Három Holló

Budapest’s booming tourism is inspiring local business owners to profit off well-heeled visitors. Overpriced restaurants hawking “authentic goulash” and the dime a dozen, indistinct “Irish pubs” are the evidence of this curious business savvy, which is especially apparent in Budapest’s downtown. Három Holló bar, 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 - the place shuts down in the summer though.)

The core patrons at Három Holló tend to be socially sensitive and musically-inclined left-wing intellectuals from Budapest. Don’t be surprised, however, if Teutonic chatter permeates the high-ceilinged space as one of the owners is a German expat. I’m grateful for Három Holló’s existence and hope that it will prove that a bar with a cultural mission isn’t necessarily doomed in Budapest.

My only point of criticism is that I find the main room to be too brightly lit. Softer lighting may extract more charm from the historic interior.