After apprenticing at well-known Budapest restaurants, two young, local chefs, Andor Giczi and Szabolcs Nagy, decided to venture out on their own in 2014. The fruit of their labor is Fricska, a Bib Gourmand-awarded restaurant specializing in updated Hungarian dishes. Fricska is located in a remote part of the city's party district, inside a subterranean space that feels cozy and inviting despite the lack of windows.
Although it doesn't have a fixed menu, Fricska's greatest strength is its reliability. Be it lunch or dinner, the kitchen consistently churns out above-average, tried-and-tested dishes. Don't expect mind-boggling creativity or otherworldly flavor combinations, but many of the daily-changing dishes will make you want to return. My favorites are the pan-seared duck liver, the mangalica pork shoulder with roasted vegetables, and the goulash soup.
In fact, the goulash soup (€5) is the undisputed king at Fricska: the rich, almost creamy, dark-red hued broth contains possibly the tenderest beef cheek ever to land in a goulash, while chopped scallions add a welcome lightness. The Hungarian wines, served by co-owner and sommelier Csaba Csongrádi, come from small, specialized wineries that even most locals haven't heard of.
The service staff at Fricska is poised, and there's a welcome element of directness: they don't try to "upsell" customers on the most expensive dishes. Rather, when asked, they nudge patrons to the plates they think came out best that day. This homey feeling is only magnified when you hear one of the owners, with broken English, bidding farewell with a loud "hello" to departing guests.
Fricska's main dishes run €12-18. A more wallet-friendly option is their three-course lunch prix fixe for €10, which is among the best deals to be found in Budapest. Reservations are a must - occasional patrons often become regulars here.