Café Gerbeaud

Known to every local resident, Gerbeaud is an iconic café and pastry shop in Budapest's downtown. It was Swiss patissier Emil Gerbeaud, who in 1884 transformed the space into a confectionery famed for its inventive sweets like the konyakmeggy, a brandied sour cherry enclosed by a chocolate shell, and “macskanyelv,” a milk chocolate shaped like a cat’s tongue (both of them are still produced). Gerbeaud also makes some of the best traditional Hungarian (or Austro-Hungarian) pastries such as Dobos, Esterházy torte, krémes, and the namesake Gerbeaud cake. If you order them to go, all cakes are half-priced.

Gerbeaud is located inside a gleaming white, lavishly-decorated Renaissance Revival building with crystal chandeliers, marble-topped tables, and cherrywood paneling (Onyx, a two Michelin-starred fine dining restaurant, is next door and run by the same owners). Although mainly a tourist attraction today, for much of the 20th century Gerbeaud was a favorite haunt of elderly middle-class ladies. But don't go searching for locals here now—they've been priced out of both Gerbeaud and the neighborhood (a cappuccino costs €5).

If it's your first time in Budapest, however, I recommend that you stop by for the delicious pastries and a glimpse of the city's now-vanished, turn-of-the-century coffee house culture.