Café Kör will make you feel like you're in a pre-war, middle-class Budapest restaurant. This homey downtown place features bentwood Thonet chairs, a carpeted floor, and tightly crammed tables. 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 (€3), the veal paprikash with egg dumplings (€12), and the oversized veal schnitzel with a green salad (€13). But best of all is the vegetable stew, főzelék, which is eaten as a main dish in Hungary—for the best experience, pair it with a side of meatballs.

Café Kör's success is in large part thanks to manager Gábor Molnár, who's been overseeing every aspect of the restaurant with a cheerful demeanor since the opening in 1995. The waitstaff, donning a formal outfit, is friendly and professional. On weekdays, Café Kör is the see-and-be-seen lunch spot for Hungarian executives from the nearby financial district, in case that’s a crowd you care to mingle with. More families come here on Saturdays (the restaurant is closed on Sundays).

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