Central Cafe is one of the few remaining coffeehouses that date back to Budapest’s golden era before WWI. At the time, the city was swarming with cafés like Central that stayed open around the clock, attracting many artists who've spent endless caffeine-fueled hours working and socializing under the sky-high ceilings. Today, one of Central's walls is blanketed in framed photos of prominent Hungarian writers, poets, and editors who were once regulars here.
The stunningly elegant space, complete with mahogany wall paneling and red leather banquettes, didn’t escape Budapest’s tragic post-war history—for a short period it even operated as a gambling den. But in 2000, Central has returned to its former glory, preserving an essential slice of the city's cultural history. Today the place wears many hats, being a café, a bar, and a restaurant all at once, although most people come here for breakfast, coffee, or cakes, and also to people-watch from the outdoor tables. Note that the pastries are some of the best in Budapest.