The fisherman’s soup, halászlé, is Hungary’s take on the bouillabaisse. Oddly, few Budapest restaurants today serve it, and of the ones that do, few seem to care to get it right. There are myriad permutations across the country, but carp fillet and a generous portion of piquant paprika seasoning are standard features of the soup.
The first time I visited Horgásztanya Restaurant, I had an uncanny feeling of having walked into a tourist trap. It was the combination of the cash-only policy, the brusque waitstaff, and the total lack of Hungarian customers that evoked in me the shady restaurant practices of the 1990s. But the halászlé, which should be the reason for your visit, was not bad.
The carp fritters paired with red onions and sliced bread are a good way to set the mood (€8). Although carp (ponty) is the traditional order, order your soup with catfish (harcsa; €11) if you don't want to fiddle with bones, they both come in the same broth. If you have stomach space, finish your meal with túrós csusza (€5), a cottage cheese-based noodle dish traditionally served after a fisherman’s soup.