Hivatal Kávézó

Hivatal Kávézó, which opened in 2010, was an early bird on Madách tér, the entry of Budapest’s party district. This rectangular, pedestrian-only square has acquired a cult reputation starting in the late aughts thanks to buzzy bars like Központ, Telep, and Hivatal.

Although officially a café, it’s in the evenings when Hivatal comes into its own. During the warmer months, the night-time crowd often overflows onto the plaza outside the neighboring office building, exuding a block party-like atmosphere. Inside, communist-era slogans on the walls ironically remind customers of the value of hard work ("hivatal" means "office" in Hungarian). The laid-back vibes make this hole-in-the-wall bar an inviting place for low-priced beers or coffee. No fuss, no pretensions. The crowd is mixed, but the core patrons are over-30, with left-leaning political views. If you get hungry, the toasted brie sandwich is the way to go.