Hivatal Kávézó

Madách tér serves as the entry point into Budapest’s party district. This rectangular, pedestrian-only square has acquired something of a cult reputation starting in the late aughts. Discerning local millennials began to hang out here. Today, still, buzzy venues such as Központ, Telep, and Keksz anchor Madách tér.

Hivatal Kávézó, which opened in 2010, was an early bird here. Although officially a café, it’s in the evening hours when Hivatal comes into its own. During the warmer months, the nighttime crowd often overflows onto the expansive stairs of the neighboring office building, lending an ad-hoc, block party-like atmosphere. Inside, communist-era slogans on the walls remind customers of the value of hard work (hivatal means office in Hungarian).

The relaxed vibes make this hole-in-the-wall café an inviting place to pop in for a beer or coffee. No fuss, no pretensions here. Seemingly, the owners care more about keeping Hivatal the kind of place they themselves enjoy hanging out at, rather than squeezing profits out of it. I hope they keep it that way. Hivatal’s crowd is mixed, but the core patrons tend to be over 30, and holding left-leaning political views.

Drinks are wallet-friendly, and if you get hungry, the toasted brie sandwich is the way to go.