Kívánság Étkezde

For a truly local lunch experience in Budapest, it’s hard to think of a better place than Kívánság Étkezde. The continued existence of this eatery, which opened in 1985, is evidence that there’s still lingering love in Budapest for communist-era, family-run restaurants. After all, they’re quick, cheap, and some of them, like Kívánság, serve delicious home-style dishes.

Kívánság is oblivious to nouvelle Hungarian cuisine, the trend sweeping through the city, and instead sticks to well-proven Hungarian classics. One of the standout dishes is the mátrai borzaska, a fried pork cutlet coated in a potato-based breading and topped with sour cream and grated cheese. The other is the pork tenderloin, which comes with wonderfully crispy potatoes that were roasted in lard and paprika to deliver a slight kick. Be sure to also scan the menu for the daily specials, which change every two days.

Kívánság's interior is an authentic representation of the 1980s Hungarian restaurant: red and white checkered tablecloths covered with transparent plastic, a sticky, faux leather-bound menu, and fading photos on the walls of the owner’s favorite soccer team. In Kívánság's case, that happens to be MTK. And the owner himself, Tibor Szabados, with a jolly paunch and a kind face. The lively atmosphere is maintained by the constant banter between Józsi, the waiter, and longtime regulars. Try to get there by 12:30 p.m., because they fill up quickly. Cash only!