitting electronic music. A venerable group of mostly international DJs rotate each night behind the DJ booth. Located just upstairs from Fogasház, you can buckle down and let loose on the dance floor until sunrise.
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Massolit Books & Café in Budapest

A charming hideaway in the center of District 7 (Jewish Quarter) that combines an English language bookstore with a café. Accompanied by a cup of tea and a page-turner, you can easily spend hours in the quiet nooks and cozy atmosphere without even noticing it. That is, if you manage to find an open seat, which is rare during peak hours, ever since international students from the nearby Central European University discovered Massolit. If you want to be left alone, unwind at the outdoor patio in the back during the good weather months.
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Montenegrói Gurman

Being surrounded by Slavic chatter in a Serbian restaurant is generally a good sign, and this place is no exception. The name is somewhat misleading as it’s effectively a Serbian diner with the usual meat heavy stuff you would expect, but let’s not rekindle any animosity between these two nations, and instead rejoice in the outstanding pljeskavica and ćevapčići. Another plus of Montenegrói Gurman is that it’s open 24/7, likely why it’s known to locals as the final stop after a long night of debauchery. Don't be deterred by the noisy, and less-than-inviting surrounding (it's located outside one of the busiest bus stops in Pest) - it's all part of the experience..
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Művelődési Szint (Müszi)

Don’t let the front facade of this conspicuously ugly building deceive you, there are some hidden treasures in there. One of them is Müszi, an “incubation house for artists and activists”. If this hasn’t sufficiently sparked your interest, it's basically an enormous community space with 22 studios, a co-working space, regular exhibitions by local artists, and electro/techno/punk parties many nights. All this on 30 thousand square feet.
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New York Café

It’s an all-too-common phenomenon in big cities: a local favorite restaurant, café, or bar becomes so popular that it eventually crumbles under the great weight of mass tourism. Perhaps some diehard regulars stick to their daily visits for a short while, but once the floodgates open in earnest to camera-wielding tourists, they too ultimately move on. Then international media and sightseeing buses pick up on the trend, usually belatedly, and the foreign crowds swell even more. The waitstaff becomes rushed and impersonal, no longer interested in offering kind words to the unfamiliar faces.
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Okuyama no Sushi

Budapest’s best sushi restaurant is buried in the basement of an unremarkable strip mall. It doesn’t have a functional facebook page, let alone an instagram handle, and its website hasn’t been updated in about ten years. Perhaps the evasiveness of Okuyama no Sushi is itself a smart marketing tool, but if that’s the case, it works well: after all, who doesn’t like the sense of achievement that follows an unexpected discovery? To avoid any disappointments, know before you go that the interior is utilitarian at best, verging on the grungy..
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Pola Pola

Serbians have a long history not only in Budapest, but also in nearby places like Szentendre, Ráckeve, and Lórév. Many fled to Hungary centuries ago to escape the Ottoman occupation of the Balkans, and in addition to commercial skills, they brought along a rich culinary tradition. Serbian food is basically the best of Turkish, Mediterranean, and Central European cooking. Most dishes are meat heavy, and exude a whiff of smoke from their journey across the charcoal grill. Pola Pola was opened recently (2015), and it quickly established itself as a respected option among the local Balkan population (always a good sign).
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Shalimar Indian Restaurant

The bad news first: if there were a competition for the least inviting ambiance and dullest of interior designs, Shalimar would certainly be a contender. With too much lighting and unremarkable, bare walls, it’s as if they intentionally tried to get the least out of the otherwise favorable conditions of the spacious, high-ceilinged dining room. The food, however, is exceptional. Unlike most other Indian restaurants in Budapest, which ambitiously advertise their pan-Indian culinary reach, the focal point in Shalimar’s kitchen since their opening in 1996 is north-Indian cuisine.
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Sushi Sei

Raw seafood takes center stage at this oversized Buda restaurant. Three sushi variations dominate the menu along with sashimi cuts: maki (cut rolls), nigiri (mounds of rice topped with fish filet), and chirashi (fish over rice in a bowl). The fish selections are impressively broad: besides the usual tuna, salmon, and prawn options, raw eel, sea bass, octopus, squid, and salmon roe are also prevalent. The chirashi bowl (HUF6,900 or c.€23) is the best way to sample a cross section of the most interesting cuts.
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Taj Mahal

Taj Mahal prides itself on providing “the real Indian taste” in Budapest in an authentic environment. What the latter means is a rich, partially Indian décor (a Gustav Klimt reprint somehow made its way through), Bollywood music, images of India on a flat screen TV, and quintessentially Indian serving trays. The service staff of Hungarian women wearing sarees is perhaps more absurd than authentic.The menu at Taj Mahal has individual sections dedicated to tandoori, chicken, fish, lamb, vegetarian, bread, and South Indian food, with a total of 134 food options on the menu. This would normally be a red flag that the chef is overextending, but in Taj Mahal’s case this isn’t true for the majority of dishes.
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Telep

This buzzing bar in the heart of it all in District 7 (Jewish Quarter) is the center of activity for hipsters. If beards, drawstring bags, and brightly-colored sneakers on good-looking people are your thing, stay put. The interior with the low-lying sofas and a massive varnished table top counter evokes a living room atmosphere, and the house party you've always wanted to throw but never got to it. DJs are in charge of the tunes on Friday and Saturday nights.
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Toldi Klub

Toldi Klub is located in the entrance hall of a movie theater and functions as a quaint café/bar during the day that gradually turns into a wild dance venue at night with live music. With a high concentration of snazzy-looking creative types (the coolest ones hang out and smoke cigarette outside), Toldi is best for late night raging to the mostly electronic beats that come from the DJ booth. When you’re done partying, you'll be grateful for Retro Büfé, the food kiosk just around the corner and open until 6AM..
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Trapéz

The fact that this tiny inconspicuous pre-war building right behind the Great Market Hall hasn't yet become the victim of real estate developers is a miracle in itself. The next wonder awaits you inside. As you leave the serenity of the ground floor, the attic above hides a lively and buzzing college bar. Clientele mainly consists of students and recent graduates from the nearby Corvinus University.
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Why Not Cafe and Bar

One of the few bars in Budapest along the Danube river with a stunning view onto the Liberty Bridge and the Buda hills, so weather permitting, try to get a table outside. Cocktails and snacks are nothing to brag about, unlike the hot white chocolate in the winter, which is exceptional. Besides the views, what's most appealing about Why Not Cafe and Bar is the laid-back, relaxed vibe, probably thanks to the lack of macho types, since it’s a gay bar. Friday and Saturday nights tend to be most lively..
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Zsiga bár

If you feel like venturing out a bit from the tourist zones, you could start right here. Think of this bizarrely decorated tiny café/bar in the outer part of District 8 as the gateway to a different, albeit no less exciting world outside the comforts of the Grand Boulevard (Nagykörút). Densely populated paintings include the last supper and Virgin Mary, and mix with less biblical depictions on the maroon walls (interior has been described as “socialism-infused neo-Byzantine style”). The friendly staff behind the bar will make you feel at ease and more than make up for the not exactly new wave coffee.
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Élesztő

If you like IPAs and are interested in what Budapest outside of the epicenter looks like, Élesztő is your spot. 21 types of Hungarian craft beers are served on draft in this partially outdoor brewpub. It's one of those rare places where the venue is in perfect harmony with the concept - you feel like God had exactly a beer garden in mind for this space. Élesztő is inside a former glass blowing plant, which means that the industrial look here predates the creative touches of any interior designer.
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Ötkert

Budapest is acutely devoid of clubs. You know, places where you are able to test your latest moves, and more importantly, observe those of the fellow guests. Housed in the courtyard of a former 19th century apartment building, Ötkert is a serene bar during the day. Come nighttime, it's a mainstay of the club scene in Budapest, on the popular and posher end of the narrow spectrum.
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Csendes Társ (Outdoor)

This outdoor-only café is an island of peace and quiet within the hustle and bustle of the city. Situated at the entrance of probably the nicest public park in Pest (it used to be the private garden of a wealthy noble family), they offer breakfast staples with scrambled eggs, ham & eggs, and frankfurter, as well as Hungarian wines and appetizers/dips during the day. The icing on the cake is that they're open on Sundays too, a phenomenon as rare in Budapest as hen's teeth, which makes it an ideal place to start a lazy Sunday here with breakfast, or to take a break from your unrelenting sightseeing schedule with a glass of wine. Service, as usual in Budapest, can be a drag.
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High Note Sky Bar (Outdoor)

The business model of High Note Sky Bar is simple: serving the city’s most expensive cocktails from the city’s most spectacular rooftop view. Before reaching the bar/lounge, you need to walk through the sumptuous, over-the-top lobby of the luxury boutique hotel (Aria Hotel Budapest), and take the elevator to the roof. The panorama is truly stunning: Liberty Statue, Royal Palace, and St. Stephen’s Basilica all appear within arm’s reach, which, in the case of St.
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Kertem (Outdoor)

The City Park is one of the best kept secrets of Budapest. Many tourists have visited it, but they mostly go in and out of Széchenyi Bath, barely noticing the city’s largest green space around them. And so they miss two of the most fun outdoor bars in Budapest. One of them is Kertem, translated as “my garden” (the other is Pántlika).
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360 Bar (Outdoor)

Trendy locals peppered with tourists tend to sip pricey cocktails at this rooftop lounge on one of the tallest buildings along the upscale Andrássy Avenue. The sweeping views of the city in all directions are perhaps only comparable to those from the cupola of the nearby Basilica, but don't go searching for a bar up there. DJs are in charge of the beats usually from Thursdays to Saturdays during the summer months. This isn’t the first time the roof is put to good use - after the building opened in 1911 as a shopping mall, they alternated the roof’s use between an ice skating rink during the winter months and an outdoor restaurant for the rest of the year.
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Kőleves Kert (Outdoor)

Bar recommendations on the boisterous Kazinczy Street must be taken with a grain of salt, but you can find real treasures (see Wichmann) besides the increasing number of tourist traps. Kőleves Kert, which isn’t to be mistaken with Kőleves, the popular restaurant next door, is one of those summertime treasures in the form of a laid-back, all-welcoming outdoor bar in a spacious backyard. You need to order at the wooden kiosk in the front, then trek through the ankle-deep pebbles to find yourself one of the colorful tables in the garden, canopied by overhanging trees. By day, freelancers use it as a peaceful workspace and some tourists pop in for a drink, but the real buzz starts in the evening hours..
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Pántlika Bisztró (Outdoor)

This self-service outdoor bistro is tucked away in the far and more peaceful end of Városliget (City Park), the "Central Park of Budapest", near Széchenyi Thermal Bath. The location makes for an inviting resting place following a weekend stroll through Andrássy Avenue, Heroes' Square, and the City Park. The peculiarly shaped five-pointed roof is no accident - communist architects liked to resort to such, usually not so subtle, symbols to make their case for the great system. The checkered red and white plastic tablecloth fits in with the communist theme.
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