Földes Józsi vendéglője
At a time when modern takes on the classics reign supreme across Budapest, it can be difficult to find a good old traditional Hungarian restaurant. If old-school, rustic fare is what you're after, head to Földes Józsi. Mr. Földes, a renowned chef of five-star Budapest hotels throughout the '80s and '90s, passed away in 2012, but his family and former colleagues carry on his legacy at the foot of the Buda hills inside an 18th century Baroque building, reachable from downtown in ten minutes by taxi. That legacy translates to flavorful local favorites prepared with care and attention.
I've had excellent vegetable stews (főzelék) here made from fresh peas and spinach and paired with meatballs (€6). The traditional beef stew with egg barley (pörkölt) arrives with unusually soft morsels of meat (€11). The unforgettable dish is the vadas (€11): slices of fall-apart-tender beef shoulder topped with an orange-hued, sweet-tart sauce and served with a side of bread dumplings. It's a special treat.
Being outside the tourist-heavy areas, Földes Józsi's customers consist of longtime regulars and office workers from nearby (there's a weekday two-course lunch prix fixe for €7). In the warmer months, head straight to the outdoor tables but be sure to book in advance. Note that Földes Józsi is mainly a lunch-destination—try going at midday for the best experience.