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” and dime a dozen “Irish pubs” in Budapest’s downtown are all too common. Három Holló bar, located right in the city center, is the fruit of an entirely different philosophy.

Három Holló, named after the favorite watering hole of Endre Ady, one of Hungary’s poet laureates from the early 20th century, occupies a three-story space that fuses a bar with a concert venue and an exhibition space. On any given week, they might host a small exhibit about Arvo Pärt, a photography pop-up, and a contemporary jazz concert. (See Három Holló's packed event calendar; note that they shut down for the summer.) I hope they will prove that a bar with a cultural mission isn’t necessarily doomed in Budapest.

Most patrons are 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. I only wish that they worked a bit more on the decor—softer lighting and denser furnishings would extract more charm from this historical interior.