Many countries put their own twist on the fish soup, reflecting locally available fish species and ingredients. The fisherman’s soup (halászlé) is Hungary’s take on the bouillabaisse. It has myriad permutations across the country, but the classic version uses carp fillets, and a generous portion of paprika seasoning that lends the broth a deep-red hue. Oddly, few Budapest restaurants serve fisherman’s soup at all, and of the ones that do, few seem to care to get it right.
The first time I visited Horgásztanya Restaurant, I had an uncanny feeling of having been baited into a tourist trap. It was the confluence of the cash-only policy, the brusque waitstaff, and the lack of local patrons 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 at all.
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 for the fisherman's soup (€8), get yours with catfish fillet (harcsa; €11) if you don't want to fiddle with bones. Both of them use the same broth. If you’re still feeling hungry, finish your meal with túrós csusza (€5), a cottage cheese-based noodle dish traditionally served after a fisherman’s soup.