Franz Joseph Restaurant
Hungarians have a difficult relationship with "the Kaiser," that is, Emperor Franz Joseph, the regimented Habsburg king who ruled the country from Vienna for more than half a century: He brutally crushed the Hungarian revolution of 1848, but later facilitated the creation of Austria Hungary, thereby laying the ground for a period of unprecedented development. Budapest's Franz Joseph restaurant, naturally, tips its hat to the later years of the Kaiser. This it does, for example, with an oversized oil portrait that anchors the art-laden interior and depicts a somber and wild-moustached sovereign.
This old-school, unassuming establishment, which opened in 1999, evokes not only the Habsburg monarch, but also the early aughts, when this brand of unfussy restaurants and mediocre Hungarian-Austrian classics reigned supreme across Budapest. While the beef stew (pörkölt) has nothing to be ashamed of, go instead for its royal version — "Franz Joseph's favorite" (he seems to have had many) — spiked with red wine and mushrooms (€10). Both the goulash soup (€4) and the pork schnitzel deliver (€9) the standard flavor experience. Have room for dessert? The Gundel palacsinta (€5), filled with walnuts and smothered in chocolate sauce, and the kaiserschmarrn shredded pancakes with apricot jam are very tasty.