Három Holló

Like it or not, Budapest’s booming tourism is inspiring local business owners to profit off well-heeled visitors. Overpriced restaurants hawking “authentic goulash” the dime a dozen, indistinct “Irish pubs” are the evidence of this business savvy, which is especially apparent in Budapest’s downtown. Három Holló bar, right in the heart of the city, is the fruit of an entirely different philosophy.

Három Holló (“three ravens”) was named after the favorite watering hole of Endre Ady, one of Hungary’s poet laureate from the early 20th century. The three-story space fuses a bar with a concert venue and an exhibition space. On any given week, there might be a small exhibit about Arvo Pärt, a collection of local photography, and a contemporary jazz concert downstairs. (See their packed event calendar, but note that they shut down for the summer.)

Három Holló's patrons tend to be socially sensitive, musically-inclined, left-wing intellectuals from Budapest. Don’t be surprised, however, if Teutonic chatter fills the high-ceilinged space as one of the owners is a German expat. My only point of criticism is that I find the main room to be too brightly lit - softer lighting and additional furnishings may extract more charm from this historical interior. Nonetheless, I’m grateful for Három Holló’s existence and deeply hope that it will prove that a bar with a cultural mission isn’t necessarily doomed in Budapest.