Some pockets of Buda can be as lively as Pest, but they're few and far between. The area around Bartók Béla Boulevard is one such revitalized Buda neighborhood, featuring art galleries, cafés, and bars. Kelet, an all-purpose, all-day café, was one of the early birds here, and has helped breathe new life into the street.
The Middle Eastern-inspired food selections alone may not be worth the trip from the other side of the Danube River, but Kelet’s claim to fame is their coffee. It comes from Colombia, Kenya, and Ethiopia, and is served in espresso-, filter-, and Turkish coffee-forms. Kelet's cozy interior is lined with walls of books, and has a floor-to-ceiling window that overlooks the stately Bartók Béla Boulevard. Yes, it's perfect for people-watching. I most enjoy Kelet in the evenings, when the small, crammed tables and Thonet chairs fill to capacity with locals and quiet chatter permeates the dimly lit interior. The patrons, a cross section of the neighborhood, exude a healthy sense of bourgeois sensibility.
If you need a snack, rather than the sandwiches, go for the carrot cake. It's rich and tasty without being cloyingly sweet. Tea fans can indulge in a number of Chinese (oolong) and Japanese (sencha, matcha) loose leaf tea varieties. Local beer and wine are also available.