In present-day Budapest, if you find yourself in a place where a live gypsy band performs music, chances are that you've been sucked into a tourist trap. Overpriced downtown restaurants tend to hire gypsy musicians to fabricate “Hungarian vibes” for unsuspecting tourists. The reality is that except for the occasional wedding parties when such old-school songs may be performed, most locals, especially those below 50, are seldom exposed to this genre of music.

But if you’re curious to listen to a gypsy band in a less formulaic setting, head to Giero, a tiny, below-ground bar tucked away on a District 6 backstreet. Giero opened in 1990 and it's named after the late father of Gizi, the loud-mouthed, big-hearted, ever-present proprietor. Don’t let the delapidated interior hold you back—and watch your head as you descend the stairs leading inside—and you might be in for a special experience.

The band usually starts at 10 p.m. with songs ranging from local classics to international evergreens. Go for the wallet-friendly beers, pálinka, or Unicum to lift the mood, and be sure to buy a round of drinks for the band members, too. Note that there's no live music on Sundays.

We visit all places incognito, pay for our own meals and drinks, and write independent reviews.