Café Gerbeaud

An iconic landmark in Budapest, Gerbeaud is a long-standing café and pastry shop anchoring downtown's Váci Street. Under the helm of Hungarian-Swiss patissier Emil Gerbeaud, who took over the business in 1884, this confectionery became known for its inventive sweets like 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).

Although nationalized, Gerbeaud managed to survive the communist era, and today, once again, it puts out some of the best traditional Hungarian and Austro-Hungarian pastries in Budapest. These include Dobos torte, Esterházy torte, krémes, and the namesake Gerbeaud cake.

Gerbeaud is inside a gleaming white, lavishly-decorated Renaissance Revival building outfitted 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 Budapest's upper-middle-class, especially women. But don't go searching for locals here at present—they've been long priced out of both Gerbeaud and the neighborhood (a cappuccino costs €6).

If it's your first time in Budapest, however, I recommend you stop by for the tasty pastries and a glimpse at the city's now-vanished, turn-of-the-century coffee-house culture. Although part of the experience is basking in the historic glow of the space, it's good to know that all to-go orders are half priced at Gerbeaud.