Gyergyó Árpi kisvendéglője

Gyergyó restaurant, which opened in 1991, disguises itself as a typical greasy spoon (étkezde in Hungarian). In reality, it’s closer to a semi-upscale restaurant when it comes to food, plating, and, unfortunately, prices too. The place’s moniker is a hat-tip to the Transylvanian city where the owner/chef, Árpád Gyurka, hails from. The restaurant is located in an elite, residential Buda neighborhood, which explains why main dishes run €10-15, and why big-time lawyers, businessmen, and retired, upper-middle class regulars fill this small, lunch-only restaurant.

Gyergyó doesn’t have a fixed menu. Instead, they chalk the daily specials on a board. The culinary focus is unabashedly Hungarian - I’ve had excellent lecsó, a Hungarian ratatouille of sorts, with chicken (€10), pork cutlet “butcher-style” (€11), and the noodles- and cottage cheese-based vargabéles dessert (€3) here. Adventurous eaters should know that on Thursdays they serve a dish made from offals, usually a tripe stew paired with potatoes (€9).

Gyergyó prepares food with more care and better ingredients than most other étkezdes in Budapest. Evidently, their lunch crowd is fond of premium cuts of meats that you wouldn’t see in comparable food joints on the other side of the Danube. Think beef and pork tenderloins, or steaks made from imported Uruguayan beef. For the liveliest atmosphere, come after 1 p.m. Open from Tuesdays through Saturdays.