Café Kör makes you feel like you've traveled back in time to pre-war Budapest: This snug downtown restaurant is fitted with bentwood Thonet chairs, a carpeted floor, tightly cramped tables, while the kind waitstaff is donning a formal garb. In a city that increasingly prizes international food above its own, Café Kör is a Budapest essential, serving unadulterated, classic Hungarian dishes without twists or updates.

Before you order, scan the oversized cardboard paper clipped to the wall and listing the daily specials. It's hard to go wrong with anything here, but keep a special eye out for the daily-changing soups (€4), the paprikash with egg dumplings (€13), and the oversized veal schnitzel (€13). I also like the vegetable stew, főzelék, eaten as a main course with a side of meatballs.

Café Kör's success is in part thanks to the ever-present manager Gábor Molnár, who's been overseeing every aspect of the restaurant with a cheerful demeanor since the opening in 1995. On weekdays, Café Kör is the see-and-be-seen lunch spot for Hungarian executives from the nearby financial district; more families come here on Saturdays (the restaurant is closed on Sundays).

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